courage

All posts in the courage category

More on That Louie Scene

Published May 25, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

I had intended to run this post a few days ago, but the working week got the better of me (the crescendo of the financial year is always so intense), and I’m a little bit later than planned.  But it’s still important and I know some of you want to expand the discussion more from the previous post – thank you for your patience and keeping in topic!

So last post I was talking about the scene from Louie with the rather amazing Sarah Barker giving a stellar performance as a fat girl on a date.  My last post was a response to the criticisms of her statement that it sucks to be a fat woman were not a win for fat activism.  If you still haven’t seen the scene, or need a refresher, you can check it out here.

It’s important to note that I do have issues with Louis CK and his TV show.  But I’m not talking about those here.

Today I want to respond to some of the fatosphere criticisms of the scene with regards to dating and relationships.

The major criticisms that I have seen that bother me are:

  • She is begging for attention/to have her hand held.
  • That plenty of hot men want to date fat women, why did she go out with one that was reluctant to date her/be seen with her.
  • Men don’t want to date her because she is whiny and annoying, not because she’s fat.
  • It portrays single fat women as “pathetic” or desperate.
  • She’s “settling” when she says she doesn’t want a boyfriend or a husband.
  • Why doesn’t she just join a BBW dating site?

I find these criticisms extremely problematic.

The first thing that I have a problem with is the way that many perceive her as begging/whining/annoying.  I think that reaction actually reflects the point she makes to Louis about the double standard between when men and women talk about how hard it is to date while being fat – how he can get up on stage and joke about being single and a fat guy and people think it’s adorable, but if she tries to talk about how hard it is for her, people call the suicide hotline.  To me, suggesting she is begging/whining is deeply misogynistic.  She’s being very clear about what bothers her about the way she is treated, and she’s also calling Louis out for behaving in a way that she finds really disappointing.  She expected better of him.  But because she is a woman, it is instantly read as whining/begging.  However if a man were to outline when someone’s behaviour bothered him, he’d be considered assertive and honest.

The next point that bothers me is the suggestion that there are “plenty of hot men who want to date fat women” and “why doesn’t she just join a BBW dating site?”  I think that this reaction to the scene also demonstrates exactly what she is talking about.  She asks Louis if he has ever dated a fat girl, and quickly pulls him up when he starts to say yes and says “I didn’t ask if you’ve fucked a fat girl, every guy has done that.”  She’s calling out the constant fetishisation and objectification of fat women.  Those “plenty of hot men who want to date fat women” on BBW sites are in the majority not looking to date a fat woman – they’re fetishizing/objectifying us.  Hands up if you’ve ever been involved with a man who is all too happy to sleep with you in private, but won’t take you out for dinner, or hold your hand in public, or introduce you to his friends?  She quite rightly says that if she had offered Louis sex, he’d have taken it up straight away… what if that’s not what you want from a partner?  There is nothing, NOTHING wrong with wanting to have a romantic relationship with someone, and to want them to put some effort into that relationship.  She’s right, any woman who is willing can get laid.  But it is exceptionally difficult to find men who are willing to date fat women in the same way that they would a thin woman.

Another criticism I find difficult to accept are those asking why she is bothering with Louis if he doesn’t get it (settling).  That’s the judgement we all have to make on all of our interpersonal relationships with people who don’t quite get fat activism.  We don’t live in a bubble of fat positivity, we live in the real world and it means making decisions about whether people are worth having in your life.  Do you take up the challenge of educating them, getting them to see how their behaviour is problematic, or do you just move on.  Sure, pick your battles, some people really aren’t worth your time.  But some people are.  Some people, while initially not getting it, are more than willing to listen and work through it.  That’s what you have to decide.  I’ve not that long ago dated a guy who kept putting his foot in it, not quite understanding what bothered me, but he was willing to listen, and asked me how to get it right.  Sure, it gets frustrating at times, but I never felt that it was “settling” for me to continue to see him.  One of the greatest moments with someone who “doesn’t get it” is that moment that the penny drops and they DO get it.  I love that moment!  Some of the most important people in my life today were really defensive at first, but I thought they were worth keeping around, and now they’re my staunchest allies.

But the one that really sticks in my craw is the suggestion that this portrays a fat woman as “pathetic”.  Why?  Why is it pathetic for a fat woman to call a man out for a crappy attitude/behaviour and state clearly what she wants?  Why is it pathetic for a fat woman to say that she wants a man who will be proud to be with her and put some effort into dating her?  It’s interesting that whenever a man shows vulnerability or wants a romantic relationship, it’s sweet and romantic, but if a fat woman does the same, it’s “pathetic” and “needy”?

Interestingly, those within fat activism that have been the most vocal in suggesting that this portrays fat women as pathetic are those who have the privilege of being in a relationship of whatever form themselves.  It makes me really side eye them as supposed allies… do they really think those of us who are single and are interested in dating a man who is proud to be seen with us and puts some effort into us as “pathetic”?

I want all of you to know there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable.  There is nothing wrong with speaking about what you want and expect from relationships.  There is nothing pathetic about wanting to be in a relationship.

Personally, I found this entire scene empowering, because it articulates a lot of things that I feel and represents situations I have been in myself.  That’s what I want to see in television – realistic portrayals of the lives of fat women.  I don’t just want to see us lampooned or turning ourselves into cariacatures (a la Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids).  I want to see realistic fat women in realistic situations. Awkward conversations, guys being jerks and then getting called out on it, fat women who are angry, disappointed, exasperated, and fed up, people who don’t quite get it but are willing to try, and sometimes getting that wrong too.

I want to see all representations of fat women, not just those that tick all the Fat Activism 101 boxes.

Advertisements

Dear You, Volume 3

Published March 11, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Dear You,

Yes, you.  I know you’re reading all of this fat positive stuff, all this self esteem stuff and the general concept seems really wise and kind.  It makes sense to you on the surface, after all, generally speaking, that’s how you approach the world right?  You see everyone has value and is important in the world, and you don’t care about the size or shape of people in the world around you.  What matters is their mind, their heart.  How they treat people and how they behave right?

The problem is, I think you’re struggling with feeling that way about yourself.  You feel the need to be perfect, to be beautiful, to be confident and awesome and amazing right?  But you just don’t feel that way.  You’re feeling things like scared, lonely, unworthy, stupid, ugly, not good enough.  You just can’t seem to get those old recordings in your head to stop playing, all the times that you’ve screwed up, or someone has told you you’re not good enough, or that they think you’re ugly, stupid, worthless.  No matter how much you “get” self esteem on paper, you just can’t seem to grow your own.

Am I right?

Let me tell you a little secret.  All those confident people you see around you that you admire but think you could never be like them?  You are already like them.  Not only because you are taking that step out into the great world of self acceptance and positive self esteem (which is awesome!) but because they feel just the same way as you do.    They feel scared, they feel like screw ups, they feel like imposters, they feel ugly, stupid, not good enough.  The difference is, they know that those feelings are normal to have, and that they’re not always accurate depictions of themselves.  They acknowledge those feelings first, and then they examine why they are feeling them.  They realise they’re usually because of stress, because of carrying around other people’s behaviour and attitudes, because of tiredness, because of worry.  Sometimes they’re chemical – lots of us suffer depression and anxiety.

There are lots of things that you can do to help work through these feelings of inadequacy.  Surround yourself with positive people who value you for who you are in your heart and mind.  Engage in self care – be it a good night’s sleep, a swim or some yoga, a night out with friends, or a long hot bath.  Whatever it is that makes you feel good.  Fill your life with the things that inflate you, not those that crush you down.  Throw away those magazines.  Stop watching TV shows and movies that engage in fat hate or criticism of women over their appearance.  Don’t give media that engages in bullying your time and attention.  There are plenty of other fantastic things out there you can read, watch and do that build you up, rather than tear you down.

But most of all, you need to know this: You don’t need to be perfect.  Or beautiful.  Or pretty.  Or even confident.  You are valuable right now, as you are, with all your flaws and imperfections.  Because we ALL have flaws and imperfections.  Every single one of us.  Perfection isn’t compulsory, nor is it possible.

Start to see yourself as other people see you.  When they tell you they love you, for whatever reason they love you, there is your evidence of your value. Turn off those old recordings from the past.  They are just that – the past.  They no longer matter.  What matters is who you are here and now.  Learn from and fix those mistakes as best you can, and value who you are now.  It’s never too late – whether you are 16 or 96.

Something starts to happen when you do this.  It takes a long time, but you start to see those qualities in yourself.  You may not recognise it when it starts to happen, but you will feel it.  You’ll feel brighter and lighter.  You start to see yourself as the amazing human being that you are.

And you are an amazing human being.  I can see it already.

Lots of Love

Kath

Breaking Down Fat Stigma: Criticism of Fat as Identity

Published October 5, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

“Why the obsession with fatness?”

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been asked that question.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been labelled obsessed, sensitive, angry, paranoid, fixated, hung-up, pissed… you name it.  It seems that if one wears ones fatness as their identity, and/or speaks up on the injustice of our society’s treatment of fat people, then one must be “obsessed with fatness”.  We’re told to “get over it”.  To stop talking about it, nobody wants to hear about this stuff.  Stop identifying as fat and then people won’t treat you so badly.  People use euphamisms to try to soften the sound of their criticisms of fat activists.  They say things like “You must be proud of being large, if you call yourself THAT” (rarely will they use the word Fat, even though I use it as my screen name).  As though there is something shameful about being proud of who you are, and your body, if you are a, well… large person.

I loathe being called large, big, hefty, fluffy, chunky.  These are weasel words that are designed to shame the word FAT.

We’re not allowed to have fat as part of our identity, yet at every turn, we are reminded that we are fat.  Every day, we see and hear hundreds of negative messages about weight in the world around us, from the news story about the “obesity epidemic”, magazine covers about some celebrity’s latest weight loss or gain, advertising for weight loss products or diet foods, to public service announcements about living a “healthy lifestyle” which always imply that healthy = thin.  Then if those messages aren’t enough, fat people are told they can’t have clothes as nice as everyone else (lest we be “promoting obesity”), must pay for two seats on many airlines, shouldn’t take up too much space on public transport, should cover our bodies to hide our fatness and are not allowed health care unless it is focused on our weight.  When we go to the doctor, no matter what it is for, most of us are told to lose weight, or asked what we are “doing about our weight”, or lectured on the perils of obesity.  Then on top of that, we are shamed and bullied by the arseholes of the public.  We are yelled at, photographed, body-checked, have things thrown at us, are lectured by our families, friends and workmates, are spat at, are called fat bitches/cunts/fucks, are filmed without our consent by news crews to use as headless fatties on stories about how we are the scourge of the nation, fat children are bullied at school and singled out by the schools as being “unhealthy”, we are called liars if we say we eat healthy, and are called gluttonous/pigs/greedy if we eat anything that is deemed “unhealthy”.  If we don’t exercise, we’re told we’re lazy and deserve to die, if we do, we’re bullied while we go about it.  If we want to have children, we’re told we are too fat and it would be cruel to inflict us on our own offspring, and now it seems if we wish to not have children, we’re told we’re too fat to have an abortion or birth control.  And over and over again we hear messages about how we, as representatives of “the obesity epidemic”, should be eradicated, cured, prevented, fixed, solved, removed.

All of that comes at us every day of our lives, over and over and over and yet we’re not to own our own fatness as part of our identity?  We’re not allowed to identify as fat?

The thing is, we ARE fat.  There is no escaping that fact for us.  But we have a choice, we can buy into the cultural norm of the fatty claiming mea culpa, and never referring to themselves as what they actually are, never using the word fat, except in a whisper or to beat ourselves up, always speaking in euphemisms – large, chubby, big, hefty, plus-sized, thick.  Or, we can claim our fatness as it is – OUR fatness.  Our bodies, our lives, our experiences, our needs, our perspectives.

When someone says “Why are you so obsessed with fatness?” answer them “Because that is who I am and owning my identity isn’t obsession.”

When someone says “You sound like you’re proud to be fat.” answer them “Yes I am.  I’m proud to be a fab fat person who doesn’t let your fat hating culture rule my life.”

Fat hatred is not OUR culture, it is the culture we’re opting out of.  We don’t identify with it any more.  Our identity is fat positive.

No Doing – Just Being

Published June 18, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Sorry it’s been quiet on the blog front my lovelies, I’ve been sideswiped with a cold that went down into a chest infection this past week and a bit.  Damn bug raged through the office a couple of weeks ago and I assumed I was spared the infection… but it got me after all.  Thankfully I’m starting to see some improvement at last, hopefully this means I can get all the ideas that have been burbling around my head this past week or so (I’ve read so much, no energy to do anything else while coughing until I saw stars) together and start some discussions here.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the haters and trolls and general disbelievers we fat activists get.  Mostly spurred on by a concerted attack on one young woman on Tumblr that I could see was deeply upsetting her, simply because a group of people think they have the right to bully and belittle someone simply because she is fat and doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard of attractiveness.

I get my fair share of trolls, haters and general disbelievers and troublemakers, both here and on my other social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Formspring etc).  Once upon a time they used to bother me, but nowadays, I mostly pity them.  Or find them funny.   Mostly because they have this inflated sense of their power over me by thinking that by posting something hateful on my Tumblr, or trolling this blog, they can shut me up and chase me off the internet.  It’s pretty hilarious that someone would see such importance in themselves.

Of course, it has the opposite effect to the one they intended – it makes me more argumentative, more obnoxious and a whole lot more outspoken.

It’s very timely then that Ragen over at Dances with Fat would write her recent post “The Trouble with Proving It“.  Ragen highlights that every time some narrow-mind bellows “Prove it!” at her, and she does, over and over and over, they are still disbelieving of her reality.  No matter how much evidence she shares, it’s never going to be enough for these people.

I’m often called to do the same thing (for different reasons) and I have seen many other fat activists attempting to prove their own existence and realities over and over and over again.

Reading Ragen’s post reminded me of something very important.  I am not doing this fat activism to “convert” other people, to answer the haters criticism or to shout down the trolls.  Those things are not important.  I, and all other fat activists, and fat people and fat allies have no need to DO anything.  We are in debt to no-one.

What we need is to simply BE.

Simply being ourselves is a radical act in this fat-phobic culture we have found ourselves in.  Being alive, being happy, being active, being confident, being self-loving, being outspoken, being fashionable, being talented, being funny, being awesome… no matter what you as a fat person are being, simply being you is AMAZING.

For those of us who choose to spend time online sharing our lives, our thoughts, our opinions, our fashion, our images, the important part of that is being visible, being audible, being tangible.  In a world where fat people are silenced, discredited and openly loathed, being visible as a happy, confident fat person is a powerful message to send out into the world.

As I said to Ragen on her post, if it hadn’t been for my stumbling into the fatosphere, I probably wouldn’t be here today.  The people who took up fat activism before me and went public with it, being all the amazing things they are, really rescued me in a dark time of self-loathing and shame.  Just by being visible, they showed me that there was an alternative for me, that I didn’t have to spend my life buying into the fat-phobic lies that our culture perpetuates.  They showed me that I can be happy, have fun, live my life to the full and most importantly, that I, and all other human beings, have value and deserve respect.

That’s why I’m here, and why I do what I do.  I want to give that back to the world.  I want to show other people who are in the dark, frightening place that I once was, that it doesn’t have to be that way.  And that they too are awesome, radical beings, without DOING anything.  To simply live ones life happy and full is the most radical act you can possibly engage in.

And best of all… it really pisses the haters off.

“That’s the best revenge of all: happiness.  Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.” 

Chuck Palahniuk

Dear You, Volume 2.

Published May 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Dear You,

Hello again.  It’s a little while since I wrote to you last, isn’t it?  I was just thinking about you.  Yes, you!  And you.  You too, over there in the corner.  I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

I want you to know something.  You’re ok, you are.  Oh I know, you’re not perfect and sometimes you feel fraudulent, like you’re only pretending to be ok, but the truth is, imperfection and “faking it” are ok too.

I want you to know, you don’t have to feel invincible all the time to be ok.  You don’t have to be permanently fabulous to make a difference to the world.  Nor do you have to be completely loving of yourself, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be ok.  It’s ok to feel afraid, to have doubts, to be a little less than your shiny self from time to time.  It happens to all of us, and that’s ok.  The key thing is to acknowledge it, feel it and allow it to pass.  Or if you need it, it’s totally ok to ask for help.  You don’t have to change the world all on your own.

Also, don’t feel you have to perform all the time either.  There will be times where you just need to step back and BE without worrying about what you have to DO.  Anyone who expects you to be perfectly “on” all the time doesn’t really care about you – they’re caring more about themselves and their own expectations than your needs or feelings.

The thing is, self love is about so much more than just declaring “I am awesome!” and believing it.  You are awesome.  But you are also human, and part of caring for yourself is acknowledging that all humans are flawed, and cutting yourself some slack.  Forgiving yourself.  You will make mistakes, and you will be flawed, but that’s fine.  We are all flawed, we all make mistakes.  What matters is how you work through those mistakes and flaws.  The most perfect thing you can do is acknowledge them and learn from them.  But most importantly, be responsible for your mistakes.  That’s the thing that will make a difference.

Because really, it’s all about doing the best you can within whatever circumstances you’ve got in your life at any given time.  So what if someone else is able to do more, give more, be more.  That’s them, in their lives.  You have yourself, in your life, so that’s what you’ve got to work with.

But there is something I REALLY want you to know.  You are a perfectly acceptable human being right now, this minute.  You are just as valid as any other human being, without changing a single thing about yourself.  That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to want to grow, evolve or improve yourself, or you can’t do better sometimes, it just means right now this instant, you are worthy of your own self love.  Even if it is hard to love yourself sometimes (and boy, is it!), or you’re struggling with some really difficult stuff in your life, you still deserve it.

So dearest you, be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and give the best version of you that you can give, but know that even in the tough times, you are still valid, worthy and deserving of your own self love.

I love you.

Kath

Not Quite Superwoman

Published January 30, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

So I was watching Glee yesterday.  Yeah yeah, I know, lots of you hate Glee.  I’ve heard it, I’ve watched the show, and made my own choices.  If you hate Glee, and can’t bear someone else talking about something that was spurred by an episode, you can skip this post.

But I want to use a moment I saw in the show to illustrate something.

So, I was watching Glee yesterday.  It was the episode where the boys are using mental images of Coach Beiste (played by the wonderful Dot Jones) to, ahem… cool their mood, when things are getting heated while making out.  Mr Schuester finds out about it, and tells the guys off for being jerks, because it’s a really hateful thing to do.  He actually says something to the boys about “How do you think Coach Beiste would feel if she found out.”  Shortly after she actually confronts Mr Schue and asks what is going on, and rather stupidly I thought, he tells her.  He tries to be sensitive about it, but he tells her this horrible thing the boys have been doing.

When she is visibly upset, he tells her to “Not take it personally, they’re just being kids.” to which she responds quietly and tearfully “I do take it personally Will.  I take it very, very personally.” and leaves.  It soon transpires that she is quitting her job at the school because of this.

Will confronts her as she is packing and she tells him “I know I can be a little intimidating at times, but deep down inside, where no-one can see, I’m just a girl.  Am I nuts that I just want to be reminded of that sometimes?”

I can tell you, I was in floods of tears at that moment.  Absolute floods.  Because I can totally identify with it.

As a proud fat activist, it’s often assumed that being ballsy enough to call out fat hatred, to speak up when others aren’t able to, and to live one’s life large despite the fat hatred that is just rampant in our culture, means that we’re strong and confident and impervious to the bullshit that gets flung our way.  As an extroverted woman, who has made a conscious decision not to buy into the cultural ideal that women should confirm to a certain look, that we should be meek and dainty and not do anything to make ourselves look different to the “norm”, it’s assumed that I am able to just ignore the hatred that comes my way for being different (and I know I’m not the only woman who feels this way).

Those of us who step out of the stream, who rock the boat, who accept ourselves for who we are in the face of vitriol, bullying and shaming, are assumed to be these confident warrior women, who can just shrug off all the negativity that is hurled our way.  And boy do we get it hurled our way.  Usually because people just assume we can “handle it”

Friends, family, online followers and all kinds of people in our lives say “But you’re so confident!  You’re so ballsy!  You take no shit!”  This may be absolutely true, but that doesn’t mean that we are made of steel.  It doesn’t mean that nothing hurts us, that we are unfeeling to pain, hurt, shame, sorrow or any other negative emotion.

I can tell you that pretty much every time I have ever tried to express hurt, or shame, or sorrow and so on, the person I’ve been trying to express it to says something like “But you’re so confident!  You don’t listen to that shit!” or “You’re a strong woman Kath, why would you let that get to you?”

The answer is, for the same reasons that anyone else does.  Because sometimes, the things people say and do are hurtful.  Because we are human beings.  And because like every other human being, we just want love, and kindness, and care, and respect.

To have that negated by the “But you’re so confident!” response can actually make the hurt cut twice as deep.  It’s almost like we’re not allowed to express pain, that we have to keep “being strong”.

The truth is, like anyone else, even the most confident, extroverted, outgoing person has feelings.

I’ve really experienced it this past week.  Yeah, I shaved all my hair off and got a big fat positive tattoo.  Pretty out there things to do.  But that has needed some processing on my part.  I look in the mirror and I look different.  People react to me differently.  Yes, I chose to do this because, well firstly to raise some money, but secondly to challenge people’s attitudes about a woman’s appearance.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t need to carefully process the changes myself, and that I don’t feel when people are hurtful about it.  However, when I did need a little bit of processing time, and then fell over a bit emotionally, triggered by another event, it was  a great shock to people in my life, and several of them were quite incredulous that I should need my self esteem boosted a bit to give me a push, or that I should need a bit of tenderness when I am hurt.

No matter who the person is;  be it your extroverted, confident friend, a rad fatty that you admire on the interwebs, or anyone else who you think is strong, confident, extroverted, awesome… remember that they are still a person.  That sometimes that extroversion and confidence is the face they give to the world to protect the soft stuff underneath.  That they sometimes need some tenderness shown to them, a moment of acknowledgement of their feelings, or some time to process what they’ve just done when it comes to an act of defiance.  Unlike Superwoman, they’re not made of steel.

Just like Coach Beiste said in Glee…

“I know I can be a little intimidating at times, but deep down inside, where no-one can see, I’m just a girl.  Am I nuts that I just want to be reminded of that sometimes?”

 

Keeping it Positive if it Kills Me!

Published November 20, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

It’s been a bit of a rough week for me.  A stressful time at work with two huge projects about to hit their critical points, coupled with the most debilitating allergies (don’t let anyone tell you that allergies don’t have a high impact on your quality of life – they’ve never experienced them fully if they think so) have left my tolerance levels very low.  Where I would often ignore someone’s ignorant behaviour/attitude, I’ve just had no tolerance for that kind of shit this past week or so.

It all culminated in me making some decisions on how I use tools like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, which blogs I read and follow, and what kind of approach I want to have for the world at large last night.

I vowed this blog would be positive this month, so I’m going to put a positive spin on this past shitty week and talk about some of the awesome people who’ve stood up to the ignorant, the insensitive, the bigoted, the narrow-minded and the downright rude over the past couple of weeks.  I want to celebrate those who with their passion, eloquence, strength of character and articulate writing make a difference to the world we live in.

There has been some drama within the Fatosphere/Fat Acceptance world over the past couple of weeks with one blogger (whom I won’t name, y’all have encountered it) who has made some folks uncomfortable, and instead of listening when people tried to respectfully point out how they were making others uncomfortable, they did one of their now famous rant “teardown” posts, which then grew into a big mess on Tumblr.  I personally have been the subject of one of these teardown posts and it still smarts to this day that instead of talking to me directly, I was torn to shreds publicly.  Oh the author apologised, and I accepted that apology, but it doesn’t mean that it was right to do it in the first place.

Anyway, there were three writers who really amazed me with their responses to the anger and arguments coming at them and others.  The first I saw was from Simone Lovelace, who with grace and a whole lot more dignity that I had to offer, laid out the points of her argument over and over with such clarity that I can’t tell you how impressed I was.  I am without doubt that so many who would read along would learn so much from Simone’s writing and hopefully take it away to think over a bit before continuing on.  I know I have.

The next one that knocked my socks off was the fabulous Jessica of Tangled Up in Lace.  Her response to a very angry post on Tumblr was nothing short of fucking brilliant.  For me, I nearly fell off my chair with this quote:

But seriously my fingers are too fat to play the tiny violin for you….

Not only does Jessica have the ability to make an amazing argument, and express herself beautifully, but she’s such an entertaining read as well.  Her sense of humour and creativity in her writing is the stuff that will have you spraying your Reese’s Puffs all over your computer screen with laughter and general cheering .  Or is that just me?  Go read her stuff, plus she’s all glamorous too, so you get even more value from her work.

However, the writer who really knocked my socks off in the whole brouhaha was Elizabeth of Spilt Milk, who posted a response on her Tumblr (read it here, I can’t leave this one un-linked) that touched on so many points that are so deeply important to me, and did so in a manner that was nothing short of brilliant, that I shed a few tears and needed a few days to process my own feelings around the topic before I talked about here.  To my mind, Elizabeth is one of the best writers in the Fatosphere and indeed beyond.  I am constantly learning from her and expanding my own thoughts thanks to her writing.

What all three of these women did so beautifully, that I’ve struggled with a bit over the past couple of weeks, is stood up and spoke up when someone was behaving in a way that bothered them.  To be honest, the circumstances behind it don’t really matter, it was the fact that they did so, and did so in an eloquent and articulate manner.

I realised over the past few days that I censor myself a lot of the time.  Particularly when I’m outside of my immediate circle of supportive friends and the fabulous Fatosphere.  For example I have a Twitter account that I use for work purposes (mostly library stuff and librarians) that I found myself tolerating some really ignorant behaviour, until this week, when I wasn’t feeling well, and I decided to challenge someone who has troubled me with their ignorance about health/weight before.  Of course, this guy had gone unchallenged before, so he really didn’t like me pointing out that something he posted and his assessment of weight loss being “simple really” was highly patronising.  The hostility he responded with opened up quite a shit storm.

Then of course, it being White Ribbon Day this coming week, and there being extra campaign activity in the media, the indignant choruses of “But men suffer violence too!!” have started up.  As a survivor of domestic abuse, this is a topic very close to my heart and one that I have spoken out about before.  So I found it particularly offensive that some of the people around me STILL don’t get it, and that I have to take up that message again.

And finally, the short lived Privilege Denying Dude (which has been closed down on Tumblr and pretty much taken over by privilege denying dudes on the meme generator – how meta!*) started out as a fantastic way to express just what the marginalised folk of the world are up against (and it’s ridiculous) but is now a neat little lesson in just how far those who wish to keep us marginalised will go to shut us up.  I believe there are threats of law suits against the creator/s of the meme who paid for and credited the image they used for the meme.  Yup, not even a silly internet meme is safe from the kind of person who thinks that nobody should speak out against the privilege denying dude!  I say keep making and sharing and reblogging the meme.

But what with all of the above things happening over the past week or so, I’ve seen a whole host of:

“You’re being too sensitive!”
“If you block or remove people who oppose your views, you’re just surrounding yourself with sycophants!”
“Feminists have no sense of humour.”
“Don’t be so paranoid!”
“You’re just censoring my freedom of speech.”

And my “favourite” of the week:

“Methinks somebody needs to take their meds.” (way to stigmatise mental illness and undermine other people’s realities hmm?)

What I want to get at with this post, the positive message I want you to take away, is that you don’t have to shut up and suffer through ignorance.  You are not censoring anyone, you’re not humourless, you’re not surrounding yourself with sycophants if you choose who you engage with, you are not too sensitive, and nobody ever has the right to question your fucking sanity or suggest anyone needs to be medicated.

These are all just tactics to shut us up when we speak up about ignorant attitudes and behaviour.  They’re passive-aggressive manoeuvres to put us on the back foot, to make us feel we have to explain why we are speaking up about their ignorance.

Keep speaking up.  Don’t let them undermine you by telling you that you’re too sensitive/paranoid/humourless.  Disengage whenever you need to, and cut them right out of your life if you want to and can.  Why should any of us waste our lives with people who treat us and others as though they are less than them?  Every minute you spend on someone who is disrespectful and wilfully ignorant, is one that you’re not able to spend with the wonderful people out there.  Every minute that I waste on trying to convince some patronising jerk on Twitter that he’s being ignorant is a minute that I could be spending talking to one of my awesome friends or reading the fantastic writing of people like those I have mentioned above.

Keep standing up.  Keep speaking out.  Disengage from those who would shut you up for calling out their ignorance and bigotry.

And in the words of Dr Seuss:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

*I just found out that Privilege Denying Dude was shut down on Tumblr, but has sprung up again on Blogger.  Linky linky!