On the MTR commute to the art space where she works, Sabina Wong crops an image of Britney Spears she found online, adds her own text and caption, and posts the meme she made in five minutes to her ~2000 Instagram followers at @britneyeveryday. The Cantonese characters for “Go fuck yourself!” are juxtaposed with the 1990s icon, smiling sweetly like she never left the Mickey Mouse Club.
Sabina’s other Instagram account, @nanadelreyhk, documents her Tinder encounters with “fuckboys,” and consists mostly of screenshots of her chat history. Eggplant emojis are sometimes deployed. She even gives all of the conversations a rating, some of which took place when she was drunk.
Sabina is a Chinese University fine arts graduate, a biographical line that often cues self-deprecating humour on her part. “What would my professors think of me if they find out [what I’m doing now]?” she says. “I feel 唏噓 when I think of this—some of my seniors are now artists and making art. And I’m making memes.”
Sometimes I look back and wonder, how come I managed to find so many ways to swear? I find myself pretty amazing.
But this is art too, we reassure her. Sabina’s strengths lie in her contagious sense of humour and great eye for meme material: the killer combo of nostalgic photos of her childhood idol Britney with familiar vulgarity superimposed on top, or screenshots of sexist pick-up lines captioned with her carefree jokes. The highly relatable content, capturing the very essence of the millennial “big m00d” moments, are in a way no different from conceptual or performance art.
In between her office jobs and playing keys for local band Teenage Riot, Sabina kills time drinking with her friends at BOUND and swiping on Tinder. Both @britneyeveryday and @nanadelreyhk were born out of quotidian frustrations. The former account grew out of online fights with friends, during which she slaps them with her original memes as retorts; the latter as her platform to vent about her daily cyber encounters with disrespectful men. In just weeks, Sabina amassed hundreds of followers—those who were amused by her memes, and others who understood the hate towards “fuckboys.”
Sabina defines “fuckboys” as men who refuse to commit. “That is the basic level, but… a real fuckboy is a horny douche with his brain fucked up. All he thinks about is sex while being completely disrespectful to women.”
Sometimes race also comes into the equation: one of the constructions of white supremacy is the Asian fetish, in which people, often heterosexual white men, project orientalist stereotypes onto Asian women. Through her Tinder adventures, Sabina has become alert to how she was seen by some men as a masseuse or worse, “some sort of exotic petite sex hole.”
Sabina embodies sexual liberation with one-of-a-kind unabashedness. In the age when anyone could be picked apart mercilessly on social media, who isn’t afraid of being slut-shamed for merely admitting that they use Tinder, let alone posting their history publicly? Clearly, not Sabina. Her graduation thesis was on “cunt art”—a reference to feminist art which features female genitals as the central motif, making visible the sexual organ often considered “filthy and therefore a taboo, rejected from the connotation of beauty.”
“The organ is… treated unfairly and shamed by men, as opposed to the phallic ideology in the society,” she declared.
Similarly, @nanadelrey sets out to subvert gender norms and celebrates liberation from sexual taboos. Her Instagram, to quote from her dissertation, could be “an attempt intended to undermine the traditional theories of passive female sexuality, signifying women’s awakened consciousness about their bodies and sexual selves.”
The subversiveness comes from an inability to take men seriously, to laugh at their confidently said but poorly crafted lines, all the while destroying their egos. For a time, @nanadelrey’s Instagram bio says “feminism was a mistake”—a tongue-in-cheek reference to an actual Tinder profile of someone she once matched with. She now rates the conversations on her account on a scale of one to ten, depending on how accidentally funny the guy is. Her favourite: “Today will be the beginning of your orgasm. I will give you loads.”
In another notable post, Sabina borrows a meme from the popular millennial television show Rick and Morty, in which Morty holds up a scorecard that keeps track of the times he respected women. The caption: “How nice guys™ think sex works.” To fuckboys, Sabina explains, the times they respect women are points for accumulation. “I’ve respected you, and you will have to sleep with me. It was so taken for granted.”
Sabina’s not having any of that. “I’m not perfect and have my own flaws but the guys that I post [about]…They have real problems about respecting women and are just gross in general.” Sabina isn’t just weeding these men out of her dating life—she’s starting a quiet revolution to change this culture of misogyny, one meme at a time.
Originally published in the Still / Loud magazine in February 2019. Republished online in March 2020. Vincy Chan contributed reporting, Karen Cheung contributed editing. Note: in American slang, “fuckboy” is sometimes used in the context of prison sexual abuse. Here Sabina uses the term to describe problematic men.