March 9, 2024

A "That's What She Said" Meme Has Sexual Undertones

You may have heard the phrase "that's what she said" before in an Internet meme — a photo or video with text that has gone viral and spawned a series of parodies. While some of these jokes are harmless fun, others foster misogynistic stereotypes and can spark abusive behavior on social media. And one meme is causing some controversy because of its sexual undertones.

It began with a simple image of a girl whispering something into the ear of a man who appears bored and indifferent to what she's saying. The captions on these images, referred to as the "girl explaining" or "girlsplaining" meme, range from the mundane (e.g., how to tie a scarf) to the more niche topics such as astrology and film plots (e.g., the Titanic ending scene).

The popularity of the meme has led some people to use it to criticize women and other social groups, but there are also some that see it as a way to mock male privilege. The "that's what she said" joke can be sexist because it portrays females as being less competent than men in certain situations.

The girl in the original image hasn't revealed her identity, but a profile on a meme archive site says she is Denise Sanchez. Sanchez is a Latina model and actress who starred in a number of TV shows, including the first season of Fox's Maddy. Her unflinching delivery of her lines, along with her incredulous stare in the picture, have made her an iconic figure in a series of memes.

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