Brockport captivated by @SUNYBOOBS
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 08:02
Not every person on the Brockport campus has a Twitter account, but chances are those who do have come across the recent controversy of “SUNY Boobs.”
For those who don’t have Twitter and are out of the loop, SUNY Boobs is an account that students of the SUNY system send pictures to to compete in a contest.
The contest? To see which school can get the most pictures of female students’ breasts posted on Twitter.
The account’s info states “Showcasing the best SUNY has to offer. All State University of New York institutions welcome! Nudity not promoted.”
Yet, if one were to scroll through the posts, they would find plenty of nude pictures. They claim nudity isn’t promoted, yet there is nothing done to discourage it at the same time.
The popularity of the site spread like wildfire, gaining more than 4,500 followers only weeks after its first submission Wednesday, Jan. 23.
It is worth noting that the submission came from Brockport, and as of Monday, Feb. 18, Brockport was in first place with 29 submissions.
In this instance though, first place may not be something to be proud of. Some think it is giving not only Brockport a bad image, but the whole SUNY system as well.
“I think it’s a little ridiculous just because it’s being associated with the college,” Brockport student Cara Smith said. “You can do what you want to do, but it’s wrong when it’s being associated with the school. I’m personally offended because it’s directly associated with the women from this school.”
Dr. Barbara LeSavoy, chair of the women and gender department, said SUNY Boobs is helping to reinforce negative gender stereotypes.
“It sets up this dichotomy between men and women,” LeSavoy said. “It really reinforces the male gaze on women, which is flawed. It’s setting up this hyper-masculinity that’s a completely negative read on men.
“So I think it’s really flawed. I just think SUNY and our college is a really great place, and I’m going to protect that.”
Smith said one of the things that bothers her the most about SUNY Boobs is not every picture on there seems to be put on the page with the woman’s consent.
“Most of them are women that submit the photos, but I’ve seen a couple where it’s people taking pictures of girls sitting in class,” Smith said. “So it’s not even taking a mirror picture. It’s people sniping the picture from across the room, and that’s offensive because you never know when you’re being stigmatized.”
Not only would that be a stigmatizing action, but it could also be interpreted as sexual harassment.
Lots of Twitter users are favoriting the tweets on SUNY Boobs, and most of them have 14 or more favorites.
Senior Laura Clark’s issue with SUNY Boobs is that it portrays women as objects.
“In this situation, it’s not about having a space where someone feels they’ve expressed themselves,” Clark said. “It’s turning this person into a piece of meat, that’s the issue that I see. I don’t see anything wrong with naked bodies, but in the manner they are being expressed I just think it’s degrading.”
The other issue surrounding SUNY Boobs is what it could mean for student’s employment. Employers often turn down people because their Facebook or Twitter accounts are inappropriate, so being associated with SUNY Boobs may not be the smartest idea.
While most people send in their pictures anonymously, some have been sent in through direct tweets. This lets everyone know whose picture they are looking at. The possibility of offending future employers or coworkers should give students pause before submitting pictures.
David Mihalyov, chief communications officer at Brockport, said he believes students need to stop and think before getting involved with SUNY Boobs.
“While we do not condone participating on this site, we respect freedom of speech,” Mihalyov wrote in an email. “While those participating may consider posting photos harmless fun, students should make smart decisions and consider the ramifications, such as the potential damage to future employment opportunities. Students should also understand that social media sites such as Twitter are highly searchable and all digital photos contain metadata that can be easily extracted.”
While Mihalyov sees some of the issues surrounding SUNY Boobs, he does not think the schools’ admissions will be one of them.
“I would hope not, and the reason I say that is all SUNY schools are participating in it,” Mihalyov said. “I’ve also seen a lot of schools and a lot of conferences around the country do these sorts of things, it’s not just specific to SUNY. Bigger conferences than ours have done it, and I don’t believe they’ve had any issues.”
While a lot of female students are against the issue, there are also some male students who think SUNY Boobs is overstepping boundaries.