Provocative attire: Leads to journalistic insensitivity


Last week, writers at The Tartan took on the controversial topic of sexy Halloween costumes in the article “College Halloween costumes bare all this year.” While the issue is one worthy of attention, the article handled it extremely poorly. Stereotypes and insensitive language pervaded the article, and intelligent journalism seemed nowhere to be found.

While The Tartan usually maintains a professionalism it should pride itself on, that professionalism was noticeably in this piece. Terms like “knockers” and “clam” as euphemisms for female anatomy read more like something posted on a low-quality, unsupervised blog than generated by a professional news organization.

Even worse than this departure from journalistic standards was the repeated use of the term “slut” and the unenlightened, stereotypical commentary on female body types.

Lines like “it doesn’t matter if you’re the size of a walrus or a complete beanpole and have knockers the size of boulders” are insensitive to women who don’t fit the weight range society considers attractive, and objectifies those who do.

As for the use of the term “slut”, this is one of the worst examples of discriminatory and derogatory language I have ever seen in a modern newspaper. Calling women sluts for dressing in a sexually suggestive way perpetuates the idea that women should be shamed for embracing their sexuality, and contributes to the double-standard that ostracizes sexually-assertive women while lauding sexually-assertive men.

Lines like “if you’re dressing like a slut, you want to be noticed” are exactly the kind of thing that creates the rape-friendly culture we currently live in. Those who dress sexually suggestive should not be judged as attention-seekers, and assumptions should not be made about their motives or their desires.

The dangerous thing about this statement is that it implies that provocatively-dressed women can be treated differently than those who swath themselves in protective layers, and taken to its logical conclusion, the implication is that if a woman is sexually assaulted or raped while dressed erotically, she was asking for it.

We no longer consider it acceptable to use racial epithets such as the N-word, so why is it acceptable to label women with an equally offensive term?

In short, Tartan writers, you owe your readers a serious apology. If you want to go beyond the call of duty, providing articles on slut-shaming, rape prevention, and the double-standard for male and female sexuality in modern culture would be appreciable, and would restore the standing this publication once had for readers like myself.


Sent from: Glen Luke Flanagan

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