Meme Machine

by: Heather Fawn

We are all drowning in a sea of memes, links, and pet pics…..and it is high-time we all learn how to swim….

Everybody is a little bit right, and a little bit wrong.

I’ll admit it – even I can be wrong sometimes. But the internet, as much as I am on it, really highlights this point, and the overwhelming amount of “isms”1 I have seen lately has become difficult to simply ignore. When it comes to the sheer volume of sexist and materialistic content online, I don’t always feel comfortable sitting idly by. Since I was 14, the internet has been a kind of surrogate friend to me. But I am not immune to the fact that it can be a tool used to spread dysfunctional ideas and half-baked “super truths”.

Although I am convinced that my Facebook account is nothing but a meme-sharing machine, I still cannot seem to extricate myself from it entirely. I, admittedly, am guilty of participating in this daily ritual of “read this/like this/share this”, and my personal page has turned into a news article2 and cute kitty cat sounding board. I’m sorry you have to see it. I also enjoy looking at my Facebook newsfeed, as it’s a nice sociological experiment. My overgenerous friend list of just under 200 people produces an interesting cross-section of what my peers feel compelled to communicate to anyone who will listen.

Recently, after an annoying “Drunk girls are the worst” comment on a YouTube video about a false rape allegation, I was further assaulted with some hardcore Angelina Jolie worship for her preventative boobie-chop. This was followed by a photo of a woman holding a man up by the back of his shirt (he was photo-shopped to be tiny) while she was pointing her finger at him in a scolding posture. The combination of these three things on my newsfeed simultaneously had my blood boiling before I had even rolled out of bed.

Why is it so terrible for a woman to say “Drunk girls are the worst,”? Because nearly all of us, at some time or another, get drunk, or have been drunk in the past. No one is immune, in that case, to being “the worst”. Why then, are drunk girls “the worst”? Because they’re annoying? Because they are all, “He raped me!” when he didn’t? Because we get sloppy as often as men if we’re wasted? Because we can’t walk in our heels? Tell me what exactly makes drunk girls the worst? And we are talking about a rape allegation here, so again with the “she shouldn’t have gotten sloppy” bullshit, which is just not helpful. You do nothing for women, for the gender in an already “one-down” position due to the discussion at hand, by making a disparaging comment and fist-bumping some sleaze who deserves nothing more than neutrality from you. It’s this kind of babying of the male gender when an isolated incident of a rape allegation comes up that is extremely dangerous and damaging when a real assault is committed. Respect yourself by not stereotyping your gender. Respect men by expecting them to be reasonable.

You want to be helpful? Acknowledge that some people suck when they drink. Acknowledge that the problem of substance abuse mixed with “he said/she said” in regards to a rape allegation is difficult and complex to discuss and analyze. Acknowledge that fucking up someone’s life with a false rape statement is extremely reprehensible, but don’t forget to point out that the statistics on the prevalence of these statements remain very low. Acknowledge that a society in which one of a woman’s greatest powers to destroy a man’s life is merely to claim she has been raped when she hasn’t is a pretty fucked up society.

As for Ms. Jolie getting a double mastectomy as a preventative procedure–yes, she is brave and intelligent to not only undergo this surgery, but to be out about it as well. Was I surprised to see even the Human Rights Campaign laud her like she’s a fucking champion of breast cancer survival? Hell yeah I was surprised. Tom Green never got that kind of recognition for his testicular cancer survival. He only has one testicle because he survived cancer. I think it’s a little far-fetched, and a little too immaculate and tidy, for a poor or middle-class woman to be able to pull off, considering the resources most people have access to in terms of healthcare and the availability of insurance when it comes to preventative procedures. When one thinks about the likelihood of all resources being available at this time for anyone to comfortably do what Jolie has had done is preposterous, and more than a little bit of a slap in the face.

Put the spotlight on an everyday woman who doesn’t have a team of doctors poking at her every time she thinks she might get the sniffles. The more I think about it, the more it irks me that this is such big news. I absolutely think that celebrities promoting health is important for a large portion of society because some of us worship and admire these people. But I mean shit, am I supposed to be getting mammograms and regular pap smears when I can’t fucking afford to at this time in my life? My mom had breast cancer and she’s in remission. I don’t talk to her and don’t plan to anytime soon, but no one gave her a public butt-pat for getting her health back. The whole thing is repugnant to me. Not to mention the fact that no one ever talks about cervical cancer, cervical dysplasia even, or the deadliest cancer of the female reproductive system –ovarian cancer, for which there is still no preventative diagnostic test.

When a Hollywood big shot with cameras up their ass tells me they got a colostomy bag to fight colon cancer or a hysterectomy to prevent ovarian cancer and they have vaginal dryness and hot flashes, rather than a nice pair of fake tits, I’ll pay more fucking attention.

Onto the woman scolding the Photo-shopped man like he’s a child. So what is wrong with this picture? Why can’t I just laugh at it?

Because men aren’t children. Typically-developed men have normal, functional adult brains with the same wide range of cognitive abilities as women. To the extent that men have childish tendencies, women can match those tendencies tit for tat. Punishment for bad behavior does not make love grow, nor does it help a couple mature or develop better strategies for conflict management over time. Also, if there were a photo of a man scolding a woman in this same fashion, it wouldn’t get the same kind of reception as the photo in question. There would be more of a negative backlash, and if feminism is about equality, a photo like that sets us back and alienates men. If you are taking your frustrations out on your significant other as if they are a child to be punished and changed, you’re as in the wrong as they are. Stop spreading negativity thinly veiled as “cute” sexism.

One thing that I always notice about people who “get” the nature of discrimination and bias (sexism, racism, heterosexism, etc.), is not necessarily that they never misspeak, but that they are not super defensive if they do. They are willing to listen to another side. Contrary to what many of the rigid and woefully misinformed people I know hold strong to, a certain amount of mental flexibility is necessary if you want to fucking learn something. Stubbornly holding onto your ugly statement or belief because you just want to is childish and more than a little bit counterproductive. In my book, political correctness is a consideration for others, but more than that, it is the idea that everyone gets a second chance– either to listen, or to be heard.

What makes me so angry about Facebook/the internet, and the things that are posted, is that it seems like people don’t really think. They just hit “like” or “share” and spread stupid far and wide. I have a very low tolerance for intolerance these days, and I suppose my tolerance for ignorant bullshit is slipping, too. I can’t give you the benefit of the doubt on your sexist generalizations or your inability to apply reason to celebrity ass-kissing in the name of “health awareness”. Maybe you want to be part of the meme-machine that keeps people nice and stupid, or self-righteous but ignorant, but I just can’t do it. If you feel like being bigoted, sexist, unnecessarily harsh towards a group of people, or just clearly an asshole, well, you’re reading this here but not on my facebook page, because we can’t even be cyber-pals.

It is not popular opinion to hate popular culture, because, obviously, by its very definition, it has mass appeal. But I truly find the way we worship celebrities and meme the fuck out of the internet to be a really reprehensible part of our current online behavior. Not to mention the fact that I can’t even look at a magazine rack without wanting to puke my guts out. Turning the act of being a human into something to be bought or sold or hidden or ridiculed or unnecessarily idealized or generalized to the point of ridiculousness is contrary to the very act of being human. I get onto any social media website and see the same things being regurgitated and it makes me feel claustrophobic, like everyone just has one simultaneous thought at a time. Like everything out of your mouth is now a meme or a “memorable quote” or a line from a movie. Pop culture is crushing the ability for humans to even form an original thought, and social media makes the proliferation of random bits of this trash oh-so-easy. It’s like littering or being terrible at street tags. We’re littering and shit-tagging all over the internet.

If you just put your cursor in something gross, I’m sorry. It might have been from me.

I want people to stop and think. And maybe not bathe in the triple-filtered urine of our most revered celebrities. Or maybe pass on watching that marathon of reality tv. Or stop eating fast food. I know, I am dreaming big here. But consider this: what are you really seeing, reading, liking, allowing to infiltrate your brain? What are you spending your precious lifetime on, putting your limited energy and financial resources into? You are not required to give all of your money and free time to stuff and things, people who don’t know you exist, or things that will stop mattering literally the second something new comes along. I know you know this, but do you know that you know this? Furthermore, one gender is not better than the other, and if I haven’t made it clear before, my stance on feminism is working with men. No hate, no chip on my shoulder. You have to give what you expect. Trash-talking a gender, your own or otherwise, is a lower stage of evolution than I demand from even my acquaintances.

At the very least: no more rape jokes. Think before you say words like, “slut” or “bitch”. Don’t use sweeping statements like, “I hate men,” And remember that not everyone thinks about Kim Kardashian’s well-manicured asshole in their free time. So stop spamming me, bro.

My guarantee to you is that, for the love of Christ, if I see any of you fuckers post a duckface photo, I’m unfriending you. Gross generalizations on gender aside, you’re all better than that.

  1. ism: A distinctive doctrine, system, or theory []
  2. Very much like: this. Or: this. Or: this. Even: this. . You get the idea! []
Tags from the story
,

2 Comments

  • I unfriended someone yesterday who I’ve known for 15 years. For the past 4, I’ve found myself dumb founded at times at how closed minded and judgemental he can be. One time he explained to me his disgust for someone’s acne while they were standing right behind him, and I didn’t let him realize it as it embarrassing on enough levels already. But anyhow, I unfriended him because reading lots of ongoing commentsry on a status update about how anyone who uses Craigslist is a loser is enough for me to believe he doesn’t deserve to be part of the revolution.

    My reason is in another boat, but I think I feel the same type of insatiable desire to rid myself access to accidentally clicking my way back into the stink of their web presence as you do for certain people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *