Ad flap misses issue

Women are not stupid. Nor are we guileless innocents, waiting for someone else to tell us the ramifications of our actions.

If a woman poses for Playboy, she knows full well what it means nudity, scanty lingerie, seductive poses and probably a hefty paycheck.

She also knows that some people will fantasize about her pictures, and some will protest the magazine's very existence. She knows that "men's magazines" are controversial and raise the public's ire.

But she also knows full well what she is doing. She is making a conscious decision to pose nude, and that is her choice. She does not unwittingly end up in a magazine with no clothes on. She understands what type of magazine Playboy is, and that while it does have good articles, literary quality is not its main selling point.

And it was my choice to run the Playboy ad before spring break. Wildcat policy dictates that if an advertiser wants to place a potentially controversial ad, the editor in chief makes the final decision. This ad was the cover of the magazine and read "Required Reading for Spring Break."

Granted, it wasn't the most sophisticated advertisement. The cover model, clothed in a thong bikini bottom and a lei, is turned slightly away from the camera so nothing shows. It is no worse than a swimsuit shop ad, a trip to the pool or some "women's magazines" covers.

In fact, an ad with a woman in almost the exact same pose ran earlier that week, and another features a naked man and woman apparently feeling aroused by the idea of tanning booths.

Nary a word was heard about these ads, but stick the word "Playboy" on a picture and it takes on a whole new meaning. It is suddenly dirty and degrading.

The message here is "use sex to sell things, but just don't sell sex." This message is hypocritical, insulting and confused.

I approved this ad because it showed no nudity beyond what we normally run (like swimsuit ads), it was simply the cover of the magazine and I am not going to decide what people can see. If you don't want to see the magazine, don't buy it. If you have a problem with Playboy and consider it harmful, work to promote equality.

There is a line to cross here. I would never OK an ad that illustrated torture, violence, oppression or degradation of anyone, for any amount of money. But the cover of Playboy does not meet those qualifications. The photo in another context probably wouldn't have drawn any attention, as similar photos demonstrate.

The Wildcat has even printed a man completely in the altogether, and the biggest complaint we received was from the Naked Man himself, accusing us of intentionally making him look small.

Size matters in the Playboy issue also. Several people who've complained mentioned that the ad was large, as if that had bearing on how offensive the content is. Apparently, if the ad was smaller it wouldn't have attracted so much concern. This makes no sense.

The content, not the size, is what is important. Be outraged by substance, not image.

And fight to change the substance, not the just the image. Obliterating Playboy will accomplish nothing for equality if that is the only goal. The work, health care, education and social fronts still need attention. While hardcore pornography may contribute to some men's disregard of women, it is not the only cause. Seeing a picture of a naked lady in a seductive pose does not make someone into a misogynist.

Part of conditioning is that women are not smart enough to think for themselves. That is the assumption made when people complain that I OK'd the ad, that it degrades women and that I'm a hypocrite for talking about equality and then running a Playboy ad.

If the editor in chief was a man, he'd be labeled a sexist pig. Attacking me assumes that I'm not intelligent enough to consider all sides of the issue.

As a woman, I'm not considered sexist, just stupid. The women in the magazine are considered, often by fellow women, too stupid to realize what they're doing. Or if they know what they're supposedly doing at the expense of other women, then they are betraying the cause. Women cannot act as individuals, because even to other women, they are only seen as women.

It is necessary to look at equality in depth, and work together to make acceptable compromises instead of just skimming the surface. Concern for the degradation of people is commendable, think the issue through and get to the root of the problem.

Playboy alone does not cast a negative image on women, but reflects a value society already accepts. And that value will remain, even if Playboy ceases publication, or the Wildcat never runs another magazine ad. Killing the messenger is not the answer.

And if Playgirl wants to run an ad featuring its cover, I'll be happy to oblige.

Sarah Garrecht is Wildcat editor in chief and a journalism senior.

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