Where would we be without stock photos? Without them, we wouldn't be able to visualize the sort of family who might buy a time share advertised in a Sunday paper insert. We wouldn't have laughed alone with the women and their salads. And we definitely wouldn't know what a feminist looks like. So what do stock photos say about the social movement behind female empowerment? The answers may surprise (and confuse) you.
One of my favorite things to do between coming up with new nicknames for Mitt Romney and running Google image searches for "John Boehner crying" is take a trip into the web-based stock photo service k-hole that is Shutterstock. And I'm not alone. "To browse Shutterstock [...] is to go on a weird and often wacky and occasionally totally wondrous journey through the visual zeitgeist," writes The Atlantic's Megan Garber in a piece today. She's right — it's truly wondrous. Once I searched for "dry humping" and was presented with a results page full of dumbly staring camels. Searching for "politician" yields a page full of suit wearing stock photo models making their best "I'm a scumbag!" faces.
But there's less of a consensus for what a "feminist" is. Here are some of the more bizarre results I found when I searched for the term.
This feminist is about to decapitate the nice man with a hacksaw. It's not personal, guy. We're known for our hacksaw skills and beheadings.
Here is a feminist with a toy ray gun.
Here are a group of feminists gathered around a computer. We can tell they're feminists because they're wearing glasses, and there aren't any men around. Also one of them has short hair.
And here we have a feminist doing what feminists do best — putting her super long tongue through a man's head. Because she's sticking it in one ear and it's going out the other ear, we can assume that it's going through his brain, and this man is going to die soon.
This feminist is smoking during her audition for Girls.
It's hard for me to describe what feminism is to people, but if I had to compare it to anything, I'd say that feminism is like shelves full of disembodied mannequin heads wearing neon wigs.
This feminist is a witch. Actually, "feminist" and "witch" are interchangeable terms. Let's just put that out there.
This, to me, epitomizes the brand of feminism that I try to espouse in my daily life — riding children's rocking horses while wearing leopard print skivvies, a bustier, long formal gloves, cowboy boots, and curlers and brandishing a rolling pin.
Here's another picture of a feminist which I'm sure will strike familiar chords in many.
I'm not sure why this woman is carrying both a hammer and an egg, but it might be because she's a feminist and hates it when women are called "chicks." Or because ladies are bad at using tools.
I saw this picture of a pantsless woman proudly displaying a rat we can assume she shot with her gun and instantly thought "feminist." Pantslessness is very important to feminists.
Images via Shutterstock