About 30 women and their allies gathered Wednesday (November 21) outside the offices of the Eugene Weekly to offer Weekly staff a crash course in Feminism 101. A response to the publication's dire lack of a feminist perspective or analysis, the class was attended by several Weekly staff members including the editor and publisher.
The "class" was an open forum for people to express the reasons for their anger at the Weekly's trend of belittling women and the conditions of patriarchy. Several women expressed their views on the issues of pornography, women's oppression, and the difficulties of being a woman in a patriarchal society. "Posters" with clips from the Weekly over the past month were hung on the walls of the building, depicting a frighteningly dearth of understanding of feminism: from lack of representation of women, to honoring well-known local misogynist Ken Kesey, recent story on guns and sex, and of course the by-now notorious Fantasyland ad.
The Weekly's need for a feminist education became clear in October when the Weekly ran a full-page, full-color ad for a local sex-shop on the back cover of the Weekly's Annual Manual. An unknown group disgusted by the ad altered some of the paper's distribution boxes to say Sleezly, Smut, Sleeze.
In an alarmingly misogynistic moment, self-professed feminist Ted Taylor (editor of the Weekly), printed this comment the following week:
"We find the vandalism a thousand times more offensive than the ad... Is the property damage an attempt at censorship, trying to force us to restrict our content based on someone's narrow moral judgement? Lighten up. Buy a dildo. Have some fun."
The women outside the Weekly office on Wednesday, felt that Mr. Taylor needed a better understanding of the condition of women, what really comes out of shops like Fantasyland, and the overwhelming patriarchal bias that infects the publication.
A video that had been obtained using a free coupon published in the Weekly was shown. The disturbing video featured a pregnant woman being stalked, gang-raped and tortured. Women who had watched it were emotional when they spoke of the horrors that the Weekly made available to their readers. Weekly staff were invited to view the video after the class.
Publisher, Sonja Snyder declined to watch the video, but she did apologize to the crowd saying that printing the Fantasyland ad may have been a mistake and that the decision had been a financial one (dispelling all arguments for the freedom of speech). She thanked the crowd for coming out and expressing their views and said she was open to the idea of a regular column that would express a feminist perspective.
Ted Taylor, however, seems to have missed the point entirely. He refused to apologize for his "dildo" comment, claiming that he had been addressing the vandals and for all he knew they could have been male members of the Christian right. This comment prompted several women to respond, "what would those men do with a dildo?" Mr. Taylor seems to have failed to make the connection between the violence women many women experience and the patriarchal institutions of our society.
Readers are encouraged to send letters to the editor expressing concern over Mr. Taylor's idea of being "feminist;" requesting a regular forum for women to express their views; and calling for new editorial policies that will incorporate more feminist perspectives. (or maybe even new editorial staff!)
Letters can be sent to:
1251 Lincoln St.
Eugene, OR 97401