"When you are openly fat and feminist on a dating site, it isn’t uncommon for randoms to harass you," writes University of Maryland Baltimore County student Kelly Martin Broderick in an essay on the XO Jane website.
"My Picture Was Stolen And Turned Into A Fat-Shaming Anti-Feminist Meme On Facebook" is about what happened after an OK Cupid user emailed Broderick to let her know that a photo of her had gone viral, in a way she might not be happy about.
The photo of Broderick, a former makeup artist now majoring in Gender & Women's Studies, holding a "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like" sign had been shared on a Facebook page called "No Hope For The Human Race" -- a site, according to its about page, devoted to "the internet and it's collective memes" (sic). About a week after first being posted, the photo has more than 13,000 likes, over 2,300 shares, and some 1,300 comments, which include these (folks sensitive to internet nastiness may wish to just skip reading):
You women want everything equal good lol when you get a divorce or have kids get a job and support without child support and alimony. Equal my ass.. i see more females getting a free ride just because they married or got the dick from some dude that works hard
How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb? None, because feminists won't change anything.
Fat, old, angry and single. If they still have a sex drive they find another angry lesbian feminist and make each other and the people around them miserable.
This is a disgusting misuse of someone's image and a pile of steaming objectifying shallow bullshit.
Well done for being a perfect example of why we need feminism.
I am also a feminist. And the fact that I've read at least a dozen comments talking about this woman's appearance, her sexual history (like you freaking know it), or how "unfair feminism to men" is proof of how much we need feminism. Also yes, I have a penis, it's still attached, and on no one's mantle. Testes included.
BTW No Hope Admins, this is making me lose hope in you. Wtf?
Broderick tried, and failed, to get the photo taken down from Facebook, she writes. Then the photo spread far beyond the one Facebook site, and Broderick decided that what she had was an opportunity:
The biggest miss the creator of my meme made was not realizing the point of the This is What a Feminist Looks Like campaigns; the point is to draw attention to the fact that feminists are not all the same. We are all different.
So in response, I am starting a tumblr, We Are What Feminists Look Like. A few friends have already submitted pictures and I hope many more of you folks will submit pictures or thoughts. This experience has taught me that while one cruel person can ruin my morning, I have an entire community of friends, family, and feminists to back me up.
A poll put out this spring by Ms. Magazine, with the Communications Consortium Media Center and the Feminist Majority Foundation, found that more than half of women voters, and nearly a third of male voters, self-identify as feminists.
So it might not be a huge surprise that dozens of photos have already been submitted -- some, even, by outraged writers at Cosmo -- showing that feminists "are not a monolith. We are diverse and unique. We don’t fit into every stereotype," Broderick writes. "And they picked the wrong feminist fatty to mess with."
Here's a handful of the photos on the "We Are What Feminists Look Like" Tumblr (want to participate? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org):
"We Are What Feminists Look Like" Tumblr
Broderick told The Huffington Post that the "general reaction has been mixed."
"Most people think it's horrifying that people can be so unnecessarily cruel," she said. "I've received messages from people saying that after reading about what happened to me and my response, they realized they were also feminists...Others think I got what I was asking for by posting pictures online and that I shouldn't be surprised."
The "No Hope" Facebook page administrators have, meanwhile, responded with their own screed -- here's an excerpt (grammatical problems and colorful language have been left unchanged):
When a funny picture on the internet becomes a reason for you to want to take away someone else's right to an opinion, that is a real problem. If people in our comments refer to feminists as "an army of lesbians who need the cock," that is not OUR opinion. It is the opinion of the one who commented. Which in this case, would offend lesbians everywhere to compare you to them. Someone might say that feminists look like uptight ugly fat chicks who are pissed off that hotter chicks get more dick. Once again, that is not OUR opinion. That is the opinion of the fan who commented and they have a right to express it.
The meme that was created merely stated that you look like how most individuals would commonly imagine feminists to look. You stating that you were being slammed for being fat is your own insecurity and apparently the opinion of those who support you, since that is what THEY took from it. The irony is that you are now using this as a way to promote your bullshit spin on what otherwise would be considered a positive movement. Feminism is no longer about equal rights when you don't feel like you should be equally made fun of.
Lastly, 90% of your family and friends who supported you through this "make believe crisis" are probably fans of our page, in secret. They probably laughed behind your back and now message you with sorrow. Hypocrisy at it's finest. After all, we are the page that so many won't admit they like because their uptight friends may judge them. This proves the point of our page. We are merely here to bring laughter to everybody through harmless fun. The internet decides who gets made fun of and who doesn't. Not the owner or the admins of this page. You were selected. Congratulations!
You want to talk about Feminism? Think of the young girl being stalked on facebook by a sexual predator who didn't receive the help she needed, because facebook admins were inundated with you and your feminazi friends reporting this stupid image.
As the snake inevitably eats its own tail, this new rant has led to a whole new slew of comments about feminism, feminists, politics, people who don't meet traditional standards of beauty, the nature of the internet and, maybe most oddly, sandwiches. Here's one of them:
So let me get this straight. The owners of No Hope are butthurt because they got busted making a meme out of someone's profile pic and think that their the ones being mistreated? What color is the sky on your planet?
"Feminism is about allowing fair opportunities for everyone and recognizing the different intersections within our lives and identities that influence how we experience the world," said Broderick. "I want to live in a world where we are kinder, rather than crueler to each other...I hope that this project will work in the way that consciousness raising was so important in the 1970s, to remind everyone that feminism still has so much to fight for. That all people are not treated equally and that we need to recognize how our different identities intersect to create different oppressions."
And for those who like tying up all the loose ends: Broderick never spoke with man from OK Cupid after that first contact. "He seemed nice enough," she said, "but our conversation was solely around his letting me know about the meme."
This piece has been updated with quotes from Broderick.