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One of the disturbing truths of the Internet is that meme humor and virulent racism often coexist in the same place. In most cases, the racist jokes never make it out of hate sites and seedy corners of Twitter you can easily ignore, but this is the story of an exceedingly rare exception—a case where a gag beloved by white supremacists not only went mainstream, but transformed into something non-racist and actually funny.
Twitter has an awful lot of questions about “your girl” these days. What would you do if she were out of town and this scene unfolded?
What if you were in the club and this dude slapped her ass?
The “your girl” meme has been around for years, but it’s had a weird resurgence lately, mutating into ever-stranger forms. The joke has two central premises. In the “club” version, you are in a theoretical fight with some completely absurd character, usually a scrawny nerd or an anime hero. In the “your girl isn’t home” version, you are tempted by some mundane object—like fruit or furniture—that vaguely resembles a sexy butt.
The “you” is always presumed to be male. “Your girl” never has any agency, except in her decision to leave the house. And yet, the joke is funny: Imagine any of these people anywhere near “the club.” Imagine someone getting horny over a fruit-butt. The scenarios are preposterous, the images still more so.
But where did this meme come from, and where is it going?
The great, absurd, and weirdly relatable riff actually started out in 2010 on the Internet’s most prominent white supremacist forum, Stormfront. According to Know Your Meme, it first appeared not as a joke, but as a racist hypothetical for white men: You’re in the club, and a black dude slaps your girlfriend on the ass. What do you do?
The thread is still online, although the photo of the supposedly scary black guy has been lost to the sands of time. Most replies consisted of violent posturing, Internet tough guy talk, and boasts about gun ownership. They showed little irony and even less self-awareness.
The question didn’t really blow up until it hit the Bodybuilding.com forums in 2012. There, muscleheads took the original race-based fear and added insecurity about size and strength (“btw, this guy is 6’7″, 280 lbs”).
“i swear I see this exact thread every 3 weeks,” wrote one commenter, speaking to how prevalent this trope was on the forums at the time.
“old ass thread,” agreed someone else.
So, how did something this asinine and steeped in racial animus transform into something very good and funny?
It went through 4chan, of course.
4chan‘s /b/, once the nexus of Internet meme culture, has always combined joking-but-not-really racism with legitimately weird postmodern humor. It’s the perfect place to take a trope created by dudes afraid of black men cuckolding them (even though they’re secretly turned on by it) and transform it into, yes, more racism, but also just a bunch of great jokes.
In 2016, “your girl” is primarily a Twitter phenomenon, and it’s miles away from its racist origins. People still use it in the original context—are you man enough to fight this tough guy?—but the comedic variations are more popular, and getting weirder all the time.
The meme started out here …
… took a detour at Hot Topic …
… passed through here …
… and came out the other end looking like the examples below. It’s now more bizarre, less comprehensible, and funnier than ever before. Some of these are like physics exams as written by Tumblr:
The latest and greatest mutation of “your girl,” which involves “drinking a pork chop,” popped up on Tumblr in late March of this year. It’s marked by sentences that parse as English but don’t make a lick of sense.
@jaredfoglesmemevan.v2 – – – – – -#feminism #bionicle #safewarriors #dancemoms #demisexual #asexual #flatearth #freemyniggafogle #pansexual #pedosexual #polysexual #nicememe #memes #immortalmemes #tumblr #edgy #emo #emoboy #emogirl #endmypain #whatisbrazzer #warriocats #like4like #followforfollow #fnaf #anime #fnaf #prank #airsoft #dankmemes #kidzbop
A photo posted by @jaredfoglesmemevan on
As the great linguist Noam Chomsky once asked, “Your girl not home and colorless green ideas sleep furiously. What you do?”
Illustration by Max Fleishman
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.