Students at West Chester University recently held a protest over “misogynistic” inflatable dolls that were sold at the university bookstore.
The Pennsylvania university had been selling the 6-inch “Inflate-A-Date” doll for $7.99 at the school’s bookstore. The package comes with an inflatable woman described as “the perfect female specimen.” In order to inflate the doll, the user must punch the package, according to the instructions listed. The package displays a cartoon woman dressed solely in her underwear, claiming the doll is “non-talking, no headaches, disposable or reusable.”
Around 40 students met on campus early Wednesday morning in protest the doll, demanding administrators at the school make a public apology, writes Melkorka Licea for The New York Post.
An email was then sent out to students by University President Greg R. Weisenstein hoping to appease those who protested or felt uncomfortable.
“This tasteless and offensive merchandise raised concerns from many on campus who correctly view it as demeaning of women and encouraging of behaviors antithetical to WCU’s mission and values,” he wrote.
A separate apology was offered by the bookstore on its Twitter account, and has since removed the dolls from its shelves. “We apologize for any offense this may have caused. We have removed the 6in ‘inflate-a-date’ from the sales floor,” the tweet read.
However, some students still feel not enough has been done, calling the tweet an unofficial and unprofessional apology.
“This is also not appropriate. This is not enough and this is not addressed to students,” Baxter said. “We want to bring awareness to the fact this is something that bothers students. It’s not just about calming the professor who brought it up. It’s about the students. We don’t think it’s appropriate. We want to bring awareness to the fact that this happened on our campus and that we deserve a professional, serious, public apology.”
A sit-in was organized the following day by a number of students who say they plan to pursue further action in an effort to call attention to their “concerns about systemic violence.” Student Caitlin Brown said the student body wants a formal apology to be made by either Weisenstein or the university as a whole in which they acknowledge the doll “promotes a culture of gender-based violence and misogyny.” In addition, the students would like Weisenstein to promise not to sell the dolls again.
The dolls were originally brought to the attention of Professor Lisa Ruchti after a student used them as an example of sexism in her Introduction to Women’s and Genders Studies class.