Anti-Playboy protesters did not 'force' women to not pose

by Susan Zieger | 5/11/95 5:00am

To The Editor:

Dan Richman '95 grossly misunderstood and misrepresented the arguments of the anti-Playboy protesters and those of the pro-choice movement in his narrow-minded comparison of the two ("The Double Standard of 'Choice,' " May 10, 1995).

The purpose of Monday's protest was not to prevent women from posing for Playboy, but to persuade them not to. No one there wanted to take away a woman's choice to interview or pose, contrary to Richman's erroneous assumption.

But the choice to appear in Playboy has repercussions that extend beyond the individual woman's life. By choosing to pose, she degrades not only herself, but supports a system of representation that dehumanizes women everywhere, not just at Dartmouth or in the Ivy League. Women here are likely able to afford the choice: They are not struggling to feed families or pay rent. When they pose for fun or because they think by objectifying themselves they express their sexuality -- or for whatever reason -- they become complicit in an economically oppressive system, too. We are asking Dartmouth women to consider their social responsibility. We are saying that the choices we make have effects beyond ourselves.

The same logic applies to the pro-choice movement. The decision to bear and rear a child belongs to the woman who will be responsible for it. Since child rearing is perhaps the most enormous responsibility one can bear, women should have all means available to them to effect their decision to have a child or not. Again, individual responsibility is social responsibility.

One has to wonder why Richman defends so passionately a "choice" he will never have to make. Of course, as a member of the group to which the pornography industry caters, he benefits by his peers' choices to objectify themselves, whether he reads Playboy or not. Their "choice" to dehumanize themselves maintains a system in which he never has to.