The “Feminist Resistance” of Taking It Lying Down

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Dazed Digital, the online corollary of the fashion//art//culture magazine Dazed & Confused, published an article last week introducing the world to a new form of “feminist art” that made apparent how dazed, confused, bewildered, addled, muddled and generally clueless this publication and its readership are as to the meaning of the terms feminism and resistance. The subject of the interview is Audrey Wollen, a rising young artist whose major export is photos of herself pouting or dead-eyed, sometimes dressed in fashionable outfits, sometimes fashionably slumping out of her outfits, posted to Instagram. Wollen informs us that these photographs represent her exploration of “Sad Girl Theory,” a peculiar new model of feminist practice which proposes that by embracing the pain of growing up female within patriarchal society – and all of the degradation, the victimization, the constant fear, the engrained self-doubt and self-hatred that entails – we as women can use our “sorrow and self-destruction” to reclaim agency over our “bodies, lives, and identities.”

Since self-destruction by definition leads to a relinquishment rather than a reclamation of one’s body and one’s life, it is difficult for me to imagine how, exactly, we as women are going to manage the task that Wollen has proposed for us.

Of course, suicide would be at the extreme end of the “Sad Girl” catalog of possible acts of feminist resistance; one hopes there are less terminal means of dismantling patriarchy via purposive melancholy. And indeed yes! Based on a review of Wollen’s art as displayed on her Instagram, our options include: glum Sailor Moon cosplay, eating sandwiches naked in bed, standing expressionless alone in public in stylish sunglasses.

Being personally unsure how these approaches would work out for women as a subjugated sex class in our effort to extricate ourselves from male supremacist oppression//exploitation//brutality, I turned to the oracle that is the collective for counsel. We read the Dazed Digital article and we asked ourselves: is lying on the ground downed by the mortal anguish of womanhood and recording that experience of lying there in misery via selfie dissemination online a potent mode of feminist resistance for these sick sad times? is a pout the best we can muster at this point? *are* girls in fact finding empowerment through being sad online??

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