Letter: Defending SIR Magazine’s cover decision

It has come to my attention that there are some concerns regarding the cover and the content of our Fall/Winter 2014 issue of SIR magazine. Though we, the staff at SIR magazine, in no way accept these allegations as truth, we intend to address them in an appropriate manner and make amends as such:

Given the recent atmosphere on campus, and the larger public conversation of sexual assault on college campuses, a few concerned individuals have expressed that they feel our cover and promote rape culture on campus and further engenders the problem as acceptable. As a fair, balanced and objective journalist first, I must apologize to those individuals and any others that have been offended by this or feel as though we have shown any sort of disrespect to this incredibly important matter. On the behalf of the staff and myself, we never meant for anyone to be potentially angitated or upset by this issue or the illustrated cover. Our only hope was to provide an interesting twist to this issue and produce something that everyone could enjoy. So again, I sincerely apologize if we have upset anyone in anyway. I invite you to contact us with your concerns via email and we will respond accordingly; [email protected].

Secondly, as a creator, aspiring entrepreneur and advocate of art, I must stand behind our work and defend it’s honor, along with the honor of countless individuals that worked extremely hard on this issue. We exclusively chose to re-create this illustrated cover as an act of creativity. In no way were we trying to promote such an evil or even make a smug attempt at stirring a disrespectful buzz about the matter. We were purely motivated by artistic decisions that symbolically represent the overall scope we hoped to create with this issue and guide our readers into the content.

The inception of this cover was pitched to me by a young woman working with our staff who had take interest in an older magazine title from the 50’s, Man’s Life, that was known for its incredible illustrated covers. In combination with the overall vision we had for this issue and stories we had been cultivating for it, we decided this would be one of the best cover options for our Fall/Winter 2014 issue. We were motivated by a single idea, change. Whether it were the physical changes we were making to the publication and the operations of the organization as a whole, or the change we had identified in our audience demographics, we wanted to illustrate those changes throughout our publication this semester. The illustrated cover expressed that change for us in several ways. For one, the cover functions as a concrete antithesis of this issue. The style of art this cover utilizes is somewhat taken from heritage and we felt it was a great way to set the reader up for the changes they would see, with the new modernized layout our talented design team had constructed. As well, we intended for the cover to serve as an abstract rendition of what could happen if the content in this issue was put into use in real life. In a literal sense, our intent in the situation depicted on the cover was to convey the woman swooning for the male and he was sweeping her off of her feet. Much like the heroic implications of the Man’s Life cover that inspired the design. In an even more literal sense,the cover feature stories that further communicate that idea of sweeping her off of her feet if you use this content as a guide. For instance, the , Use the Booze story, a story about utilizing alcohol in cooking to enhance the flavor of food, is a story that is all the more reinforcing the idea of better one’s self in order to woo her. As well, stories like, The Science of Sex, and, The legend of Whiskey Dick, were intended to offer our male readers a refined guide to relations with the opposite sex that was both responsible and respectable, as well as sensible and interesting. All in all, we were hoping that this issue would be interpreted as a provocative, yet diligent guide for males they could use in their everyday lives, as well as something that our female readers could find interesting.

At the end of the day, I feel as though this all comes down to perception. As a staff, we perceived what we were doing as creative and artistic. We in no way felt as though we were taking some type of symbolic, sociopolitical stance on any topic. As well, we formulated this issue as a guide to further the depth of our issues reach and engage self expression and personal interpretation from our readers. In essence, it is truly left up to you, as the reader and individual, to take from our publication what you will. Though there are no blatant references to alcohol or drinking on our cover other that red cups and pong balls, some perceive our cover in the worst of ways and therefore assume the worst. Though our headlines were written from the perspective of guiding the reader into the content, they have been interpreted by some as offensive. Though all we intended to do was to produce something that was well rounded and innovative, we have been met with criticism about our choices regarding our changes to this title. However negative this backlash may be, in a sense, the criticism of our mission is the silver lining of this situation because of the conversation that is going one because of this issue. Time and time again throughout history, some of the biggest evils of the world have been debunked and reformed because of problem solving, rise in awareness and reforms, but even more so because of public conversation. Public conversation was started and in turn, that functioned as the initial spark to the fire fueling many movements. Maybe it isn’t all that bad that people are talking about this? All in all, as an organization, we could never condone such an injustice as rape culture, and again, I sincerely apologize on our behalf if we have conveyed any sort of ideas that have offended anyone in that way. In reality, based on the facts, we executed the production of this issue in line with media standards and ethics of a professional journalistic standard. However our material may be absorbed or misinterpreted, our job is to produce media, and we will continue to do so. Our only hope is to better serve you in the future and that anyone who has been upset by this issue accepts or sincere apologies. In light of this situation I leave you all with this quote from the great Aristotle:

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aristotle

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