Opinion | Meet the Self-Described ‘Bimbos’ of TikTok

 

“Are you a leftist who likes to have their tits out? Do you prefer to flick off pro-lifers?” Chrissy Chlapecka asks the digital camera in a 51-second TikTok captioned “BIMBOS, RISE 💖‼️” In the video, Ms. Chlapecka, a 22-year-old comic who lives in Chicago and has about 4.6 million TikTok followers, is sporting a decent pink minidress, a pink coat trimmed with fake fur and tall white leather-based boots; her bleach-blond hair is in pigtails. “Are you good at math?” she asks, scribbling “2+2=<3” right into a pocket book. She holds a pose whereas studying a ebook the wrong way up. “Are you good at studying? Well, if you’re, how?” At the finish of the video, she yells out the window: “I’m a bimbo and I’m proud!”

Ms. Chlapecka’s celebration of the much-maligned class of the “bimbo” is provocative, even surprising. In a current telephone interview, Ms. Chlapecka advised me she identifies as feminist however that lots of feminism must be “reworked.” Like critiques of many ladies of her technology, hers embrace the historic whiteness of many strains of feminism, its heteronormativity and the persistence of anti-trans voices inside the motion at this time.

In a messy interval when many try to redefine feminism, all kinds of intriguing, sometimes fraught new iterations have come about. One of these is obvious on #BimboTok, a nook of the web that Ms. Chlapecka helped create. It’s an area the place comedians and creators combine make-up suggestions with articulations of left-leaning politics. In her movies, Ms. Chlapecka’s tone is dripping with sarcasm and irony. It’s OK to put on a faux-fur scorching pink bralette, she assures us, and it’s additionally OK if we don’t know lengthy division or who Elon Musk is.

One may ask: How might it probably be feminist to speak about how scorching and dumb you might be all the time? Women bragging that they’ll’t do lengthy division has an clearly retrograde high quality to it; it might play into juvenile stereotypes even because it makes an attempt to control them. Watching some of these movies can really feel like peering right into a sequence of conservative fantasies which have been ever so barely warped: Is it actually leftist for a lady to need to simply buy groceries and by no means get a job? But to dismiss this nook of the web as completely backward can be to overlook the level.

The #BimboTok sphere is a diffuse collective of creators with totally different concepts and personas, however usually, it’s sex-positive and sex-work-positive. It typically borrows the language of social justice actions. It encourages asking the dumb questions that get to the coronary heart of issues. “I don’t know what the financial system is, I don’t know what provide and demand is,” Ms. Chlapecka says in a single video. “All I do know is that our issues can be solved if we’d simply print more cash.” There’s a means by which her monologues can come to really feel nearly incisive — why can’t we print more cash? The reply is difficult, clearly, and on some degree Ms. Chlapecka is aware of that. “I’m asking lots of questions that, sure, I’ve the reply to, however are additionally legitimate,” she mentioned. “The complete world we made is actually made up, so we will make up options to the points we’ve got.”

Ms. Chlapecka’s movies would have been unimaginable in 2016, when liberals had been mourning Hillary Clinton’s loss and becoming a member of Facebook teams with names like “Pantsuit Nation.” Bimboism is the antithesis of the mode of feminism that was dominant in the 2010s, a sort of hyperambitious you-can-have-it-all feminism that may be summed up by the label “girlboss.” The girlboss was striving and succeeding in a male office; she was a feminine founder who additionally went to six a.m. yoga lessons. She wore a classy costume and appeared coiffed on Instagram. She was liberal and outspoken about her gender.

BimboTok took place at a time when the girlboss had kind of pale as a classy cultural kind. Amid the resurgence of leftist politics, and the disillusionment with capitalism amongst millennials and Gen Z, the framing of careerism and individualism as feminist rings hole. That girlboss mannequin was critiqued for its lack of inclusivity — its overwhelming whiteness and its concentrate on a degree of financial success that was by no means attainable for a overwhelming majority of girls. Not to say, girlboss aesthetics are merely cringe, for a technology steeped in web irony.

And so: No extra Instagrams about rising and grinding. No extra The Wing. No extra straining to be smarter than the boys. Bimboism presents an opposing and, to some, refreshing premise: Value me, have a look at me, not as a result of I’m good and diligent, however for the indisputable fact that I’m not. It’s anticapitalist, even anti-work. (In one video, one other BimboTok comic, @brattybarbiana, dances behind textual content that reads, “Rule of thumb: All relationships must be 50/50 … He works for his cash, I spend it!”)

There is one thing compelling in the concept that ladies shouldn’t should show their financial price or intelligence as a means of arguing for his or her self-worth and independence. In its most attention-grabbing type, bimboism additionally makes a connection between the concepts of pleasure — sexual pleasure, pleasure in garments, pleasure in merely current as a girl in the world with a physique on show — and political features that may make it extra potential, like common well being care, pupil mortgage debt cancellation and abortion rights.

These objectives are not often framed in any variety of activist phrases; we’re, in spite of everything, speaking about comedy movies. Humor is an important component, and it’s typically onerous to tell apart the many layers of irony from actuality. For Ms. Chlapecka, her bimbo persona is a bit, however it’s additionally a bit critical: She actually does need us to take a look at her boobs. It’s efficiency of a model of her persona at excessive octane, one which she invitations her viewers to take part in themselves — have you ever thought-about that you just, too, may very well be a bimbo, and that it is perhaps enjoyable?

Sophie Haigney is the net editor of The Paris Review.

The Times is dedicated to publishing a range of letters to the editor. We’d like to listen to what you concentrate on this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And right here’s our electronic mail: [email protected].

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