Who Gives a Crap?

Reality and PerceptionYesterday I posted about a picture that’s become quite popular on Facebook (over 130,000 likes and over 10,000 shares.) I discussed why I thought it was problematic and gave people the information that they needed to get involved.  There was a good discussion going in the comments and then runbunny  chose to add this to the discourse:

Who gives a crap? It was a dumb photo posted by an arrogant little girl that pissed off some people. How about ignore it? Or, instead of getting on a soap box, laugh at it? Yeah, she’s pretty fit and all, and her question was arrogant, but that’s the culture she’s involved in. Some gyms have that prevailing message. She’s allowed to her viewpoint, as you are to yours. (The moderators are so not gonna post this, but I’ll try anyway.) I looked at the photo, read the comments and thought ‘whatever’. To me there far bigger injustices out there to get mad about than some girl that works out alot and posts macho No Fear-esqe captions. Anyone remember the phrase ‘no pain no gain’? In 5 years or so, she’ll probably be doughy anyway. And like a wise woman once told me, ‘a little weight on a woman never hurt nobody.’

First of all, I’m completely tickled that people think there are mods on this blog.  It’s just me y’all, hence my getting behind in approving comments. I decided to leave the comment up because it provides a perfect example of a couple of the great fallacies in activism, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to address it since, if you’re going to engage in activism, you’ll likely deal with attitudes like this.

First is the idea that the injustice in question isn’t worth addressing because there are “greater injustices.” Following this logic we should only ever work on the greatest injustice, so instead of participating in activism we can all spend our time arguing about what the greatest injustice is, and criticizing other activists for not picking injustices that we would have fought. Then again, maybe this isn’t the best idea.

Second is the idea that if something isn’t important to someone, the appropriate response is to criticize those to whom it is important, convince people that it shouldn’t be important to anyone, and insist that it shouldn’t be addressed at all. Simply put, this is bullshit (not to mention a clear violation of the underpants rule). If someone is concerned about greater injustices, one option would be to stop complaining about the ones that other people choose to address and go ahead and start working on the ones that are, in their estimation, worth addressing.

If someone believe that something I talk about should be ignored, I invite them to ignore it. If they think it should be laughed at, I invite them to laugh. I happen to think it’s worth addressing and I don’t think it’s funny, so I wrote this blog post about it. Even if addressing this had been a waste of time – I’ve already wasted the time. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t take back the time it took to write the post and address whatever someone think is more important. I would hope that people who engage in this behavior are able to suss that out, so I guess maybe they are into wasting even more time by commenting on it? Or maybe this kind of comment makes them feel superior and important – there are people who become critics because it makes them feel powerful in some way.  Or maybe they actually believe that their priorities are what should drive everyone’s activism, and that their reactions to things are the only valid ones, in which case now I am laughing.

Regardless, there are plenty of opportunities for activism and we can each address what is important to us. People are, of course, allowed to make their own choices, but I might suggest spending time criticizing the people, institutions, and societal structures that oppress and stigmatize us, rather that complaining to activists who are addressing oppression and stigma that they didn’t pick the right thing.

The saddest thing to me is that these kinds of comments can serve to discourage activism by making people afraid that engaging in activism means that, in addition to all the stigma and shame they get from society, they will be stigmatized and shamed by people within the movement for their activism being “not important enough” or some such bullshit. So if you’re thinking about becoming an activist or you are an activist already, whatever you are doing is important.  I absolutely commend you, I support you, and I sincerely apologize if you have to deal with bullshit like this.

It’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week and BEDA has put together an awesome week of chats, blog posts, and contests (I’m a meme hunt!).  Check it all out here!

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60 thoughts on “Who Gives a Crap?

  1. It has always irked me when people said stuff like that , an You-tuber I used to watch did this when the news anchor stood up to her bully about calling her fat. I haven’t watched any of his videos since, thank you for putting it so eloquently .

  2. I am in love with your commentary on this recent Facebook “What’s Your Excuse” discussion. Thanks for them! It is exactly this sort of oppressive discourse masked as ‘self help’ ‘inspirational doctrine’ that finds its way into workplace “health and wellness” programs, school physical education curriculum and doctors offices and is then used as a tool to further exclude, insult and target fat people. THANK YOU for your comments… fat rights and activisms aren’t about seeking accommodations it’s about demanding our human rights;)

  3. What a timely post! Dealing with a bunch of people who don’t understand why it’s a big deal that a TV show engages in casual fatshaming and chose to cast a skinny actor in place of a fat character. “Just don’t watch!” they say. “It’s just a joke! It’s just a TV show!”

    Um, no, I love the show and because I love it I’m going to point out the things they do that are unacceptable in hopes that they’ll improve. People cannot fix problems they are not aware of, after all.

    1. One of the reasons I don’t support Olivia Munn’s “budding” movie career is that she often fat-shamed others along with her co-host when she was just a lowly little hostess of a video game series on G4TV. They were constantly commenting “fatties”. I don’t care for her co-host’s career either (although I don’t think it’s gone anywhere).

      It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. Even when fat comics make fun of themselves I feel really uncomfortable and awkward because I feel like they’re giving in to public fat shaming.

  4. I saw your last post, and clicked the link to see the picture in question. Granted, it did make me feel sick, but the woman clearly did not care about the people complaining about it, so I’m choosing to ignore it. I don’t want to waste my time on people who clearly don’t give a shit about me or anyone else who has differing opinions.

    1. Sometimes the response is not for the people “who clearly don’t give a shit about me or anyone else who has differing opinions” but for the people who are hurt by their actions. When no one speaks up when someone spouts such hurtful bigotry it adds to the pain.

      I am a lurker because it takes me so long to come up with a good response. I appreciate people like Ragen who have the talent to respond and take the time to do so.

      1. hear, hear. we all have to choose our own battles, because there are simply too many fronts on which to fight idiocies. i am grateful when somebody else takes up the banner for something like this, where i am not acting (because in his case it’s on facebook, which i am boycotting). i don’t have “better” things to do, really, i have “other” things to do; no value judgment. but somebody should always speak out, because those who are attacked by those attitudes could really use a voice in their corner.

  5. It always confuses me when people leave that sort of comment. “What you’re talking about isn’t important enough to comment on and you should ignore it; so I’m going to comment on the comment on something that should be ignored, because that is important enough not to ignore.” Lolwhut? Run that logic by me again?

  6. I share my opinion with an open heart to hear yours. I never said your thoughts were unwarranted. I said that I wouldn’t have bothered to post on it. And most of the time Regan, your blogs are well thought, well written pieces which to me are thought provoking and insightful. And the subject matter is usually (again, to me.) of higher importance. I would compare it to PETA getting pissed about Obama swatting a fly when they could be drawing attention to, say, the fact that animals are getting tortured in labs on a daily basis. I get that my original comment was full of irony. That and the fact that your blog is usually of higher quality (to me) was the point. That is all.

    1. Soooo, why still is my comment in moderation? You were pretty quick to put my previous one on the chopping block, why not this one? Just curious, because in really weird and fucked up way, I was actually complimenting your writing and viewpoint.

  7. This is somewhat related, but I was driving into school this morning, listening to the radio, and an ad came on that went a lot like this:

    “Did you know 43% of our children are at an unhealthy weight? This is Dr X with X Hospital. Our kids need better diets. They need more exercise. So have them put down that second cookie and give them a jump rope instead and tell them to go outside. Tell them to stop watching TV and go ride a bike. The children are our future…”

    Got so angry nearly ran into a lamp post.

  8. I’ve had somebody tell me that society takes time to change when I have posted some sort of activist thing on Facebook. I should really reply ‘How will society change if I don’t speak up.’

    Being quiet doesn’t make people question their assumptions. I think most people just kind of skip over my (admittedly large amount) reposts of stuff I think is good or should change, but every once in awhile, someone will comment in a way that makes me think maybe I made a small impact.

    I like that, so I keep reposting.

    1. Again, people are so clueless. Yes, it takes time, but it doesn’t magically happen without individuals doing anything to precipitate it. I’ve seen people say things like, “It’s just the way the world is”, or “welcome to the real world” or “there will always be assholes”. I wonder if these individuals think we all woke up one day to find that slavery had been abolished and that women now had the right to vote and pursue a career outside of the home. People just take those rights and freedoms for granted, since when you’re born in a world where it already exists, it’s the norm. It’s like people think it was just basic common sense, “well of course a time would come when we gave personhood status to women! That backward sexist crap made no f-ing sense!” Actually, it made perfect sense to a lot of people at the time it was on the go, because that’s how power and oppression and socialization works.
      A lot of these people also seem to think when it comes to fighting oppression, we’re done. Compared to the past, and compared to other countries, our society does quite well when it comes to equality. There’s truth to this, but it doesn’t mean we should settle where we are because hey, things could be a lot worse. Hundreds of years from now our descendants will be thinking a lot of the stuff we believe in now, and the prejudices and discriminations that currently exist in full force, are batshit insane. And I struggle to understand how people make it to adulthood without grasping this.

      1. My friend does something similar to me. “Why bother? You comment won’t reach the person you’re trying to change.” Yeah, well, my comment will reach people who share my view and remind us that we are not alone. That is enough.

          1. Exactly. It’s like Kris Kristofferson says:

            “And you still can hear me singing
            To the people who don’t listen
            To the things that I am saying,
            Praying someone’s gonna hear.
            And I guess I’ll die explaining
            That the things that they complain about
            Are things they could be changing
            Hoping someone’s gonna care.
            I was born a lonely singer
            And I’m bound to die the same
            But I’ve gotta feed the hunger in my soul
            And if I never hold an nickel
            I won’t ever die ashamed
            ‘Cause I don’t believe that no one wants to know.”

        1. I get that A LOT. I have a friend who is discriminated against quiet frequently…and has the “don’t rock the boat you’re sitting in” mentality. It’s different things …views I guess…that she tells me “why bother people with things you can’t change??” If EVERYONE thought like that women still wouldn’t have the right to vote or own property and blacks would still be segregated or enslaved even. It HAS TO START SOMEWHERE….these are the things I feel need to be started on.

      2. It’s amazing to me how people think they’re being relevant! “this other group of people who I don’t actually know much about, I assume they don’t have OCD, so therefore you shouldn’t”. Wow – how is that logical? “oh you wouldn’t have OCD if you didn’t have enough to eat” – is it just me, or does that point of view imply that dieting could resolve OCD?

        1. LOL Chris, I should totally try that. Next time I have a check up with my psychiatrist: “So I actually decided that instead of this medication and cognitive therapy bullshit, I’m going to severely restrict my diet so I’ll be too hungry to worry about upsetting repetitive thoughts.” I can’t even imagine the look on her face!

    2. back in the old usenet day, we did some back-of-the-envelope calculations that for everyone who commented on an issue, there were at least 10 people reading it and moving on without comment (for a lot of reasons). i would bet that the number has gone way up since so many more people are on the net now.

      people will read what you have to say, and for some of them it will make a difference. maybe not even right away. and they often won’t comment. don’t let that discourage you. because i tend to think that silence connotes assent, so if i really disagree with something i feel i should make my stance known. even if it feels as if nobody is listening — somebody always is.

  9. People are so clueless when it comes to this stuff. One time on youtube I watched a clip from the Ellen Degeneres show in which she interviewed Howie Mandel, and they discussed his OCD a bit. So of course you have a number of people who don’t believe these kinds of mental illnesses even exist commenting on the video. One person started going on about how he doubted OCD even exists in developing countries, because when you always have to worry about having enough to eat, you don’t have time to start obsessing over more trivial things. Which is probably true to an extent, but that doesn’t mean it totally invalidates the disorder (and many mental/psychological disorders exist only in particular countries or cultures, which suggests it’s a combination of biological propensity and the particulars of your culture). I finally told him if he cares so much about people struggling in poorer countries, why doesn’t he go do something to help them instead of bitching about “first world problems” and how they’re basically non-existent, on somewhat frivolous youtube videos no less. I have OCD myself and trust me, it’s not something I cropped up with for lack of better things to do.

      1. Yeah, that must be rough. I don’t really hoard, but I’m a very disorganized, cluttered person. My sister avoids ever going in my room ’cause she can’t handle how I use the floor as a shelf:) That’s fine by me, though. I like having personal (albeit cluttered) space.
        I don’t embody the stereotypical neat freak OCD person at all. My OCD is mostly distressing thoughts that cycle through my head, and when I was really ill, interfered with having any quality of life. Sometimes I joke, “Why couldn’t I get the useful OCD? I need to get organized!” Of course, it’s a total joke, because I know OCD is never useful but very unproductive (and at times, unbearably stressful).

  10. I called out a Huff Post article about a personal trainer losing weight through self-shaming, the author included an interlude about her mother also shaming her for weight gain. When I called out the cultural bias (and how sad it is that shaming yourself “thin” is something we should be proud of) my comment was removed. I have come to realize that by this “not fat” person calling herself fat and gross makes our job even more difficult. Thank you for being a great support and location for us to vent our HAES thoughts!

  11. We could really go round in circles with the comment about comments. The real issue seems to be whether a cause is valid. I like your answer. There really is no point to deciding which cause is more important. What a time waster. And, I have to admit I am close to seeing invalidity with some causes. However, I don’t need to make that the basis of criticizing others. Good lesson in the underpants rule. We make our own priorities for our own reasons.

    1. I agree, and I have been very hurt this week by people demanding I make their issues my priority. I’ve been pushed to the point of feeling like giving up on being social. I’ve gotten so many people hating me formy past behavior when I was mentally ill, and taking advantage of my desire to try and apologize for it as another way to hurt me. I just want to move on. I can’t fix the world for everyone, and the more I’m beaten down for not doing so, I just want to hide so I won’t burden anyone again.

      1. I am very sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through, Violet. Having mental illness myself I know that it can be unspeakably overwhelming, and it can prevent you from being who you used to be, and some people will blame you for that. Stay strong if you can. If others see you as a burden, that is their problem, not yours. Taking care of yourself has to be your first priority at a time like this. I hope you also have people in your life who appreciate you for who you are, and how you are. We all deserve people like that in our lives, and they are out there, even though they can be hard to find sometimes.

      2. I know what you mean. My mental illness was not properly diagnosed until I was nearly 40. Had it been diagnosed earlier, my life would probably have been managed a lot better. But it wasn’t, so I was only able to start where I was able to start. It doesn’t help when people wring their hands and do the “oh, if only you had started acting “normal” when you were younger, you wouldn’t be so deep in debt,” etc. Argh!

        1. Acting normal? What is that even supposed to mean? People say the strangest things… Sometimes I feel like the so-called well adjusted people are the ones who should be getting psychiatric help.
          Funny thing is, when my OCD was at its worst, I was able to act quite normal. I went to school, got most of my school work done, did well in all my courses, spent time with my friends, got out for walks, did a lot of the things I used to do before I got ill. My family and friends knew what was going on because I was fairly open with them, but to anyone who didn’t know me there was no indication that anything was wrong. And yet my inner world was absolute hell. I was always either anxious or felt empty, I was exhausted, nothing had any meaning, nothing gave me any enjoyment, I hated myself and thought I didn’t deserve to live, I was constantly scared that I was going to really hurt somebody, like physically, and these fears weren’t actually based in anything rational, but I couldn’t get rid of them. Nothing in my life felt “normal” whatsoever, it was all just going though the motions.
          But I don’t want to end this on a negative note. It’s been a long while now since that was my life, sometimes it feels like a vague memory from another world. I am a stronger, more empathetic person now because of my experience, and I’m slowly but steadily moving forward.

  12. After having looked at her page my inclination is to ignore it, not because it’s not awful in many ways, but because her rhetoric makes it VERY clear that she thinks she’s in the right and nothing anyone says is going to change that. I just don’t have the mental energy to waste on people who are THAT dense. But many kudos to those of you who did speak up.

    1. You may not change HER mind, but commenting pictures like these may change other people’s minds, who see it. And I am sure it will help some people who are shamed and hurt by such memes.

      1. Hmm, that’s a fair point. I guess I’ve just lot a lot of faith in Facebook as a medium, in particular. It’s all too use to ban, block or simply delete the comments of those who disagree with you. It’s not about open discourage, it’s about self-promotion.

        Part of it is, admittedly, mental health to. There are some days where I’m up to the task and happy to fight the haters with all I got. But some days… some days it’s enough that I got out of bed, you know?

        You’re right, though. It plays to one of my favorite quotes, “When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do.” – William Blake

        1. I agree. We have to pick our battles. I’m not going to go onto the Weight Watchers page and try to convince people to stop the weight loss obsession or go to the Stormfront website and try to convince people to stop being racists. It’s too much of an uphill battle. I try to find places where my message is more likely to reach a few people who might at least stop and think about what I’ve postulated rather than simply having a knee-jerk response which will result in personal attacks on me.

  13. This week I posted about a store that shared in their social networks the phrase “The limit to wear animal print is that you´re not fatter that the animal in question” (http://bit.ly/1bFOCRG). I got so mad after reading that the I left a comment on their FB page, but they deleted it, so I wrote a post about it. I got A LOT of “who gives a crap?” messages, but my response was that I give a crap, and that´s why I took the time and wrote about it. If they think there are better causes to engage, by all means, they should go ahead. Each of us do what we feel we should, and fighting about it is anything but constructive.

    1. What the fresh hell? I would say that the limit to being able to get on the Internet should be having an IQ higher than one’s shoe size so there wouldn’t be idiot comments like that one!

      1. Having a low IQ or being an “idiot” does not necessarily cause someone to lack compassion or express bigotry. There are plenty of extremely intelligent people who are bigots, and there are plenty of developmentally disabled people who are extremely kind and unprejudiced.

  14. I love it. I don’t have to deal with heaps of crap, but it does come up when you start questioning the status-quo. The status-quo don’t wanna be threatened. I’ve been feeling better about myself the more I see images online that don’t make me feel like I don’t fit in. The more I see people like me. I don’t need someone else’s body to aspire to be like. I only need to be comfy in mine.

    1. ……The status-quo don’t wanna be threatened, so the first response is always to trivialise your objection. Forgot to write the second part of that sentence just then.

    2. “I’ve been feeling better about myself the more I see images online that don’t make me feel like I don’t fit in. The more I see people like me. I don’t need someone else’s body to aspire to be like. I only need to be comfy in mine.”

      Well said!

  15. “The saddest thing to me is that these kinds of comments can serve to discourage activism by making people afraid that engaging in activism means that, in addition to all the stigma and shame they get from society, they will be stigmatized and shamed by people within the movement for their activism being “not important enough” or some such bullshit.”

    This week really has made me have to face my fears about being the target of people who if not demand, emotionally blackmail people who don’t pay attention to whatever they feel is the greatest injustice. I was horribly cyberbullied on Tumblr where in some spaces it’s like the Battle Royale of which injustice matters most. I was made to feel so horrible about myself for not making my blog about their issues, I became once again super depressed to the point of fitting the archetypical stereotype. You know, listening to Marilyn Manson ect.

    Then recently I was called a racist here. This triggered me causing me to go full WTF on any site that would listen including this one. I was afraid I’d be doxed again, that my picture would be posted on the net again. And where is my tin-foil hat, so the aliens don’t…well you get the picture, major paranoia.

    I now have a complete new respect for the underpants rule. I think people who want to hold someone to past mistakes aren’t a good thing for social justice. Having been a grudge holder myself, I know the damage it does.

    I think above all people should respect when someone says they have a mental disability or illness. I have depression and Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m pretty sure some of the people heard that, and took advantage of confusing me as to the right thing to do socially. Telling someone with a disability that makes social communication difficult “You have no friends!” or “You’ll always be rejected and alone.” is especially hurtful and cruel. I’ve had people pull this on me before, and I just can’t understand it. I cry for nights a week because I may have upset someone online, and these people seem to not feel a thing about telling someone with difficulties at being social, they’ll forever be alone.

    I have cried a lot this week, but I’ve also learned to set my boundaries better, and I hope the fat acceptance movement in general has learned to stand up for themselves a bit more. Change doesn’t come by appeasing those who use their higher acceptance by society, to put down people who don’t. I want everyone to be able to work together. I want fat people to not feel afraid of acknowledging the extent of the prejudice they experience.

    It should not have to take people being murdered for their oppression to have meaning. People should not be saying your oppression only counts after enough of you die.

  16. The wonderful thing about the Fat Acceptance/Liberation movement is that now there are more of us than there used to be. Thus we can all comment and care about what is most important to us. There is no need for someone to set strict priorities. I assume that people who care about a particular article or post will comment and address it. Similarly, I will comment on posts I consider particularly fat-shaming or discriminatory or helpful. The more of us who comment on anti-fat posts, whatever and wherever they may be, the better off fat people everywhere will be.

    I don’t see why rules have to be made about which fat shaming posts or articles or graphics are most or more important. And frankly, I don’t see that any people should think they have the right to do so.

  17. Reminds me of all the cases when someone pointed out blatant sexism or stupid boy-girl-stereotypes. You will certainly get comments like these when talking about feminist issues. “Why do you complain about sexist ads when people in Afrika are starving?” (When asked what they do against hunger, they almost certainly do absolutely nothing…)
    Very similar to these kinds of comments, I think, are the ones telling me: “You are just too uptight and have no sense of humor! This isn’t sexist (rascist, fat-shaming,….), you just can’t take a joke!” I think it was Jackson Katz who said something very true about this: “Rape-jokes are not jokes. Women-hating jokes are not jokes. These people tell you what they think. If you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours.” Same could be said about jokes on fat people, rascist jokes,…
    And what if someone tells me that the particular problem I am adressing is not important enough? Isn’t s/he telling me that my thoughts and feelings can be ignored, that I am not worthy? Especially regarding the fact that s/he will do almost certainly absolutely nothing to adress the problems that s/he calls more important… To me, these “but people are starving!”-comments are just lame excuses to do nothing and help keeping things as they are. If someone wants to do that, fine, there’s no obligation to engage in something. But if you chose to do nothing please keep your mouth shut… (if only closed minds came with closed mouths)
    Thanks Regan for pointing out these things! Will help me a lot with future arguments 🙂

    1. the admonishment that i “need to lighten up” and “get a sense of humour” always makes me laugh in people’s face now. i have a perfectly intact sense of humour; i find a whole host of things amusing, and i laugh a lot. it just doesn’t get indiscriminately entertained by cruelty at other people’s expense. i’ve worked hard to become conscious of the many ways in which a misplaced sense of humour can be disparaging of other people. if your (generic you) humour can only function when it puts others down, that is a character flaw. deal with that; don’t worry about my quota of laughter; i’m getting plenty.

  18. Frankly, the day I came across Maria Kang’s picture in my Facebook newsfeed, I thought, “Well, that’s pretty shitty, but I’ve got other stuff to worry about today.” I didn’t write a blog post about it, I didn’t even leave a comment. Basically, I decided to not give a crap, as runbunny would probably phrase it. Instead, I headed off to a day of medical school classes, followed by a volunteer shift at a local free clinic my school operates. Because the primary things to which I have chosen to dedicate my time, money, and energy, are medicine and providing healthcare to the underserved. Being only one person, I cannot fight for all the social justice causes at once, and that’s what I’ve picked out to give the most craps about.

    But, upon reading Ragen’s post about the picture, and discovering that she gave way more of a crap than I did about this particular issue, the only thing I felt was profound gratitude. Because I can fight all I want to make sure everyone has equal access to healthcare, but if that healthcare’s rampant with fat discrimination, it’s going to be of limited value, so thank god someone was willing and able to give a crap about that picture’s horrible message that day. I am just as grateful that other people chose to give a crap that day about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ablism, classism, poverty, unfair labor practices, human trafficking, child abuse, climate change, etc., etc., etc. The fact that other people chose to care primarily about these causes takes absolutely nothing away from “my” cause; quite the contrary. Dedication to changing society for the better is not some sort of finite resource we need to fight over (I’ve heard this type of thinking described as the “Social Justice Pie Fallacy”). Someone giving a crap about a social justice issue, ANY social justice issue, is never, ever a bad thing.

    1. We all have to do what we can do to make the world a better place. Your way is good!
      Hopefully future doctors like you and my son will help other medical professionals see that fat shaming does no good to people of any size.
      My son has said that one of the best pieces of advice he ever got was in his EMT class:
      I completely agree.

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