An engineering students’ publication at the University of Manitoba has caused a stir this past week with its recent Valentine’s Day issue, being called raunchy, racy and sexist by mainstream media. Students, on the other hand, don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
The Red Loin, the satirical issue of the U of M Engineering Society (UMES) publication The Red Lion, is published yearly on Valentine’s Day. UMES senior stick Megan Lusty said the magazine was all in good fun, and to be seen as a form of entertainment.
“I have no problem with [the issue]. I think all of the things in there are either a complete joke, or they’re in good taste, or were written by females and clearly it was not [ . . . ] the intention to offend females,” said Lusty, who has final say over what is published in the magazine.
The 24-page magazine, with the tagline “Entertainment for Male Engineers,” includes a number of articles, including one on a variety of sexual statistics such as penis length, erection duration and bust size.
There are lists pertaining to “Why Engineers Make the Best Lovers” and the “14 Best ‘Romantic’ Movies of All Time” — porn movies such as Pulp Friction and Position Impossible.
An article called “Oh-Oh-Olympics” relates Winter Olympic events to different aspects of sex, while “Letters from Miss Lonely Trousers” provides advice for someone looking to ask their girlfriend for anal sex as a Valentine’s Day gift.
According to Lusty, The Red Loin has been the Valentine’s Day issue of The Red Lion for the past 20 years.
“This year is a lot more tame than other years. I think most people who made comments from outside the faculty on The Red Loin didn’t actually look at the magazine, they looked at the cover and looked at the names of articles and didn’t realize that the articles were not what they thought they were,” she said.
John Danakas, U of M spokesperson, said Equity Services is currently reviewing the contents of the magazine to see if they violate the university’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy.
According to Danakas, university officials were made aware of the content following an article in The Winnipeg Free Press earlier this week.
“Until then, the contents had not been known to anyone in the dean’s office or in Equity Services. [They] had no idea that The Red Loin was out, or even what was in it.”
Danakas said that Equity Services will meet with the editorial staff of The Red Lion and Lusty to discuss the content of the publication.
“The intent of the meeting is to have a discussion about the content of the publication in light of the university’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy [and] to have a discussion about what materials might be offensive and the impact that offensive materials can have on people and groups of people,” said Danakas.
Lauryn Pizey-Allen, University of Manitoba Womyn’s Centre coordinator, said she personally hasn’t read the recent issue of The Red Loin.
“I’ve heard that there was some kerfuffle about its content, that some people said it was inappropriate and some people said it was sexist and that it was a lot of sexual joking.”
She said members of the Womyn’s Centre recently discussed the topic of The Red Loin, though none had actually seen a copy of the magazine.
“One of the things we said [ . . . ] is that talking about things that are sexual isn’t inherently bad. There’s nothing wrong with talking about sexuality. It’s actually really good to talk about it, but when it comes to the tone of what was being said [in The Red Loin], we don’t know because we didn’t read it.”
Female students on the U of M campus, like Amber Fermin, second-year faculty of science student, read the Feb. 14 issue, but saw it as a form of entertainment.
“[ . . . ] I guess it was a little offensive, but I thought it was funny.”
Michelle Toews, a University 1 student, also found the magazine funny, and said that people who are offended shouldn’t read it.
“I thought it was funny. I’ve heard that people took offence to it, but it says right in the beginning that if you’re going to be offended by it then don’t read it,” said Toews. “[ . . . ] It’s funny for some people, not for others.”
Lusty said that she doesn’t think the negative attention the magazine has gotten in the media will affect what is included in the future.
“I don’t really think it is going to have much affect on what goes on in the future because we meant it to be entertainment,” said Lusty.
“All the males in our faculty are really respectful of all the females in the faculty, and vice versa.”