Friday, June 28, 2013

Off Topic Post: a culture of misogyny and violence against women

This isn't completely off topic since it's a response to the vast support I've gotten when Fit for Fertility on facebook illegally used a photo of me exercising for selling crappy weight loss products on her page, implying that I was a beginner at exercise and that I was some kind of inspirational "before" picture. After everything happened she came onto my page to accuse me of bullying when every comment I saw on her page was a polite asking for the photo to be removed, sometimes with links to my blog or my page, calls for her issuing a public apology to me, etc. Everything was positive and encouraging and time and time again she removed the comment and then blocked people simply for daring to speak up on my behalf.

However, all of this positivity has turned dark. After I, Vanilla Rose and Ragen Chastain all wrote about my plight (and I am forever grateful for them doing so as well as flattered and overwhelmed with emotion from the support I've received), at some point, Jamie, the woman in charge of the page who originally stole my photo, reported to me that she's been receiving threats of violence and rape. Now, I'm just going by what she said and have no way to verify this information because she's blocked me from replying to her directly, but I want to talk a little bit about what it's like to be a woman on the wrong end of a public attack.

You're all aware of the tumblr blog, This is Thin privilege, right? In which posts start out "thin privilege is" followed by some bit of fatphobia. Well, Male Privilege Is..... male privilege is being able to be on the bad end of a public attack without having to literally fear for your life or your well being. Jamie actually messaged me to let me know that her home was armed because she was literally that afraid. When a woman receives a threat of violence or a rape threat, she has to take it very seriously since, after all, 1 in 3 women is the victim of a sexual attack- and those are just attacks that are reported (about half). Imagine how high that number would be if we included all of the attacks that go unreported because of fear, embarrassment, or simply no knowing how to handle the situation. The point is that rape is a reality for women as a gender. For women as half the fucking population. Threats of sexual assault are rooted squarely in misogyny and this domination that men have over women.

I know how bad situations like this can get because I've received my own number of threats from trolls on the internet simply for daring to be fat and okay with it and to tell others it's okay too. I've had to be afraid for myself and my family. All of these threats come from men. Don't get me wrong. Men insult and threaten other men all of the time. But, when a man threatens a woman it comes from a different place. From a place of domination and power over women as a whole. This is not okay in any way and I expect it from random trolls and terrible people on the internet, but NOT from other fat activists, NOT from supposedly enlightened individuals who are standing up for the underdog, NOT from my fans, Vanilla's fan's, or Ragen's fans. There's something deeply wrong with a culture that almost fetishizies violence against women and normalizes this kind of behavior.

I'm not a great feminist writer even though I'm a feminist to my core and believe misogyny is responsible for a great deal of fatphobia and sizism (and other problems) in our culture. So excuse me if this post is rambling or doesn't make a lot of sense. I just needed to express my concern and anger for the horrible people who are leaving these kinds of threats in Jamie's folder. This is absolutely wrong on every level and I'm so disappointed that an originally inspiring and supportive movement to get this photo taken down has turned into something so ugly and dark.

3 comments:

  1. Rape (or threat thereof) is NEVER an okay response to anyone's actions. I loathe MeMe Roth and Jillan Michaels with the fiery passion of a thousand deathfat suns, but I would never in this world think it was okay to call for them to be raped.
    You ARE a great feminist writer. As a fellow Rambling Writer, I salute you!

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  2. Thank you for mentioning my post about the situation. I just want to make it clear that I do not in any way condone threats against Jamie or anyone associated with her.

    I am horrified to read this. I have read that a lot of women get threatened by strangers on the internet, and I think it's horrifying and shocking.

    I thought that what Jamie did was not ethical, and I said so. In a blunt but reasonably polite way. (Although there is a scale of unethical. It's not like she was eating babies alive or anything. Also, she probably didn't think that she was being unethical until she was challenged, and then she got defensive. Not that I agree with what she did. But, in a way, I think I can understand it a bit.)

    I don't think any threats came from the people who follow my blog (at the moment, there is only one person who seems to be reading it regularly, and this would horrify him). I don't think it came from anyone in the Facebook groups (about 4 of them) where I mentioned Heather's original post, but it is harder to be sure about that because of the number of people in the groups.

    But I want to say this: not in my name, I don't want people who read my writing, or see what I post in Facebook groups (or on my wall), to behave like this.

    It is absolutely wrong to threaten to rape anyone because you disagree with their opinions. No excuses, no exceptions.

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