The banana flasher

6 04 2009

Ugh.  I like eating bananas, but I’m sick of bananas being used as phallic imagery.

I just saw this disturbing image on Shakesville:


Here is a banana exposing himself (rather itself, but this banana is masculinized and gendered as a he) to two feminine pieces of fruit who are wearing heels and lipstick.  The female pear and strawberry are obviously running away in fear while the banana flasher is standing there grinning creepily and evilly.

This picture should not be perceived as funny, cutesy or harmless.  Using fruit to personify and illustrate a traumatic and upsetting event detracts away from the severity of sexual harassment.  This image belittles the severity of nonconsensual exposure of genitalia and tries to make it humorous.  Sexualizing fruit and using it to depict sexual harassment  also dismisses the consequences of such incidents.

Yet pointing out that this picture is not funny but rather offensive and insensitive will most likely not be so well received.  People will probably respond, “oh you’re taking it too seriously” or “it’s just fruit”.  Wrong, and wrong.  Melissa puts it well on her post:

And yet reacting to the image by correctly construing the flasher as dangerous and his victims as in danger, and suggesting that’s not particularly funny, is somehow indicative of a hypersensitivity, rather than a failure to interpret the image as a captured moment of sexual threat indicative of a lack of sensitivity.

Rape jokes and related humor about sexual harassment or sexual violence are not funny.  Not even when it’s just fruit, you know, not people so it’s not a big deal.  People need to find better ways to spend their time instead of coming up with “funny” jokes about sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Student pornography

6 04 2009

In the April 6th edition of the Tufts Daily, Logan Crane’s sex column, “If You Seek Amy,” discusses pornographic publications on other college campuses in “You say camera, I say dorm.”  While Crane’s ideas about reducing the taboo on discussing sex on campus have some merit, she makes some generalizations about pornography and Tufts students, and she also fails to examine the resources at Tufts.

First and foremost, Crane makes a sweeping generalization about student life here at Tufts:

[College] provides the opportunity to drink in excess without societal judgment, pursue personal goals and dreams that would otherwise not be possible and — more importantly — it grants us a stage to voice sexual expression.

Crane is ignoring the experiences of students who choose not to drink, and she also perpetuates the myth that college is a time to drink in excess.  In addition, the term “sexual expression” is quite vague, and from the article in full, she seems to be implying that students will all gain new sexual experience and find ways to talk about sexuality.  While I an others support open and honest discourse about sex and sexuality, many students at Tufts do not have sex, or do not “hook-up.”  Sexuality is a personal issue, and while that does not mean that we shouldn’t make it an accessible and open topic, it is not required of college students to be open about their sexualities.  Again, I’m not completely sure what Crane is implying when she says “sexual expression,” and so I invite her to clarify.  I certainly disagree, though, with her assertion that “[s]exual expression is a significant part of the university experience.”  Perhaps it has been a significant part of her university experience, but it is unreasonable to generalize about all students.

She goes on to say:

[T]here are several groups and social networks on campus that are specifically targeted toward issues of sexual representation, Tufts’ efforts are inferior to other elite universities in this respect.

Whoa, now.  After using another vague term, “sexual representation,” Crane claims that Tufts is behind other elite schools.  Well, what does “sexual representation” mean?  I’m not claiming that she’s inaccurate, but she needs to be much more clear about what she’s talking about, especially since Tufts students are currently trying to make sexuality a much more accessible topic (for example, through VOX or PACT).  So, in what ways are we specifically lagging behind?

Apparently, Tufts is lagging because we don’t have student produced pornography.


“Pornography” does not equal “sexual expression/sexual representation/sexual discourse.”  That is not to say that pornography cannot be used for sexual expression, representation, or discourse.  But it does not equal those things.  Does Tufts need student pornography to lift the taboos on sexual discourse?  Absolutely not!

This blog post is not intended to spur the discussion of whether or not pornography can be feminist or not; some feminists firmly believe that pornography can be an amazing form of sexual expression, while others equate it to rape.  From what I’ve experienced, pornography can be a fabulous way to induce arousal, for both men and women, but as a way to spread messages about sexual norms, it’s much less than ideal.

Crane does not seem to be advocating for student porn near the end of her column, but by claiming that Tufts lags behind other schools, and by having student porn as the topic of this week’s column, she certainly seems to be implying it would be beneficial.

So, I ask Miss Crane: Why exactly do we need student pornography here at Tufts?  Your column has not convinced me of anything.

Do colleges and universities benefit from student produced pornography?  What are the issues that need to be addressed on campuses in order to improve sexual discourse?  How does pornography address these issues?  Is there another way to address these issues on campus, besides porn?  Why might pornography be problematic in terms of the discourse it incurs?  In terms of the process of creating such material on campus?

Crane was onto something when she said that sexual discourse needs to be much less taboo on campuses.  But to claim that sexuality is a major part in every college experience (and to say the same about binge drinking–what?), that Tufts is behind other comparable schools because of its lack of student pornography, and to imply that pornography will be a step towards improving sexual discourse on campus are all major problems with her column this week.