The Sex Workers’ Art Show has drawn a lot of reaction, for and against. Now that it has drawn the attention of the national media (check the Drudge Report, one of the most visited news website in the country), this is my reaction, speaking for many of us who find this show absurd to the point that one can only watch in awe at the Student Assembly’s decision-making.
p. According to the article “Student Assembly votes for sex” in the Jan. 18 issue of The Flat Hat, “some senators expressed discomfort with the show’s content, but cited the First Amendment as a reason not to stifle free speech.” Our fellow students believe that their obedience to the First Amendment requires that they tolerate the show.
p. I entreat someone to please show me where the First Amendment requires us to actively seek out, invite into our community and fund perverts and deviants. Maybe that clause is written on the back of the Constitution, to be revealed only with lemon juice and heat. People often lose sight of the fact that freedom of speech grants you the right to speak against perverts as well as in their favor.
p. These SA members have confused having a spine and protecting their values — exercising their First Amendment rights and their more fundamental right to make personal decisions they think are best for the campus — with limiting the free speech of the pornographers and pimps we have invited to our community. Opposing funding for the show in no way curtails freedom of speech. If the SA voted to condemn all activity promoting nudity or pornography on campus, that might be objectionable, then they would have a case. But this is not such a case. Rather, the issue regards inviting venues to campus that are objectionable and funding them.
p. Given recent events, the SA’s decision is even more absurd. How can the College lobby to the commonwealth of Virginia with a straight face while it is spending what it does have on burlesque pornography and glorified representations of an illegal industry? We are less than a year removed from an article that detailed how utterly pathetic our economic policy was at this school, and we continue to move in the direction of fiscal irresponsibility because of some ridiculous quasi-religious crusade against social normalcy.
p. Many have argued that the show is actually valuable. In terms of substance, I’ve heard, for example, “the point of the show is to reveal the horrible nature of the industry,” “the show represents a huge industry that makes a lot of money,” “it’s performance art” and, my favorite, “it belongs in a liberal arts education.”
p. Contrary to the first argument, the point is explicitly outlined on the SWAS website (which features pink silhouettes of men and women surrounded by the words “New Whore Order,” I might add): to “dispel the myth that [sex workers] are anything short of innovators and geniuses,” as well as to “celebrat[e] prostitutes’ rights.” In essence, it glorifies an industry that degrades women, ruins lives, is largely illegal and has been proven to increase the rate of rape and aggression in men.
p. Allowing and funding these “artists” to glorify the abuse of women on campus is inexplicable, unsupportable and tragically ironic considering the efforts of the College to educate about and prevent sexual assault.
p. It is truly shameful to see our elected members of the SA, with the firmest backing coming from our SA president, pass something as insane as this. Tit torture, ball-crushing, whip-yielding, nipple-torturing and works like “I Love Dick,” all of which are direct quotes from the show’s website, bring only shame to our campus. They have no place in the First Amendment, no place in what should be a very tight budget, and no place at a school that claims to be dedicated to treating women equally and with dignity.
p. __Brooks Amster is a sophomore at the College.__