The We Hunted the Mammoth Pledge Drive is on! If you haven’t already, please consider donating through the PayPal button below. Thanks!
The classic stereotype of the feminist — or at least the one most popular with antifeminists — comes to us straight from the 1970s. This feminist is mannish, unkempt, ugly, and above all fat. She wears baggy men’s clothing — perhaps overalls — or long hippie skirts that offer a glimpse of her defiantly unshaven legs. Think Andrea Dworkin, or some exaggerated version of her.
This stereotype, or at least an updated version of it, remains popular amongst the internet antifeminists who make so much noise — and so many memes. The updated ugly feminist remains fat, but has traded away her hippie accoutrements for leather miniskirts, black lipstick, facial piercings and hair dyed a violent red or blue. She looks like she just returned from a Slut Walk, though she’s one of the protesters that antifeminists like to loudly proclaim they Would Not Bang.
While Andrea Dworkin types — and sometimes Dworkin herself — still make it into antifeminist memes, like the one posted above, you’re much more likely to run across some variations of the feminists below.
Antifeminist meme makers love incorporating unflattering photos of feminists who seem to embody the new stereotype into their memes; given that none of these women have exactly volunteered for the role, so I won’t post any of these memes. They’re easy enough to find, as they show up pretty much anywhere misogynists congregate online. Which is practically the entire internet.
But that’s not the whole story here. It turns out that the fat, ugly feminist stereotype has a sister, and she looks less like Andrea Dworkin than she does the woman used to illustrate the non-feminist woman in that meme above.
This alternate feminist stereotype is what most observers would call conventionally hot. She’s also conventionally conventional, possibly a former cheerleader and sorority girl. She is the very picture of white privilege — and, her detractors claim — female privilege.
Far from rejecting the trappings of conventional female beauty standards, as did so many feminists in the 1970s, she embodies them — unashamedly using her beauty, and her sexual power over men, in order to get what she ways. All while chanting the feminist mantra of equality.
That last one may be far more revealing than its maker intended, suggesting that he quite literally sees feminists as the popular “mean girls” in high school who not only wouldn’t date him, but who wouldn’t even talk to him at parties.
These smug and demanding manipulators are also, these memes tell us, likely to cry “rape” if they retroactively decide that some man they’ve slept with isn’t good enough for them. Or they may cry rape for no reason at all — just because they can.
There’s real hatred lurking behind these memes, and a not-very-well-hidden desire for some kind of retribution. Antifeminist meme-makers transform stock images of attractive women crying into morality tales in which evil feminist women finally see the error of their ways.
The meme-makers also love to imagine that they themselves have brought tears to the eyes of some model-hot feminist by posting harassing or threatening remarks online, or perhaps by setting up an antifeminist Facebook page.
Or by wearing some offensive t-shirt:
In the movie Bowfinger, Eddie Murphy — playing an action-movie star with a tenuous connecting to reality — is weirdly obsessed by the desire to take the Lakers cheerleading squad “down a peg or two” by exposing himself to them.
Sometimes I wonder if a similar desire is the primary driver behind the Men’s Rights movement: the desire among MRAs to tear down — to humiliate, to bring to tears — the women they most desire, but who remain, somehow, tantalizingly out of their reach?