Is Pinterest the Problem?


Red Pinterest logo
Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There was an interesting post on the Ms. Magazine Blog recently that addresses the root of the issue I brought up about whether or not fashion is feminist. The true issue? Pinterest.

Truthfully, I did not address the problematic nature of Pinterest at all. It is a hotbed of consumerism; I can't hide from that. People basically go on there and find stuff they want to buy or create, and then collect it all in one place. When we talk about the problematic nature of consumerism and marketing, we have to talk about the way Pinterest plays in to that now. It has changed the way we see advertisements - because it truly is one big advertisement. It just tricks us into thinking that it's not by making everything look really pretty and interactive. You think that what you are doing is creating pinboards of stuff you like, when what you are actually doing is collecting advertisements for stuff all in one place. And then, probably, buying that stuff.

The Ms. Magazine Blog article argues that, as feminists, we should use the space to further our feminist agendas. It ends with the question of whether or not Pinterest is worth our time, or if it's beyond saving:

Perhaps another important question to consider is whether or not Pinterest is even worth our time. I want to believe so. As an educator, media-maker and scholar, I find it terribly difficult to work towards transformative institutional change without having the necessary tools at my disposal. So here we may have a useful tool in Pinterest. Considering that Pinterest (along with the newly publicly traded multi-billion-dollar social network, Facebook) is here to stay, at least for now, why not use the platform to expand the reach of our projects in ways that benefit our community interests?

While I see the point Conley is trying to make, I originally joined Pinterest to have a space away from my activism. I know that true activism is 24/7, and I strive to make a difference with everything I do. My consciousness cannot be turned off with a switch, and so I feel that most everything I post reflects the way I see the world - through a feminist lens. Pinterest, however, is different for me. There are a lot of activists on Pinterest that I consciously do not follow, simply because I've created it as a space for me, and not for my activism. I'm not buying merchandise from the site, nor am I posting anything actively harmful like some of the body shaming posts referenced in the Ms. article. What you'll see on my boards is, admittedly heteronormative and cis-gendered, but that is because I am a heterosexual, cis-gendered, girly-girl in full nesting mode and I want to collect pretty pictures of things I could do with my hair, clothing, and home. What I do not want to wade through are pictures of famous feminists or quotes about how awesome feminism is. I have blogs, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook for that. Seems like enough to me. Every once in a while, I need a break. Before, I took a break by telling everyone I quit this blog. Now, I take a break by looking at Pinterest. Frankly, I think the latter is more conducive to my activism being productive and helpful to members of the feminist community, because it means I can take mini steps away while still maintaining an active presence online.

As activists, are we really not ever allowed to have a space that represents ourselves? It seems a bit absurd to think that our activism must permeate literally everything we do to the point that we feel guilty for posting pictures that represent ourselves when we are part of a group that is not typically oppressed. I do understand the need to be critical of the media we consume, but is it necessary that we occupy it with our activism as well?

I just want this one space that represents me. I want a space where I can go and look at pictures of braids, blazers, and backyards without feeling the need to feminist it all to death (yes, I used "feminist" as a verb). Like I talked about the other day, having cute hairstyles and dressing up makes me feel confident and able to take on the world, feminist-style. If Pinterest helps me get there, what's so wrong with that?

Originally posted at Small Strokes.


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