A Twitter page named Emory Makeouts (@emory_makeouts) has surfaced this semester. The page, run by an anonymous admin, asks participants to send in photos of Emory students making out in public places to an email address, and reposts the photos with humorous captions. No names are tagged – neither those of the subjects in the photo, nor that of the person who submitted it. Emory Makeouts has already garnered around 330 Twitter followers since September.
On the whole, we see major issues with Emory Makeouts. First, we feel it encourages students to attempt to embarrass or shame one another without any kind of accountability for that action. While one friend posting a photo of another friend making out on a personal Facebook page would allow for that friend to be held accountable, Emory Makeouts permits its users to post photos without any sort of authorship. It protects the anonymity of person who sent in the photo, voiding them of any kind of responsibility. Second, the photos are posted on a public platform without the subjects’ permission – a clear violation of personal privacy. Though doing so is technically legal, we at the Wheel find this inappropriate, non-consensual and invasive. Although we cannot say the intent behind Emory Makeouts – whether it is intended to shame students or merely entertain – we can say we think it is an invasion of privacy, one that has the potential to seriously humiliate students.
It seems that Emory Makeouts is a product of a larger culture at Emory, one that simultaneously promotes and stigmatizes sexual activity in a “party” atmosphere. On the one hand, many students feel that certain party environments facilitate atmospheres sexually engaging with your date is encouraged or even expected. However, simultaneously some are made to feel ashamed for being promiscuous and are shamed for their sexual behavior.
So to make out or not to make out? The answer is you should do what you want. And this includes feeling comfortable saying “no,” and having that “no” respected without ridicule or further pressuring. But if you do choose to engage in public snogging, does that mean it’s okay for a picture of it to wind up on Twitter? We feel the answer to this question is no.
This issue boils down to communication and consent – whether that involves making out at a party or posting a photo of a friend. University discourse on consent often excludes “making out” or other types of physical contact and refers almost exclusively to sexual contact. But there are a variety of pressures implicit in our social interactions every weekend, and consent is absolutely necessary to creating an atmosphere of respect.
We at the Wheel are calling for open dialogue to discuss how Emory should handle these issues. At this University and beyond, we should always feel safe to say no, and Emory Makeouts doesn’t give students who are photographed without their knowledge that option.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of The Emory Wheel.