Light a lamp Social Media, Men And THE Hedge
There happens to be an extremely predictable social media formula for what women’s pictures online should look like. Breasts covered in “barely-there” bikinis are perfect *thumbs up emoji*, but breasts with babies attached are unpalatable. Women wearing next to nothing is a run-of-the-mill, but if you are over a size 10, your account may be blocked. Remember the action Instagram took when artist Rupi Kaur showed a small amount of her menstrual blood a few months ago? Yeah, in a controversy that ties together technology, art, feminism and sex, Instagram burst out in flames for removing said self-portrait. Having a period violates the site’s Terms of Service? Huh, time to ban all puberty unlocked girls from Instagram eh?
The underlying message to women is quite clear. Sexy images are appropriate but photos of women’s bodies doing perfectly normal women body things are not. Hold on. Let me put a more crass point on it: Only pictures of women who men want in bed, please *baa dumm tushh*. As Kaur pointed out on her Tumblr account, Instagram is filled with pictures of underage girls who are ‘objectified’ and ‘pornified’. “I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in underwear but not be okay with a small leak,” she wrote.
It is difficult to imagine women being disgruntled by images of breastfeeding, unkempt bikini lines or period blood. It is men who have grown up on sanitized and sexualized pictures of female bodies. Men whose “women’s bodies are there for them” belief has been ignited by pop culture and advertising. And GOD FORBID if they have to see a woman who is anything other than thin, hairless and ready for sex, WELL, BRING OUT THE SMELLING SALTS! Their misogyny is leaking.
There is an upside, of course. The very nature of social media has made it easier for women to put forth a more diverse set of images on what the female form can look like and mean. When we possess the power to create out own images en masse, we have the power to create a new narrative-one that takes flight in the face of what the mainstream would prefer us to look and act like.
To Instagram’s credit, the company restored Kaur’s picture after complaints, much as Facebook changed their standards to allow pictures of “women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring.” Technology companies are starting to understand that if they want to put the power of pictures in their users’ hands, they’re going to have to be okay with women being fully human-not just mirror images of what pop culture wants us to be.
As for the people who are scandalized by women’s bodies and their natural functions: You don’t have to “like” it, but you will have to live with it. *smiley emoji*