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Sites push subway voyeurism to an all-time low


GENTLEMEN, I WOULD like you to picture something for me. Imagine you are sitting on the subway, having a coffee and playing Angry Birds when, unbeknownst to you, a mysterious figure snaps your picture and sends it to a website where your looks are judged and rated by a group of anonymous people. Sounds a bit creepy, right? Well, tell that to the many subway-riding women of New York, N.Y. and London, England, who, thanks to Subwaycrush.net and Tubecrush.net, are diving right into this new brand of voyeurism.


Both these websites work in the same way. Pictures of “crush-worthy” guys are sent in and rated on a “thumbs up/thumbs down” system. The premise is pretty simple: See a cute guy, sneakily take a picture of him, then send it to the site on your smart phone. Visitors to the site are able to add contributions to the comment section as well, weighing in on the men’s appearances and the ratings they’ve earned.


What I find interesting about this new online phenomenon is the amazing double standard at play. When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facemash—the precursor to Facebook that allowed men to rate Harvard University women based on a who-is-hotter voting system—people complained in droves about the inappropriateness of rating woman based on appearance, especially without their knowledge. Harvard students quickly had it removed.


Subwaycrush.net and Tubecrush.net don’t feature pictures of girls. They only show pictures of guys: Cute ones, hunky ones, sexy ones, and quite often sleeping ones. Given the lack of complaints about these two male-focused sites compared to the speed with which Facemash was taken offline, I have to wonder whether people are OK with these sites simply because they show men rather than women.


Shocking double standards aside, the most disturbing aspect of Subwaycrush.net and Tubecrush.net is that these websites are asking people to take pictures of guys without them knowing. They want to see men who have no clue they are being photographed. This means pictures of men not looking at the camera, or even more often, they are asleep or playing on their cellphones.


The women who comment on the pictures are relentless. They are tough on guys who aren’t that bad looking, and their comments are just plain rude. Men are made fun of for their looks, fashion sense, and even the size of their heads in comparison to their bodies. What if these women caught the men on a bad day? What if the man’s grandma just died or their girlfriend just broke up with them? I wouldn’t put much effort into my appearance in either situation.
Imagine this website was judging women. There would be public fury. “How could those perverts photograph those poor, helpless, defenceless women without their consent?” What about the poor, helpless, defenceless men? No one speaks up when it’s the men being ogled and gawked at.


Some people may actually enjoy these sites. You get to see cute guys without them seeing you, but this amounts to voyeurism—and our society loves it. Be it the latest celebrity gossip or TV shows that feature the real housewives of any given city, we’ve been taught it’s OK to invade other people’s privacy. In today’s world of high-tech voyeurism, our actions say that it’s fine to spy on people when they are at their most vulnerable.


Whether society sanctions it or not,  covertly taking photos of anyone, male or female, and hanging them up for the public to judge is disgusting and disturbingly creepy. Women don’t deserve to be treated like pieces of meat, and neither do men.