Party poster provokes reaction in Latin community (1)
As I was walking through the Infinite Corridor last Thursday, a poster advertising a party caught my eye. This poster did not catch my eye because it looked like a good party to attend; it was only the blatant sexism of this poster which caught my eye.
Upon a closer examination of this poster I noticed that it was put up by organizations which represent the Latino culture. As a member of the Latino community, I know that this poster does not accurately represent my culture.
With all the recent publicity about sexual harassment on campus I could not believe how someone dared to put such a poster up on the walls of the Infinite Corridor. The poster is of a man and a woman. The man is well dressed and well covered while the woman, on the other hand, is scantily dressed in a seductive pose. The man's hand sits at her seemingly naked thigh. The obvious message of this poster is that Latino women are merely sex objects.
This poster represents a symbol of Latin culture since that is what it is supposedly advertising. From this we could conclude that the oppression of women was deliberately portrayed as a part of the Latino culture. One should also take into consideration that Latinos are a minority in this part of the country; therefore, a large number of people have not been exposed to Latin cul-
ture. Such people would draw the conclusion that the Latino community has no respect for women.
On Friday evening I went to a discussion meeting about this poster with the people involved. Such MIT groups as the Club Latino, the MIT Graduate Student Council, La Union Chicana por Aztlan (LUChA), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Columbianmistake! Colombian -- pm Association are involved in the promotion of this party. It has been my understanding that these groups are on campus to give the Latino/Latina community a voice which is representative of their culture as well as to defend it. I am a Latina and I know that a large part of our community does not stand for the oppression of women.
After a lengthy discussion the group decided that the poster offered no offense towards women. Their reasoning behind this decision was that the picture was "obviously a dance pose." The group also could not find fault with the lack of clothing on the woman. One of their final reasons for allowing the poster was that it truly represented the Latino community.
These people seem to have no problem with propagating stereotypes which the public holds on Latinos. The stereotypes I am talking about are the concepts associated with "machismo."
Those responsible for the poster went as far as to advise me that my culture did stand for "machismo" and for the oppression of women. They also pointed out that I should be proud of that aspect of my culture. They not only defined my culture for me, they also tried to define for me what is sexually offensive.
A spokesman explained to me how I would not have been offended had someone else not written on these posters that they were offensive. This meeting, though hopeless, was not the only way I tried to reason with these people.
I also e-mailed my complaint through Project Athena. The reply I received, from Joaquin R. Lacalle G, was equally disturbing. As a member of Club Latino he went on to reinforce the image in the poster by explaining the status of women in Latin culture.
He also reasoned that I had little to complain about since the women in Latin cultures have a lot of power. He went on to explain how the women had control over what went on in their houses. He even went as far as to conclude that the woman has a greater influence outside the home by her dominating influence inside the home. He wrote that I should be proud of this power women have in the home. My understanding of this whole response was that by objecting to this poster I am objecting to the ideas of my culture.
I know that in many Latin communities there are problems with the representation of women. There is no need to degrade the image of these women any more. Images such as these are the catalyst for the many problems which Latina women face. Those people who chose to attend "Sabor Latino" are also choosing to agree with the representations on the poster.
Georgina A. Maldonado '91->