To the Editors of The Crimson:
Mssrs. Connolly and Tufano's column of December 2, 1978, objecting to the Editorial Board's refusal to run the Playboy advertisement for Radcliffe models, rests on the assumption that the advertisement is political/philosophical and therefore must be accepted, while an advertisement placed by De Beers to sell diamonds is economic/commercial and therefore need not be accepted. This is a false distinction, and your reasoning fosters the belief that sexism is not a valid issue while racism is.
Racism and sexism are both combinations of political and economic practices: Blacks/women are kept in lower status and lower paying jobs so as to deny them the bargaining chips with which to enter the political process effectively, while the oppression itself is justified by both economic and philosophical arguments as to the educational, mental and emotional deficiencies of the oppressed group making it economically irrational to employ members of the group in supervisory positions. Whether the political/philosophical belief precedes the economic/commercial interest or is simply a justificatory mask for the latter, I shall leave to your own views of Marx et al.
However, I assert that a realistic look at the world around you will show you that at this stage of the game, the two aspects are intertwined, each supporting the other. The South African government's policy of apartheid is political in that it holds that racial segregation is a necessary and beneficent arrangement and it is economic in that it rests upon a system of exploitation of the labors of one race for the benefit of another; the sale of diamonds by a company which is a mainstay of the regime perpetuates both aspects. Similarly, a society which channels women into clerical jobs, housewifing and waitressing as opposed to either technical/bluecollar or professional work, is making a statement which is both economic and political; Playboy's selling of the image of woman as prostitute and sex object perpetuates sexual harassment at the workplace--the mentality which holds that women cannot supervise men or be assigned responsible duties and the notion that women can be excluded from higher-paying jobs, benefitting men as a class, because their inferior nature justifies such exclusion.
David Chan did not come to the Crimson to make a statement as to his philosophical beliefs; he came to obtain models for a project which his magazine hopes will be profitable (believe me, they would not print it otherwise). Likewise De Beers' advertisement was on its face commercial, aiming at the sale of diamonds. The link to oppression is in both cases through the use to which the proceeds will be put--the maintenance of an enterprise which survives economically largely because of oppressive elements and assumptions in society. In both cases, those who respond to the advertisements may not themselves be oppressed (a black Harvard student buying a diamond or a Kruggerand is presumably as "educated" and "completely within [his] rights to rights to refuse the offer" as is a Radcliffe student who wishes to pose for Playboy); what is at issue is whether the Crimson ought, through opening of economic opportunity to the advertiser, contribute to the enterprise in question. The issue, you see, ought to be the same in both cases--how far do the Crimson's philosophic/economic beliefs allow it to go in its selection of advertising?
You must face the "First Amendment" issue squarely, not by making artificial distinctions implying that supporting a magazine which makes its living off of sexist attitudes is not becoming "a party to an obvious injustice" while supporting a diamond company which fosters apartheid is participating in such an injustice. Your distinction implies that Mr. Chan's advertisement is somehow harmless--I certainly hope you don't believe that. --Diana Tanaka, Radcliffe '75, HLS '79
Connolly and Tufano reply:
We do not believe that sexism is harmless. We are aware that many of the corporations and groups who seek to advertise in this paper are not, in that sense, "harmless." However, we believe strongly enough in the necessity of free and open discussion, that we are loath to restrict access to advertising to any and everyone who might be "harmful." The standards that this newspaper should apply, we believe, should be designed to allow maximum exchange of information, and should exclude only those advertisements that present a strong, clear and direct link to the perpetration of a gross injustice. Such is the case in the Krugerrand ad; such is not the case in the Playboy ads. As much as we, too, would like to rid the world of injustice, we do not think that newspapers should strike advertising except for reasons that are clearly defined, and imply rigorous standards. The reasons given for the refusal of Mr. Chan's advertisement, and the standards applied to his case, are less rigorous, and less clearly defined, than those which we believe necessary to insure open discussion in this newspaper in the future.
To the Editors of The Crimson:
--A lousy $300 bucks--now that's exploitative! Andrea Eisenberg '80