As a student at Buffalo State, I was extremely surprised to see a student's truck on campus last
week that had a window decal displaying the image of a woman bent over in between two men
who rode horses.
The men had the girl tied by ropes and the decal read "Ride her. Rope her." It was not visible at
the time but apparently this is a Ford decal, and the bottom reads "Powerstroke Her," with the
"O" being the Ford symbol.
I am in my last semester as an undergrad majoring in public communication, and much of my
coursework has gone into researching the objectification of women and exploited sexual violence
against them. With five years worth of schema built up on this subject, I found many things
wrong with this decal.
First of all, it is derogatory. It promotes sexism and encourages violence against women. The girl
in the decal is depicted as if she is an animal and rape is implied. If the men were not planning on
raping her, why did they need to "rope" her?
The woman is sexually exploited, being that she is bent over in between two men who happen to
be above her on horses and plan to "ride her." Whether this is a promotion for Ford or not, does
this image really have a place on campus?
Now, it may seem that I'm making a fuss over something irrelevant or small in comparison to
other issues our world faces, but we live in a culture where a woman is sexually abused every
few minutes. In fact, one in three women experience sexual assaults in their lifetime.
Yet we live in a culture where media commonly turns women into objects and often exploits
violence against them as sexual. Advertisements are usually the biggest offender of this
We internalize all that we view, whether consciously or subconsciously. Social Learning Theory
states that humans acquire attitudes and beliefs based on what they see and hear around them.
Images such as this may help to shape the learned objectification of women and acceptance
of violence against them. Being that these two issues have become the norm in media, we are
desensitized to them.
It seems to me that it certainly is something to fuss about.
If someone had a window decal that made a racist comment on campus it would be removed
in a heartbeat and they would be in trouble. Why is it not the same treatment when the issue is
sexism? Why are the rights of women - the right to be recognized as a human, to be treated as an
equal and to feel safe and secure both mentally and physically - not being protected?
Consider, if we internalize all that we see, what messages do we really receive and how do those
affect us? This image tells me that rape is okay because women are animals, or objects. It tells
me that women are made for the pleasure of men. It tells me that Ford has no respect for women.
It is unacceptable and I cannot understand how at least a whole semester has gone by without
anyone else being offended enough to say something about it or try to have it removed. These
types of images should not be allowed on our campus and the school needs to come up with a
better way of making sure that violence of any kind is not encouraged here. Sexism should never
Nothing can or will ever change until someone has the courage and the value system to stand up
and say "this is wrong and what are we going to do about it." Instead, we ignore or support what
is being done wrongly in our culture and then complain about the outcomes.
This is wrong.
The acceptance and promotion of sexual violence against women needs to be stopped. We need
our sensitivity to return.
Messages like this - that portray violence against women - have proven to cause people to see
the objectification of women and the exploitation of sexualized violence against them as an
acceptable social norm. That is the big deal.
I was shocked that this would be allowed at Buffalo State and I'm looking forward to the day
where there are more efforts made to stop sexism and violence against women, especially on our
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