I dyed my hair mid-lockdown bereason it looked fun and I was bored. But to the virtual far right, I became a social media stereokind.

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Hair dye and also viewed loose morals have actually gone together given that the ancient human being. Photograph: Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Getty Images

I became somebody’s metaphor on my means home last week. I was walking alengthy a busy road in southeast Portland, Oregon, when a pickup truck pulled alongside me. It had actually a flagpole placed to either side of the bed, flying Trump 2020 on one side and the Thin Blue Line flag on the other. The driver—a florid-confronted white male in a round cap and also dad sunglasses—leaned out the home window as the truck coughed by. “Nice ass, commie bitch!” he called. I didn’t have time to do much more than flip him off and also hope he captured it in his rearview.




Street harassment always sets my mind buffering. I perform the thing that feminism and also good sense tell me not to: scrutinize myself for indicators of provocativeness. I tried to deduce which criminal slice of my outfit (jeans and a gray turtleneck) or body (white, female, age 28) had actually betrayed me to his attention while the genuine culprit drove ameans and also never thought about me aobtain. I came back via nothing: no hammers, no sickles, no dog-eared Marxist message peaking over the edge of my bag. What might have possibly offfinished this big red guy in his big red truck right into such a politically charged display of casual creepitude? Then I remembered. I was a woguy in Portland also wearing a mask in public, and my hair is blue currently. And despite what you’ve checked out online, the experience of living in Portland also in 2020 can actually be pretty purple.

Like a lot of other people, I dyed my hair for the first time ever before mid-lockdown bereason it appeared fun and I was bored. Blue struck me as especially low stakes—neutrals look great on everyone, and also if it somehow claburned through my skin tone, I’d be viewed by beside nobody. My friends liked it. So did my postwoman. But I live in a component of Portland also wbelow itty bitty dwellings start to offer way to supplied vehicle lots, and pro-Trump, anti-Black Lives Matter paraphernalia have actually come to be a steadily more prevalent sight as the election draws closer and President Trump proceeds to denounce the city as a hotbed of definitionally difficult antifa terrorism and missing anarchist looting. Before Mr. Red Streatment hollered at me, I had actually noticed human being noticing my hair, and that their facial expressions seemed more facility than “I think that looks ugly.” So I Googled, and realized that I’d miscalculated.

I’d somejust how missed that the blue-haired social justice warrior had entered the digital far-right’s pantheon of leftist caricatures. I probably should have actually recognized. People have actually been pointing out the politics of blue-haired women specifically in the Reddit manosphere given that at leastern 2015, however most satirical renditions of overwrought SJWs supplied to have fire engine red hair. That’s most likely bereason of Chanty Binx, a carmine-haired Canadian woguy who went viral in 2011 after being recorded on video confronting a team of men’s legal rights activists. By 2016, the so-referred to as alt-ideal were sharing pudgy, pussy-hatted, pink-haired SJWs attracted by cartoonists favor Ben Garrison, supposedly influenced by imperiods taken at protests prefer the 2017 Women’s March. On the post-TikTok internet though, blue-haired girls (and woguys who dye their hair anything various other than blonde more generally) are illustration snide misogynistic commentary and are assumed to lean difficult to the left.

Hair dye and also viewed loose morals have actually gone together considering that the prehistoric human being. In the Roman Empire, sex workers were compelled to dye their hair blonde to represent their profession. Though the association is fading now, blonde hair kept the implication of heightened sexuality for a lengthy time—just take a look at Old Hollytimber and also the kinds of fun that blondes were supposedly having more of. As dyed blonde hair has come to be a conventional or also slightly conservative style option (see: almost eextremely female Fox News host), vibrantly colored hair has inherited its stereotypes of laxity and also wildness and also basic leftism.


To be fair, it’s most likely true that woguys who dye their hair unstandard colors might be even more inclined to make other unorthodox selections, including political ones. Dyed hair is probably most linked via alternate and punk neighborhoods that perform tend to adopt gradual political ideals, which rightwing media frequently dismiss out on as communism or socialism. Blue hair appears to be particularly widespread among gradual teenage girls on TikTok, which isn’t entirely surpincreasing provided that highly TikTokable steady pop stars including Billie Eilish and also Ashnikko have both worn the look. It’s not unwidespread to view comments prefer “have actually fun through the blue hair girls” on the videos of outspokenly feminist guys or “Trump 2020” on a blue-haired TikTokker’s videos apropos of nothing.

By the time I arrived at residence, this was my conclusion: Nopoint is the means you’d think it would be. America has actually end up being a place wbelow a zany quarantine makeover have the right to be taken as a declaration of communism. Portland also, the city that the internet, rightwing media outlets, and the president think is the a lot of radically left in the nation has actually also come to be the place wbelow I personally have encountered the the majority of outspoken rightwing extremism offline. Of course, politically speaking, Portland itself is mainly left of facility, yet it can feel choose a stubborn blueberry in a pot of strawberry jam, and also it's obtaining pretty mushy approximately the edges.

Oregon governor Kate Brown has actually declared that from 5 pm yesterday to 5 pm Wednesday, the Portland also area is in a state of emergency. The National Guard is prepared for deployment. Not bereason she’s worried that some fictional antifa terrorist group will certainly burn dvery own a Starbucks in a vague strike against the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy on election night, however because the better Portland metro area is wright here human being on both political poles live alongside each other, chafing. It’s the frontlines of the society battle. And, as a rude male in a pickup truck defined to me, you don’t also acquire to pick a side. Social media stereokinds have already done that for you.

Emma Grey Ellis is a staff writer at nlinux.org, specializing in internet society and propaganda, as well as writing around planetary scientific research and various other points space-related. She graduated from Colgate University with a degree in English, and also she lives in San Francisco.

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