Ratemash, a website which allows users to rate students based on their attractiveness, has come under a wave of criticism this week, including an online petition against its activities.
In addition to complaints that the site encourages objectification of both men and women, concerns have also been voiced over Ratemash’s use of students’ Facebook profile pictures without their consent.
According to the site, ‘‘Ratemash lets you rate people in your school/college/university ‘Hot’ if you think they are and ‘Not’ if you don’t think so. If you think Jessica is Hot and Jessica thinks you’re hot, we will let you both know.’’
It then ranks the individuals based on the number of points accumulated. Clicking on a picture takes the viewer directly to the Facebook profile of the named student.
Manon Lambert, who was ‘rated’ on the website, said: ‘‘I found out I was on the site when I received several emails from friends who thought I would want to know. I was pretty shocked and wanted to get off the site immediately. I feel it is a complete invasion of privacy… I have looked into getting myself removed from the site with very little success.’’
She called for the site to be “investigated closely and either shut down altogether, or changed so that the owners of profiles are in control of their presence on the site.’’
Jake Hurfurt, a St John’s student who started the Change.org petition against the site’s use of images, commented: “The use of photos without permission is extremely unethical; with ethical issues, public pressure is key, as you cannot use the law to force people’s hand. I was hoping to gather enough support to force a response from Ratemash to justify their actions. I saw there was a pretty angry backlash against Ratemash for these reasons, and thought as level -headed humans, somebody needed to try and send a message to Ratemash, and change.org has been successful in the past in getting the message across, so I opted for that[…]We are all human beings and nobody should be treated as a piece of meat who has aesthetic value and nothing more, and the potential damage to people’s self confidence is equal across genders.”
Sarah Pine, OUSU Women’s VP, commented: “This is a disgusting website. It’s a disgusting violation of anyone’s boundaries that they could be on the website without knowing, and then rated to do with oppressive and racist standards of “attractiveness” without having signed up.”
She continued: “The outcome of this website is that students experience a continual policing of the way that they look, something that disproportionately affects women. It is a depressing and upsetting outcome of lad culture that some people think that it is acceptable to treat others like objects, all in the name of a ‘good night out’. The fact that the website is public makes this even worse: it treats bodies like public property[…] I’m bored of seeing this regressive crap.”
Lucy Delaney, another Oxford student featured on the site, stated: “I am aware that my picture is on it – I certainly did not give my consent for this – and I must say that I’m rather confused by the whole thing.”
She added: “This is a culture that organisations around oxford such as OUSU’s WomCam and the Oxford Feminist Network have fought hard to tackle and certainly I, as current chair of WomCam and OUSU Women’s Campaign Officer elect, am irritated that I actually feature on this site. Oxford is a place where people should be treated for their intellect and the skills they have to bring to the community, not their looks.”
A male student at Oxford, whose profile is on the site, and wished to remain anonymous, commented: ‘‘I feel pretty disquieted that they have uploaded my profile picture without my permission. I think it’s a breach of personal privacy to use someone’s profile picture without their permission, especially for a rating website. The rating also seems to be very random – a set of dogs is at number six for the guys’ [section].’’
Ratemash describes itself as ‘‘a buzzing community with members within universities mostly in the UK and around the world who like to go out, party and enjoy themselves.”
Ratemash have not responded to requests for comment.