On page B6 of last week’s issue of The Statesman, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, there is an advertisement for engagement rings from Security Jewelers with a large, color photo. Although I have my own reservations with jewelry advertisements in general, that is not why I write this. The problem I have with this advertisement is the blatant privileged, heteronormative, and male dominant messages it sends to its viewers. I understand that The Statesman does not have control over the creation of Security Jewelers’ ads (who does, I have no idea, but I wish I knew so I could send them this letter too). However, what I believe you do have control over is the acceptance, the placement, and the regulations of the advertisements that are being put in The Statesman. As a young female student who is constantly fighting for the voices and equality of the female population on the UMD campus, I feel as if this ad encourages exactly the opposite. The image of physical male dominance (on top of her, holding her down) groping a young woman’s thigh who is clad in a short dress and high boots is exactly the sexualized image of women that we (those who seek change in the representations of women in media) are trying to get away from. And all while the man is pinning her down the slogan insinuates that getting engaged is a “one-life” stand which is, of course, better than a “one-night” stand (watch out all you women with safe sexual freedom, Security Jewelers thinks you should get married). This advertisement sends dangerous messages toward women of color, queer identified women (newsflash—some women have no desire to marry a man), women who may not be size Unachievable; and most of all women who are just trying to get through college without being sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped which all typically happen during these “one-night” stands Security Jewelers claims to be so against but contributes to. With the recent stories of Rod Raymond emerging (yet again, might I add), this advertisement encourages rape culture, and furthers the accepted image of dominating male seduction over women; giving men the idea that it is OK to do so and women the idea that it is “normal” if it happens to them. Do you really think that the two most recent women who have come forward with their stories are the ONLY two women Raymond has damaged physically and/or emotionally since the last accusations toward him?
I am not asking you, as The Statesman, to rise up against Security Jewelers in protest (we’ll leave that to other feminists). What I am asking is that there be deeper consideration into what kinds of ads; or better yet, what images and messages are being sent in the ads that are published in The Statesman. We, as humans, need to start being more inclusive and sensitive to marginalized populations and their experiences, as well as become more aware of the effects advertisements have on both men and women. If we do not, I am afraid we will consciously contribute to the rape culture that plagues our minds, media, campuses, humor, and society as a whole. I believe that sometimes what it takes to realize that is an email from a frustrated and conscientious student.
By Abbie Scheiderer