Burns: "Kiss Cam" tradition perpetuates misogyny, unsafe environments

As a native of Syracuse, New York, attending games in the Carrier Dome is arguably one of the best experiences that the locals brag about.

Located in the center of the Syracuse University campus, the Dome is home to Syracuse football, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s lacrosse. During play stoppages, there are a number of ways the folks at the Dome keep the crowd entertained. From half-court shot challenges to kicking field goals to T-shirt tosses, the fun never ceases from start to finish. But one long standing fan-favorite is landing the university in hot water after a letter to the editor published in Syracuse’s The Post Standard.

An article was published regarding the famous “Kiss Cam” that is seen across almost all sporting events. During a timeout, the camera pans around the crowd to pick out “couples” that are sitting next to each other. They are then shown on the big screen with hearts around them and are expected to kiss on the screen.

This does not seem all that bad at first—but we should be concerned with how sexist and unaccepting the Kiss Cam can be. For example, you may go to a game with your husband, brother-in-law and his wife. If you and your brother-in-law are put on the kiss cam, this could lead to an awkward situation. It’s doubtful you would want to pucker up with your husband’s brother.

Additionally, the Kiss Cam largely excludes same-sex couples. In all my time at major sporting events across the country, I have never seen two men or two women make it on the screen.

The largest concern that I have with the Kiss Cam, however, is how it can sexually disempower women. A lot of the time, the Cam shows men and women who are not together and the man is clearly intoxicated. The woman shakes her head no toward the camera, and this action will get replies such as, “Oh c’mon, just do it” and, “Kiss him now” from the thousands of fans in attendance, which leads to the man forcefully grabbing her face and kissing her—whether she approves or not.

In this day and age—a time where women are told to stand up for what they believe in and to be strong enough to say no—they are put in a position where no isn’t an option. They are pressured into a situation where they do not have control. I know that if it was my significant other or my sister at the game, I would be pretty mad if a random drunk stranger attempted to kiss them after they said no.

Imagine someone coming up to you at a bar and making out with you just because they think they can. You would most likely not tolerate it then, so we should not tolerate it at a sporting event in front of thousands of people.

At the end of the day, there are way bigger feminist issues than a Kiss Cam at a sporting event. Still, if we could do a better job of encouraging stadium personnel to diversify the Kiss Cam and create a new system of picking out actual couples and preventing aggressive behavior, I think this tradition could continue to stand the test of time.