Pin-Ups Do Affect Male Views


To the editors:

In his article "In Defense of Hooters and the St. Pauli Girl" (March 13), Noah Oppenheim suggests that what he freely admits to be an objectification of women by chains such as Hooters and magazines such as Playboy have no impact on male-female relations. He states: "[Some feminists] argue that exposure to sexual objectification distorts men's perceptions of all women. They are wrong." His argument is that rational men distinguish between the poster of a naked woman and the women they meet in daily life. It is remarkable that Oppenheim, in his 1,000-word article, has managed to solve a problem that feminist theory has been grappling with for decades. It is unrealistic to suggest that what we encounter in our daily lives does not influence our opinions, our feelings and our interactions with the people around us.

Oppenheim believes himself able to view women as individuals in his daily encounters. No doubt his female friends would agree. However, it is disturbing that his defense of "sexual objectification" culminates in this sentence: "Idealizations are a fiction, and those who confuse fiction with reality have bigger problems that the posters on their walls." Oppenheim feels that if men don't treat real women as they would a poster, then there isn't a problem. But his use of the word "idealization" to describe a poster of a body that has no connection to an individual betrays deeper truths about the objectification of women than he may want to face. KATHRYN B. WALSH '00   March 16,1998


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