Degradation Is Not Funny

To the Editor: I am responding to your article “UVM Ladies Have the Right to Bare Arms” and your follow up, “Hot Topic Up in Smoke.” Your comments about objectifying women, which you call “biological fact,” are untrue and offensive to men and women alike. You degrade the emotional capabilities of men by claiming they “don’t care about that.” How belittling to sons, brothers, lovers, fathers and friends of women! You reduce men to non-thinking, sexual animals with no control over their behaviors at the sight of women in revealing clothes. This myth that women drive men to lose control of their sexual desires has been used to excuse rape for centuries – a crime you say is “possibly the worst thing one person can do to another.” Sexual violence will impact the lives of one in four of women, and by some estimations, almost 140 UVM women this year. When you leer at a woman, Julian, you leer at someone’s loved one- someone to be valued as a person, not a “peacock” displaying for your amusement. I argue that rape cannot exist without the objectification in which you openly engage. I imagine you would agree rape is a dehumanizing act. Merriam-Webster defines “dehumanize” as “to deprive of human qualities, personality or spirit.” To deprive a woman of human qualities is to objectify her. Your classmates hardly make a great leap to claim your article contributes to a culture that excuses rape and blames the victim. This connection isn’t degrading to the crime of rape, it gives credit to the impact of rape and the work we must do to end it. It is particularly disappointing you wrote this article during Sexual Violence Awareness Month. I encourage you, the Cynic staff, students, staff and faculty, to consider what you can do to create an environment at UVM where degradation of women or any community is not tolerated. I would love to talk further with you about this and perhaps demonstrate that most people who are offended by your words still respect your right to them. Contrary to your belief, we also appreciate good humor, though please excuse us for not finding the dehumanization of women amusing!Anne SmithUVM Victim’s Advocate andGender Violence Response Team [email protected]