Commentary: ‘Stripped’ sexist, misses the point

This week the Resident Student Association (RSA) is apparently trying to raise awareness about sex through programs and the publication “Stripped: Sex Week 2007.” But the only awareness raised in my consciousness was the level of sexism on this campus.

First case in point: “Stripped.” It is not a comprehensive sex positive publication. Nor is it evidence of a sexual revolution. Two of its articles were aimed at women with directions on how to sexually pleasure men! How many were aimed at men on how to sexually pleasure women? Zero. A two-page spread, devoted to the art of fellatio, said, “Now, you might be thinking that this will be just like a Cosmo article along the lines of 1501 ways to please your man with words like ‘perineum’ and ‘frenulum’ in it. Nope. I’m going to keep it nice and simple, maybe throw in a few twists and turns here and there.” A dumbed down Cosmo-esque article – I didn’t think such a thing could exist but RSA has provided the women of Northeastern with such an article focused on pleasuring men and their penises sans the difficult scientific language. Gee, thanks, RSA.

Also, thank you for the article entitled “Vaginas: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying, Relax, and Enjoy Vaginas,” courtesy of Times New Roman (NU’s student comedy magazine), in which “one of the least appreciated qualities of the vagina” – that you can “fit two bags of Skittles in them before the owner (as I said before, usually a girl) becomes uncomfortable,” was discussed. First of all, the owner of a vagina is always a female and, despite its headline, the focus of the article was not vaginas, not the art of cunnilingus, nor the pleasure of women. It was focused on the pleasure of men; about the scent of vaginas, described as “awesome,” and how men could enjoy the eating out, literally, of a vagina with Skittles to “taste the rainbow and awesome at the same time.” Certainly, great sex tips – with the pleasure of women in mind? I don’t think so.

I’m aware that RSA also sponsored an event titled, “I Love the Female Orgasm,” but campus events, held over the course of one evening, do not reach the number of people publications do. As an expression of Sex Week, the Stripped magazine should have been all encompassing so that the sexual pleasure of men and women, from all sexualities, were given equal space. It was great to read an article from a homosexual male perspective but, what about the perspective of a lesbian female? Articles such as “The Closet Slut: A Rare Type of Girl” do not count as equal space and, on a side note, if this young woman truly believes that “being a Closet Slut is nothing to be ashamed of” then why is she using the derogatory term “slut” to describe herself and why is she still “in the closet?”

This critique is focused on Stripped’s written content but, I must mention, the photographic images are Euro-centric, heterosexual-centric, and laced with undertones of male domination and female objectification.

Final case in point: the “Take Back the Night” event. This is an annual rally and march designed to raise awareness of violence and rape against women. Rape is an act of violence and an expression of domination over another; it has nothing to do with sex and should absolutely not be closely associated with Sex Week. The acts of rape and sex need to be separated and, quite frankly, having this event under the label of Sex Week does harm by perpetuating the idea that consensual sex and rape are intrinsically linked.

I commend RSA for holding a sex week to raise awareness, but I want to stress the importance of programs and publications that present sexuality and the pleasures of consensual sex from the perspectives of all genders and sexualities.

– Tara Doran is a senior sociology major and treasurer of the Northeastern Univeristy Feminist Student Organization.

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