These Female Instagram Artists Are Brilliantly Redefining Memes

June 7th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Three female Instagram artists are creating a whole new kind of 'dank meme.'

Intersectional feminist meme lords @gothshakira, @scariest_bug_ever, and @sensualmemes use distinct, refreshingly female voices to comment on internet culture, sex, relationships, gender, race, and everyday life.

"I think that memes are so powerful in sense because they glorify low culture," @gothshakira told Fader. "It’s a breakdown of these barriers of pretense or 'Oh, I have to look a certain way or feel a certain way, or be tasteful.'"

Here are seven topics they brilliantly tackle.

1. On sexist "compliments."


when these dudes feel it necessary to comment that they liked me better with brown hair

A photo posted by HIGH PRIESTESS OF DANK MEMERY (@gothshakira) on

@Gothshakira's memes hilariously turn the tables on misogynistic backhanded compliments and everyday catcalling.

She's also nailed the sexist trope that deems women muses of male artists, rather than artists themselves.

"I spent most of my life thinking that the best I could do was inspire someone else, some man, to write a great poem or novel," journalist and author Gabby Bess said on Dazed. "Now I know that it is so, important for women to write their own stories. It is equally important to read stories by women and to make sure those stories are visible. Because to so many young girls, like myself just a few years ago, they don’t exist."

2. On rape culture.

The creator of @scariest_bug_ever uses memes to depict frustrating attempts to discuss sexual assault with men.

3. On race.

The memes point out everyday microaggressions experienced by women of color, and voice frustration with male privilege in online discussions.

4. On relationships.

They also candidly tackle female experiences of sex and dating.

@Gothshakira told Fader she frequently uses Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Selena Gomez in her memes as a nod to her own Latina roots, and to comment on how race is used in popular memes.

"I started doing that because I saw a lot of people of color, especially black people, being used as reaction images in memes, and you don't know who’s behind the computer making that meme," she explained. "And that’s so problematic, and that's something that needs to be talked about too."

5. On mental health.

Some posts criticize how we talk about mental illness, and use humor to speak openly about depression and anxiety.

6. On dudes talking over you.

In one hilarious meme, @scariest_bug_ever took a satirical behind-the-scenes look at what makes men interrupt women.

7. On memes.

They also take shots at meme culture itself, and criticize nihilistic meme tropes that glorify mental illness.

Other posts simply use references that are aimed at a distinctly female audience — in stark contrast to the majority of memes you see on Instagram and Facebook.

@Gothshakira created the account out of her own seasonal depression and has received direct messages from Instagram users who describe how her memes helped them overcome issues of their own.

"The DM's that have come into me: 'Your memes help me beat depression,' 'They help me talk to my peers about sexual assault,' she said.

"I've learned that the most powerful words in the world are 'me too,'" she explained.

[h/t Fader]