Band poster whips up controversy
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 00:04
Last Thursday, a poster promoting a bondage-themed party at local pub The Tavern stirred controversy around USM’s campus.
Local DJ group Ca$h Fountain Productions hosted the VIP Dungeon Party at The Tavern on Saturday. Group member Drew Bardin, a University of Southern Mississippi graduate, created a poster for the event that was placed throughout campus and Hattiesburg that included a graphic of a naked woman on her knees with her hands tied behind her back.
Many students and faculty members on campus were outraged when they saw the flyer.
“A faculty member in the English department alerted me and sent me the photo via e-mail,” Joe Paul, vice president for student affairs, said. “It depicted a woman in a submissive position. It was objectifying and degrading a woman.”
Bardin said that the poster was not created to objectify women.
“I was Google surfing when I saw the picture,” Bardin said. “I wasn’t trying to find a demeaning picture. “
Bardin also said that the poster was created to fit the S&M theme of the party.
“The essential idea was a blackout party - lasers but no lights,” Bardin said. “We played more aggressive electronic music to make the mood dark. The theme was centered around the bondage culture. We ended the night with ‘S&M’ by Rihanna.”
Paul said the flyers were put up around campus without consent.
“We have a sign policy that on campus and off campus entities need to go through to register to put signs onto campus,” Paul said. “They were put up without authorization. Members of student activities staff removed them from other areas on campus.”
De-Annah Kleitz Singleton, a senior theater major, said that the flyer was oppressive.
“I think the poster goes so far as to dehumanize women,” Singleton said. “It implies coerced, non-consensual activities that unite violence and sex. Coupling that with the objectification, she becomes a puppet, a tool for exploitation.”
Singleton also said that the image misrepresents the BDSM sex subculture.
Martina Lindstrom, a senior entertainment industry major, said that the issue is being blown out of proportion.
“I get handed flyers every week on campus with actual pictures of women in bikinis so small that they probably have to photoshop the nipple out of the picture, and nobody ever says anything about that,” Lindstrom said. “The poster is very delicately done, with a silhouette of a woman instead of a picture of a woman.”
Singleton said that groups need to be more aware of implications of their advertising strategies.
“I have friends who went that show,” she said. “While I know they’re not bad people and I those who made the flyer are not, we can’t excuse this sort of thing. Until we take action against oppression, we’re a part of it.”
Terrence Bridges, a member of Ca$h Fountain Productions, said that the party was just based on a theme.
“Halloween is no different,” Bridges said. “It’s cool when you dress up on Halloween, but when we do a themed party, it’s a problem. This gave people who are into S&M a place to go in Hattiesburg.”
Greg Booking, another member of Ca$h Fountain Productions, said the flyer was not created in ill intent.
“I didn’t see it as being offensive, but I hate that it was seen so negatively.
Members of the band also hosted a Best Dressed Dominatrix contents. The winner, a woman covered in latex, took the $50 prize. Hattiesburg Police Department patrolled the party and did a walkthrough. There were no warnings or citations given.
Ca$h Fountain Productions performed at Eaglepalooza this year free of cost and also plays at many Greek Life events off campus. They performed at Alpha Delta Pi sorority’s formal on Friday and played an Amnesty International Concert for free.
“We’re sorry if anyone took it as offensive,” Bridges said. “We would never degrade women. That’s the majority of our crowd.”