Civil rights change always happens against the vehement objects of those who cling to the old beliefs, typically for whatever it buys for them – privilege, a false sense of superiority reinforced by social contract, fear of change, there are plenty of reasons. In fat civil rights that brings us fairly quickly to haters, a group of people who are so upset that there are fat people who won’t hate ourselves and spend our lives dieting and professing our inferiority, that they dedicate significant amounts of their own lives to obsessing about us and everything that we do.
In fat rights activism for the foreseeable future there will be sad people who spend their time spewing hate and bigotry trying desperately to feel ok about themselves by putting others down (and, based on the ridiculously overwrought death threats I receive, playing a lot of Call of Duty.) Each of us gets to deal with this in whatever way works for us.
For me, I think that while I can create safe, hater-free spaces, I can’t eradicate them. So one of the options I choose is using them. This post was inspired by this e-mail exchange that happened over the last few days:
A friend of mine linked to your blog on FB. I want to respectfully challenge your premise. I just don’t think there’s a bunch of fat discrimination and hate out there that it’s worth having a movement to fight.
I e-mailed back, sending her this blog about oppression and for hate I sent her to a couple reddit fat hate groups as well as several specific threads about me, and my hatemail page. Today I got this e-mail back:
Thanks for answering my e-mail. I agree with some of the examples of oppression but I would need to do more research on others which, honestly, I’m not going to take the time to do right now. I can see what you’re saying though. I checked out those forums and I have to tell you I’m seriously horrified. Obviously these are some messed up people and I see your point that this level of hate couldn’t exist if discrimination or stigma against big people didn’t exist in society. Anyway, I made a donation through your hatemail page and I followed your blog. I doubt I’ll agree with everything you have to say but I’m willing to listen.
My haters yammer on and I spend a lot of time laughing at their antics, but I definitely find ways to use them to my advantage. When people can’t see the fatphobia that’s all around them, these groups help put it into extremely sharp relief and help people see why the work I and other fat activists do is necessary And it’s not just me, there are a number of fat activists and fat activism projects that have received boosts in fundraising, media, and visibility when they used their haters wisely.
So again, you shouldn’t have to deal with haters, and if you do then you get to choose how to deal with them. Using them wisely is just one option, whatever option you choose is completely valid.
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11 thoughts on “Using Haters Wisely”
Reblogged this on Garden of Words and commented:
A clever way to repurpose hate speech into something helpful to your cause. It reminds me of the Repent Now letters I used to post on my old site about paganism.
The response you received back from this person made me smile. It’s nice to know there are reasonable people out there willing to listen to an opposing viewpoint.
Brilliant idea to make your haters work for you. Love it!
And that’s how you turn lemons into lemonade in activism!
I would love to see some of their reactions to this blog post.
Wonder of wonders – someone with an open mind!!! YAY!!!!
That was a pretty good response, all things considered. I bet the submitter will spend the next two weeks internalising your words…and seeing fat discrimination everywhere because once your eyes have been opened, you cannot close them again.
Reminds me of the joke, Even a broken clock is right twice a day. The obvious hate is easy to use. It’s the insidious stuff that will be harder for the average person to see. But it is very heartening to see someone’s mindset being altered when new information is presented to them. Not everyone is a lost cause.
Yay, glad you posted about this! I wrote about haters on my blog this week, too… must be some new theme. For some reason, haters seem to stray across both of our lives sometimes. Who knew?
A while back, a friend posted a link to a web comic where the one character is told by another that, while he knows sexual harrassment exists, he doesn’t see it, and therefore, doesn’t think it’s as widespread as she claimed it to be. My comment about that applies to this situation as well. Anyone who doesn’t think it’s out there in anything more than just small splinter groups, is either not getting out much, or is choosing to not see it.
Just because we don’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’ve never seen New York City, other than depictions of it on television and in movies, but I take it on good authority that it’s right where everyone tells me it is.
I’ve actually been to New York, so I’m fairly sure it’s there… but I do wish I could stop taking people’s word for it that there really is a Paris and a Barcelona. ; p
Of course, the other way that people don’t see is that they don’t define things they have witnessed as harassment or violence because they’re used to seeing/hearing it. It’s normal to hear a group of men catcall a woman in the street, so that’s just boys being boys, not sexual harassment. It isn’t sexual violence until it’s ‘legitimate rape’, is it? It isn’t domestic violence until he actually beats her to a bloody pulp. After all, anyone can get frustrated and throw a single punch, and what did she do to make him do it?
And if fat people would just stop being fat, nobody would bother them. It’s for their own good, you know.
Hey, I wanted to apologize for the duplicate link-backs. Technical problems. I’m glad to have found your blog.