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It was hard not to stare: The woman’s breasts were so large she made Barbie look downright small-busted.
The men on the ice hockey team who painted her on the side of a cube in the Pit knew she’d draw attention.
That was sort of the point, they say. Few know about their team, and fewer still know of the tournament that honors their late coach.
In retrospect, they realize the painted woman, and the invitation below her (“Come watch us score”) was bound to attract all the wrong kinds of attention.
“We figured we’d get an interesting reaction,” said senior John Thompson, one of the team’s vice presidents. “But we definitely weren’t trying to offend anyone.”
“Disgusted” was how senior Robyn Levine described feeling after walking home and seeing the cube Wednesday night.
For Levine, the ice hockey team’s cube represented “part of a larger problem” on college campuses where women’s bodies are objectified and such behavior is tolerated.
“It wasn’t particularly surprising,” she said. “It was just a really obvious manifestation.”
Later that night, Levine and members of Feminist Students United talked about how to respond. Their goal was to point out why the cube had offended them, and why they saw it as part of a larger problem.
“Just saying ‘that’s sexist’ with no other context wouldn’t have been the most constructive,” Levine said.
Thursday, the group took to the cubes, painting the adjoining side. With giant orange arrows, they directed attention to “sexism around the corner” and declared that “this is what rape culture looks like.”
Kyle Salvadore learned from a friend what the feminist group was painting. Salvadore, a junior and an ice hockey team vice president, rushed to the Pit to see it for himself.
Within minutes, he painted over the busty woman and sent an e-mail apologizing to leaders of Feminist Students United.
“We just want to make sure that we apologized and corrected the wrong,” Salvadore said. “We also wanted to make clear that our intentions were not to support rape culture. In no way do we support or condone that at all.”
Since Thursday, the two groups’ leaders have been in talks with one another. Ice hockey team members plan to attend a Feminist Students United meeting and are looking into One Act, a one-hour class on preventing interpersonal violence.
The ice hockey team realizes now how offensive the cube was, Salvadore said.
“We really did not know what rape culture exactly was before,” he said.
Incidents like this happen all the time, but talking about it publicly helps prevent it in the future, Levine said.
“It did start a larger conversation.”