Hashtag Pushes Back on Sexism

meek mill around, Lifestyle Editor and fergie

As commotion over Plain-Jane Starbuck’s cups and Steve Harvey memes bleeds dry, it’s comforting to see the hashtag that remains strong: #WasteHisTime2016.

#WasteHisTime2016, a trend equal parts hilarious and provocative, brings to light the sexist implications of male-dominant pop-culture. Highlights of the movement include the following quote for women looking to elevate themselves in relation to their male counterparts:

“Go to his games and then ask him to hook you up with his teammate” [email protected]

“Text him asking him to bring a condom, then when he brings it.. tell him ‘it was for my sister, wyd though'” [email protected]

“Ask him if he is good with his hands, then when he comes over make him put together that IKEA furniture” [email protected]

“Ask him out on a double date, show up with your boyfriend, and then ask him where his date is” [email protected]

And, my personal favorite: “Get him pregnant, tell him you gotta run to the store for some milk real quick & never come back” [email protected]

These salty tweets offer a more humorous, lighthearted take on the quest for gender equality, challenging the idea that women are the ones being “played” and adopting scenarios in which the tables are turned on the “pitfalls that women who date men encounter,” according to a Buzzfeed article. Though the actions satirized in these tweets are not necessarily exclusive to men, they represent the severe gender social gap that leads to graver issues, such as rape, harassment, and abuse.

As a preemptive defense before I get immediately trashed and my main point becomes lost, I recognize that these generalizations in no way represent all men. There are boys and men out there who are respectful of women, and it would be unfair to say otherwise.

Now that I’ve clarified, however, I must also point out that it is a stark fact that women are still often treated differently than men. Female independence and colloquial “Girl Power” movements gain more and more momentum every day, but it’s clear that the fight for equality is far, far, far from achieving victory. The magazines that celebrate milestones for feminism are the same that center their content on how to attract men. Cosmopolitan‘s “You won’t believe what Emma Watson just did” is a far cry from Cosmopolitan‘s “Consider losing weight, enhancing your boobs, and performing low-key Satanic rituals to look more human and less trash.”

In light of the steady but slow progress of the feminist movement, #WasteHisTime2016 has been met with much controversy. While many appreciate the message it spreads, others, primarily men, have lashed out at the movement as offensive and excessive.

I’m uncertain as to why men think that what they have been doing to women only becomes insensitive and unacceptable when they are hypothetically at the wrong end of the stick.

Probably angry at having their feelings hurt by equality, some men on the Internet created a clap back. This clap back is called #WasteHerTime2016, a similar hashtag for men that serves 2 purposes: to synthesize typical feminine stereotypes into ways to “waste her time,” and pretend that they haven’t for centuries already been doing these things to waste women’s time. Consider the following examples:

“Make her your WCW every week for a year straight. Claim her on social media. Make her friends JEALOUS. Then become a monk” [email protected]_

“Text her ‘Get dressed I’m picking you up’ then take her to smoke on your front steps” [email protected]

“Take her to Victoria’s Secret, have her pick everything she like, buy it. And say thank you, my girl gonna love this :)” [email protected]

Though I might have laughed at these jokes had they stood alone, the motive behind the #WasteHerTime movement is misguided.

Perhaps the biggest problems presented by #WasteHerTime are its denial of the existence of gender inequality and its verbal mitigation of the atrocities that have been and continue to be committed against women in a patriarchal society. While the girl-empowering #WasteHisTime satirizes sexist social trends and jokes about non-existent female reciprocation, #WasteHerTime attempts to present itself as the male counterpart to these jokes, when really it just puts into words the actions that men have already been taking against women for decades.

Created to slam #WasteHisTime, with the implication that the original hashtag is offensive, this hashtag highlights the ignorance towards gender rifts; men seem to be missing the point that the movement is trying to make about gender inequality, attempting to zoom in on their own problems rather than letting the focus remain on the feminist cause.

But even more detrimental is the implicit contention that men somehow do not “have it better” than women, just because their lives are not always fun and games. Though #WasteHisTime makes mockery of lighter themes of “Netflix and Chill” and “send nudes,” it represents the unrelenting sexism and oppression that women face in society. An attempt to equate that to socially ubiquitous jokes and stereotypes (“girlfriends talk too much,” “girlfriends are clingy and annoying,” “girlfriends will check your phone behind your back”) is, regardless of whether such stereotypes are true, an attempt to detract from the gravity of the issue that women are really trying to bring to light.

I’m not saying that women are perfect, but common feminine habits that men simply find “annoying” can never be rightfully likened to the fear and lack of safety a woman feels in such a male-dominant society. I have heard stories upon stories of men breaking up with women they found unbearable and moving on with their lives, but never have I heard of a woman finding a permanent way out of sexual harassment, or of a rape victim who was somehow “un-raped.”

Those who are still unsure of the differences between the two hashtags could consider the issue in simpler terms. Male grievances about females usually go about as far as irritation or clinginess, generally more so than they are about rape and abuse. Female grievances about men include stalking, harassment, and rape, all of which are incredibly dangerous, pervasive, and inescapable. Men have a choice to break up with girls they dislike. Men have a choice simply not to date someone by which they are annoyed. Men have a choice. Women do not.

Both #WasteTime hashtags are mostly entertaining and harmless, but the escalation of the responses to this phenomenon highlight an important discrepancy that is no laughing matter.

I can take a joke, and I’m not a vehement opponent of memes depicting me making my boyfriend go shopping with me or always insisting on being “right.” This is not the first time I have seen this content posted, and I have never been offended by it. I sometimes even share the ones I enjoy. I am not off to demolish inoffensive jokes made at women’s expense, such as the ones made by Twitter.

However, the motivation behind these posts and the precipitation of the #WasteHerTime movement has me doubting whether the feminist movement is being received and interpreted by the public in the right way.

Feminism is not about men. The feminist movement is not here to demolish the male population, and if men feel threatened by feminist movements like #WasteHisTime then it is because they dislike being treated the same way they treat women. Feminism is created for women, and proponents of the movement should not have to tiptoe around men’s feelings in order to advance women. Whether or not men’s feelings are hurt should not be a factor when considering the fight for equal treatment of a whole gender.