Column: ‘Mizzou Shackers’ and others shouldn’t ignore consent, anonymity
Exploiting others’ drunken behavior on social media endangers everyone’s sexual autonomy.
Apr. 02, 2013
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
You’re all MU students, but I guess it would be wrong to assume you’ve all heard of the “Mizzou Boobs” Twitter account.
At over 11,000 followers strong, @MizzouBoobs1 features Tiger fans who submit pictures of their Mizzou-emblazoned breasts, typically with a decent amount of cleavage and lots of school spirit. A lot of dudes (and presumably women) who follow the account love it — what could be better than a convergence of nice breasts and being a sports fan?
We already celebrate very boobalicious cheerleaders, but there seems to be something even more appealing about the boobs on Mizzou Boobs. It’s like they’re more real because it’s your peers submitting them, and there’s an air of mystery around them because people don’t show their faces in the pictures they take. Those boobs could be anyone’s boobs — how exciting!
There’s been a lot made of Mizzou Boobs and similar Twitter accounts @MizzouMakeouts and @MizzouShackers, but to me these accounts can be problematic. In the case of Mizzou Makeouts and Mizzou Shackers, the tweets and pictures are clearly meant to be humorous — look at drunk college students doing drunk college student things! — but their reception seems to be typically sexist. On Mizzou Makeouts, men are often portrayed as simply being successful in their conquest to make out with a chick at Harpo’s and the women, naturally, are just drunk.
This is particularly the case with Mizzou Shackers, where pictures are submitted of mostly women in their going-out clothes early in the morning. Their hair might be a little messed up or maybe they’re wearing a hoodie over a dress, but the assumption is always that they’ve just slept with a guy and are returning home.
Of course, not all pictures submitted to Mizzou Shackers are by strangers from afar — some are by friends as a joke and given consent by the person being photographed — but this alone does not justify the shaming elsewhere on the account.
Not only does Mizzou Shackers paint mostly women as sluts who can be easily spotted on their “walk of shame,” but it also deprives them of autonomy and anonymity. It sends the message that if you spend the night out, people have the right to shame you, photograph you and make you vulnerable in public. Your privacy isn’t guaranteed if your romantic activity is deemed deviant or just “typically college.”
But I don’t take issue with Mizzou Boobs insofar as the pictures are submitted by the women themselves (presumably without coercion), and the Twitter’s bio directs users to “send pics that will stay anonymous.” The user-submitted part is crucial – if you want to send a picture, you can do it. If you don’t want to, you don’t do it. That’s how it should be.
My main problem with Mizzou Boobs is not in the concept of the Twitter, but how the Twitter is used — the account seems particularly geared to further fuel the Mizzou-Kansas rivalry. “For the love of God someone send in some #MizzouBoobs to commemorate kU’s choke job!” was tweeted on Saturday after Kansas’ Sweet Sixteen loss.
It’s cool if women submit pictures in response to this tweet, but I’m a little tired of men treating those pictures as prizes of war, as somehow representative of our school’s athletic success. The insistence seems to be that MU boobs must be better than Kansas boobs, an unfair and sexist dimension that our rivalry need not take.
When it comes to sexy pics and social media, I’ll make my guidelines for you very clear: Don’t capitalize on someone when they’re vulnerable just for the “lulz.” Don’t be a dick and make someone feel guilty if they spent the night out. Don’t take a picture of someone if you don’t know them.
If someone sends you a selfie in trust, don’t spread it without their consent. If someone submits a selfie to Mizzou Boobs, don’t slut-shame them or act like they’re “just doing it for attention.” Don’t coerce someone into submitting a selfie to Mizzou Boobs, and certainly don’t force someone to take a selfie for you.
Let people have their privacy. Yeah, people making out in public isn’t very subtle, but that doesn’t mean they deserve your moralizing commentary or your dishonest gaze. Publicly or privately, no one wants to be exposed, manipulated or taken advantage of, and this is a principle many of us seem very quick to forget.