According to a piece on Cosmopolitan.com, the “Boyfriends of Instagram” Instagram page — which features shots of dudes taking pictures of their girlfriends — is “sexist garbage” because apparently, no one is allowed to have any fun anymore ever.
“The newest way to publicly shame women who are simply feeling themselves comes in the form of this ‘Boyfriends of Instagram’ Facebook page, which is dedicated to making fun of women who ask their partners to take cute pictures of them,” Hannah Smothers writes in a piece titled “This ‘Boyfriends of Instagram’ Facebook Page Is Sexist Garbage.”
Now, Smothers is right that some things on this page are “making fun of women.” But here’s the thing: Who cares?
It’s true: A lot of women do make their boyfriends take pictures of them for Instagram. I’ve seen so many dudes at rooftop bars in New York City get stuck taking countless pictures of their girlfriends and their girlfriends’ friends making kissy faces and popping their butts out against the skyline — and do you know what? It is very funny to watch. Whenever I’m lucky enough to see it, I do love making fun of everyone involved, and I absolutely do not feel bad about that. Because the truth is, making fun of other people in light-hearted, harmless ways can be one of life’s most glorious simple pleasures. That’s right, Smothers . . . humor can be fun!
Unfortunately, “humor” is something that Smothers seems unable to appreciate or understand. For her, “Boyfriends of Instagram” is not funny, because sometimes the women on it are referred to as “chicks” in captions (the horror!). She had a particularly big problem with one photo of a guy and two girls at the beach with a caption that said: “Boy’s [sic] got laid by these two chicks at the beach today ayy,” because she says that “assumes the guy taking the picture ‘got laid’ for using three seconds of his life to take a picture.”
But here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure that the number of people who actually did “assume” that this guy actually did have sex with two girls because he took a picture of them is zero. It is a joke — and what’s more, it’s actually a joke that could just as easily be perceived as making fun of all of the dim-witted men out there who are dumb enough to think that certain girls will want to sleep with them just because they took their picture or bought them a drink at a bar.
But Smothers’s outrage goes far beyond that single picture. For example: She also had a problem with a picture showing a guy on a pool ledge photographing a girl with the caption: “Not all hero’s (sic) wear capes,” which she says is sexist because it “praises this man for being a ‘hero’ because he squatted down for 0.02 seconds to take a picture” when really that’s not a heroic act at all.
Now, to any mentally stable individual, that caption was pretty clearly tongue-in-cheek. No one thinks that this guy actually deserves a Purple Heart for taking a picture; it’s a figure of speech. And what’s more, similar to the last object of her outrage, the use of the word “hero” here could be perceived as something that’s actually making fun of the guy more than the girl. After all, even though taking a simple picture is certainly not a heroic act, many men will often roll their eyes and sigh exasperatedly as if it is.
Of course, some of the pictures’ captions pretty clearly are targeted at the woman or women in the photo only. For example, there’s one where a child appears to be left unattended while a man takes a picture of a woman by the pool with the caption “Dont [sic] worry about the kid darl, the bastards [sic] gonna have to learn to swim somehow . . .” and that pretty clearly is making the joke that the woman in the picture is being self-centered. Am I, as a woman, outraged? No. I, as a human, am saying: So what? I don’t care if someone makes fun of a woman for something, especially if it is something as make-fun-worthy as ignoring your kid so someone can take pics of you. Yes, people may make fun of the women who take a lot of half-naked Instagram selfies for being self-involved, but people make fun of the men who do this, too. Personally, I know I’ve spent a lot of time making fun of the Instagrams of all of my “fitness” friends — both male and female — for thinking that I’d have any interest in seeing their shredded Shakeology abs next to hashtags like #nodaysoff and #absaremadeinthekitchen. The bottom line is, women are people just like everyone else, and trying to say that you can’t make fun of women just because they’re women is far more sexist than any Instagram caption or account could ever be.
In her piece, Smothers laments the fact that even though the “Boyfriends of Instagram” page has received media coverage all around the Internet, she was the first one to point out “how blatantly sexist the premise of it is.” Because she is just so much more feminist than everyone else, right? She’s just such a she-warrior, right?
Nope. Sorry, but I really do reject the idea that we as women are so weak and so easily triggered that we need some 500-word garbage essay to save us from being made fun of a little bit. The reality is, the kind of good-natured teasing that’s happening on this page is something that’s a normal, healthy part of life — and something that I’d bet most women are certainly emotionally equipped to handle without Smothers’s help.