“Someone stole my picture and made fun of me”

Kelly Martin Broderick is a feminist.

Apparently she wants the world to know that, so she uses (used?) a picture of herself holding a sign with the old meme “This is what a feminist looks like” in tons of places, OKCupid and Facebook among others.

Now, she does look like one of the perhaps half a dozen clichés of what a feminist looks like, so someone wrote “That’s pretty much what I expected.” on the pic and posted it on some Facebook page.


Now, why are feminists aghast about this and call the poster a “horrible person” and worse?

Imagine a similar scenario:


Can you even imagine the Italians raising a shitstorm about this?

I smell incongruousness.

When I have a picture of myself holding a sign “This is what X looks like” and I post it all over the Internet, apparently I am proud of being associated with X, right?

K.M.Broderick actually says so, that she is proud to be feminist and show to the world that this is what a feminist looks like.

And then along comes someone and says to her “Yea, that’s about right. It figures. I am not surprised that a feminist looks like you.”

Consider these:

“I look like a feminist” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation.”
“A feminist might look like me” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation.”
“I am about 5 foot 2” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation.”
“I am really into Yoga” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”
“I won the 110 Meter Hurdles at the last Olympic Games” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”
“I am a Computer Nerd.” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”
“I drive a BMW.” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”
“I wrote my first iPhone App when I was 12” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”
“My favourite food is Hamburgers” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”
“I love my cat” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”
“I like to fart in bed” – “Yes, I am not surprised by that revelation”

Do you see the difference?

If X really is a good thing and you are proud to indentify with it, there is no way whatsoever that you can be insulted by someone saying “Yes, you look like X”.

If on the other hand I am offended, something is not right.

I am rather fond of the Test by Ridicule, commonly attributed to Lord Shaftesbury. (Apparently it was more an idea tossed around by philosophers in the 18th century)

In short it says that a statement or an idea that is True can stand any amount of ridicule that you choose to heap upon it.
If an idea or a claim collapses under the first jest you direct at it, it never had much value in the first place.

In this case: Broderick claims to be proud to associate her looks with feminism and vice versa. Someone takes that claim and pokes some fun at it and immediately the feminist mainstream collapses in taken offense.

Seems the claim was not so honest in the beginning.

But whence the offense?

If feminists truly find Broderick beautiful (as they all claim), the joker in effect said: “I expected feminists to be beautiful”.
If feminists truly find that Broderick looks like someone who has her shit together, the joker in effect said “I expected feminists to look like they got their shit together.”

See what I mean? If everything in the picture is A-OK, then the joker simply said: “I expected you to look A-OK”

There are only two ways that “That’s pretty much what I expected” can be an insult.

Either (a) the term “feminist” itself is an insult so that it makes a difference if I say it about myself or someone else says it about me.
E.g. “I am such a wanker sometimes.” is quite a different thing than “Hey, look at that wanker over there!”

Or (b) Broderick herself looks like someone the mainstream feminists would prefer not to be associated with. So that the complaint actually is that the joker said that all feminists look like e.g. sad old land whales.
(Which is definitely not to mean that K.M.B. looks like that, it is just an example. Like the one with the wanker)

My five cents:
The meme “This is what a feminist looks like” only makes sense when the look shown is not the same as the look often associated with “feminist”.
In the 80s and 90s it was a common put down that feminists all were bitter ugly lesbians. Thus it was an effective counter argument when attractive women started to openly associate with feminism. It demonstrated quite clearly that the put down was simply false.
It fell out of common use quite quickly.

Today the meme is of little use. There is no argument. K.M.B. herself claims that “This is what a feminist looks like” is to show that feminists come in all shapes and sizes.
There is no argument about this!
It makes no sense.
That is why I am confused by K.M.B.’s “answer” – her tumblr that tries to put new life into the “looks like” thing.

There are plenty of expected images there

Also a few less expected ones.

PS. Feminism is about respect by the way. I feel soooo respected…

Leave a comment


  1. britney

     /  October 12, 2013

    Idk… people are proud to be a certain race and people are proud to be homosexual. But it still feels bad when someone mocks you because of your race or for being homosexual.

    • Except that there was no mocking involved. It was only “I am X” – “Yes, I agree”
      All the mocking is in the context the viewer brings to the picture.


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