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February 14, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-02-14

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0

OPINION

-1

Page 4

Tuesday, February 14, 1984

The Michigan Dail

A

'Contest fosters

negative female

w The following was written by
Marcene Root, Roxanne Frieden-
.Ms, Paula Rust, Chris Alhambra,
Karl Monsma, and Irene Padavic.
Wistful. Glamorous. Sultry. In-
nocent. These are the words that
describe what women can become if
they purchase the new perfume called
"Marilyn Monroe". And those are the
images of women fostered in our
eplture every time something happens
life the Marilyn Monroe look-alike con-
test. "Good clean fun" the promoters at
Michigan Theatre claimed. "Movies
Aren't sexist" one Marilyn Monroe
iqak-alike contestant argued.
We disagree. It isn't fun at all to go-
t hough life being judged largely by our
I ks. Marilyn didn't like it, and neither
1we. Movies are sexist when they por-
kay women as scatter-brained idiots
'4o exist purely for the pleasure of
,en.
,-,Wistful? You bet women are wistful,
,b-ingon as men make an extra 41 cents on
tie dollar over women. In fact, this dif-
Erence has increased since 1955 when
mien made only 36 cents on the dollar more
than women. Working women are still
concentrated primarily in the lower
haying sectors of the economy, the
.lerical and service fields which offer
jw levels of security, few or no
1bnefits, and less resistance to in-
flation. Furthermore, two out of three
:adults who fall into the federal
definition of poverty are women. Ac-

companying this financial subordinan-
ce is a political one. Out of 536 federal
representatives only a handful are
women. An even lower percentage of
members of the Senate are women. And
out of the 200-plus history of the
Supreme Court, only one judge has
been a woman.
DESPITE THIS LACK of political
and financial power, or perhaps.
because of it, women remain the
primary caretakers of children. In fact,
increasing numbers of women now face
child raising alone. The percentage of
single mothers has increased par-
ticularly rapidly among college
educated women, a fact that should be
of special interest to the University
community. Even when married,
however, it is the woman who bears the
main burden of household chores and
caretaking. This means that in addition
to financial and political hardship,
women suffer from extra demands on
their time, as well as the stress that
arises from being constantly needed.
When women look wistful, it is probably
not because they are trying to look
more endearing, but because they have
so little control over the forces around
them.
Glamorous? Why should we be, and,
more to the point, why do we have to
be? Many women prefer intelligence,
competence, and power to good looks.
They know glamour will get them into
Hollywood only if they're very, very
lucky, and even then it could end up

crushing them like it did Marilyn or any
one of a number of women who couldn't
withdraw from silly sex-pot roles. Yet
we continue to be judged on the basis of
physical attractiveness. For instance,
more than one woman has been
described as "an attractive young
woman" in job recommendations.
Many women can't resist the
pressure to aspire to those images -
billions are spent each year on
cosmetics, hair sprays, bleaches, dyes,
hair removers, and a whole host of

look-alike contest sponsored by the
Michigan Theatre and the Classic Film
Theatre fed right into these narrowly
defined expectations. Although they
cannot be held responsible for creating
these images, they have done nothing to
confront the bleached blond, white
skinned, and helpless image of women.
If the theatre and the film group were
really interested in making the point
that "those days are over" why didn't
they encourage a serious discussion af-
ter the movie about the sex role

'Actually, many women wish there was
some way to avoid being constantly per-
ceived as a sex object by men. Most women
can't get through a day without some form
of verbal if not physical sexual assault.'

One employee of the theatre told us that
"A lot of women fantasize about looking
like Marilyn Monroe. This is their
chance to fulfill those fantasies." And
that contestants remarked on Monroe
as a symbol of women's oppression in
no way indicates that the Michigan
Theatre intended the contest to be a
satire. Some of those who entered were
part of the protest groups, and chose
that as their way to get their message
across to the audience.
Sultry? Actually, many women wish
there was some way to avoid being con-
stantly perceived as a sex object by
men. Most women can't get through a
day without some form of verbal if not
physical sexual assault. "Hey, babe,
whatcha doin' tonight?" a man calls
from across the street. Or, "Who'd you
screw to get that good grade?" This
isn't stuff from construction workers
either. A study conducted at Harvard
University found that 34 percent of
female undergraduates, 41 percent of
female graduate students, and 49 per-
cent of female faculty reported ex-
periencing some type of sexual
harassment.
LOOK-ALIKE contests, in general,
emphasize looks as primary. They par-
ticipate in the cultural process of objec-
tification. Furthermore, by offering
prize money on the. basis of looks they
commercialize sexuality. Why direct-
our protests at the Michigan Theatre?
Because they are a major part of the

image
mainstream culture in this communityl
Innocence? This is the last thing
women need. More women need to
know of the poverty that faces a
manless woman, of blatant sex
discrimination, and that a woman is
raped every two and a half minutes in
this country. As long as we remain
unknowing of the political and
economic realities that face women, we
wll remain powerless to respond.
Wistful, glamourous, sultry, and irn-
nocent. These are not the image$
women need to gain power, influence,
economic security, and fulfillment. Yet
Michigan Theatre's "good clean fun,'
promotes just those stereotypes. By axj-
ticulating the degrading nature of the
Marilyn Monroe imagery - imagery
that caused Marilyn herself anguis
and possibly death. We believe ouk
protest has stimulated the publi'
dialogue we intended. We acted not
from a "spontaneous reaction" bytt
from an analysis of the realities of sex
roles and gender stratification.
In conclusion we ask, what if an
"Amos and Andy" contest were held
Would anyone be surprised if blacks
and other concerned citizens becam#
outraged? Would we say, what's th4
matter, can't they take a joke? Where'4
their sense of humor? Why should the,
object to a shuffling "yes, massah" at=
titude presented on the stage of the
Michigan Theatre? After all, whites
could enter too, so it wouldn't be racist .

other commodities which contribute to
huge beauty industry profits. These
products often cause health problems
for the womem who use them. The fact
is, however, none of us ever feels we
achieve this image, including Marilyn
Monroe who spent hours and hours in
front of the mirror agonizing that she
wasn't beautiful enough.
THE RECENT MARILYN Monroe

stereotypes that are portrayed? Why
did they ask the contestants to "say
something like Marilyn Monroe would
say"?
The Michigan Theatre gave $100 to
the winner and other prizes to the run-
ner up. Nothing in their advertising, nor
in their comments to us before the con-
test, hinted that the contest was merely
"satire" as the emcee tried to claim.

T1

.:

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

Vol. XCIV-No. 112

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Questionable conduct

T HE PROPOSED student code for
non-academic conduct is an
attempt by the University to take the
law into its own hands. But the law
doesn't belong in the hands of the
University, it belongs, and already
exists, under the authority of the
government.
The code comes as a result of the
University's frustration concerning its
inability to discipline students who
may have committed criminal or
otherwise unsavory behavior. But
while frustration with established
channels of enforcement may be
legitimate, the University should not
take on the task of enforcing laws
already under local, state, or federal
jurisdiction. The University should be
concerned only with the academic
credibility of, the student and should
leave existing governmental
mechanisms to define, enforce, and
judge the law. Should enforcement in a
particular instance be blatantly
inadequate, it is already within the
power of the University president to
issue a directive aimed at punishing
the offender.
The desire for speed and efficiency
in punishment is understandable but
dangerous. Sidestepping lengthy court
proceedings to avoid "troublesome
technicalities" could infringe upon an
individual's fundamental rights.
The proposed University judicial
system is an inconsistent and
inadeauate mechanism for nunishing
code violators. The internal court would
deny the right to a trial by a jury of

peers because it would be run
by professors and administrators.
Another difficulty would lie in the
flexibility with which a punishment
could be applied to an offense. It would
be the University's prerogative to
provide an academic punishment, such
as suspension, for a non-academic
violation. The system could also place a
student in double jeopardy. It would be
possible for a student to be tried and
punished by two courts - both Univer-
sity and civil or criminal - at the same
time.
Especially inappropriate are
provisions within the code that would
stifle dissent, such as diag demon-
strations or sit-ins. Proponents argue
that these provisions are peripheral,
but peripheral or not they are a part of
the code. Why does the rule exist if it
isn't going to be enforced? And if it is
going to be enforced, it could be used to
discourage legitimate protest.
The University is supposed to
educate and serve the students. If the
students areunable to protectthem-
selves, then it is the role of the gover-
nment to protect them; it is not the
role of the University. At the very least
the code would create a bureaucracy
that would not even be used since the
University doesn't have the time to run
its own court system. At its worst, it
would be an inefficient and un-
necessary means of enforcing laws
already established by society that
would infringe upon the rights of the
student to a just trial and punishment,
and to register legitimate dissent.
Either way it won't do the job.

f

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Apple
To the Daily:
From most perspectives the
University deserves
congratulations for the
cooperative arrangement with
Apple Computer enabling
faculty, staff and students to pur-
chase equipment at reduced
prices. As the purchase details of
the arrangement surface,
however, one cannot help but
begin to feel that the arrangement
is really targeted to push Apple's
new MacIntosh.
There are several indications
that heighten one's suspicions.
Most of the information released
by the University has indeed
focused on the MacIntosh; the Ile
(Apple's tried and true standby)
has received "also ran" status. If
you want to purchase a Ile you
need to go off campus to do so as
only the MacIntosh and Lisa are
being handled on campus. The
dieknunt nn the MacTntnh issub-

s motives
technological advancement and
appears to be an excellent com-
puter. The marketing question
however is, will it sell or fall flat,
leaving the owner with limited
BLOOM COUNTY

are unearthed

available software? What better
investment for Apple than to at-
tempt to flood the market of
"University types" with their
new technology product.

- Gary Rentschler
Department of Speech
and Hearing Sciences
February 13

4

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