Like most addictions, Pinterest has its problems. The whole “fitspiration” thing, wherein pictures of muscled (but skinny!) women are posted alongside some craptastic quote about sweat being fat crying or whatever has been talked about extensively in the feminist blogosphere. There’s a great article I came across a few days ago talking about the appropriation of disability to use as “inspiration.” There’s been talk about the societal gender performance norms that make Pinterest a “girly” thing. The “Pinterest is for girls and Tumblr is for boys” thing has been popping up since the site got popular, and it shows no signs of stopping despite the hoards of Pinning boys and Tumbling girls.
But still, I understand how we’ve come associate Pinterest with all things XX. The site is a dangerous whirlpool of crafts, recipes, fashion, and home decor waiting to suck you in and drown you in a sea of procrastination. Of course, it’s also a treasure box of geekiness and feminism and LGBTQ goodness, but does that stuff ever make it to the front page? Are those the popular pins that everyone sees? Every now and then, something nerdy makes it up there, but mostly it’s wedding stuff and fitspiration garbage and celebrities.
The real issue that I have with Pinterest isn’t, however, that it’s filled with stereotypical lady things ( though I do have an issue with the construction of appropriate, unobtainable womanhood there, but that’s another post), the issue I have is that it’s brimming with internalized misogyny. Ever wonder what The Plastics grew up to do while they played housewife? Go check out the comments on Pinterest’s Popular page.
Normally, I keep my distance from comments on anything not posted in a safe space or at least on a site with decent mods. Sadly, my iPad doesn’t load Pinterest as quickly as I’d like, and while it’s busy fetching pins, I skim over the comments on some of the already loaded images. For every comment noting the coolness of a DIY blouse or the easiness of a cookie recipe, there’s one slut-shaming or denigrating someone’s body. I wish I had been taking screenshots, but trust me, they’re there. Wander over and have a look and I guarantee you’ll come across at least one image of, say, a well-muscled woman lifting weights. That pin will have three comments going “Wow! That’s really impressive!”, three lamenting about their bodies, and two saying something along the lines of “Ewwwww thats so gross women shouldnt look like that” and “No thanks!”, not to mention a transphobic comment or two. I recently came across a pin featuring an older photo of Anne Hathaway that I thought was particularly pretty. She was smiling and wasn’t super-Photoshopped. The comments were appalling. There were a few of the usual comments proclaiming her beauty or acting, and then a bunch more doing the opposite. So much hate there, and for what? My grandmother always said not to say anything at all if I didn’t have something nice to say, and while I’m all for tossing that out the window when it comes to social justice, it’s just rude and unnecessary to comment on random stuff you hate.
I should also mention that if I had a dollar for every “That’s why I hate girls! So much drama!” comment I’ve seen on Pinterest, I’d be able to pay for the rest of grad school out of pocket and afford to take an unpaid internship. Yes, we know. You’re so much better than the rest of us whiny bitchez because you only hang out with dudes and we’re just a bunch of catty drama llamas, right? This has nothing to do with playing to patriarchy for the sake of getting some guys, does it? This kind of internalized misogyny gives all the women who like to hang out with men because they like them as people a bad name. It’s true that many of my friends are male, and sometimes I hang out with just them. It’s because we have things in common. I also do this with my female friends. Weird, right? NO. So, Handmaidens of the Kingdom of LadyHate, what are you hoping to get from this? What is it that you think will come of this? Do you suppose all the other women of the Internet will bow before you and proclaim you better than them? Probably, but I hope that doesn’t happen.
I hate to blame those who get on Pinterest or wherever else and start spouting shit about how what a trashy gold-digger Kate Middleton is (saw that today!) or how tacky they think some random woman is for wearing this shirt/those shoes/ that lipstick. It’s a sickness of the culture we live in that objectifies women, that puts us on a pedestal only to see how fast they can knock us off. Those commenters are playing the game, but there’s nothing there to win. The fact is that Pinterest is very heavily dominated by women, and the pins that exhibit the most internalized misogyny aren’t the ones being repinned or commented on by guys. Put down your shields. There’s nothing to be afraid of, nothing to gain or to lose by stopping the hate. The very things that are being said are the things that create the people who say them. It’s a cycle, and it can only be broken by knocking it the hell off.