Facebook is an endless source of amusement to me. It’s like some odd mix of nosiness, schadenfreude, and mild revulsion that’s bewitching and addicting. One of the things about Facebook that’s both an advantage and a drawback is that you get to know way more about people than you previously did. In some cases, this is a good thing, like old friends I’d lost touch with, or acquaintances from my past who I now find I have a lot in common with; things I’d never had learned if not for the weird cocktail party that is Facebook. In some cases, though, I would definitely have preferred ignorance. I hate learning that someone who I had previously liked, or even just felt sort of neutral about, has political views that I find abhorrent (and I’m sure they say the same about me), or that they’re a thinly-veiled racist, or an insufferable preachy “believer,” or that they bought their dog from a pet store. Certain things I’m just happier not knowing.
One of the most annoyingly fascinating things about Facebook is seeing what people “like.” Sure, TV shows and stores and chocolate cake, that’s all innocent enough. But then the “Go make me a sandwich” groups pop up. And the “Curvy girls are better than skinny girls” one. And the “I’m too hot to be a feminist” one. And, my favorite: seeing “So-and-so likes ‘hitting bitches'” pop up on my newsfeed. And on and on with the oh-so-witty and hilarious woman-hating groups. You’re so funny! You’re so edgy to have clicked that “like” button! You’re… a girl?
Come on. Seriously? I expect it from certain types of people, most of whom I’ve defriended or hidden from my newsfeed, but I don’t expect to see it from women. And it makes me sad and it disappoints me. I have a number of people who are Facebook friends who are younger, in their late teens and early 20s, and this is a big chunk of who I see doing these things. I’m sure all of us have done stupid things and pretended to like things we don’t, and it’s often for a guy, sadly enough. But to actively support something, even something as dumb as a Facebook group, that insults and dehumanizes you, or worse, encourages violence against you? How does that make sense?
I can sort of see some of the underlying reasoning. “I don’t want guys to see me like every other girl out there,” “Guys like girls who like ungirly things,” even, “I’d rather be the one making fun that be the one being made fun of,” but publicly showing support for these things is not the way to go about proving you’re different. It doesn’t make guys like you. It makes them think you’re on board with them treating you like shit. And so they will.
The body-shaming groups are a little different. I think in some cases, like the “Curvy girls are better than skinny girls,” the person joining really might think they’re advancing the “beauty at any size” movement. Or showing that they’re proud to look the way they do. The trouble is, they’re taking the age-old route to get there of building one group up by insulting another. And that’s not advancing anything. It’s setting us back. Of course, not everyone looks at the world through feminist-colored glasses, so they might not even think to examine what a group like that is really doing.
Casual sexism, like casual racism and all types of casual assholery, is pervasive and damaging. You don’t need to self-identify as a feminist to realize, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s really insulting to women. And the sandwich thing is old, tired, played out, and not funny, on top of being insulting.” All of those little clicks and “likes” and updates are showing people little slices of who you are. Don’t show them that you’re a self-loathing jerk.