Union protest observers call for attention on issues other than size discrimination

BY LUKE VOELZ | MAY 07, 2012 6:30 AM

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University of Iowa students have begun questioning the underlying social standards behind UI junior Jordan Ramos' advocacy and rally against size discrimination.


The rally, held May 4 under the shadow of the Plaza Towers on the Pedestrian Mall, marked two months since Ramos was allegedly denied access to a dance platform at the Union Bar, 121 E. College St., for looking "pregnant" and "not pretty enough," while thinner women were still allowed on. Ramos and her peers' plan to protest the bar turned into a rally against size discrimination after Union owner George Witgraf offered an apology.

However, some rally-watchers suggested the issue at hand was not size discrimination but a cultural objectification of women.

"It doesn't seem surprising to me that those letting people on that platform objectify themselves that would harbor sentiments against obese persons — if we're going to address anything, it's the voluntary objectification of women," said UI graduate student Mara Determan.

Determan said she was happy to see the ralliers stand up for issues they believed in and encouraged them to continue looking at the root causes of prejudice against women.

Ramos — who said she never used the platform before the alleged incident-agreed the installation allowed women to be objectified, they had to be "screened" to use it.

"… They did that to each of my friends who made it up on the platform, so basically they were treating women like pieces of meat who had to be hot enough to their standards to even get up on the platform … No wonder women feel they have to put on so much makeup and lose so much weight in order to feel valued in society," she wrote in an email.

This objectification process, she added, still relates to issues of size discrimination.

"I am not fighting for the right for men to objectify women," she said. "I just wanted to have fun with my friend, and unfortunately, something as simple as that could not happen simply because of my size."

UI senior Madeleine Stroth disapproved of the Union's alleged actions and agreed Ramos deserved the apology, but expressed concern about the rally placing size issues on the same level as other cases of social discrimination.

"What bothered me was her trying to make this bigger than it is; bringing it into sex or religion, or things that are not a choice. For me, as far as the whole size thing — it's like the way we discriminate against cigarette smokers."

Ramos acknowledged such concerns but said onlookers cannot only view size issues in black and white.

"What about people who have thyroid or metabolism problems?" Ramos said. "Should we deny them the right to have access to things because of something they can't control? There are people with genetic issues who work out every single day."

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