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University rector protests against P-Magazine campaign

Oct 7, 2014

Katlijn Malfliet, vice rector of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), is protesting against P-Magazine’s request to Belgian student associations to send in revealing photos of attractive female students. The magazine will put the winning student on the cover and throw a “cantus” party – a traditional party with singing and drinking – for that student association.

“Is it possible to treat women more like objects?” the vice rector said in the KU Leuven student magazine Veto.  “Women are also people; it’s that simple.”

Malfliet feels that the magazine is furthering the sexual objectification of women. “Girls between 17 and 24 have difficulties with the expectations society has for them,” she stated. “They shouldn’t suffer from a social pattern in which they must be pretty, serve men as objects of lust and also perform academically.”

Philosopher Anya Topolski, co-ordinator of the platform Sharing Academic Sexism Stories With You (Sassy), has also spoken out against the initiative. She referred to the United Nations’ campaign “He for She” to show how this a good opportunity for male students to stand up for their female colleagues.

“Our fellow-students, our friends, maybe someday our partners are being humiliated,” said Topolski, who called for the start of a petition and appealed to the public to not buy the magazine. 

Jeroen Denaeghel, editor-in-chief of P-Magazine, confirmed that the student on the cover should “show some skin” but argued that their campaign fits into a historical artistic tradition. “Should we also throw the Venus de Milo in the garbage bin?” said Denaeghel.

He also emphasised that the women are stylishly presented and are much more innocent than video clips on MTV. The magazine has received about 80 submissions for the competition.

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