Playing Playboy

My best friend, Leslie, sent me a few articles today talking about how Playboy apparently released their annual top party schools list, except this year they are making consent the priority and released a list of "Top Ten Part Commandments: the Ultimate Guide for a Consensual Good Time." News of this spread like wild fire, and everyone is questioning, mostly commending, Playboy for their willingness to make talking about consent a priority. Check out the initial webpages here and here. Except as some of you may have predicted, it is indeed too good to be true.

Funny thing is, I sent these pages to my suite mate and fellow feminist Clara, who thought it was strange that it is "news" that a magazine is saying rape is not okay and that consent is cool. I agreed with her, because while it is great news that Playboy magazine, who reaches a large demographic of men, is endorsing the idea of consent and teaching men not to rape, it is kind of ridiculous that in 2013 we need to COMMEND and PRAISE someone for simply agreeing that rape is not okay. It reveals both how much and how little progress we've made. As it turns out, of course, this news isn't even real.

According to this ThinkProgress article, the websites and articles were made by FORCE, a feminist group in Baltimore that proclaims to creatively upset rape culture and to promote the culture of consent. Another group, Hollaback Baltimore, a street harassment prevention organization, tweeted FORCE's work and other related people also tweeted these websites and articles to news sources. Apparently, FORCE did a similar project last year with a fake website called Pink Loves Consent that confused everyone into thinking Victoria's Secret is taking a stance on women's issues and promoting consent. This time, Playboy is the target, because while it publishes a top party schools list every year, it glosses over the issues that Greek life and rape culture add to rape on college campuses, especially the top party schools. The facts that this is fake and that if it was real, it's too good to be true and too ridiculously simple to celebrate, remind us that Playboy and other institutions really aren't doing enough to bring attention to issues that they have a say in.

Although it's fake, I loved an idea put forth from the faux-infograhic: that undergraduate men grow out their beards during No Shave November and wear t-shirts prompting people to ask them about their beards, in turn sparking a conversation about consent. Trying to talk to men about feminism and to care about feminism has been an issue at Rice for way too long. I wonder if something like that can happen at Rice, because why not?

FORCE played Playboy well, and it's time we talked about feminism on campus outside of Women Gender and Sexuality Studies classrooms. I want to go to a university where my peers are not afraid of feminism and everyone, women and men alike, can proudly identify as a feminist without negative connotations or hesitant looks. I want to go to a university where being drunk isn't a reason for other women and men to judge me if I then get raped or sexually assaulted. I want to go to a university where the proclaimed "culture of care" is actually in place and we care and cherish one another. Call me a dreamer, but we're turning this dream into a reality, one photo at a time.


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