By Anne Baranello
If you’re anyone who’s anyone, you’ve heard of TikTok – the social media app that consists of videos ranging from 15 seconds to a minute, using a rotation of sounds to go along with the videos. It’s slightly akin to the previously popular app Vine, which consisted of 6-second videos, forcing the users to be creative and resourceful with their content.
Tiktok as a concept has garnered both criticism and acclaim for its concept – some feel that it is a cheap ripoff of Vine, and others (namely me) feel that TikTok is a new and improved version of Vine – the concepts are strikingly similar, and yet the content is so much more entertaining and creative. What I like about this app is that the videos are based around the sounds – and not the other way around. Users take edited sounds – say, an excerpt of a song, or the audio from a movie – and create videos with jokes or messages that take the sound out of its original context. There are obviously trends of which sounds are popular, which format of videos are popular, and which dances are all the rage, but users are constantly improving and advancing the trend – sometimes, a trend gets to the point where if you had no prior awareness and context of the trend itself and specific cultural knowledge, there’s no chance of you understanding it. But beneath the energetic dances and niche comedy, there’s a more conscious shift emerging. Tiktok is becoming a platform for social change – specifically feminism and the fight against misogyny.
Its not a new thing – not for the last couple of centuries – that women have been becoming entirely more vocal about misogyny and it’s place in everyday life/conversation, and on the internet. The internet itself gives anyone with access a platform to vocalize their opinions, and oftentimes those opinions don’t fall in the favor of women, so instead of ‘canceling’ said person and moving on, Gen Z and Millenials on TikTok have begun calling these people out and using satirical phrases to shut them down. The most popular term/phrase is “wallet(s)” (referring to misogynistic, sexist, racist, privileged men). A comment calling out a misogynistic post would normally sound something like this “aw, is the wallet upset? go build me a coffee table, it’s what you do best”. Variations of ‘wallets’ is ‘toolboxes’, ‘hammer’, and so on. This phrase is used to combat the widespread trend of calling women “dishwashers” and comments such as “go make me a sandwich”. These posts are a kind of satirical misandry – the commenters don’t genuinely support misandry, but they’re giving misogynists a taste of their own medicine. There was no distinct post that began this trend – it began silently, started small, and then suddenly everyone (both female and male) began using these terms to call out latent and internalized misogyny found within Tiktok. I find this shift in the language of the internet so interesting because women/activists are no longer entertaining the misogyny by getting upset and giving the original poster a reaction. Instead, women are casually calling out misogyny in a manner that invalidates the opposing opinion, by turning the tables. This movement has even coined the phrase “ok wallet”, alluding to the infamous phrase “ok boomer”. It is used with the same dismissive manner and effectively disarms the original argument. Just as women have been objectified for centuries, women are now objectifying men.
I personally am conflicted about this new movement. Part of me wants to shout, “Yes!!! Give them a taste of their own medicine! Fire back!” And another part of me doesn’t like the fact that this trend is almost condoning misandry – neither side is good. However, it’s refreshing to see people fighting back against the internalized misogyny that’s an intricate facet of our society.