The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | TikTok’s ‘that’s a body’ trend promotes misogyny

Opinion+%7C+TikTok%E2%80%99s+%E2%80%98that%E2%80%99s+a+body%E2%80%99+trend+promotes+misogyny
Amy Sanchez

In the past few years, TikTok has drastically changed the narrative around relationship dynamics, specifically in heterosexual relationships. While the platform encourages positive changes like leaving toxic relationships that are not fulfilling, it also promotes negative behaviors. 

There has also been a large cultural shift in the conversation around having friends while in a relationship. Generally, this conversation is directed towards boyfriends having female friends — or the “girl best friend.” Overall, there is a concerningly negative view of the friendship a woman might share with a man who is in a relationship. 

TikTok, which houses a cesspool of toxic behavior, has introduced a new trend where women describe actions that they consider to be “a body,” equivalent to a sexual partner in the context of someone’s “body count.” For example, this user begins the video by saying, “If you laugh at a girl’s jokes, that’s a body.” In simpler terms, these actions are red flags for boyfriends.

“If you laugh at a girl’s jokes, that’s a body.” Let us all sit with this statement for a minute and consider its implications. If a boyfriend laughs at a girl’s jokes, that equates, hyperbolically of course, to him having sex with her.

Hearing this statement outside the echo chamber of TikTok comments should illuminate the blatant problems with this trend.

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Naturally, everything on TikTok is exaggerated, but this type of behavior cannot be written off as a joke when it has pervaded the culture of relationships. It is ignorant and naive to believe that these ideas are confined to the online spaces from which they originate. 

At its core, this trend is women expressing actions that they believe their boyfriends should not do with their female friends because it is too “intimate” or too considerate for comfort. This narrative, by creating a very negative stigma around male-female friendships, undeniably promotes misogyny. 

In telling your boyfriend that he is borderline cheating when treating another girl like a friend, women are encouraging the mistreatment of each other through their partners. Even before this trend came to be, people made TikToks about how they wanted their boyfriends to be disrespectful to any girl that is not them.

This user expresses their desire for their partner to refer to every woman as a bitch. No longer are these situations about taken men spurning a flirting woman. They have extended to every interaction a boyfriend has with a woman, even in public places like a drive-through. This user is actively encouraging aggressive misogyny under the pretense of relationship stability. 

Again, while this is exaggerated, many of these videos include violence. Even as a joke, it is astounding to see women saying they want their boyfriends to physically assault other women for approaching them. People internalize these narratives and begin to think that it is genuinely toxic for their partner to interact with women.

These complaints get dangerous when these women say that giving a girl a ride home after a night out is considered a body. If women simultaneously claim they’re a “girl’s girl” while being angry at their boyfriends’ concern for the safety of their female friends, something was lost in translation.

This woman says that knowing a girl’s allergies is a body. “If we’re out, ordering food or drinks or something, and you remember that a girl has an allergy, that’s three bodies,” she says. “Should’ve let her die.” Joke or not, this is insane behavior. 

Ultimately, women are saying that they do not trust their boyfriends or the women in their lives. They do not believe their partners should treat all their friends the same regardless of gender. There is this standard that female friends are always meant to be held in suspicion and contempt by taken women. 

The “men and women can never be just friends” narrative is not a new one, but TikTok is undoubtedly exacerbating the problem to the extreme: implying that a woman is not allowed to even interact with a man if he’s in a relationship. It has created a very toxic environment for male-female platonic relationships that is setting women back. 

 

Vidhi is a junior in LAS.

[email protected]

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Amy Sanchez, Graphics Editor
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