Sunday, October 21st, 2012
I did something that I don’t usually do the other day: got drawn into commenting actual real opinions contrary to the mob opinion on something that came up in my Facebook feed.
There are a few reasons why I don’t usually do this: obviously to start with I’ve self-selected my friends to a large extent and so I don’t tend to have a lot of things come up on my feed that aren’t somewhat related to my personal politics/jokes. Of course fat activism is a big (ha! No one’s made that pun before!) step beyond most people’s garden variety “real women have curves!” sort of malarkey that tends to pass for body acceptance in a lot of circles, so that’s not something I generally see, but I don’t get a lot of “straight marriage is the only real marriage!” sort of updates, for example.
Anyway, the actual thing to made me so eye-twitchy was a picture of a woman that a friend of mine had snapped on his phone and posted referring to her as a “bogan” (Australian version of a hick/hillbilly). The photo was taken from behind so you can’t see her face, but she was an average size blond white woman who was wearing a tracksuit and ugg boots (with one leg badly half tucked into the boot). Quite a few people had liked and commented shaming remarks.
My comment shaded into a bit of a rant along the paraphrased lines of: How do you know she hasn’t been with her sick baby in the nearby hospital and this is the first time she’s been out for three days? How do you know she’s not sick herself and had to choose between using her energy to shower and dress well or to go to the shops for food? How do you know she doesn’t work three jobs and hasn’t had time to do laundry? Or is it just that she’s committed the ultimate crime of daring to be female and in public without making herself suitably fuckable?” (Did I say a bit of a rant?) Anyway my friend tried to make a few jokes but I simply stated that I wasn’t trying to have a go at him personally but given how much public ridicule and shame are heaped on marginalised groups like women and poor people and people of colour that perhaps as a gay man he might understand how that would feel and he could be a better ally.
I believe in everything that I said but I have to admit I was a little bit scared. The last time I got into a FB argument all of my friend’s friends piled on and tried to shut me down (that one turned into an argument over whether you could diagnose health by looking at people and the cognitive bias was pretty painful). Also defending personal politics is always more vulnerable and emotion-inducing than trying to be an ally towards other groups. I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to call out racism or homophobia when I hear it but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know what some of my acquaintances really think when it comes to feminism or fat acceptance.
Anyway I was angsting over this little incident when I logged onto Facebook today, and found that my friend had taken down the picture. So: win! I had a feeling that I might be able to get my point across with this friend and obviously I did. I feel so much better.
I know that when people have called me out on saying stupid shit (unfortunately I did not spring from the womb a fully formed social justice advocate) I have felt embarrassed and sometimes defensive, but those conversations have often helped me pivot my world view. One of my goals for this year is to be more politically vocal and so I feel like I’m making a good start.
How about you guys? Do you call people out or walk away? When was the last time something like this has happened to you?
Monday, October 4th, 2010
Being new to the FA movement I’ve come to realize that I have not reached what I thought would be a peaceful conclusion. I thought that I had finally reached the summit of what was the climb of my life only to see that this mountain is only the first of a whole chain of them stretching out to the horizon. I’ve just begun this journey. What I used to accept as the truth (I am fat because I: am lazy, lacking in will, gluttonous, etc) there by being like other women who are pinching, proding themselves whilst talking about the endless hunger of dieting, a famine of the mind, as long as I bought into that I would be accepted even as I was the flotsam of failed attempts washed up on the shore of constant striving.
But now that I have awakened to see the illogical fallacies around me, as I struggle to truly be free, I am coming to other questions and wonder if they are part of “my process”. For example, an old friend of mine facebooked me and out of the blue proceeds to tell me she is a health coach who has herself lost 45 pounds and, “15 to go yay me!’ and wants me to help promote her new job to my friends.
Now, how do I handle this? Do I simply ignore the note? If I do that then what is my role in the FA movement and what does it mean if I stand silent? Do I simply work on myself to the exclusion of interfacing with greater society about the conclusions I have reached? Do I send her a note in response and if so how can I tell her that I think the very thing she is so excited about is a lie? And it is not only her, what do I do with the nameless masses around me who make countless statements and opinions where hate is tossed in as easily as one requests a coffee? Do I attempt to insert my FA mind set? And if so, will I lose friends or even hurt them in the process? If I tell them what I believe will their opinion of me change?
Over the last few months I have mentioned to a couple of friends about my transformation and the responses I got were guarded skepticism at best, polite disagreement or just changing the subject altogether. Not once was the response, “How interesting please tell me more.” And while I can quote and fling reams of data which support my choice it is met with crossed arms, slight head shakes and stiffening jaw lines.
Its with some saddness that the joy and relief I feel at getting off the rollar coaster and loving myself as I am is truly lonley here in my real world, away from the comfort of like minds on the internet. I truly wish my friends and family would join me here but instead of getting warm hands to pull up into my new world view I find resistance, disagreement, disgust even.
Ever see that move, What Dreams May Come? In that movie, the husband played by Robin Williams goes to heaven while his wife goes to hell but in this movie hell is a place of one’s own making, built out of one’s illusions and negative thoughts. The husband makes it his mission to try to convince his wife to change her point of view in order to save her. I guess this analogy is like the FA movement. We have come to a place where we find some measure of peace but it is often a lonley meadow. We watch our loved ones continue to hate themselves or others or keep trying to use a tool like dieting that always fails in the end. How can we bring these people lost within false illusions to the place where they may find acceptance and understanding? Is it our job to even try?
Sigh… I do not know the answer hence the mountain range I must continue to navigate… endless challenges for ourselves and for our fundamental beliefs as to our responsibility to others. So I place this question in your hands: what would you do and what are you doing, if anything, to advocate for the FA movement to intimate friends and family. The unawakened ones?