The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    WAGE: Other ways to contribute

    Janie Boschma

    Earlier this semester, as the UWEC Calendar for Cancer controversy began to surface – as it has the past two years – I received an e-mail from a student raising an interesting point. In it she expressed concern for the effects a calendar filled with provocative images of women in bikinis would have on the self-esteem of women that have undergone mastectomies while battling breast cancer.

    Around the same time, a relative of mine, who has undergone a mastectomy herself, learned of this calendar and was appalled by the thought of the images being sold and justified as helping people like her. Of course, these are merely two of the widely varied reactions to this calendar and, as a Spectator columnist mentioned in Thursday’s edition of The Spectator, “there have been models in the calendar that have had cancer and their family commends them for their work.” These past models, I might add, fit within cultural definitions of conventional beauty and their presence on the pages of the calendar seemed to be much more about their bodies rather than their stories of battling and surviving cancer. However, this example is indicative of just one of the many complex issues the Calendar for Cancer draws out each year.

    Another issue, of course, is the objectification and exploitation of women inherent in the very nature of the calendar, as responses by various Spectator staff columns, WAGE and countless letters and posted comments have already thoughtfully and intelligently articulated.

    The purpose of this column is not to continue re-hashing the issues others have so effectively raised in the past; instead, I would like to invite students to get involved in an alternative campaign WAGE is sponsoring to raise money for cancer research.

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    In an editorial denouncing the sexually exploitative nature of the UWEC Calendar for Cancer written in September, the Spectator staff editorial board wrote, “WAGE also needs to step up, retire their repetitive rhetoric and do something more aggressive in making their point. They need to get creative and plan if they want to combat the nature of the calendar.”

    This is a well-taken point. Each year, WAGE has staffed a booth during calendar sales and sponsored a panel discussion to both point out and discuss the exploitation of women this calendar promotes. Yet each year things seem to be getting worse rather than improving.

    For example, the project manager of last year’s calendar, Steve Farina, justified the calendar in a Spectator article, asserting that “all who volunteered were welcome to appear in the calendar and that there was no selection process.” It was widely publicized that this year, however, the models were chosen through a Facebook voting process where calendar spots were given to those that were voted the “hottest.” And, ultimately, the calendar continues to sell, just as similar calendars are selling on campuses nationwide.

    Many in support of the calendar make comments about how a swimsuit calendar is “innocent” and “not that big of a deal” in comparison to the images we are bombarded with daily, which alludes to a greater cultural problem – and an issue of our campus climate – that WAGE is always working to address. But throughout the next year, we would simply like to be a part of helping concerned students on this campus in an effort to set a better example for fellow students and for the creators of the UWEC Calendar for Cancer.

    If you find yourself appalled and embarrassed at the way the calendar portrays your campus, then be a part of creating something that represents your campus in a way that you can respect and take pride in. Perhaps in this way we might help the calendar crew to understand the definition of the word “classy,” for it seems their idea of this term is sadly misguided.

    To sign up for WAGE’s campaign, please stop by our booth this Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Hibbard Hall first-floor lobby or contact WAGE at [email protected].

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