It was late Thursday night and I was getting ready to post the blog I had written earlier that day about a truly offensive article. It had been a rough day. I had been dealing with two troll attacks – one on this blog which I’m used to and just makes me want to work harder. The other attack was on the More Cabaret blog, on Tiffany Kell’s beautiful and moving piece about her father’s death and I found it was really emotionally difficult for me to deal with the fact that there are people who would be so absolutely cruel and heartless as to troll that piece.
Then I started getting negative feedback from people, including some inside the SA/HAES community, for writing about Abercrombie and Fitch’s deeply bigoted marketing and hiring policies. I was told that I shouldn’t have talked about it and given them “free advertising” that I should have ignored it. I’ve heard that argument, and disagreed with it, before – but it was harder on that day with everything else that was going on.
So there I was, getting ready to discuss another negative article and I realized that I was opening myself up to the same criticism – that I should just have ignored it and not given her any traffic etc. I’ve been accused of ignoring criticism. That’s not the case – while I sometimes ignore my critics, the criticism itself can keep me up at night. So I caved to my fear of the criticism. I deleted the “Activism Opportunity” paragraph that contained links to give feedback, I deleted the author’s name from the piece leaving only the title of the article that I was criticizing and I posted the piece without the links.
As is often the case, my readers knew better than I. Ngaire Wadman found and posted the links to the article, the Happy Fan Girl posted the Yelp link for the author’s health consulting practice, Cattie posted her Google Site, Crystal Williams posted the Facebook page and readers went to work. Now the awful piece has been taken down and the owner of the site as well as the author of the offensive piece have made apologies on the site’s facebook page, and I’m wishing I had been brave enough to include the links in the first place.
I respect people’s right to choose to ignore things like this for whatever their reasons, it is a completely legitimate choice. It’s also completely legitimate to make choices based on a desire to avoid being criticized. It’s just not the choice that I wish I had made in this instance.
So I screwed up, certainly not the first time, certainly not the last. Here is what I learned from this one:
- Rather than avoiding talking about things because it might bring the subject “traffic” or “free advertising” I’ll just try to get better at presenting my case to communicate more clearly the option to not to participate in fat bigotry and maybe even choose to speak out against it.
- Nobody has the right to tell anyone else how to deal with the stigma, bullying, and oppression that they face ever, the underpants rule absolutely applies here.
- Comments that attempt to devalue someone else’s activism for not being important enough, or not ignoring an issue or whatever – however well-meaning or intentioned – will be moderated out of this blog from here on. I just don’t believe it’s a good use of this space.
- I don’t believe that bigotry will just go away if we ignore it, or that giving someone “internet traffic” or “free advertising” is such a threat that I should let their behavior continued unquestioned and unchallenged.
- I believe that risk is the currency of revolution, including the risk of being criticized. I want revolution, so I will try my best to never allow the fear of being criticized lead me to stay silent about things that are important to me.
I feel especially bad that I didn’t just trust my readers to take the links and run with them – I’m truly sorry about that. The readers on this blog have moved mountains and done what many said was impossible with their activism, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that they dispatched with this in short order. Thanks for doing what I did not find the courage to do, I’ll try to be as brave as you all next time.
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