Twenty-four-year-old Kelly Roberts thought of a novel way to make it through last weekend’s New York Half-Marathon. Instead of listening to music, or envisioning the finish line, or doing whatever else it is runners do during these things, Roberts took a series of selfies and posted them to Instagram — with a series of strange, “hot” men in the background.
“Ladies and gents I present to you, hott guys of the nyc half,” she wrote, in a caption to go with this gem:
Roberts, to her credit, seems to have a real sense of humor. She’s posted more than 1,400 Instagrams, many of them funny, open-mouthed selfies. Her hottie captions are light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek — figuratively, if not literally. And her viewers, whether on Instagram or The Huffington Post or The New York Daily News, generally greet her like some kind of conquering lady-hero: “Everything about your pictures I love!” “This is absolutely hilarious!!!” “Love this idea!!!”
I get it: Objectification is everywhere, and it’s empowering to see a lady doing the objectifying for once. On top of that, said lady is making funny faces. And running a half-marathon! That girl is a race-running, selfie-snapping monument to the modern woman, basically.
And yet! She’s still taking surreptitious pictures of strangers, which is creepy, and rating their attractiveness, which is gross. Join me in a simple thought exercise: If Kelly Roberts were Ken Roberts, snapping pictures of spandex-clad girls, would we find this exercise half so amusing?
Roberts’s photos are funny, though, because we can’t take them seriously. There is nothing threatening about a lady pointing out an attractive dude; on the contrary, women’s opinions on men, and on sexuality in general, are generally pretty easy to dismiss.
That’s not “absolutely hilarious” — it’s actually kind of sad. And it’s certainly not empowering for people of any gender, regardless of what Roberts’s Instagram fans say.