Chanting "one, two, three, four, Playboy Magazine is out the door," about 75 students gathered at the University of Maryland yesterday for a small but vociferous rally that rapidly evolved into an ideological free-for-all on the inexhaustible topic of sex, women and men.
A collection of activists in groups ranging from the Women's Center to the college food co-op took to the steps of the McKeldin Library to denounce the visit of Playboy photographer David Chan. He arrived in College Park last week issuing a call for Maryland "coeds" for a September feature on the "girls of the Atlantic Coast Conference."
"We are angry with Playboy because they perpetuate the exploitation of women," said Mary Battenfeld, a student organizer, addressing a crowd of men and women shouting anti-sexist cheers and waving placards that said "Judge Us for Our Brains Not Our Bodies."
The organizers said their intention was to make sure that the women who posed for Playboy were not considered representative of the campus.
They deplored the male domination of women in society and the role they said Playboy and similar men's magazines play in fostering violence against women.
A spokesman for the magazine, which has selected six women from about 75 applicants for their traditional college pictorial, termed the demonstration at Maryland "sil- ly."
"This is not a cosmic issue," said spokesman David Salyers. "I think that our women are portrayed as healthy, beautiful young women. They are real people."
Much of the campus seemed to concur. A small crowd of boo-birds and skeptics looked on with exasperated expressions and shouted speakers down.
From the vast campus mall where Frisbees flew and noonday couples lolled in the grass came the cry, "Stop the fascist censors!"
Just last week a larger crowd gathered for a smoke-in organized by the Campus Hedonists Against Organized Society or CHAOS.
But the magazine's visit, coinciding with the reprimand given to basketball coach Lefty Driesell for making three phone calls to a woman who filed a sexual assault complaint against one of his players, has stimulated a lot of discussion on campus about the subjugation of women in society.
Some of the anti-Playboy protesters said concern for rape keeps many women from attending night courses.
"The awareness on this campus is very high," said Hannah Olanoff. "It's been a long, long time since I've heard people talking about something besides basketball and beer."
Later, a passionate argument broke out between Steve Harris, a zoology major, and several of the students in the Women's Center.
"Would you like everybody walking around in brown bags?" asked Harris. "Would you like to cut out sexual bimorphism in human beings?"
Countered Jennifer Collins, "I'm threatened by the fact that I have to listen to men make comments about me. I can't walk through this campus without hearing them."
The debate ran on. Finally, sophomore Mike Brown said, "How do you all feel about the leading economic indicators?"