Something was amiss in the hallways of Fab at the end of October. Among the posters for student recitals and music lessons was a disconcerting advertisement for Hudson’s on Campus. It featured a faceless, scantily-clad woman who seemed to be preparing to perform fellatio on a saxophone. Some students wondered how these ads were allowed to be plastered around FAB, and why they were allowed to stay up for 2 weeks.
While some students didn’t think the ad was so bad, “I’ve seen worse,” said one pianist, others found the poster “demeaning and offensive.” One PhD student added that it pointed to the larger problem of the conflation of sex and music. In talking to the music students, one person mentioned that this event was a fundraiser for the music department. They suggested we contact someone from the Music Students’ Association.
So in order to get to the bottom of the poster mystery, we sent an email to Kaylee Rudiger, the president of the MSA. We asked her if the event was indeed put on by the MSA, and if so, who designed the poster. Rudiger informed us that the poster was a “fundraiser with Hudson’s to raise money for instrumentalists of the music department. This event is in NO way affiliated with the Music Students’ Association.” She also added that she wasn’t sure how the design was decided, but that “this event has brought in money for the department year for numerous years [sic].”
Why is this relevant? Using a woman’s body to sell products is inappropriate in any advertising, but it is especially alarming when used in an academic setting. The poster may be raising money for the Music department, but at the expense of a supportive learning environment. It seems that no one knows who is behind the poster and that no one wants to accept responsibility. Why isn’t it even advertised as being a university-affiliated event? It’s a mystery!
Sex sells. We get it. But someone at the university is partnering with a private business to create advertisements that objectify women. Why is this allowed to happen? Is it because no one has spoken up? We need to recognize that advertising practices like this make students uncomfortable. At the very least we should recognize that no one practices sax in their underwear!
-Becky Smith-Mandin and Allison Sokil