Hanky panky. The sugar coated term for sex. In 1980s Emory, there was plenty of it happening, but only talked about behind closed doors. Or was it? In the 1982 Emory yearbook publication, there was a picture of a female student proudly standing in her daisy dukes, with a sticker on her bottom that read “I Heart Hanky Panky.” To me, this is somewhat alarming that she is displaying her feelings of sex to the public. This shows a large comfortability on her part to be able to do this. It makes one wonder the state of Emory in 1982. Was sex a very outward part of the community? If it was, heterosexuality was the only one accepted in everyday conversation. Student Action for Human Rights was the name of the group that discussed “gay and lesbian concerns.” It is interesting to realize that bisexual and transgender were not part of the terms they used in the Emory Wheel. Even the SAHR printed that ads that specifically said “gay and lesbian.” During these times, it seems that there were only three sexualities: Heterosexual, gay, or lesbian.
What if that student with “I Heart Hanky Panky” was not talking about with the opposite sex? What if she was a lesbian? Would this be acknowledged or still only take the sticker at face value? What if she was bisexual? Would only her attraction to males be acknowledged in the community? Looking at another article in the yearbook about Emory love and relationships seemed to be the most obvious display of the social norm: a white male and white female sitting and laughing with one another with small pecks as kisses. Although I am sure there were many couples at the university that did not fit this norm, it is interesting that the yearbook committee chose to use this type of relationship as a basic embodiment of the university’s student relationships. They could have had multiple pictures of different, diverse couples to show a look into Emory’s relationships.
This seems to say something about the sexual identity of Emory’s campus in the 1980s. Emory accepted those of different sexualities, but when it came to displaying sexualities of the campus, heterosexuality always won out. This is very interesting compared to today. Emory is very outward with their acceptance of LGBT. In fact it is the only southern school on the “Top 25 LGBT-Friendly Campuses” this year. But does this say anything about what is really happening inside the university? I remember my freshman year there was an incident where a transgender male was using the woman’s bathroom and was arrested. These types of actions do not seem like an LGBT-friendly campus.
To me, Emory loves to talk the talk, but not always walk the walk.