Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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UMW Bullet column about ogling causes controversy on campus

More than 100 University of Mary Washington students attended an on-campus forum last night titled “Blaming Women?”

The event was in response to a column in The Bullet, UMW’s student-run newspaper. It dealt with men ogling women who show more skin in spring and summer. The author meant for it to be satire, but a lot of students took offense.

An online version of the column—called “Sexclamations”—was originally titled “Females’ Clothing Choice To Blame for Men’s Lewd ‘Ogling.” The headline was changed—in print and online—to “Warm Weather Brings Short Skirts and ‘Ogling’ Eyes” to better reflect the satirical content.

The column ends with: “In short, men are weak creatures that cannot control what they do, so it is up to women to put a stop to this immoral epidemic of lewd behavior. Guys will always stare at scantily clad women, so ladies must be aware of that and accept the consequences of how they dress.”

Junior Thomas Ella, who is the editor of The Bullet’s entertainment section, said the author wasn’t being serious.

“He was making an assertion that was so ridiculous… that’s what made it funny,” Ella said.

But some students say the column reinforces widespread beliefs about men and women.

“It wasn’t far enough removed from reality to even be funny,” said Annie Truslow, who organized last night’s forum and is starting a feminist club.

UMW psychology professor Chris Kilmartin said the column exaggerated stereotypes.

“Most college men do not like their friends ogling women,” he said. “Most college men do not like other men calling women by animal names or the names of their genitals. Most college men are offended by that. However, they overestimate the degree to which other men accept it.”

Check out tomorrow’s Free Lance-Star for the complete story. You can read the column here.