POLICING "FAKE" FEMININITY: ANGER AND ACCUSATION IN INFLUENCER "HATEBLOG" COMMUNITIES
While social media influencers are held up in the popular imagination as self-enterprising cultural tastemakers, their requisite career visibility opens them up to intensified public scrutiny and, consequently, networked hate and harassment. Key repositories of such critique are influencer “hateblogs”—online spaces wherein anti-fans collectively police the activities of highly visible Instagrammers, YouTubers, and the like. This in-progress, mixed methods study brings together analyses of two “hateblog” communities: Get Off My Internets (GOMI) and the now-defunct Reblogging Donk (RBD), both of which targeted women social media personalities almost exclusively. Our analysis reveals an overarching critique of influencers' perceived duplicity or “fakery'' in the realms of parenting/domesticity, relationships, and personal appearance. Such accusations cast influencers as deceitful, avaricious, and lazy charlatans who unfairly profit off of ersatz performances of perfection. Yet as moral discourses (Gray, 2005), these critiques seem to dismantle the tropes of entrepreneurial femininity, suggesting a form of displaced anger. That is, while such expressions may be deployed in disavowal of individual performances of feminine-coded ideals, they are ostensibly rooted in broader sociocultural critiques connected to gendered expectations of authenticity, labor, and privilege. But while hatebloggers’ purport to disillusion us by exposing the artifice of social media, their expressions do little for progressive gender politics. We thus conclude by highlighting the limitations of this expressive act—one that seeks to liberate women from normative constraints while simultaneously engaging in gendered forms of symbolic violence.