Charity Date Auction Flips Objectification on Its Head — In A Good Way

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By Jack Campbell, Contributing Writer

Last Saturday, an all-male a cappella group named Mass Transit performed at GCASL. While the vocal performances were tantalizing, the main attraction was the charity date auction during which attendees could bid on dates with the singers. The proceeds from the evening went to a non-profit organization named Safe Home, a charity committed to providing a healing atmosphere for the survivors of domestic abuse as well as their families. The idea of date auctions may seem problematic, as it seems like it objectifies men, but we should not be so quick to take issue with it. In fact, the charity date auction exemplifies a paradigm shift in how our society has chosen to confront the institution of objectification in a way that is both thought-provoking and productive.

Although anyone can be objectified, the vast majority of people who have had to suffer the ramifications of objectification are women. Because of the patriarchal state of our society, a practice that objectifies a woman will likely have a more damaging impact on their identity than a practice that objectifies a man. The objectification of women is deeply ingrained in almost every aspect of our culture. How are we to deal with practices that degrade people and also work to undermine the sexism that exists in such practices.

By auctioning off dates with the singers, Mass Transit successfully used an objectifying practice to empower people, deliberately subverting traditional gender norms in favor of benefitting those who are most hurt by pervasive machismo. Members of Mass Transit voluntarily participated in the event, thus avoiding self-injury while drawing attention to the issue of objectification itself by challenging the expectations of others. Women are being empowered without the disempowerment of men, which is a small step on the path to achieving actual gender equality. Because the proceeds from the evening are going to an organization for survivors of domestic abuse, men, women and children in dangerous situations will be able to feel more supported knowing that there is a safe place for them.

If we want to confront the objectifying practices that have the potential to demean all people, we need to reach an equilibrium by standing with both sexes in a positive, consequence-free environment that will not victimize anyone. Regardless of whether or not Mass Transit consciously chose to make a feminist statement, their action was a good example of how male privilege can be used as a non-destructive, anti-sexist tool.

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Email Jack Campbell at [email protected]