This is your place to talk about the funny, sad, outrageous things that are happening in your life -- whenever you're ready.
So, I just called MeMe Roth a cunt. After an interview. On the BBC. And she definitely heard it. That happened. And I'm sure she wants it to go on record, so I'm gonna just do her a solid and make it easier by sharing it here.
This morning, I headed to the public radio studio to do a last minute "debate" for the BBC. I knew that this discussion with an anti-fat activist was most certainly designed to be a shitshow, but I agreed because talking about body hate as a global issue is...well, my job now.
I read a little about MeMe, and watched her on a few videos arguing the unoriginal "obesity crisis" stuff we hear every day. Nothing new, but frustrating just the same. She's also compared enjoying food to being raped and liking it. Yes. That happened too.
Frustration aside, I decided to go into this assuming that she was a decent, though misguided human being and expected the best. I acknowledged the impressiveness of creating a "movement" from home and also her physical beauty. She's definitely gorgeous, I can appreciate that. She couldn't possibly be the brute Jezebel made her out to be (here and here), right? Wrong.
The debate itself wasn't horrible, just the normal back and forth of "It's more complicated than a body type" and "FAT IS UNHEALTHY." But toward the end it became eye-rollingly irritating. It was the verbal sympathy and the purposefully patronizing "I don't know how old you are, but you sound young but I hope you're okay in 10 years, I sincerely do" that perfectly encapsulated everything that is wrong with the National Action Against Obesity's mission: Fat vilification obnoxiously veiled by concern.
It baffles me when people who campaign against fat (yes, there is more than one) truly believe that it's not harmful to act publicly horrified about our current "crisis." In fact, they think it helps. (To that, I say this.)
Here's the thing: when you make fat bodies out to be the problem, you're vilifying them, plain and simple. You're allowing the public to mock, shame, and discriminate against large bodies because you are personally giving permission to make it their moral duty. When you vilify fat bodies you are telling a large (har) group of people that their body is inherently wrong which destroys self-esteem and causes all kinds of systemic social issues. When you vilify fat bodies, YOU are the catalyst for low self-esteem, the triggering of mental illness, people feeling unlovable, poor relationships due to perceived unworthiness, eating disorders, and sometimes suicide. Yes, body shaming does all of those things.
Disguising it as "prevention" gets me too. Campaigning against obesity and stealing ice cream toppings from people at the YMCA isn’t prevention, it’s condemnation and is grossly missing the point. If you want to read more about what the actual solutions are, I suggest reading 6 Things I Understand About the Fat Movement. It's long, but worth it. Spoiler: it includes destigmatizing mental illness, making education more available, and ridding our neighborhoods of food deserts. No wonder people take the easy way out by pointing at fat bodies; those solutions are hard.
Now though I wasn't intending MeMe to hear my comment (though I would have gladly told her if she asked me or I thought it would do any good) her reaction brought up a great chance for conversation. My comment was directed to the woman running the studio. As she walked in after the show, I asked if she had been listening to the program, and when she nodded, I said "JESUS, WHAT A CUNT!"
As I asked her to take the above picture wearing the headphones, I heard the conversation still going in the background. "Did you hear what she called me? That woman called me a CUNT! I want that reported! And she calls herself a feminist!"
It's kind of hilarious in a sitcom way; such an amateur move (good job, Self) but I love that the last line got me thinking. What was she reading as anti-feminist in this situation? I came up with two ideas.
1.) The verbal name calling of another woman.
I LOVE talking about this subject, because it's one of the boundaries that I've set for myself that I believe most firmly in and cover here: "Why I Don't Feel the Need to be Everyone's Best Friend." Many people argue that "Us women have to stick together" and while I agree that we shouldn't divide ourselves based on superficiality and looks (skinny vs. fat etc) I believe that we have every right to strongly oppose actions and beliefs. Sex and gender plays no role in whether I support you or not; your core beliefs and how you act on them does.
I don't hate someone because they have a penis, and I don't support someone just because they have a vagina. For example, I wouldn't vote for Hilary Clinton based on the fact that she's a woman alone; I would need thorough research to see if our politics jived. It's pretty simple. There are caring men and caring women in this world. Conversely, there are crummy men and crummy women. To assume that every woman has a female's best interest in mind is blind acceptance which ultimately creates more problems than solutions.
Case in point right here. I call it like I see it, and encourage people to do the same. Just make sure that if you do criticize someone, it's based on actions and not looks. That part is critical. And yes, I was a bitch to call her a cunt. You got me.
2.) The use of the word cunt.
Now this is where I admit that I poorly chose my words. Have I given the word cunt as an insult much thought? Not until today. And as I quickly dissected the meaning on the way home, I realized that I just called a magical orgasm making lady machine and a bigoted person the same thing. To the lovely and dear cunt loving people out there (me included)... I am SORRY I made such a comparison.
Cunts are incredible sex organs that deserve all the love and respect, not an association with the negative. Before pondering the word, I loved it simply for the way it sounds. Cunt: it's sharp, powerful, and able to cut to the quick. But, alas, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I must eliminate this version from my vocabulary. At least the last time it was used allowed me to go out with a bang. Just another example of how I'm painfully human. "World, I promise to use a non-gender specific name next time I feel the need to succinctly call someone out on their bullshit. I promise."
You'll be able to listen to the debate soon enough and judge the situation for yourself, but in my mind the situation is clear. Any person who actively perpetuates a culture that devalues a body type is a tragedy to society as a whole. Anyone who instigates oppression directly or indirectly is detrimental. Anyone who tells me they "feel sad" that I'm accepting of my body is not contributing to healing.
And maybe calling someone out when they're doing horrible things in such a controversial way isn't everyone's cup of tea, but apparently it was mine today. Not the most effective way to express the situation, but the sentiment was true nonetheless. Definitely warranted but poorly executed, if you ask me.
Just be sure to choose your words carefully, or else you'll have to write a blog post about it.
Reprinted with permission from The Militant Baker.