Lessons We Have Yet to Learn

This past year we’ve read the powerful words of rape survivors, as they bravely testified to their experiences of mistreatment at the hands of the Amherst administration.

We’ve seen a fraternity’s sexism and misogyny on full display in a deeply offensive t-shirt.

We’ve read and denounced an Amherst administrator’s shocking reinforcement of rape culture and its corresponding myths right here in The Student.

But it seems we still haven’t learned.

Last week several Amherst students created and distributed an advertisement for “Amherst Hookups” — an on-campus used furniture company — to the entire senior class. The ad features a man crawling up to a woman on the beach beside the words, “Amherst Hookups Clean Edition: One Man’s Trash That’s Another Man’s Come-Up. Sale: May 5-18, 2013.”

Are women — used women — for sale at Amherst College?

This semester in our Feminist Theory class we have studied the ways in which women are commodified based on their sex and used as (sexual) objects of exchange between men. Women who are “trashed,” like the one in the ad, are those who have hooked up with men and are now “bargains” and thus no longer valuable. Economical men are encouraged to take advantage of them for their own gain. Such commodification of women’s bodies directly contributes to rape culture: after all, objects/“trash” lack agency, cannot consent to sexual activity, and are therefore subject only to the whims of their owners.

The value of a commodified woman is derived only through her sexuality.

We are disgusted that our fellow students could so thoughtlessly engage in sexism, misogyny, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming, and we reject any culture that permits and generates these messages.