I love our Students' Union. I truly do. Not only do they provide me with material for this column, they do it with impeccable timing to illustrate a point regarding a current social concern. I don't necessarily want to be the SU watchdog 24/7, but I sure enjoy humping their leg from time to time. Annoying for them and oh-so-satisfying for me.
This time it's about porn. How can the SU possibly help me illustrate the problem with porn, you ask? Maybe it's time you came to SLC meetings to find out...
At the Jan. 9 gathering of the Students' Legislative Council, our fair student representatives discussed the proposed new name for Stör. The winner of the Name the Stör! contest incited heated debate around the table, divided predominantly along gender lines. The potential new name, in all its obnoxious glory, is "Bad Kitty's Snack Emporium."
Of five women at the council, four found this name offensive. Of the 16 men, most giggled in a frat-boy fashion and one in particular vociferously demanded an explanation as to how this name could possibly be offensive. I shall take it upon myself to explain.
In modern vernacular, and in this phrase, kitty = pussy = piece of tail = vagina. Shazam. Store name to woman's sex organ in four easy steps. Preceded with the word "bad", "kitty" conjures up all kinds of sadomasochistic innuendos. S&M porn generally depicts its subjects as "bad" or "naughty" and invariably describes a form of sexual punishment. Essentially, the potential new store name invokes violent treatment of women. Add the fact that this string of syntax is only two letters away from being "Bad Kitty's Snatch Emporium"--a name that produces over 100 adult-only Web sites when entered in an Internet search engine--and there's no way you can say this title refers to a feline that pooped in the house and then went looking for some munchies.
The argument was also raised that shock value sells, but I see three problems with that. First, Stör is not in competition with another convenience outlet. It's the only business of its kind where the students congregate en masse. Why risk turning customers away with aggressive marketing tactics? Second, if this is such an "inoffensive" name, why does it have shock value? Giving it that merit is an acknowledgement of its lack of integrity. Third, it's possible to be clever without being offensive. If the SU types could pull that off, that would be true shock value.
In recent research, I've learned that the attitudes towards women promoted by the porn industry are widespread in our world. Even among non-porn users--or perhaps I assume too much about our SU representatives--the dehumanization of women and a tendency to seek entertainment at their expense exists, as illustrated by the reactions of the SLC members last week. Is the link between pornography use and a questionable name for Stör too tenuous? I don't think so. If our elected representatives put the name "Bad Kitty's Snack Emporium" in neon strip lighting above their public space, they're sending a very definite message that corporate, not student, interests are at heart. The use of a name that denotes women as animals and indicates the retailing of their physicality is cheap, degrading and part of the continuing societal refusal to acknowledge women as whole, complex beings comprised of more than a body.
At the time of writing, it wasn't yet decided what the new name of Stör will be but if the name "Bad Kitty's" is used, I for one will never set foot there again and I hope anyone who finds it offensive does the same. The SU has no official opposition and is made accountable only by student feedback. So if you're upset, go to the SU offices and tell them to stop examining the scenery in their sphincters.