In the last 24 hours, the "Disloyal Man" meme has swept the internet. It began when @n1m161 put text over a generic shutterstock image, using the picture as a metaphor, according to Twitter, and soon spawned hundreds of derivatives. Some of them are definitely funny.

But there's a huge problem. None of them are able to transcend the image's inherent, toxic sexism.

The fact that it's been been treated largely as "relatable," or as just the tension people feel when choosing between options, shows just how normalized sexual harassment is throughout the world. A man can openly, shamelessly leer at another woman while right next to his presumed girlfriend, and it's silly, it's a thing guys do, it's just the context for another meme.

The photo is described on Shutterstock as "Disloyal man walking with his girlfriend and looking amazed at another seductive girl."

Read More: #NoWomanEver Enjoys Being Harassed

So, according to that caption, it's just an irresistible action. It's not a man actively choosing to make women uncomfortable, to brazenly leer at someone. 

If it was, then that would mean that the millions of similar interactions that unfold around the world every day also make women uncomfortable. 

But, the truth is, anytime a man conspicously stops and cranes his neck to leer at a woman — that's harassment. 

Anytime a man walking down the street says some variation of "smile," "hey beautiful," or a much more explicit sexual reference to a woman — that's harassment. 

And anytime sexual harassment occurs, it reinforces a global status quo in which women are relentlessly leered at, demeaned, cat-called, objectified, abused, violated, assaulted, and even murdered for just being women. 

Read More: #WhenIWas: These Powerful Stories Prove How Early Sexual Harassment Starts

One survey found that 65% of women in the US had been cat-called, 23% had been sexually touched against their will, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual.

Globally, 35% of women have experienced sexual violence, while in some countries that number rises to 70%. 

No matter how funny the disloyal man meme is at times, it's just showing a phenomenon that really needs to stop.

Women should be able to walk down the street without being harassed. 

That's why the best disloyal man meme is this: 


Demand Equity

The Best 'Disloyal Man' Meme Shows Why It's Problematic

By Joe McCarthy