Casual Thursday: That Time the Snail Unit Did Not Endorse “Radical Feminist Skincare”

…or any other ideological or political spin on skincare.

Today, I and a couple members of the Snail Unit found out that we’d been mentioned in an article on a major online publication (which I’ll not be linking, because I don’t want to give them the traffic, but which I’ll screenshot below if you haven’t seen it yet).

As a blogger with a moderate following and some name recognition, you get used to your words being used by others. Shops use the glowingest parts of reviews you’ve written to sell their products or get attention. That’s mostly par for the course, and it’s generally totally fine with me unless my content has been copied and pasted wholesale or taken out of context.

(Though it is still expected, and considered good manners, for shops to ask bloggers’ permission before using their words to sell a product, of course!)

One thing that I don’t intend to get used to is seeing my work being used without my permission (or even my knowledge) to promote an agenda that I do not support and do not want associated with my name or this blog. My blogger friends feel the same. That’s why we were all dismayed to find ourselves named in an article pushing the concept of “radical feminist skincare.”

Radical feminist skincare misattribution

Clipped from Slate.com

As Cat and Tracy have already made clear both to the publication and on social media, they weren’t interviewed for this piece. The writer employed slippery wording that implies that Cat and Tracy were among the people she spoke to, which in turn implies that Cat and Tracy endorse the “radical feminist skincare” this article promotes. Which goes beyond sloppy journalism into the realm of intentionally shady.

Radical feminist skincare misattribution

Clipped from Slate.com

My part in the article is less egregious, and to be honest, were it in a different piece, I might not have minded being included at all. I might even be flattered to have been noticed and thought worthy of mentioning. But in an article like this, it gives the impression that I, too, belong to this supposed movement of so-called “radical feminist skincare.”

Come on. We’re all literate adults here. We know how to read between the lines, to catch the implications inherent in being referenced where others are not. And I don’t want to let those implications stand unaddressed.

It’s not about my personal political beliefs. I could be as radical as they come in my private life (I’m not) and I still wouldn’t be happy to see myself publicly aligned with the cause. I’ve made a point of not aligning myself with any cause except the cause of good skincare.

It’s about consent and choice. Agency, in the language of feminism. Taking our names and our words without our consent, without giving us the choice of whether we wanted to be associated with the agenda (both political and economical) being pushed in the article, violated our agency. Is that radical? Fuck if I know, but I know it isn’t my idea of feminist.

Even if the article is ultimately corrected—we’ve all made our feelings on our names being used in it known—the Internet, as everyone should know by now, never forgets. And the original article has been up for several hours now on a highly trafficked and widely shared site. That means that our names and our blogs have already become associated, in at least some readers’ minds, with an ideology that we never wanted to have anything to do with. It puts us in the sights of people whom we may not want to risk our own security in tangling with.

It’s very important to me to maintain control of my voice as a blogger and how it’s used. So here I’m going to use my voice and make my position clear.

I don’t support any kind of politicized skincare. I said it on my Twitter and I’ll say it again: Skincare is science not politics. Being able to construct an attention-getting argument for skincare has nothing to do with whether you know a damn thing about what makes good skincare. The only thing Fiddy Snails supports is good skincare. And I definitely do not support the idea of any skincare company using politics to get you to buy product. To me, that just suggests that maybe the product wouldn’t stand on its own.

(Final note: I also don’t support any radical ideology. Radicalization rejects reality, breeds narrow-minded views, and encourages a certain “the ends justify the means” ruthlessness and erosion of ethics that aren’t good for any cause, in my humble opinion.)

Thanks for listening to my rant, guys. And now back to the good stuff: creams and oils and serums and ampoules that we can all enjoy and use to brighten our faces and our days, regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum! I think I’ll calm my nerves with a routine made up entirely of holy grails and a My Scheming Provence Lavender Soothing Mask tonight. I got the idea from Tracy at Fanserviced-B, who’s just published her own thoughts on the article.

xoxo

Fiddy

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38 responses to “Casual Thursday: That Time the Snail Unit Did Not Endorse “Radical Feminist Skincare”

  1. you have every reason to be peeved. that’s some serious sleaze “journalism” right there.

    i can’t believe they’re trying to co-opt what you guys have built up and what k-beauty has done for centuries and then slap a new label on it. a label that would effectively narrow the scope of people who would otherwise enjoy and benefit from it.

    shady shady shady.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m a poet and also an editor for a women’s organization, and I can tell you this that this is just bad, lazy journalism. I don’t blame you or your fellow bloggers for getting upset here. Why politicize something like this, and secondly, not even reach out to you in the first place? Sorry this happened to you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Admittedly, I identify as a feminist; my graduate work involved lot of gender research, and I currently work in a field that promotes those ideals I hold dear in the forms of achieving independence, self-advocacy, and self-efficacy. In my mind, the essence of feminism is about respect, for one’s self and others. What happened to the group was very DISRESPECTFUL and frankly, a violation. You all clearly pour your hearts into this, and value K-beauty way beyond the superficial and trendy. I am sorry that this writer twisted your work for her own purposes, and especially without consent.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The retraction Slate just posted is killing me. It’s so trite and petty! The author’s frantically backtracking and trying to evade heat by spinning back on you et al. It’s awesome that you guys called her out, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! That whole part that says “neither blogger self-identifies as feminist, and Cat Cactus is not an academic” sounds like a veiled put-down, when they never even said that they weren’t feminists, just that they didn’t make associations between skin care and radical feminism. UGH.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The terrible part is that even the retraction can only do so much. Now Tracy and Snow’s Google footprints include reference to radical feminist skincare and their stance on identification with the”feminist” label–when there would have been zero information before. –Angela

    Liked by 2 people

    • And of course implying that you’d support those ideals when your article was only about self-care, not radical feminist self-care, was a stretch. Strangely, the author seems genuinely into K-beauty and to be familiar with the “big names” in the AB blogging world, yet didn’t bother to actually talk to you all.

      Liked by 2 people

    • This is what bothers me the most. By virtue of this article existing, the damage has already been done. Even if they had posted a convincing apology and retraction, its too late. The internet never forgets and now they’re tied to this agenda pushing garbage of an article.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I think the piece, and the underlying journalistic practices, were rubbish and I agree completely that it was a sensationalist stretch to politicize the blogs mentioned. At the same time, the distancing from this article is getting pretty uncomfortably political too with a lot of wink wink nudge nudge implications that feminism is negative, particularly in an article against politicization.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I definitely see what you mean, and it’s something that I struggled with. I’ve made a conscious decision not to put my personal beliefs and political leanings on display here, but for the record, I personally am a regular old garden variety feminist who believes in equality of potential, opportunity, and agency for all genders and don’t mean to distance myself from that at all–but radical *anything* is something I’m glad to distance myself from for the reasons stated in the post 🙂

      Like

      • apparently if a man messes with your work then, raise hell, but if a feminist woman does it then you should probably not make too much of a fuss. because… vaginal solidarity. hell nah! equality means just that, equality.

        i mean, don’t you believe in women’s rights? don’t you believe women are equal, fiddy?

        c’mon. that insinuation is a low blow. it’s twisting the story. it’s unfair and total BS.

        i mean this particular group of k-beauty bloggers are all about self-care, skincare and science which leads to self-esteem and happiness. literally the total opposite message of women being “less than”.

        nice try though.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s totally rubbish and unfair to use your snail Ladies name like that in piece of trash article. I can totally understand why you are upset. This is another reason why i don’t like reading news anymore. So many bad journalists with so little ethic posting up trash and trying to make a sensation from nothing. Gosh i feel upset and disgusted now!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, I am so sorry that this happened to you and the other bloggers. The article is shitty and so is that terrible non-apology retraction. It was really unethical for the Slate author to pretend she talked to you.

    To Lily, why does the negative reaction and the community distancing itself from this article make you uncomfortable? What the Slate author did, by putting words in other women and WOC’s mouths without their permission is decidedly un-feminist. What she did is certainly not consistent with any feminism I want to be a part of or associated with.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Radicalism is where everything starts going to poop. You’ve all had such amazing, rational responses to this–my only complaint would be that K-beauty is, while emerging, still largely unknown/misunderstood in the “western” world, so it’s extremely important that any mention of it in articles like this don’t spin it into something completely false and alien. This is beyond ridiculous.

    (By the way, you can use http://www.donotlink.com if you ever want to link something without giving them the clickies/SEO powah!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • But it isn’t completely false.
      I don’t think K-Beauty having a radical feminist persona is completely terrible. I think the journalism here was terrible but I love the idea that women taking the time to do a Korean Beauty routines every day is self-love. Women aren’t told enough that taking time to put amazing products on their skin, for themselves, can be liberating instead women are told that you have to beautiful because the world likes pretty and pretty people are more desirable, be pretty because men like pretty, etc. Taking the time to actually say – do this for you not because it will make you more attractive is actually cool – and some women may need to hear that. This idea can be incredibly transformative for some women and women watching out for other women is true beauty

      Liked by 2 people

      • I completely agree with you in the idea, although many people would take issue with the use of the word “radical” here. However, the problem here in particular is the irony: the bloggers mentioned in the article have never actually said they take part in any radical feminist movement (not that they do/don’t/would never/etc.), and isn’t part of the point of feminism to give voice to women? Schuman went completely awry by claiming blatant lies about her sources (exhibit A: lack of journalistic integrity), and putting words in the mouths of people she never actually spoke with, that is, claiming the connection between these bloggers and the larger political movement happening in societies today (exhibit B: yeah, this is not respecting the voices of these women at all). Actually, you could replace this article’s topic with any other political movement, and it’s still an act of disrespect and laziness at the expense of other hard-working human beings.

        Like

  10. It’s pure non-journalism to claim people you didn’t even contact (let alone interview) „told you“ something. It’s dishonest and the opposite of responsible reporting whether it’s being done to men or women, and regardless of the subject matter. This is a problem, and deserves the harsh criticism it got.

    Another cringe-worthy problem, this one actually related to political ideology and gender; 2 subjects the writer and especially the academic in question should understand very well because they’re feminists:

    There is NOTHING feminist about skincare and other beauty practices for women. Which is OK. Not everything feminists do needs to, or can be feminist. In fact, it can’t be, period. And this isn’t a matter choice, consent, or agency can fix. As long as you live in a society, you’re bound by how it works, and there are many rules, standards and mechanisms affecting women that are yet to change. Until they ALL do, there will be ways in which women, feminist and non-feminist, will act unfeminist. It can’t be helped, so perfection isn’t required.

    Beauty standards in particular are one of the main ways to socialize women into accepting their chief value is in their youth and looks. Following those standards cannot be feminist because of this historical context. Ignoring said context (when you are aware of it, which a feminist ought to be) and claiming YOUR favorite beauty practice is actually feminist is utter, ruthless solipsism, not feminism.

    It’s a fact select few beauty „rituals“ are very enjoyable. Some are even good for one’s health, physically and otherwise. Both of these happen to apply to AB. Also, as said before, every woman existing in a society of some kind is under strong pressure to conform and she will, in some ways if not in others. It’s unavoidable, and if it happens to be a beauty practice she enjoys that’s good for her health, well — it really doesn’t get any more benign than that (except to her wallet).

    All women are in this position so they will do unfeminist things. That also applies to female feminists. And that’s OK. It doesn’t make you evil. It doesn’t even make you wrong — AS LONG AS you (as a feminist, when you identify as one) are aware of what you’re doing and DON’T claim it is actually a feminist act. THAT is wrong. It’s pretending history, words, context, and social analysis don’t mean what they mean, but what anyone might need them to mean to feel better about themselves. And it’s turning feminism from a political movement into an emotional crutch. An Everything for Everybody that, by definition, can’t accomplish a single goal anymore because instead of tackling the historical, social and systemic injustices it was designed to remove, it’s busy rationalizing them to prevent women and feminists from feeling bad when doing something unfeminist.

    I get it when someone who never bothered to research feminism and just ingested a few buzzwords engages in this sort of nonsense. An academic feminist though… I’m beyond words. Everything has a context. Just because it feels bad to a feminist to admit something she likes isn’t feminist doesn’t give her license to call it feminist. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean it aligns with her politics. Just because it doesn’t align with them doesn’t mean she absolutely mustn’t do it or she’s a failure.

    To put it as broadly as possible, just because a feminist (or a woman in general) is choosing to do something doesn’t make it feminist. It has to be feminist to be feminist (and when it isn’t, that’s not the stuff of Ancient Greek Tragedy). Yes, agency is important, but not enough to trump everything else. This isn’t rocket science.

    About Lily’s point re: feeling uncomfortable. I can see why that is; she’s explained it clearly enough. Here’s my contribution:

    When a blogger says, after being mentioned in an article linking skincare to feminism, that „her work is being used to promote an ideology she does not support and doesn’t want her blog associated with“, it’s hard not to assume said blogger feels feminism is bad. (No wink-wink nudge-nudge about it.) If that’s not what was intended, that’s on the blogger, not on any readers who felt as Lily did.

    Yeah I saw the bits about consent and agency. The journalist DID disregard both and that’s a problem. Making that point doesn’t require multiple paragraphs on how important it is not to be associated with the ideology responsible for introducing those concepts into popular discourse.

    I also read the paragraph in brackets concerning „radical“. I don’t put any store by it for 2 reasons.

    a) I read the article and can’t in good conscience pretend it had any radical feminism in it. (Or anything radical at all, for that matter.) One Audre Lorde quote about women caring for themselves does not a radical feminist piece make. That wording was click bait masking tepid writing. All it takes to see there’s no „radical ideology“ in sight is reading the article.

    (Not to mention that „radical feminism“ in particular refers not to extremism of any kind, but to something very specific: The theory and activism that defined feminism and its social and economic goals, and got most of the things women take for granted today accomplished, starting back in the 60s. Here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_feminism#Theory_and_ideology)

    Even not knowing the above though, it’s hard to miss the fact that in the article, „radical“ is a heavy handed adjective at best and click bait at worst.

    b) Yes, „radical“ has strong negative connotations. This is why the status-quo makes sure to attach that adjective to ideologies that undermine it, and vilify them beyond recognition. In the case of feminism, it predictably got tacked on to the theory that was asking the tough questions and getting things done. It’s been an extremely effective tactic that, as this blog post amply demonstrates, has made women more scared of acquiring „the feminist label“ than of the problems feminism is working to solve. I can’t say that’s making me uncomfortable; I’m used to it now. It is, however, disheartening to watch.

    For the record, I will not be returning to read any reactions to my comment should it get through. If I do, I will respond, then again whenever necessary, and go expressly against Fiddy’s wishes not to further politicize the blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • it’s called “radical feminism” because it bears little resemblance to first wave feminism. because it has tried to tell women that being like men and supplanting men is what’s feminine. because it has made women who are classically feminine into “sellouts”. because now being a stay at home mom who loves men and sons is somehow what’s radical. because where there are massive human rights violations against women, the feminists are stone cold silent. i could go on but whatever…

      Like

  11. Wow, that article was an obvious failed an attempt of creating a link between totally different subjects. throwing in a few well-known names and create some quotes to emphasize a relation that was in-existent in the first place. It’s shocking – and honestly – worrying what some ‘journalists’ put out there for everyone to read and potentially be influenced by! I also detest the use of the word ‘radical’, it has a connotation of something obsessive and unhealthy, and makes it look as though people are using skincare as a form of protest or rebellion. Who said taking care of your own body was vain in the first place, and assume we’re doing it because of a ‘patriarchal trap’? This is so wrong in so many ways, and I’m glad you and the other bloggers spoke out against it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m sorry that names were used out of consent, including yours. I stumbled upon the Slate article because I am new to KBeauty. It has changed my life in many amazing ways. I thought the article was really empowering. People should get to decide how their name is used. I would also like you to know that you and other bloggers being included in an article on feminism being linked to beauty ritual is really empowering to many women. I guess, I’m trying to show a silver lining of sorts while also not wanting to dismiss that this bothered you.
    The article led me to you and I’m a feminist and really appreciate strong women who speak their mind and the fact that those kinds of women inspire and empower me also.
    Maybe it isn’t so bad to hold feminist ideals publicly?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t mind holding feminist beliefs in public at all. That said, I don’t think a person has to publicly broadcast that belief if it’s not part of her blog’s theme. I’m sure there can be fantastic bloggers out there who write about beauty as female empowerment, or beauty through the lens of a feminist, or feminism through the lens of beauty, what have you. And, there can also be fantastic bloggers who only want to focus on K-beauty & deliver it through a non-political lens, or bloggers whose goals are to make K-beauty accessible to everyone regardless of differences in race, gender, sexuality, politics, etc. etc.

      A parallel I thought of was this: I had college professors who were very open about sharing their stances on topics in class (i.e. politics, race, religion, social inequality), and I also had profs who explicitly remained neutral or never shared their own beliefs so students can make their own decisions without being influenced in any way. Both types of teachers are totally fine, and if a student’s beliefs align more with one prof over another, he/she will probably take more classes from that prof. I guess what I’m trying to say is… it’s not bad to hold feminist ideals, but some people prefer to keep it separate from their public spheres and that’s respectable.

      I’m a relatively new reader of Fiddy’s blogs, but from what I can tell the theme is mainly about the sheer awesomeness of K-beauty and not about championing other superb causes, and that’s ok and I respect her for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, just wow. You just can’t win can you fiddy? Living in China I really like to keep politics out of my blog, and I would be furious if someone took it upon themselves to involve me in something I would be really upset too 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey, I’m starting an academic women’s social group of bloggers but can’t decide if we should post about ‘radical feminist car driving’ or ‘radical feminist laundry’. Any suggestions?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m afraid I’m only with the peolp who say the blog should not have been associated without the owner’s permission. Kbeauty was the answer to a lot of my skin problems and what I learnt from Cat and, Fiddy, Adoredee and co has kept diverse problems at bay. I will not comment on the femminist issue…why? What about the teenage boy with cystic acne looking for information just to stop him from being bullied relentlessly (some victims of bullies end up commiting suicide)? Skincare to those who have lived with perfect skin all their lives may be a pastime, but to others relying on these blogs, they ease pain, prevent infections (yes, infections), and a whole lot of other problems.

    I think if I come on a blog looking for answers for any of the above or similar problems, the last thing I need as a man, woman, boy, or girl is to have to wade through some stranger with perfect skin going on about their political leanings. If i had a blog and told you constantly to vote for the party I support, I’d only be reaching out to a select few.

    Thank you Fiddy, Snow White, Adoredee, Tracy and all the Snail crew for helping all of us with skin issues. Snow led me to all of yous and thought me about ph 5.5 and I’ll forever be greatful. Thank you from my skin too:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank YOU so much for your kind words! I agree with you completely, especially about how difficult and painful skin issues can be for those suffering from them. You’re exactly right about why I keep my politics and beliefs off of my blog. They aren’t the point at all and I don’t want them to put someone off who might otherwise be able to benefit from it.

      Tell your skin I said “you’re welcome” and uh tell your wallet I said sorry 😀

      Like

  16. While I understand your objections, the offending article did intrigue me and lead me to your blog, which I otherwise would not have found. What I took away from it was that there was a group of people who associate skin-care with self-care, and beauty in a less western sense which I also find appealing. So maybe have faith in readers who understand that almost all major internet media sites are designed as click-bait, with many grains of salt.

    Like

    • Welcome to the blog 🙂 You are so right on media taking liberties but, I believe someone once said (and I paraphrase) for evil to succeed, all it takes is for good men to do nothing.

      The reaction of the snail unit et al is to the principle. Due to the topic being skincare it is easy for it to be seen as such a trivial matter in the scheme of things, we must not think Fiddy and co should maybe do this or feel that. If they had not stood up and got the author to publicly admit wrong doing, and we continue to let these media sites get away with whatever they like, by the time something really big and serious happens (they are already taking place in some areas), it might be too late to turn back the clock.

      Please stay around, some of the people here are fab, some of these blog owners have personal stuff they deal with yet they keep on giving. I have found these website so informative, and learnt how to deal with problems when it occurs. Hope you find it useful. The one advice that is really important is YMMV (your millage may vary) Take care 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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