WOW Factor! and Man Up are two organizations on campus that claim they are committed to building a culture of respect between men and women at ASU. They were formed as partner organizations at the University, and they are maintaining active members across all campuses.
With more than 2,000 likes on Facebook combined, these organizations are quickly becoming two of the most popular clubs on campus — and given the startling fact that one in four women will be sexually assaulted or raped during their time in college, the message of respect being heard by many students definitely seems like a good thing.
Ironically, however, Man Up and WOW Factor! have done absolutely nothing to reduce rape culture on campus. In fact, the very names of these clubs perpetuate it. And to make matters worse, the recruiting members of the clubs tell no one about their association with Hope Church, which is notorious on campus for harassing students about attending its events and services.
In order to examine the problematic themes perpetuated by Man Up and WOW Factor!, one only really needs consider the titles of these clubs. If Man Up is attempting to create a climate of respect on campus, then why does its title perpetuate the most stereotypical vision of masculinity — a masculinity that inherently degrades feminine identities? The phrase “man up” is one of the most common, and most misogynistic, expressions of patriarchy. This idiom literally means “don’t act like a woman”; for an organization that claims to be about respect, its title is pretty impudent.
Also on Man Up’s agenda is the goal to end sexual assault on campus; if this is the case, then why does its title and programming exclusively consist of men? Women and gender nonconforming individuals are most often the victims of these crimes, yet Man Up excludes women and non-binary folk from conversations about issues that specifically pertain to them. This is problematic, not only because their voices are being omitted, but also because a group of men do not have the capacity to understand the concerns of women and nonconforming people without being one.
WOW Factor!, otherwise known as Women of Worth, is the feminine response and partner of Man Up; and at least women have a voice in this organization, right? Well, sure. But ultimately, this organization is just as flawed. First of all, the phrase “Women of Worth” implies that only once a woman has joined WOW Factor! can she be considered “of worth.” Of course, this implication might not have been the intention of the club’s charter members, but it certainly is an implication. Plus, as much as this club claims it is about teaching women to respect themselves, this club focuses on teaching women how to warrant respect from men and their sponsored events prove this.
For instance, WOW Factor! is involved in Sun Devils Wear Prada, a fashion show hosted annually that tells women “what not to wear." Here, the organization tells busty women to cover up, heavy women to suck it in and all women to dress lovely instead of sexy because a woman should, apparently, want love instead of sex. This standard should be out the window by now; women have the right to determine what they consider decent and indecent, and they don’t need an organization to do it for them. This practice is body-shaming, and it needs to stop.
Together, Man Up and WOW Factor! put on the Rally for Respect each year. In the 2013 rally video statements such as “to hear that 300 men have pledged to respect women on campus is something really great” and “even when the men were doing the pledge to respect women, I was thinking wow, this is really cool” raise the questions: Are we really rewarding men for respecting women? Shouldn’t that be a given? And why should women have the responsibility of ensuring they obtain the respect of men? Together, Man Up and WOW Factor! are handing out gold stars to mildly decent human beings who probably don’t even realize the organizations they are a part of are full of sexism and misogyny. Ignorance must be bliss.
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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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