Let them buy bras

Biola’s Internet filtering borders on sexism when it stops women from shopping for necessary clothing items.

courtesy: creativecommons

courtesy: creativecommons

Catherine Streng, Writer

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Men are animals. They cannot control themselves around the opposite sex and should not be held responsible for their own decisions.

At least, that is what society tells us females. Ever since we were children, society has told us: “Don’t show your bra strap, it distracts the boys,” and “You were asking for rape because of what you were wearing.” As extreme as this sounds, it is how I as a woman have been trained to think: that it is us as females who should be held responsible for men’s actions, which is why women we are oppressed in order to prevent men’s poor decisions. This way of thinking hurts the mentality of women while also doing a disservice to men, who begin to believe they are incapable of acting beyond such barbaric behavioral standards.

It happens here at Biola, even in small ways.

Biola blocks many undergarment sites through an Internet filtering service. Victoria’s Secret, Frederick’s of Hollywood and Yandy are among the several popular sites that cannot be accessed from Biola’s wi-fi. Why?

“The reason [lingerie sites] are blocked is because those sites have very sensual images in them,” said Matthew Hooper, associate dean of students. “It fits into a gray-space category, so we have erred on the side of blocking things more male students would potentially access for unhealthy reasons.”

Although there are students who will decide to seek out pornography in spite of Internet filtering, this is not a reason to take extra precautions against clothing stores that, while potentially sensual, are not actually pornographic in nature. While it is understandable that Biola seeks to protect students from explicit sexual material and prevent enabling addictions to pornography through the Internet access they provide, there is a certain point where students must be held responsible instead of having their hands held.

“Ultimately any kind of web connection is on the responsibility of the user to ultimately be the one acting as the filter, me or you accessing the web,” Hooper said.

As a female, I suppose I cannot fully comprehend the challenges males face when it comes to viewing these “sensual images.” However, adult males have the responsibility to exercise self-control. Those, both male and female, who struggle daily with an addiction to pornography and do not have self control will not stop simply because Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s is blocked from their laptop’s browser while on campus. Those who go onto a lingerie website made for women with the intent to consume these images in a sexual manner have a problem. But this should not cause Biola to block women who simply wish to purchase necessities in a more convenient way than driving to Brea mall, especially for those without cars.

Women, especially at Biola, must wear bras and underwear on a daily basis, or else risk being labelled as immodest by their community. But then that very community limits their access to these necessary undergarments. This absurd double-standard exists not because Biola objects to women wearing bras from these stores, but because they fear men browsing the sites. Because lingerie sites are companies that sell undergarments to women, they should be understood as a website no different from one that sells shoes or shirts, instead of being viewed as pornographic images from which to shield young men.

“I think [the block on Victoria’s Secret] can be challenged,” Hooper said.

I agree. I am challenging this block and implore others to join me. Students who have problems with a website being blocked can visit the IT website and contact the IT Helpdesk to have the website evaluated.

Unblocking these sites would be a small step towards diminishing the subtle ways society oppresses and shames women. By technologically covering men’s eyes for them, the community actually further objectifies women by saying that all depictions of the female body, even when modelling clothing for sale, is inherently sexual, shameful and wrong. Furthermore, inconveniencing females, even in seemingly insignificant ways, for reasons that are equally belittling to men is discrimination and a step backwards for the movement towards equality.

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