“The personal is political.” It’s a quote much avowed by feminist scholars and activists, to which no one woman has ever taken full authorship or credit. Most young women—myself included—know the rallying slogan to hold true in our daily lives, and in the way we navigate the world as women in all senses of the word—including all intersections of identities that affect that navigation as well.
We realize that personal is political, and what medium more personal, and therefore more effective to politicize, than that of the meme?
We all know what memes are. We see them on Instagram, on Tumblr, the weird click-bait-esque titles and copy pasted pictures of cartoon characters juxtaposed with catch phrases or slogans. Memes are current cultural currency, and one’s knowledge and engagement in said culture directly correlates with their effectuality achieving change or growth in the areas they see fit.
The sad reality is, however, while memes are good fun for all of us to consume and laugh at, a great many of them are used in ways meant to be derogatory towards minority groups. Take the Pepe meme as an example.
Pepe is a meme that originated in 2008, and has traveled from boards on 4chan to various popular internet spaces. Recently, in the heat of the recent election, the meme was co-opted by alt right groups to perpetuate racism & xenophobia.
The Pepe meme is an extreme example of the volatile nature of memes. Most popular meme accounts, such as the ever popular @fuckjerry, are run by men.
Enter: the politically engaged feminist meme makers.
Young femme identifying individuals running accounts generally not as popular as the former mentioned, but producing high quality original content examining social constructs such as gender, race, sexuality, et cetera. Accounts such as @bunnymemes or @sensualmemes use the format of the meme to bring social issues to light in ways relatable to younger generations. The easily shared, easily reproduced medium in which these feminist memes are produced allows for rampant sharing of the ideals the represent.
Have you ever seen a feminist meme, do you have a favorite? Comment below!