See this gal? This is Kelly Martin Broderick. She’s a writer, a self-proclaimed “political nerd,” and a feminist activist. She has also recently been turned into the worst meme in history—but she’s not just sitting back and taking it. She’s doing something awesome and totally inspiring with it.
In a piece that ran on The Frisky this week (via XOJane), Kelly told the story of how she woke up one morning to a message from a random person on OKCupid. The message alered her to the fact that her favorite profile picture had been made into a meme. Not just any meme, though; a mean-spirited, fat-shaming, anti-feminist meme:
Not cool. So INCREDIBLY not cool.
The OkCupid member expressed sympathy and wrote that he hoped the image got flagged and taken down; understandably, though, Kelly was skeptical. After all, the Internet is full of people who like to mess with other people just because they can; as such, it’s usually a good idea to take everything with a large grain of salt. He complied when Kelly asked him to send her the link where he saw the meme, though—whereupon she found that on Facebook, it had over 2,000 shares, almost 10,000 likes, and close to 1,000 comments.
The image, Kelly writes, was originally taken as part of a campaign her university feminist group ran during this past spring semester. What the creator of the meme totally missed was the point of the campaign: That is, not all feminists are the same. We are all different—and we are all awesome.
It gets worse: Kelly was shocked and upset, of course—who wouldn’t be?—but when she reported it, Facebook refused to take the image down. According to Facebook, “We remove content if it’s required by relevant privacy laws in the country you’re writing from. Since you’re an adult writing in the US, we won’t be able to remove this content for violating your privacy.” Seriously. WTF, Facebook. As Kelly pointed out in the article’s comments, a lot of sites (like YouTube, for example) will remove things that are harassment and bullying, even if they’re not technically illegal. Facebook? You might want to consider taking up that policy. Just sayin’.
That’s when Kelly started to get really angry. But then she took that anger and the whole awful experience and began turning it into something positive. She started a Tumblr called We Are What Feminists Look Like, which essentially takes the message of her university feminist group campaign and aims to spread it as far and wide as it can.
It encourages all feminists, regardless of age, body shape, gender, WHATEVER, to submit their own “This is what a feminist looks like” image in the hopes of combating the negativity and reductive thing behind that horrible meme. We Are What Feminists Look Like began with submissions from Kelly’s friends; since then, it has grown so much that in just a week, it has amassed nearly 600 posts.
Find out more about We Are What Feminists Look Like, up next.