Kill It With Fire: The #FeministsAreUgly Selfies Were A Damned Embarrassment To Feminism

This Sunday, I looked at my phone to briefly check Twitter. I found, to my surprise, that the number one trending thing on Twitter was the hashtag #feminists are ugly. Also, now that there are descriptions of what the trending hashtags are about, there was a caption underneath it reading “Ugly Feminists Freak Out Over #FeministsAreUgly hashtag.

My first feeling was “Oh god why? Why would anyone even dignify that with a response?” Then I went to go check the hashtag itself, and it appeared that the only people actually tweeting with that hashtag were other women “responding” to this supposed Twitter trend trend by posting either sexy looking selfies or pictures of Beyoncé, Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie.

I think I literally yelled “Nooooooo! It’s a trap! Don’t do this!” out loud as I sat there by myself. I seriously could not believe that with all the other shit we’ve got to worry about, that anyone was bothering to convince anyone it was possible for us to be “hot.”

However, there is a lot to unpack here. First of all, the fact that it was trending at all to begin with was the result of an algorithmic failure on Twitter’s part. That hashtag was actually trending back in July/August of last year, and magically popped up as “trending” without actually being “trending” right now.

Second, the little description Twitter gave the hashtag, was seriously messed up. The caption was the title of an absurd Inquisitr article from last year, about the hashtag, and perhaps not the best choice ever either way.

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Third, most of the women responding to it thought they were responding to a hashtag created by misogynists claiming that feminists are ugly. The hashtag was actually created by two feminists who say they were using it ironically.

Via The Daily Dot:

As the Daily Dot reported last August, when #FeministsAreUgly first started trending, the hashtag wasn’t started by misogynists perpetuating stereotypes about shrewish, unattractive feminists. It was started by Lily Boulourian and Christine Yang, two women who were using the hashtag ironically as a way to counteract offensive stereotypes about feminist women of color.

“I wanted to find a way to change the narrative on that and thought I could help inspire others to reclaim that narrative and define for ourselves what ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’ mean,” Boulourian told the Daily Dot at the time.

All of this aside, let’s talk about what actually happened, both last August and yesterday. What actually happened was that women “responded” to what they thought was an accusation by internet misogynists that “feminists are ugly,” by posting selfies of themselves looking “hot.” Or with pictures of Beyoncé, Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie looking “hot.”

I am going to say, right now, that this is a thing that needs to not matter. I honestly don’t care about giving misogynists boners, I don’t care if they think I’m ugly, and I certainly don’t think that my positions on anything are bolstered by whether or not someone finds me attractive. I also don’t think my positions are in any way diminished by someone finding me unattractive. I don’t think women should have to be “hot” to be heard.

For what it’s worth, if anyone were to say, “Well, I did not agree with her analysis of rape culture at first, but then I saw her rack and thought ‘Oh! Maybe she does have a point!'” I would want to set them on fire.

Last week, I wrote about the fact that it is stupid to claim that a funny woman “disproves” the idea that “women aren’t funny.” Why? Because, obviously, women are funny–not all of us, but not all men are funny either.

But you know what? Not all feminists are “hot” and that is OK! So what if it was true that all feminists were physically unattractive? Would that make the fight for equal pay or reproductive justice any less valid? What? Are we going to “lavender menace” women who aren’t sexy enough to represent us?

I have never liked the whole “I want equality and justice for women…but it’s not like I am some lesbian who doesn’t shave her legs or anything! I totally shave my legs! And my armits! And sometimes I wear heels even!” thing. It’s always been a bug up my ass. There is no caveat to my feminism and I honestly don’t think anyone needs to be worrying about my personal maintenance decisions to begin with.

I’m sorry, but you don’t see dudes lining up to go “Hey! Just so you know, despite my political opinions, I am totally fuckable! Here! Look at this picture of me! Being hot! Gaze upon these other men who share my views and are also attractive!” No! Because men’s opinions get to count regardless whether or not anyone wants to fuck them.

This whole thing makes me absolutely furious. I am so embarrassed that my skin actually itches. We have so many far more important battles to fight than the “stereotype” that we are not “hot.” I can’t even believe this is a discussion anyone is even willing to have.

It is fine to feel beautiful, to feel physically attractive, and yes!– to wear make-up, wear heels, and to look your best! I’m not ragging on people for having self-confidence. Have all the self-confidence you want! Knock yourself out! This isn’t, to me, even about “performing for the male gaze” or whatever. You can do that too if you want! Or you can post selfies of yourself for other reasons! I’m not a selfie person, personally, but you do you.

What I’m not cool with is women responding to an a childish schoolyard taunt/absurd stereotype like “Feminists Are Ugly” by falling all over themselves to “prove” that wrong. I don’t want anyone’s first instinct, when seeing something like “#feministsareugly” to be “Well! I will prove them wrong! I will post a photo of myself being HOTT. That’ll show ‘em!”–when what we need to say is “So fucking what? (And so’s your old man!).”