-by Sophia Surage, student staff
–originally published in the CU Gender Justice League Newsletter
Most CU students have probably witnessed people either selling or wearing CU/CSU rival T-shirts on campus and at football games. Some of the CU/CSU rivalry shirts are troubling, due to the fact that they put forth extremely explicit, violent, genderized components of sportsmanship and dominance.
Some shirts simply display the CU icon and state “Fuck CSU” or CSU shirts that say “I ram CSU girls.” Others go so far as depicting the buffalo mascot sexually dominating CSU’s ram mascot, “ram this.” The most disturbing ”Fuck CSU” shirt displays a silhouette image of a women on her hands and knees with a buffalo mounting her from behind and a caption saying “Ralphie did your mom.” By displaying an animal sexually dominating a woman in order to send a message of sports rivalry, the t-shirt establishes sex as a dominating force, which is inherently intertwined with rape.
Because the CU mascot is a buffalo, it is assumed that fans who looks at the shirt will automatically identify with the buffalo figure instead of the hyper-sexualized silhouette of a female body. The fact that we are meant to favor the buffalo and ridicule the woman on the shirt, takes the dehumanization of women a step beyond inferiority in reference to males and degrades female identity on a profound level. Historically women’s bodies have been used as a battle ground in conflicts between men. Rape and sexual dominance are perpetrated against female bodies in order to send a destructive message to other men and to violate one’s enemy psychologically through physically violating and “ruining” women.
The images and messages used to demonstrate CSU rivalry are verbally, psychologically, spiritually, and culturally violent towards women. The shirts objectify and ridicule female identity, and serve as a tool of intimidation and alienation.. The t-shirts reinforce notions that men are entitled to the female body, which ultimately contribute to sexual assault and other forms of violence against women. One does not have to be a CSU student or even a woman to be offended by the graphic depictions of these shirts, because they are in no way acceptable.