Simon Fraser University has pulled a video produced two years ago over indignation the institution sexualized its female instructors and male students in an ad promoting energy conservation.
The video shows a female instructor alone in her office, turning down the thermostat, and unpinning her hair from a bun. She puts on a fitted pink sweater.
A male student walks by and looks into her office, does a double take and leans into her doorway. “Miss Pinkham?” he says.
“Nice sweater,” he responds with a smirk on his face. They exchange thank yous and he walks away. She giggles, then the tagline “Saving energy is sexy” appears.
Controversy over the National Sweater Day spot erupted after the video was shared in a mass email from school administration. SFU History professor Elise Chenier wrote a post on her personal blog and accused the Burnaby school of promoting sexism.
— Elise Chenier (@elisechenier) February 3, 2016
“Saving energy, is apparently, a huge turn on for white heterosexuals, and don’t take my word for it, that’s what the video actually says,” wrote Chenier.
She continued: “There was once a time when I would have seen the video is simply outdated, idiotic, and yes, offensive, but now I see it much differently.
“Now I feel the harm it does, and not just to Miss Pinkham, but also to her male student who is encouraged to relate to half the population on such a limited level, and who himself then is defined by his heterosexual desire for women.”
Chenier credited “collective outrage from female faculty” as to what got the video removed from the university’s YouTube page.
— Gabriel Larivière (@gabrielariviere) February 3, 2016
— Esther Verheyen (@EstherVerheyen) February 3, 2016
Joanne Curry, the university’s vice-president of external relations, issued a statement responding to criticisms raised by the school’s own faculty members.
“As the video was produced by an external vendor, I had not seen it. When I did watch it, I immediately agreed with the feedback we had received that the video is inappropriate, sexist, and not in keeping with our equity commitments,” Curry said.
The university has pledged to investigate how the video was posted in the first place.
National Sweater Day is Feb. 4.
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