This isn’t strictly a Jewish issue, but it does affect Jews, as I’ll explain in a bit. For starters, though, here’s the scoop from the inimitable Angry Black Woman:
Let’s start at the beginning. A few days ago the post went up on the Something Awful forums, a site dedicated to making fun of shit. Rachel Moss, the post’s author, has some serious issues surrounding fatness, her own self-image, and understanding the difference between snark and being a total asscrab. I’m going to quote extensively here for reasons I will explain afterward, but I’m putting it under a cut for your pleasure:
[WisCon] is like any other sci-fi con, except that well over half of the attendees are female, about a third of the panels are political, there is no gaming, and absolutely everybody is a huge bitch.
Thinking Ahead: Feminists thinking about possible near and middle futures and feminist responses to them
Moondancer – A white woman who is Native American because she wears a cowboy hat and has wolves all over her shirt. And because she calls herself Moondancer. [glad you can make that scientific determination there, Rachel! --abw]
Feminism is making progress, because Moondancer’s son is a little pussy who gets beaten up by his sister and takes it. [I'm going to give you a moment to decide if the words "a little pussy" are Rachel's or Moondancer's. --abw]
The Joy of Fat Sex
I noticed immediately as I entered the room a lot of labored breathing.
Fat is Not the Enemy
Fat activism is, in my opinion, one of the stupidest types of almost entirely online-only activism there is. I’m sitting at a computer, and I’m super fat (well, not me actually), and I can’t get a date, so therefore I AM OPPRESSED. [note how she was quick to add: I'M CERTAINLY NOT FAT, this will be important later --abw]
But I can’t tell them that [their heroes are full of shit]…because they’ll eat me.
Fighting the Good Fight with Limited Resources
Cynthia: A polyamorous woman in a group marriage with [the fake disease] fibromyalgia [I am so glad to know that you're here to tell us who is white, who is not, and also which diseases are real. You must be some sort of psychic doctor, Rachel! --abw]
Nabil: Seen earlier in that fat joy facillitator picture as “the skinny one.” “He” is a non-op transgendered person…a person who looks like a woman, talks like a woman, likes men, but says that I AM A MALE AND YOU WILL REFER TO ME AS SUCH. It’d be easier if he/she just drew on a beard or something. Geez. Try harder.
Marna: Another fat activist. BLEGH.
I only excerpted a portion of it; go to ABW’s site to read the rest.
Why is this so pernicious? Why not just ignore her? Stupid bigoted fucks will always exist; is there really any point to calling out their bullshit?
Yes. Notice the recurring theme in all of Moss’s jabs: Moondancer isn’t a real Native American; fat people aren’t actually oppressed; fibromyalgia is fake; Nabil doesn’t get to call himself a man. None of these people, it would seem, are authentic. Her problem with them isn’t that they’re not “normal” (at least, she’s not willing to come out and say it); her problem is that they dare to define themselves instead of accepting the dominant culture’s definition of them. If you look white, you must be white. If you’re fat, you must be lazy and self-absorbed. If you’re not coughing, you must not be sick, and if you look like one gender, you must adhere to that label. If you say otherwise, then by God, you must be lying!
And this is precisely how oppression works: by denying that oppressed people are oppressed, so that you can go on oppressing them with a clean conscience. You can play this game with anyone. Reading ABW’s entry, it was all too easy for me to imagine a Jewish counterpart: “Next up was a rich Jewish girl who sat there saying that calling rich Jews rich is somehow oppressing them! She had some blah-blah rationalization but like I was going to waste my time listening to that.” (Full disclosure – I am not rich, except by global standards.) That’s why it’s important to dissect this type of behavior when it happens. It could potentially affect any of us.
More importantly, though, we need to dissect it because even though there will always be fucks, Moss shouldn’t have the pleasure of getting away with this. Real people are getting tangibly hurt in the aftermath. (Again, see ABW’s post.)
Furthermore, shit like this is exactly how prejudiced memes get started. Let’s go back to her description of fat activists:
Fat activism is, in my opinion, one of the stupidest types of almost entirely online-only activism there is. I’m sitting at a computer, and I’m super fat (well, not me actually), and I can’t get a date, so therefore I AM OPPRESSED.
Now, all you sensible people out there can see the holes in this statement. Fat people can get dates just fine. Fat activism isn’t limited to the internet. And there are real, actual ways in which fat people are really, actually oppressed. How many times have my friends told me about being called “fat bitch” as they walked down the street? How many actresses and models are there who are bigger than a size zero? What’d the media do to Britney Spears when she lost her washboard abs? Why is it that skinny women get higher salaries than large women? And didn’t we hear something a while back about Mississippi banning fat people from restaurants? (Both links via Feministe.)
Except there are a lot of people who will read Moss’s bizarre screed and, having no knowledge of the shit fat people actually put up with, think to themselves, “Wow, is that what fat activism is? Boy, what bullshit!” Because, see, we have this tendency, when we hear someone make a declaration, to assume that they didn’t just pull it out of thin air. It takes a lot of street smarts to recognize a lie. If you have the ability to immediately sense that someone’s full of shit, chances are you learned it over time. A lot of people aren’t that savvy.
And then they go and repeat those memes, because those memes must be true because, well, someone said it!
And once those memes get out of control, you find yourself potentially banned from restaurants or shot and posthumously derided or loaded into a cattle car or, oh, I don’t know, pick any atrocity – they all come from the same militant ignorance.
And yes, Rachel Moss is only a tiny part of that ignorance, and no, not all instances of bigotry result in physical harm. But that doesn’t mean we have to let it pass.
Filed under: general bigotry | 3 Comments »