Tag Archives: Censorship

Men get the pervy candid camera treatment

12 Jun

TubeCrush publishes cellphone shots of unknowing hot guys. Is there a double standard afoot?

Men get the candid camera treatment

When I hear about candid subway photos posted online, I think of upskirt and down-the-blouse snapshots. Next, Hollaback-style captures of fondlers and flashers come to mind. But a coed group of Londoners is subjecting men to unwitting Internet objectification with TubeCrush.net, a site devoted to hot guys encountered on the Underground. User-submitted shots are posted on the site with some eyebrow-wiggling commentary (e.g. “we just know there is a six-pack under that coat”) and visitors can give them a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.

It’s getting a lot of coverage across the pond and, unsurprisingly, stirring up some controversy. The Guardian’s Sunny Hundul criticized the Evening Standard’s coverage of the site, which he argued was all too flippant and embraced an unfair double standard. He asked, “If the sexes had been reversed, would it have been seen so benign? Probably not.” Gail Dines and Wendy J Murphy also targeted the site in a recent Op-Ed:

The recent TubeCrush phenomenon, where young women take pictures of men they find attractive on the London tube and post them to a website, illustrates how easily women copy dominant societal norms of sexual objectification rather than exploring something new and creative.

I bristle at the suggestion that women who sexually objectify men are necessarily “copying” mainstream male sexuality (maybe they’re, I dunno, expressing how they really feel). In fact, I’m often tempted to celebrate mildly piggish female behavior — to a point — just because it at least contradicts the stereotype that female sexuality is adequately represented by, say, Twilight fan-fiction. (And isn’t fan-fiction just another mode of objectification, anyway?) I also happen to think that sexual objectification isn’t always a bad thing; it’s all about context and consent. (Dines is an anti-pornography activist, though, so we know where she stands on that issue.) It’s also interesting to think about the difference between candid shots taken for a street-style fashion blog versus a sexy-person-on-the-train blog: Why does the former seem so much more innocuous and reasonably objectifying?

Now, it’s important to point out the crucial difference between the photos that make it on TubeCrush and the explicitly sexual candids — most often of women — available all over the Web. These represent very different privacy issues: In one scenario, the one I’m concerned with here, a person’s photo is taken in a public space and then broadcast to a whole new audience, and in an unregulated venue for anonymous commentary; in the other case, a clear personal boundary — like a hemline — is trespassed in a public space and then the evidence is broadcast to a greater audience. Although, as I’ve written about before, the law doesn’t always distinguish between these two circumstances; there isn’t always a “reasonable expectation of privacy” beyond your hemline.

As for these tame shapshots, the legality isn’t as much an issue as the creep factor, which is entirely subjective (and not only dependent on the nature of the photograph but also the commentary that accompanies it). One unwitting TubeCrush subject tweeted that he was “5% demeaned, 35% flattered, 60% surprised” to find himself on the site. Now, he doesn’t speak for all men, and certainly plenty would find it far more unsettling than flattering, but that’s about the reaction one would expect from a straight man who discovers that a woman found him so drop-dead handsome she just had to snap his photo. That’s in part because most men are unaccustomed to objectification by women. (For example, after I brought a straight guy friend to a gay male dance club, he told me in awe: “I’ve never felt so attractive before in my life!”)

Women, on the other hand, are trained to be wary of strangers’ attention at every turn — and we know just how quickly compliments on the street or in the subway can become abusive and threatening. That isn’t a strong enough defense of a double standard when it comes to candid snapshots, though. Once we move beyond the question of whether women deserve a special pass for piggish behavior, we get to the far trickier privacy issues brought up by technology — and we’ll be trying to untangle those for quite some time to come.

Ultimately, sites like TubeCrush get at an essential truth about the Internet: People like to look at other people. After all, Mark Zuckerberg, King of The Web, got his start with a site that allowed visitors to rate people’s attractiveness online without their permission. And it also tells us something about the objectifying nature of human sexuality. As Camille Paglia put it, “Turning people into sex objects is one of the specialties of our species.”



The dubious joys of perving over fellow passengers online.


Some examples:

Taking him home to meet mum

Date: 3rd June 2011

Line: Piccadilly Line

Submitted By: SF

How sweet and innocent does this guy look? We love a guy that would make mum happy. we love even more the dirty glint in his eye. Oh the possibilities

Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+90 rating, 156 votes)

Crutchless Sitters


Date: 10th June 2011

Line: Northern

This very handsome man was lucky to get a seat to lighten his load on the way back from the office. He had better hurry up and get better, now he has been featured on TubeCrush he can start sweeping Londons ladies off their feet.

119 rating, 139 votes119 rating, 139 votes (+119 rating, 139 votes, rated)

Ai Weiwei “Fuck Everything” Paper Glasses

11 Jun

In support of the current unfortunate events revolving Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Aram Bartholl has converted his “First Person Shooter” paper glasses into “Fuck Everything” glasses. The shades are pretty much available to anyone that has paper and a printer. Simply download the PDF here, print them out and cut them out.


More (German):

“Sie sperren die Menschen für viele Jahre ins Gefängnis. Sie verschwinden einfach”: Kurz vor seiner Festnahme gab der regimekritische chinesische Künstler Ai Weiwei dieses letzte Interview.

Should kids be allowed on Facebook?

28 May

Mark Zuckerberg wants to open up his social-networking website to children under 13 – but is that such a good idea? Two parents take up the debate

Joanna Moorhead

So, 11- and 12-year-olds across Britain and the US are standing by in the hope that Mark Zuckerberg’s plea for under-13s to be allowed to use Facebook is heard by their countries’ decision-makers. Only, of course, they aren’t . . . because they are already on it, tapping away furiously like all their mates, finding out what shopping centre to meet in after school tomorrow and what park to hang out in on Saturday afternoon. Under-13s might be banned from having Facebook accounts, both here and in the US, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands of them from using false dates of birth to rule-dodge.

Yes, of course parents like me worry that means our kids are at risk of both being bullied and of bullying others . . . but the important thing to realise here is that Facebook is only an arena for bullying, like the school lunch hall or the playground. No one is trying to ban under-13s from those places.

Some fear that their children are prey for paedophiles, advertisers and other baddies on Facebook: again, does your kid travel alone, or go to a shopping centre without you? Most children do, from the time they go to secondary school. And just as you teach them the rules for staying safe when they’re out and about alone, so you teach them the rules for staying safe online.

Facebook is about what life is about, which is connecting with others. When children are young, we supervise them: as they get older, we trust them to connect without us around all the time. And what Facebook does is teach our kids a language that will undoubtedly be crucial to their future: because today’s children are going to be interacting online with friends and, in the future, business colleagues and customers, for the rest of their lives. Why, when we’re trying to educate them in useful skills on other fronts, hold them back on this one?

Jenni Russell

I hope Zuckerberg is stopped. Allowing the official Facebook user age to drop below 13 will expose children to emotional pressures and public scrutiny they can’t yet handle. Users love the site because they can run their social lives through it, and because they can present themselves to the world in the way they wish to be seen. Those huge attractions have their dark sides. While a user can say anything they like about themselves, others can say anything they like about them. Cyberbullying is a problem no one knows how to fix. Children have always dealt with feuds and social isolation, but now those can happen publicly and indelibly. It’s hard enough for teens to deal with this; it’s too cruel to expose younger ones too.

Bullying only affects a minority, but everyone is affected by Facebook’s essential elements; the need to manage one’s image, and the underlying sense of social competition the site creates. Last week I sat next to a thirtysomething woman on the tube who spent 20 minutes complaining to her sister about how inadequate her friends’ boastful updates and online conversations made her feel. People don’t confess sadness and loneliness on these platforms, as they do to real friends, and that makes all of us unhappier as we assume that other people’s lives are more successful than our own.

Image construction is something that even adults are only starting to grasp – and it’s not just tomorrow’s impact that matters. What goes on Facebook can be there forever. Pictures or statements that look cool to your peer group today could be horribly compromising in the future. It’s ridiculous to expect young children to be making sophisticated judgments about the effects of what they release online. And that’s even before we get to the paedophile issue. Children might want this, but they’re not ready for it. They need protection.