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Thorson: 'Palm Walk's Hottest' not so hot

 by Laura Thorson
 published on Wednesday, September 14, 2005


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ASU's most famous sidewalk has found a cyber home. More accurately, the female students who stroll down Palm Walk on a daily basis have been forced into a cyber home.

If you're a female who has ever walked down Palm Walk, then your likeness might have been captured on camera and posted on www.palmwalk.com.

Offering "the world's hottest girls in their natural setting and in their natural skin," the Web site allows viewers to rate each girl's hotness before perusing the next unsuspecting student.

Visitors to the Web site are also offered a brief blurb on Palm Walk's history as well as a direct link to view "Palm Walk's Hottest."

The Web site showcases cartoon Sun Devils sporting "ASU" and "Fork Me" tank tops, surrounding the Web site's digital scrapbook display of real students.

After the movie introduction flashing photo cutouts of women, the Web site plays Eminem's mp3, "Ass Like That." The comical premise behind the site and the primary reaction to laugh at the immaturity of the Web site's creators, soon give way to deeper concerns.

What girl reading this column won't type in that URL as soon as she finds the next computer to see for herself whose pictures are being posted?

I can give you a preview - the pictures are actually of female ASU students walking to class, mostly wearing shorts or skirts and tank tops.

What is disturbing about this Web site, though, is that the photos are not displaying girls who willingly paused to smile for official www.palmwalk.com cameras.

No, the vast majority are clearly unaware that they are being photographed. Many are looking away from the camera. And it is evident the photographer was often only bold enough to snap those pictures when the girls were distracted by cell phones or coffee drinks.

The Web site's creators pontificate that they are "outraged and disgusted" by digital enhancement. But apparently they don't feel strong enough to stand behind their words.

A quick "WHOIS" query verifies that the Web site's creators went to great lengths to hide their identity.

The domain for www.palmwalk.com is registered in the name of Domains By Proxy. So the creators can keep their contact information private by paying www.domainsbyproxy.com to register for them.

Some might argue the Web site is harmless fun and that the Web site doesn't use the girls' names - so they are not breaking the law by publicizing identifying personal information.

Even if their Web site is following the law, their desire to remain anonymous indicates their own doubts about the morality of their site.

Consenting to be photographed for a Web site or willingly posting your own photo on Web sites like www.hotornot.com is one thing. But photographers publicizing a "sneak peak" of unknowing ASU students between classes is entirely another.

The women in these photographs did not volunteer to be anonymously objectified purely on their bodies.

Although, the Web site does note that if you find yourself posted online, your photograph will be removed upon request. But women should not have to browse through hundreds of photos to make sure their picture is not being judged on the Internet.

Furthermore, Domains By Proxy forbids the use of their services to "violate the law or engage in morally objectionable activities."

Certainly the creators of www.palmwalk.com have created a morally questionable site - posting pictures without consent and their own desire for anonymity attests to that.

With enough social pressures to look a certain way, women shouldn't have to worry about who might be snapping their photo in the middle of campus. If you find the site morally objectionable, voice your opinion to: Domains By Proxy, Attn: Legal Complaints, 15111 N. Hayden Road, Suite 160, PMB 353, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

Laura Thorson is a history and political science junior and can be reached at laura.thorson@cox.net.




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