“While seeing bigger women is an improvement and empowering in itself, if all we are really seeing is bigger versions of the same image we’ve been force-fed since we were kids, all we are really doing is trading in one oppression for another.”
I generally consider Facebook to be a fairly neutral place for internet discussion. It’s not a magical, fluffy land of Charlie Day GIFs and body-pos posts of girls in crop tops like we’d find on Tumblr, and it’s not the demoralizing, Libertarian fuckery of Reddit. ‘Taint quite Reddit, ‘taint quite Tumblr.
Facebook is the taint of the internet.
Every so often, while balanced comfortably on the taint, someone can come flying in from one side or the other and catch us off guard, American Gladiator-style. While startling, these encounters can actually become learning experiences. We can learn a lot about people, and a lot about ourselves. Today, I learned that I am not a Men’s Rights Activist.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE A MEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST
1. #NotAllMen, but #TotesSomeWomen
You respond to this article with the following comment:
2. “Your feminism isn’t REAL feminism”
To which someone might logically respond thusly:
3. RAPE CARD
This is a form of #TotesSomeWomen, but more ignorant and significantly more rapey:
Cue the feminist OP and then incredulous me:
And then you continue:
You might be an MRA if you require this level of detail:
…. and even after that, you still don’t get it:
5. DERP PATRIARCHY WAT
If you look around, desperately trying to find something everyone’s pointing at, and you can’t see it. chances are YOU are that thing being pointed at.
6. “I support women more than feminism does!”
You think women are victims of feminism:
Are you frustrated by how often you, a man, are held accountable for your own actions? Do you hate being lumped in with all of the “assholes” who are the real problems? Do you want to be able to bring a rose to your lady-love without having your balls cut off?
You might be a Men’s Rights Activist.
So many people don’t read the comments. They want to stay out of the way, or don’t think they need to weigh in on important issues that impact everyone. That being said, there are some who DO engage, not just to troll, but to educate.
Watch my friend Danica unleash the fury in a Facebook post written my husband about “So Did the Fat Lady”:
BOOM. I love it when people actually stand up for what they believe in and articulate it clearly. It’s so easy to take the path of least resistance, to stand by and hope someone else will say what you have been thinking. Many people find online discussions to be aversive. Having to repeatedly defend one’s position again and again feels like running in place, going nowhere. It is important to remember that, while you may not change someone’s mind in the immediate NOW, hearing a message and having it accumulate over time is what eventually prompts a change in someone’s perspective. Layers of positive sentiment sediment overtime solidify into a new point of view.
Keep up the good fight, and don’t sit back quietly hoping problems will resolve themselves. Poison must be neutralized. Be the antidote.
Due to unforeseen car trouble, I have been riding the bus all week to and from my various jobs. On the way home yesterday, I found myself a seat on the bench on the back of the bus next to a man dressed as a cowboy. I sat down in my seat, and he moved away. And then moved even further. He squashed himself next to the window so completely that I became concerned that I smelled unpleasant, or perhaps was covered in bees. My internal dialogue began thusly:
Do I smell bad? No, I always smell good and shower daily, plus I used antiperspirant/deodorant and also applied a little perfume this morning, so by now I should be a nice, mellow, average-person smell. Am I sticky? Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose? Am I breathing heavily from running for the bus? Do I look disheveled? Deranged? Dangerous? Did someone tattoo my face without my knowledge?
I eventually looked down and saw that my butt was extending past the boundaries (?) of my seat. Not a lot… but just enough that I was probably touching him when I sat down. Maybe he didn’t like to be that close to another person. Understandable. I don’t like people touching me without my permission. But isn’t there a social contract on a crowded bus? People touch people. It’s a BUS, not Business Class on a luxury airliner. Suddenly, I was flooded with feelings of inadequacy. I made him uncomfortable. I did this. I did it with my butt. It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered a response from a recent questionnaire that I did about Fat Acceptance, where I asked questions of people opposed to the movement. One of the questions I asked was, “Do you feel that others’ weight affects you directly, and if so, why?”
In certain understated ways, I actually consider the large bodies in public spaces to be “micro aggression” against people with smaller bodies. In my experience, large bodied individuals will not hesitate to let their body infringe on others’ personal space in public transit, while in a queue, or other spaces of modern urban environments. I consider these things “micro aggression” due to the unwillingness of large bodied peoples to not force their bodies on others. I am expected to move, or to get out of way in a lane even when I do not know anyone is there, I am expected to be accommodating at all times.
I hadn’t heard the term “micro-aggression” until I did the survey in question. What IS micro-aggression?
Basically, a micro-aggression is a socially acceptable put down that happens so frequently that it seems commonplace. The unifying trait of micro-aggressions is that the target is a member of a marginalized group. Ethnic minorities. Homosexuals. Religious minorities. Oh yeah, and fat people.
The worst part of fat-centric micro-aggression is that those targeted aren’t seen as victims. Society is structured so that fat is seen as “less than” and that those targeted by such micro-aggressions are “asking for it” because they are perceived as having control of how their bodies appear.
“You look good. Have you lost weight?”
“You’re not fat! You’re curvy!”
“I feel so FAT today!”
“Ha! That mean girl from high school got fat!”
All of the above are examples of micro-aggressions, subtle put downs that seem harmless at first, but upon closer inspection show a very clear reflection of the status of fat people in modern society.
Let’s snap back to the bus ride. Maybe I AM in the Cowboy’s personal space. Why is it that I immediately feel guilty? I am trying to put him down? I am TRYING to invade his personal space because, hey, cowboys are used to cozying up to people? Does society view cowboys as flawed in some way? Is there a systemic, historical pattern of discrimination against bus cowboys? No?
Well, then don’t blame my ass.
Fat whore. Slutty cow. Fat-ass scag. Skanky hambeast. Flabby cum dumpster. Hoochie heifer.
These pejoratives slide right off the tongue as if coated with bacon-flavored lube.
Every seasoned heckler and troll has an entire pocket dimension dedicated to these and similar slurs for use in the Comments Section of any given website. I am disappointed that such creative and nimble phraseology is so casually tossed about like so many croutons. The relationship between slut shaming and fat shaming is something much weightier; these slurs are just the top layer of a promiscuous, full-fat word lasagna.
Even if you are a kind, thoughtful, progressive person, you’ve heard these jabs. I’ve heard filth like this come out of the mouths of people I’ve actually considered friends at different points in my life. I’ve heard similar terms in movies and on TV. I’ve heard radio personalities speak in this way even more; the additional layer of anonymity lubes loose lips (see bacon reference above). No wonder this language is even more prevalent on the internet; the Troll Cloak of Parent’s Basement conceals all. I try to stay out of the dark corners and instead bask in the warm, nurturing light of sites like Pinterest. Did you know 80% of its users are female? Did you know that 20% of women internet-users in the U.S. use Pinterest? I’m safe there.
Except for the fact that when I searched Tumblr, Google, and Pinterest using the terms “fat slut” and “fat whore”, the site that produced most results was *AHEM*…
Notice how the majority of these images depict women disparaging one another. The kyriarchy of sizeism and sexism is not a concept perpetuated solely by men. It’s perpetuated by the acts and words of large portions of the population, by the media, by consumerism, and the ever-present just-world fallacy that people reap what they sow. Don’t want to be called a whore? Stop whoring around. Why are you surprised that people want to objectify you? You wear, like, zero clothes and obviously want all of the sex. In fact, there is no more sex because you took it all. Oh, and you fatty over there being all fat? You know people are going to call you fat because you did it to yourself! If you want people to stop calling you a manatee, then maybe you should put down the cheeseburger and go for a walk. Why should we change our behaviors when you are the ones making the poor decisions?
The above line of logic may be slightly exaggerated, but I think the message comes through. We are targets because we made decisions that lead us down the road to ridicule. The idea that there is something so wrong with our behaviors or even our very selves that justifies poor treatment and rejection is indicative of a larger societal problem, being that it’s okay to bully as long as the victim does something outside of society’s narrow definition of “rightness”.
When I point this problem out, some people meet me with knee-jerk reactionary statements like “I’m not like that! I’m just being funny. Can’t you take a joke?”
No. Sorry. I can’t take a joke like that. It devalues my body, which I love. It devalues my womanhood, by telling me that I can’t dress or act a certain way without opening myself to ridicule and intimidation. My body, and what I do with it, is not an area of concern for other people. My decisions are mine, and my body is mine, and I WILL defend those things in the same way I would defend my reproductive rights, or health decisions. The above image macros are filled with hate speech designed to devalue and demoralize people into conforming to unhealthy, unreasonable societal standards. It’s the language of the privileged, people who’ve never been shamed for being fat or judged as less than for how they dress. It’s language that has become common parlance casually slung for comedic effect.
The Fat Word was created in hopes of reclaiming these slurs, to take away power from those who would seek to deride us or make light of the indignities we’ve suffered in the name of cosmic justice. Go ahead. Call me a fat hoe, but you better be prepared because I am the phattest fat hoe to ever hoe someone’s row, and I am proud. My skankles, my rules.
Normally, I don’t pay much attention to a pop-entertainment, pseudo-news site like Buzzfeed. This gem, however, has been popping up on my Facebook feed left and right over the last few days, with a title too irritating to resist:
I’m already slightly annoyed by the fact that Buzzfeed quizzes exist almost solely for data mining purposes. However, at first glance this quiz seemed like it might actually be a good thing; showing people that they have privilege goes a long way to promote overall social justice. The quiz itself is essentially a checklist that sounds like the most depressing game of “I’ve Never” that’s ever been played:
So what happened when I checked my privilege?
“Points of privilege”? Sorry, Buzzfeed, but that is not how privilege works. Privilege isn’t a score card where you tally up all of the social injustices that have been done onto you so you can compare with others. Privilege is context-based, and having privilege in one domain does not nullify discrimination you’ve experienced elsewhere. For example, I have white privilege, cisgender privilege, first-world privilege, but I do not have male privilege, thin privilege, or Christian privilege. My privilege (or lack thereof) in one domain exists separately from any privilege I have in another domain. All of the benefits I’ve experienced from being a white person haven’t been neutralized by the shitty things that I’ve gone through for being a woman, or being fat.
What’s more troubling is how this quiz promotes the comparison of different people’s “advantages”. Quantifying privilege cheapens it, makes it seem like a much less serious issue than it is. It does not promote thoughtful discussion, and in fact it actually serves to put people at odds. Rather than looking at each kind of privilege on its own, at a level that can actually impact social change, it puts people into two categories: privileged or not privileged. The latter get to play “Ain’t it Awful” with their equally unprivileged comrades, while the former can either shrug the information off, or worse, become indignant and perhaps even resentful. How much harder, then, will it be to reach those people, and show them what privilege actually means?