Bimbo feminism is an easily identifiable trend overtaking social media. Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com.
ELLIOTT ROBINSON | OPINION COLUMNIST | firstname.lastname@example.org
For those few fortunate enough not to be chronically online, the TikTok phenomenon of “bimbo feminism” might seem relatively harmless. After all, the national news cycle is a constant cesspool of squabbling senators and climate change catastrophes, and the state of international politics more often than not resembles a dystopian novel from the mid-2000s. And yet amid this undeniable calamity, white liberal feminism once again demands center stage.
Enter the “bimbo feminist:” a complex, multifaceted figure whose rhetoric lives largely in Twitter threads and TikTok hashtags. She might encompass concepts such as “girl math” and “girl dinner,” or she may express outrage at the Oscars for supposedly snubbing Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie. She almost certainly loves the color pink and adorns herself with hyper-feminine clothing and accessories — think Elle Woods of “Legally Blonde”, albeit lacking any hint of post-Y2K “girlboss” rhetoric. The most important element of a bimbo feminist is that she loudly and unabashedly embraces her own ignorance and infantilization in traditionally male-dominated realms such as history, international relations or political theory.
TikTok user Nikita, who boasts an impressive 729,000 followers under the username @nikitadumptruck, proudly calls herself a bimbo in her TikTok biography. She primarily creates videos that explain nuanced and often devastating topics such as the Palestinian genocide and South African apartheid with “Mean Girl”-esque analogies. For example, powerful nations such as Israel and the United States are referred to as if they were teenage girls and boys engaging in cafeteria drama, while the very real repercussions of global politics are reduced to catchy, perennially Gen Z slang phrases.
Feeling overwhelmed at the dismal state of the world in 2024 is a fairly reasonable response, especially for those of us who have grown up in a post-9/11 environment of perpetually televised violence. Adopting bimbo feminism may very well be a coping mechanism for those experiencing burnout from a lifetime of witnessing injustice. While this mindset is understandable, the problems that bimbo feminism causes may outweigh its benefits.
Emma Severson, a junior history-anthropology major, offered her perspective on the positives and negatives associated with bimbo feminism.
“As a girl, there’s the feeling that, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to be twice as smart,” Severson said. “And then some people came to the conclusion that things shouldn’t be that way. But I think bimbo feminism has gotten to the point where it has lost any sort of feminist values, to where it’s just saying that women should be idiots.”
Sexist stereotypes about women have always targeted intelligence as a way of justifying male superiority. It’s cultural hegemony in action: if the patriarchy can convince women that they are intellectually inferior to men, then it becomes logic, not bias, that organizes society.
Bimbo feminism claims, however, that it can be empowering to embrace these stereotypes. After all, the patriarchy pushes misogynistic caricatures like the “dumb blonde” onto women no matter how they behave. Instead of attempting to subvert such narratives — generally proven to be a futile course of action — wouldn’t it be more productive for women to channel their energy into something like bimbo feminism, which seeks to show that a woman doesn’t have to be intelligent to have value?
Well, according to Severson, not necessarily.
“Being seen as valued and smart even while acting ignorant is such a white privilege,” Severson said. “Because women of color have to prove themselves four times more in every situation. And, of course, no woman should have to prove themselves, but we should still feel empowered to learn.”
It’s true that a person’s value — any person, regardless of gender — should be something innate and immutable, not capable of being determined by intelligence or any other arbitrary quality. But bimbo feminism seems to view ignorance as feminist only because it subverts the impossible standards of intelligence and capability that the patriarchy demands. As a result, engagement with more esoteric topics becomes oppositional to the very ethos of bimbo feminism.
Still, as Severson pointed out, the motivation behind bimbo feminism comes not from a willful desire to be ignorant, but from a deep-rooted frustration with patriarchal demands. For some, bimbo feminism offers a necessary escape.
Molly O’Keefe, a junior biology major, agreed that bimbo feminism can be perceived as a “safe space” from these unrealistic expectations exacted upon women.
“It is comforting not to always feel the need to be intelligent and hardcore and everything,” O’Keefe said. “Women do like some of the stereotypical things associated with being a woman, that’s why there are those stereotypes. And [bimbo feminism] can be a safe space to enjoy those things.”
From this perspective, bimbo feminism appears as a surprisingly natural response to the neoliberal “girlboss” feminism that has oversaturated the past decade. Taglines such as “having it all” push the narrative that women can be mothers and career moguls, beautiful and successful, partnered and independent, without acknowledging the disproportionate amount of work that women are expected to shoulder during their pursuit of these goals.
There’s no shame in wanting a different narrative. But the fact remains that, despite its well-intentioned origins, certain aspects of bimbo feminism have devolved into something no less sinister than the very ideology it set out to counter.
Mya Tran, a junior English major, offered their perspective on some of the more negative elements associated with bimbo feminism.
“A lot of bimbo feminism seems to have a really strong image to it,” Tran said. “Like a certain type of voice, a certain type of body shape and a certain type of style. I haven’t seen a single plus-size woman or a single butch woman go on a social media platform and be a bimbo [feminist]. So their image doesn’t really represent what they’re saying.”
Like many derivatives of feminist thought, bimbo feminism seems to be a space that prioritizes white, able-bodied, thin, traditionally feminine and cisgender women. This, of course, is a tired narrative in 2024, where women of color and transgender women are facing increased levels of violence and bigotry.
Bimbo feminism also seems to prioritize image over ideology, emphasizing pink clothing and glittery makeup instead of genuine activism. The lack of diversity only reinforces the conclusion that bimbo feminism functions far more effectively as a hashtag to curate social currency, rather than a truly radical doctrine.
Of course, far be it from me to exercise male privilege by telling women what to do. But taking a well-informed approach to any Internet trend is never a bad thing, especially in the panopticon age of digital footprints and cancel culture. Stupid or smart, the moral of this story is that feminism isn’t feminism without intersectional allyship — and that’s just one of many things bimbo feminism seems to lack.