“Rarely will two boys alone engage in a cut fight. But put the same two boys in a group and they often feel compelled to insult each other or another boy in the group. A cut fight requires an audience. At center stage are the higher-status boys; around the periphery are the lower-status boys, and admiring audience who, by their presence, attention, and laughter, validate the higher status of the boys at the center. This dynamic starts as early as first grade and is well established by high school . . .
“They sometimes gathered in a home when parents were away to watch pornographic films and masturbate together. Next they developed a group entertainment called voyeuring, in which one guy at a party would try to convince a girl to go upstairs to a bedroom to have sex. But first his buddies would go up and hide in a closet, under the bed, or behind the door, where they could watch. Sex with a girl, for these guys, was less an intimate encounter with a valued human being than it was the use of a woman’s body as a sexual performance for male buddies, a way to create their own porn movie. . .
“In gang rape, men use female bodies to bond with each other. Anthropologist Peggy Sanday and others who have studied gang rape are careful to argue that, from the point of view of the woman, the rape is not a sexual experience but a violent, degrading, and painful assault. For the perpetrators, however, gang rape certainly is a sexual experience-but it is not about sex with a woman; rather, the males in the group use the violated woman’s body as an object through which to have vicarious sex with each other. Underlying gang rape is male anxiety about status in a hierarchy of power, expressed through denigration of women and erotic bonding among men, and rooted in the misogynist joking culture of athletic teams.
Most heterosexual boys and young men go through a period of insecurity and even discomfort in learning to establish sexual relations with girls and women. Men who were former athletes told me that in high school, and even in college, talking to girls and women made them feel anxious and inadequate. These young men dealt with their feelings of lameness with young women primarily by listening to and watching their male peers deliver a rap to women. This peer pedagogy of heterosexual relations taught them to put on a performance for girls that seemed to work. The success of this learned heterosexual come-on allowed a young man to mask, even overcome, his sense of insecurity and lameness in his own eyes and, just as important, in the eyes of his male teammates. It also deepened his erotic bond with other members of his male peer group by collectively constructing women as objects of conquest.”
~Excerpts from Michael Messner’s essay entitled “The Triad of Violence in Men’s Sports”
“It does not represent rape or violence, but if one had to give an interpretation of the picture, it could recall an erotic dream, a sexual game.“~Response to the criticism by designer Stefano Gabbana
The most common argument against the gang-rape criticism is the fact that the woman is not putting up a fight, but instead remains still with an air of helplessness. I say, this is all the more reason that this promotes gang rape as it depicts a scenario where a woman is objectified and degraded and has no issue with this fact whatsoever. This gives the public and the male population a false sense of complacency when it comes to women and “putting out.” Advertisers constantly depict women as being hyper-sexual beings, ready to pounce and always willing to show you more of her body. This advertisement depicts a woman who, by lying motionless without a care or thought, relays the same message: I’m here, take me, degrade me.
Although Mr. Gabbana tries to take a stab at defending his advertisement, keep in mind that he is a businessman and in the world of selling products, one must stand out from the rest. Usually, advertisers delve into the oh-so tantalizing world of sexuality, illustrating a story of sexuality that plays into fantasy that many of us have been sold to since a very young age. Our minds are being tampered with, our wallet is at stake – all for the sake of a company’s profit. But at whose expense?
–written by Elena Gaudino