Harmless tweet or shady posting?
The debate was on during a Tuesday evening on Twitter, after a user @CTheCapricorn shared a photo of herself sans makeup and weave. Underneath the photo, she captioned it with a statement about how her all-natural photo would not get likes because it lacked things like "makeup" and "weave."
The post was viewed as more commentary that seeks to separate women and passive aggressively bash them for their decisions about their own bodies.
I ain't half naked, I don't wear makeup, and I don't have weave. Therefore this pic will get 0 likes. But hey y'all.
Twitter users immediately swarmed the photo with likes, shares, and plenty of disapproving commentary that expressed their dislike of what they consider to be a disempowering post for women.
Some people accused her of bashing other women for attention.
One user even went as far as searching up her old posts, where she also commented about the lack of likes she would receive.
Others poked fun at her tweet, with recreations of their own.
Jokes and clapbacks continued to rain down hard as she defended herself against the opposers determined to either check her or get a few laughs off for, likely, a few retweets and likes of their own.
For clarity, her initial post did come across as a tad "anti."
Her mentions of not being "half-naked," sporting a "weave," and wearing no "makeup," seemed to take aim at women online who do make social posts like that. Twitter users took the post to suggest that those women are seeking attention and receive it, undeservedly.
People similarly took an issue when rapper, Kendrick Lamar, released his smash record "Humble," which included the lyrics,
I'm so f****** sick and tired of the Photoshop. Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor. Show me something natural like a** with some stretch marks.
It wasn't his preference for a "natural" look on a woman that garnered critiques, but instead the way he seemed to bash women who opt not to wear natural hair or to make additional changes to their body.
The feminist consensus is that women should not have their value weighed by whether or not they go the natural route, but instead should have their personal body decisions respected.
This is why when either men or women casually shade women's preferences, like people felt @CTheCapricorn was, or explicitly denounce them like Kendrick Lamar, the jerk reaction is to swiftly call it out with concise statements, rants, and even memes that articulate their valid frustrations in a witty way.
Misogynistic language is used to0 casually, which has more people on the defense.
I know. Misogyny is a heavy description for a throw-away tweet, but that's exactly what it is.
Misogyny is defined by Webster as simply "a hatred of women," but the broader, less harsh understanding of it is the systematic ways we disempower women and deem them inferior. When the oppressed group, which is women, demonstrates this against their own gender, that is when it is considered internalized misogyny.
It regularly shows up in throw-away statements that directly or indirectly compare the behaviors of women, which is something we don't do to men, especially concerning outside appearance.
Women who have internalized misogyny might say or imply things like, "I'm not like other girls." Someone who makes that statement is suggesting that they find women inferior somehow and hope to separate themselves from that inferior group.
You might also hear women who have internalized misogyny say things like, "I don't hang out with other girls because they're catty," or "You know we women are too emotional."
Chelsea (@CTheCapricorn) likely did not intend to communicate all of this, but her seemingly comparative statements definitely fall under the internalized misogyny umbrella. That "I'm not that kind of girl" perspective just perpetuates the idea that there are separate values ascribed to our "different kinds."
Still, "call-out culture" doesn't always help.
This is especially true when the person called out for spewing oppressive language is also a part of the oppressed group.
In the case of Chelsea, who took to YouTube to record a video about feeling "attacked," spending a Tuesday evening coming down on her did nothing to relieve her of any internalized misogyny she might have.
She said in the video,
In that picture, I don't have makeup. I'm not wearing weave. I'm not half-naked. Ok. Does that mean I'm bashing anybody if you wear makeup? No. Weave? No. I'm sorry if you felt that that was coming at you in a bashful way, but that definitely was not my intentions.
She goes on to explain that she has actually worn makeup and weave, and concluded that those prove that she would not bash anyone else for wearing it. What Chelsea seems to be missing is the comparisons that her tweet seem to perpetuate. Still, if she says she didn't mean it the way it was taken, then why couldn't we let that be that?
However, if she does have this internalized misogyny that ruffled so many feathers, then a hearty Twitter drag does nothing to pull her out of that. Her post was probably worth an eye roll, but certainly not the dragging she received.
This culture of calling out people that social media has us so accustomed to leaves little room for people to be at a different point in their "woke" journey. Not all of us are going to use the most appropriate language all the time, or be the most politically correct.
So how do we differentiate a necessary Twitter dragging from a teachable moment that requires a different approach? I guess that's based on personal discernment and wisdom, but I'd like to think that one way is to take a look at which group the alleged Twitter politics offender is a part of.
It's not unheard of for a young woman to use language that wreaks of sexism just like you could easily find a person of color who might say something negative about their own race. In fact, that's a symptom of how internalized oppression affects the world as a whole.
People in oppressed groups generally have to do a lot of mental unbraiding to free themselves from certain ideas. And yes, there will be some time spent being unaware.
As much as we demand respect for ourselves as women or people of color or *insert other marginalized group here*, we also have to acknowledge that not everyone has learned everything yet.
When we put major heat on someone for what we consider to be a huge violation, there are other people on that same journey who are watching how we treat people when they make mistakes.
And this doesn't mean you can't come at the Kardashians, who have been publicly lambasted for culture appropriation for years. Or that you can't call out companies for perpetuating a sexist work place culture. Those call-outs are for people in power are purposed to take down an entire oppressive system.
But when we're talking about an individual who is in no more of a position of power than you are, that's when it may be time to determine whether or not those callouts and clapbacks are doing little more than causing collateral damage.
Perceiving Chelsea's statements as sketchy wasn't wrong, but the hours spent roasting her, calling her out of her name, and picking apart her relationship status were a little too extra and way too common in this digital age.
And if she is suffering from some sort of self-esteem issue that is guided by likes, then all of that negativity surely didn't help her out of it.
Let's do better.