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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