One of the most entertaining parts of social media is the release of a new Snapchat filter. A couple of weeks ago, Snapchat unveiled a new gender-swap filter, and people were immediately obsessed. Even celebrities took to social media to show off their new alter-egos. But when one viral video used the Snapchat filter on U.S. presidents, Twitter wasn’t pleased.
On May 28th, NowThis tweeted a video that used the “woman” Snapchat filter to make all 45 U.S. presidents look feminine. The presidents were also christened with new feminine-sounding names, such as Barbara Obama, Rashida Nixon, Rhonda Reagan, and Abby Lincoln. In its tweet, NowThis seemed to suggest that the video should be empowering—a way to imagine an alternate history based on a matriarchy rather than a patriarchy.
NowThis shared the video again several hours later with a more neutral tweet that read: “Here’s what the U.S. presidents look like through Snapchat’s gender-swap filter.” But the damage had already been done.
Here's what the U.S. Presidents look like through Snapchat's gender-swap filter pic.twitter.com/Ka9urP38tV
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 29, 2019
Many Twitter users think the video missed the mark.
Some pointed out it’s insulting to imply that a Snapchat filter can make up for centuries of gender inequality.
Or, and stay with me here, we could elect a fucking woman.
— The Sassiest Semite (@LittleMissLizz) May 28, 2019
“Who needs representation when we have filters?” pic.twitter.com/0ts6UvwxKG
— D’hont sleep on talking head (@_talking_head) May 28, 2019
OR WHAT IF WE ELECTED AN ACTUAL WOMAN?
— Kendally Brown (@kendallybrown) May 28, 2019
"Thanks to a Snapchat filter, we can have women presidents" 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀 https://t.co/vwDtk24Usb
— Alexandra Sifferlin (@acsifferlin) May 28, 2019
I’ve never been more depressed by anything than I am by the sentence “thanks to a snapchat filter, we can have women presidents”
— maggie penman (@maggiepenman) May 29, 2019
The next Snapchat filter I see that turns presidents into women better have Elizabeth Warren’s face peering out of it.
— Maris Kreizman (@mariskreizman) May 28, 2019
Women: we’d like a female president in our lifetimes.
This: “well, if you use your ~imAGinaTion*~ and these Snapchat filters it’ll FEEL like equality!!!!”😀 https://t.co/sPyO3fE6A4
— How To Be Alone (by me Lane Moore) is out now (@hellolanemoore) May 28, 2019
Others simply felt the images were cursed.
“Abby Lincoln” will haunt me for a lifetime
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) May 28, 2019
imagine if a woman deceived the country into an unlawful war that killed over a million people......... it would've been so feminist pic.twitter.com/zidZfJZLZD
— eve peyser (@evepeyser) May 28, 2019
Snapchat filters are fun to use, and if you want to gender-swap the U.S. presidents, more power to you.
But the government’s overwhelming maleness has caused real problems for anyone who’s not a cisgender man. Recently, several states passed restrictive abortion laws that could cause pregnant people to seek dangerous, illegal abortions. One of the lawmakers behind recent attempted abortion legislation, Ohio State Representative John Becker, has even argued that an ectopic pregnancy can be reimplanted into the uterus, which is definitely not true.
There’s also the fact that Congress has yet to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment—even though it was passed 47 years ago. The bottom line is that we need real representation, not just a fun gender-swap filter.