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e-girls, class, social age, anti-social punishment.
thought digest, 09.03.2023
Happy Labor Day, almost.
I keep seeing this weird thing on TikTok where women post… wet or creamy cucumbers? But you don’t see the women do anything with them. Are they trying to goad people into tipping them by implying they’re being sexual with the cucumbers?
There are also a number of people who mime breastfeeding so they can show off their breasts. Sometimes with dolls, but other times with real children. Getting these types of videos into your algorithm is as easy as looking for motherhood or parenting advice videos, as they’re often tagged with, you guessed it, words as innocuous as #motherhood or #newmom.
Antisocial punishment. Speaking of TikTok, saw an interesting study there about something called “antisocial punishment.” There are a few of them out there, here’s one. People who are too nice are disliked because they make others look bad. No commentary. Just wanted to share that information.
Social vs. biological age. A friend texted me and said I would never be able to “crack” what’s up with age-gap discourse. I disagree. I think I get it, and it has very little to do with feminism.
Our social age isn’t the same as our biological age. For many Americans, it’s not even approximately similar.
That is to say, some 25-year-olds are still teenagers emotionally, and have the life experience of a teen. That doesn’t mean I think a 55-year-old should be penalized for dating a 25-year-old who meets that description or that there should be legal or social ramifications for age-gap couples well within the age of consent. It also doesn’t mean I think it’s appropriate for a 25-year-old to date a 15-year-old.
However, I think it’s as good an explanation as any for people’s discomfort with age gaps. It’s not that older women are jealous, it’s that they see themselves as younger than they are because they’re less experienced, and extrapolate from there.
NPC TikTok. I’m a little late to this, or at least posting it to Substack. I tweeted about it immediately. I’ve got to stop doing that. I never will.
Anyway, you know that NPC trend people were yammering about a few weeks ago, where women pretend to eat emojis associated with certain tip amounts on TikTok Lives?
Here’s a video if you don’t know what I’m talking about:
When these started going viral, everyone had a hot take about women objectifying themselves because of porn.
But I have this suspicion that this style—of fashion, of being a girl online—was only recently adapted to the male gaze.
It feels downstream of Living Dolls like Valeria Lukyanova, Kotakoti, and Venus Angelic, women who were emblematic of J-Fashion communities opening up from private LiveJournals and forums to a wider audience.
The idea with Living Dolls was to project a sort of purity, partially through emulating anime women. I say ‘anime’ because they weren’t trying to look like Asian women per se, though it was considered a compliment in these circles to be “mistaken” for Asian (this is also where the seeds of “Asian-fishing” were planted and I also think the genesis of Race Change to Another hypnosis videos, to whatever extent that’s a real thing). It was more about becoming this imagined version of an Asian woman, as exemplified through anime.
This style of fashion was usually women speaking to other women, and there was a distinct, even if suppressed, eating disorder component. Being small was as vital as looking young, and many of the e-celebrities in these circles suffered from debilitating EDs. If you appealed to men, it was Japanese men, and it was because you moved to Japan and assimilated.
Like I said, I don’t think it was Orientalism, or at least Orientalism as we know it, even though that’s what it immediately reads like. I think it was really about the preservation of one’s youth and little girlhood.
Of course, some outliers recognized early on that this look appealed to channers and gamers and exploited that, but that wasn’t as common as you might assume.
The next evolution of this style is the e-girl: think of Belle Delphine as the apex expression of it.
You see this type of girl everywhere, including as a frequent installment on #edtwt, or eating disorder Twitter. She is more likely to exploit her sexuality, even if she doesn’t always. (For example, to circle back to #edtwt, while it is certainly more sexualized than the pro-ana forums I lived on when I was that age, it would be unfair to say that is true of all or even most users.) Anyway, we lose the feeling that this look is ‘for and by’ women by this point.
That brings us to the NPC trend, the next chapter of this style. Here’s my sense: the first draft wasn’t sexual enough; the next draft was too sexual; this one is in the middle. I can’t help but feel like we’re slowly moving toward anime profile pic supremacy or something. Maybe we’ll all just become V-Tubers in the end, I don’t know.
In general, I get this overwhelming sense online, with both men and women, that girlhood, as depicted by anime, is the ideal. It’s what all roads lead to.
There’s more here, I think.
Social status, wealth, class. Spent much of the weekend arguing with people about class vs. wealth on the Internet. There are better uses of my time, but I am very ill right now, and you can only watch so many TikToks in one sitting.
Anyway, it turns out that many of my followers think that class doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s because I say “class” but mean something else. But I also think there’s an assumption among some people that if you acknowledge class, you are automatically discrediting race. I don’t think that’s true and don’t understand why it should be.
Anyway, my point, which feels too obvious to even say, is that your class and how much money you have in the bank are two different things.
If my definition of class is unconventional, I’m surprised, but I guess it is.
I see class as a matrix of qualities that includes wealth but isn’t defined by it. Maybe what I’m reaching for is “status.” Class informs a lot—where you go to school, where you live, what you wear, where you vacation.
Class determines what jobs you have access to, what doctors you know to see, a bunch of surprising things. You can try to emulate others, but it can be hard to learn. Class defines what signals you are even capable of reading. It’s not as simple as the most expensive or best quality thing is the right one. Like I said, it’s complicated.
Take, for example, the idea that “location is everything.” That does not mean the most convenient place, which would be intuitive, or the most expensive, also intuitive. There are ‘hidden’ characteristics that define whether or not a given area is high status. Somebody who is not familiar with that environment, or even just the signals of a specific community, won’t be able to determine this. “But there’s a grocery store and a hospital and it’s in a great school district”— that’s not enough.
This is the funny thing about a lot of yuppies: they get close but often just miss the mark. They can get to the periphery of status by carefully following trends, but even if they’re dedicated social climbers, it will be hard to achieve proximity to real status…power… to ascend?
Class ascension is so much harder than just earning enough money. I don’t totally understand it myself, I just know it’s real.
All of this is obviously offensive to people.
From one perspective, it might undermine your hard work. You want to believe that earning a good paycheck and buying a big house and lifting yourself up by the bootstraps is enough.
You are high status now—you earned it!
From my vantage point, it doesn’t really undermine anything. I’m not arguing you didn’t do a good job or don’t live a good life or live in a nice neighborhood or that your friends aren’t successful or that shouldn’t be proud of your achievements. But this thing—whatever it is, if it’s not class—is an uncomfortable aspect of not only our country but the entire world.
It doesn’t determine your worth as a person. It’s still real.
(BTW, as an aside, this is why I’m not shy about saying I don’t have the vocabulary to express everything I want to. I would imagine that this has been laid out before by much better-informed people than myself.)
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