“Why are you so bothered?”
This is a question I have found myself asking more and more each day over the past year or so. Who is it that I am asking this question to? Well, mainly young cis males on social media platforms.
The reason I’m pushed to ask this question so frequently is that every single day I log onto one of these apps, namely Twitter, I see at least one post that negatively pertains to the actions of females.
Not just any action however, it’s usually in regard to females en masse enjoying / being interested in / owning something.
Take ‘Fiat 500 Twitter’ for example. If you’re not familiar, this term references a portion of Twitter users, typically females, whose characteristics such as the way they dress, act and even speak, supposedly suggest that they would drive this make and model of vehicle.
Being part of ‘Fiat 500 Twitter’ is deemed negative and even goes as far as to suggest that you lack individual identity. What makes this more troubling is that the term has transgressed its use on the internet and is now commonplace in everyday language too.
What I really struggle with is why females identifying with one another and sharing likes and dislikes are looked at disparagingly, or even construed as a threat. I personally celebrate when I share interests, no matter how serious or trivial, with many other women. It brings a sense of belonging and validation outside of oneself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe validation should come from external sources, but as a human being it is a gratifying experience that no one could deny.
Society encourages men to celebrate their collective interests, typically in male dominated sports such as football and ironically, cars, so why are women judged for pursuing shared interests?
Why did this negative framing of female homogeneity begin? Because there is something about females enjoying, or being interested in something together as a majority or, in the case of the previously mentioned ‘Fiat 500 Twitter’, owning a particular vehicle, that can really bug men.
So I find myself truly asking the question – what is it that causes these men to be so aggravated by females identifying with something in particular, that they feel the need to mock or call-out in a public realm?
Is the notion of females coming together and expressing their agency a threat? Is this an ingrained issue that potentially dates back to the 1800s when women were branded witches for committing certain acts or for having a particular skill? You could perhaps argue that social media has facilitated and led to brand new forms of female oppression, that are just a contemporary embodiment of the aforementioned witchcraft issue.
To illustrate the negative connotations highlighted, here are a couple of examples taken from my feed:
*Handles removed for anonymity
*Handles removed for anonymity
Women adhering to the new laws that were introduced temporarily due to the ongoing pandemic are being criticised. This is seriously a form of gaslighting on a large scale. To be verbally dragged through the mud and made out to be overly dramatic for having concerns in a truly unknown and terrifying situation is ridiculously unfair.
I really can’t understand why women should be put down, mocked and imitated in a derogatory way for celebrating their autonomy on a commercialised day about partnership, enjoying a particular beverage, obeying the law or for engaging in consensual sex work and reaping the benefits of such.
Yet this happens so often today, to the point that it isn’t always just men behaving in this way. Some girls and women even join in the criticism, perhaps without realising they’re contributing to the rhetoric of the patriarchal society that we live in and undoing the work of feminists throughout centuries around the globe.
I can’t help but feel that these females have been oppressed into believing that they should mock other females who have different interests to them, or that they’re a lesser person if they like or engage in these certain activities. The dreaded “I’m not like other girls” phrase comes to mind here.
Now I know what the backlash to this article will be:
“You can’t take a joke”, “we’re obviously not being serious”, “you need to lighten up”, etc. etc.
But that is the literal point, if you’re dragging women for clout, then you are part of the problem, joke or no joke. Whether intended or not, you are contributing to the dangerous entrenchment of thought that women are foolish or lesser for deriving joy as a collective. So, next time you want me to ‘take the joke’, tell me a knock knock one.
With this dangerous form of gaslighting being fed quite literally into the palm of our hands through social media, as women we need to be reminded that being similar to other females isn’t a negative trait, it’s amazing, rewarding and gratifying.
There is a much deeper issue here, as to why this ‘calling out’ occurs and why female homogeneity is scorned. While we may be told that it’s just a joke, perhaps that deeper issue is the innate misogyny that is ever present today.
Danielle @ TEWP x