Beautifully simple piece by xkcd. So many people do not understand the concept of free speech. Sometimes, you don’t get to march into a space and say whatever you like.
This is very important in fat activism community, regardless of the form it takes. The rules may vary from space to space, but the owner of the space gets to decide what is hosted in that space, and what is not. There is a whole internet out there for people to say what they like, they can create their own space or go to spaces that are open to their opinion.
But as a general rule, in fat activist spaces, steer clear, unless explicitly stated that it is ok, from the following topics:
- intentional weight loss/weight loss proselytising
- moralising food (look for descriptors like good, bad, sinful, junk, healthy, clean, wholesome, naughty etc)
- suggesting health is mandatory or anyone’s business but a person themselves.
- “the last acceptable prejudice” (it’s not)
- suggestions of “real women are/have…”
- the “O” words – obese, overweight.
- twee euphemisms for fat like curvy/big/chubby/voluptuous etc. If the host refers to themselves as fat, you should too. (unless describing yourself, it is understandable that not everyone is comfortable with referring to themselves as fat.)
- justifying your body/food choices/physical activity
- suggesting the author should “just ignore them” or questioning their perception. Trust people to know how they feel and how they read a situation.
- Confusing YOUR experiences for those had by the author.
That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with someone. I think a lot of people don’t know how to disagree with people without being a jerk about it. If you’re in someone else’s space, remember your “I/Me/My” statements. Don’t march in and say “You’re wrong/full of shit/you suck.” because then you’re being an asshole. It doesn’t hurt to say “I disagree because I feel/believe…” or “It has been my experience that…” Or you can go and disagree in YOUR space, where you can say whatever you damn well like.
Generally it’s just a good idea when you’re on someone else’s website/blog/social media page to remember that you’re on their turf. That’s their house online. I don’t go marching onto your turf and start lecturing you, I’m as sure as shit not going to take anyone coming in to mine to do that. If I go to your space online, I am going to follow your rules. If I don’t like them, then I will make the decision to leave and not come back. I’m not going to hang around and be an arsehole.
It’s important to remember that while you are entitled to your opinion, you’re not entitled to that opinion with out responsibility and repercussions for your behaviour.