Friday, December 25, 2015

Fat Activism, Empowerment, Overreacting & Blocking.

Tonight, I had an unfortunate exchange that hit on several annoyances that really set an activist movement back.

So, perhaps it wasn't as dramatic as the last sentence implied, but I do think there are real lessons to take from what happened.

So what happened?

I'll get to that, but I first want to discuss a group I've been getting to know a lot better in the last year: the fat acceptance movement.

I first heard of this group on Penn & Teller's Bullshit! series on Showtime. The movement seeks acceptance of fat people in society instead of discriminating against them or applying tired, old stereotypes. 

On Twitter, I started following and occasionally conversing with several people involved in the fight against fat stigmatization.

I think it's important for fat people(myself included) to start asserting ourselves and feel empowered to demand to be treated as the human beings we are.

Having said that, a movement such as this can be damaged by those who are abundantly defensive, but don't engage in discussion.

This brings me to this evening.

Let me preface this by saying I firmly believe I use Twitter correctly; meaning that I use tweets to further engage people in a particular discussion.  I do this by responding to tweets and quote retweeting certain things.

I follow many dietitians, so I'll quote RT a tweet about some food pseudoscience or some provocative study and tag specific Twitter handles to get their thoughts.

That's what Twitter is made for.

Earlier, famed astronomer and science educator, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted the following:

That's a typical NDT tweet, where he takes popular lore and applies some scientific reasoning to it.  I felt there was a good prompt for discussion amongst the fat acceptance movement, because a common refrain from smaller people is to just eat less sweets and you'll be thinner.

It's not that easy, by the way, and contrary to popular belief, fat people aren't constantly eating sweets. This was the exact type of exchange I was hoping my quote retweet would bring about.

The response to my quote RT was much less enthusiastic than I had hoped...

Not entirely clear how I was forcing her to  read a tweet, but ok, I won't send her anymore tweets like that, but I did feel it was necessary to explain myself, given her reaction.

Fair enough, but...

I will defend that statement.  No, I don't assume her only concern in life is fat acceptance or body positivity. I would, however, assume someone with a Twitter handle of FatBodyPolitics has - at the very least- a passive interest in FatBodyPolitics...

She would later go on to accuse me of changing who she is as a person, but that's confusing, since her handle is a subject and not her name. If she so strongly identifies with FatBodyPolitics, then why refuse to engage in a tweet that touches upon that subject?

I'll post the next several exchanges without comment...

Admittedly, the bit where I said I was responding to her handle and not her as a person was poorly worded and allowed her to twist that comment into an accusation of being treated as an inanimate object.

Clearly, I was referring to the name of her handle and not at all attempting to dehumanize her. This should be evident in the example I give of BadAstronomer. 

If my Twitter handle is MufflersAndManifolds, then I can't get too pissed if someone sends me muffler and/or manifold related tweets... Sure, there is much more to MufflersAndManifolds than exhaust alone, but the handle represents more than just the person.

In the scheme of things, this exchange has little bearing on the outcome of the fat acceptance movement, but it's a sign of things to come if people of a movement aren't happy warriors for that movement. You must engage to be heard.

Also, blocking is the Twitter equivalent of a nuclear bomb or erasing someone from the history books.  Nothing is ever resolved by blocking someone, which is why I very rarely block.

Another major annoyance is people who like her overreacting replies and comment only based on her skewed side of the story.

This was a friendly quote RT; not intending to hurt, belittle or troll. Her response was beyond disproportionate.

If you in any measure pretend to care about a particular movement, then you have to engage with people or your super on-the-nose Twitter handle is pointless.

And for fuck's sake, don't block someone unless it's absolutely necessary.

As for the 3 women I tagged in that original quote RT; I genuinely like you.  I don't follow people to harass them.  While I'm a little hurt and bewildered by how this turned out tonight, I still like you all and the parts you play in the movement.

Had I not been blocked, this post wouldn't have been necessary.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I promise I won't block you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Put your comment here, kind sir/madame. Try to cite sources when stating facts and refrain from off topic comments or hateful/nasty rhetoric.