Recently, Ka Leo printed a “swimsuit issue” featuring women in bathing suits.
On behalf of the National Organization for Women at UH Mānoa (NOW), we demand that Ka Leo apologize for printing an issue that contributes to the objectification and degradation of women. Ka Leo should provide an example to future journalists and marketing executives by showing how media can be responsible and accountable for their portrayals of women. We view this as an opportunity for Ka Leo to take responsibility and facilitate social dialogue about these issues.
The female students at UH Mānoa are not objects of the male gaze, rather, we are talented women who have come to get an education and improve our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and our community. The University of Hawai’i instills in all of its students values of respect, dignity, and tolerance of everyone, regardless of race, gender, class, or sexual orientation. The “swimsuit issue” did not represent any of these ideals and actually worked against them.
The objectification of women’s bodies has been correlated to distorted body images, eating disorders (college-aged women are one of the risk groups), as well as violence towards women. When woman are reduced to nothing more than bodies, or objects, an environment that tolerates violence against women is created. While I do not believe that Ka Leo endorses any such violence, I would hope that our student newspaper would understand that even without direct endorsement, messages can be conveyed indirectly through practices of objectification.
Please join me in demanding an apology for this degradation.