Put your fucking phone away: Your photo-op activism is bad for the movement

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Put your fucking phone away: Your photo-op activism is bad for the movement

Whatever the movement is!

There's nothing wrong with posting a long Facebook status about an issue you care about, or reposting and retweeting an article about that issue — I guess the long status is kind of annoying but like, I'll probably just scroll past it.

There's also nothing inherently wrong with going to a protest and taking pictures of yourself or other people who are protesting. You should probably ask permission if you're gonna get up in a stranger's face with your DSLR, but otherwise, do you! And if you want to post it later, that's your choice. I'm not the Instagram police.

Keep it 💯

A post shared by Katie (@horriblemansion) on

I went to the Women's March after the inauguration last year and I posted about it because my sign was funny. Do I think I'm the queen of activism? Duh, no. Would I even call myself an activist? Absolutely not. I'm just an internet bitch who sometimes gets to make a good point.

Participating in activism or calling yourself an activist because you think it'll bolster your personal brand isn't just gross, it's actually counterproductive to the cause you're claiming to support — whether or not you're doing it consciously.

This is good online activist conduct:

And this, worn in an ad campaign after months of radio silence on the issue, is bad:

❤️😍❤️😊❤️ thank you Selena! #coachxselena #selenagomez #coachss18

A post shared by Stuart Vevers (@stuartvevers) on

I hate to hop on the bandwagon (just kidding, I don't), but everyone's favorite white feminist Lena Dunham is a grade-A example of photo-op activism. In fact, a recent Instagram post in which Lena insinuated that she was a part of the organizing efforts in the #TimesUp movement has been widely criticized, and even garnered comments from actress Tessa Thompson, as captured below:

Tessa has since walked back her comments, but the fact of the matter remains — for whatever reason, Lena wasn't there for the movement-building, but she sure as shit made it in for Picture Day. Her social media posts simply don't match up with her actions, like when she defended a writer on her show after an actress stepped forward and accused him of sexual assault. Is the time up for him too, Lena? That's the reason a large segment of her haters don't fuck with her.

But celebrities aren't the only ones guilty of using activism as an aesthetic. Activism and protesting, or at least the appearance of doing so, is honestly trendy as fuck right now, especially in their cutest and most digestible forms.

For example, posts about #freethenipple or white women asking for "reparations" for "emotional labor" rather than volunteering time or donating money to non-profits or activist groups who do professional work to break the chokehold of the patriarchy are classic photo-op activism.

So is the addition of #BlackLivesMatter onto a random fucking picture. Not to bring the Celebs back into this, but I'd be pretty surprised if you haven't seen something similar to this Mischa Barton fuck-up. I know I have.

The fact of the matter is, the people who've been victimized by the powers that be have known about these issues the entire fucking time because for them, they're existential problems, not hashtags.

You wouldn't want to read a long status from a random straight guy who's never experienced sexual assault, who's maybe even friends with abusers or who's an abuser himself, about the #MeToo or #TimesUp movement. If you're someone who does have experience with sexual violence, it wouldn't just be uninteresting — it'd be straight-up condescending.

When you go to a protest for the clout, you're taking up space both literally and metaphorically. First of all, that shit gets crowded, especially if you live in a city center. And secondly, if you don't have anything to say or aren't willing to listen, you're just drowning out people who do and will.

Visibility for issues like sexual violence, poverty, and systematic discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality, race, ability is incredibly important, and if you've got a platform, then by all means use it… to elevate the voices of people who experience them. Because your Instagram followers might not be able to tell, but actual minorities can, and it is really, really, reeeeeally not a good look.

@k80way

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