Awesmome lady and friend Melissa has written today’s guest post. She currently lives in Turkey, loving live and living it to the full. She sent this to me a couple of weeks ago after a personal experience got her thinking. I’ve been a bit slack and busy, but today got around to reading her post and this is a very moving and powerful story. Please make Melissa feel welcome as she makes her first forray into the world of Fat Acceptance blogging.
Recently an acquaintance of mine, “Jane” (who, like me, is single by choice), e-mailed a video to every woman in her address book. The video was one of those compilations with a laugh track, where men are doing “disgusting” things like being fat and drunk, being fat and toothless, being fat and clumsy, being fat and bald… you see the pattern. The caption Jane put on the video was, “this right here is why I’m happily single!”
I immediately felt my hackles rising, but I knew Jane meant both the video and the comment to be a joke, albeit a tasteless one. So instead of being the arsehole who bitches about not finding it funny, I decided to throw the e-mail away and not say anything at all… which I later realised makes me the arsehole who doesn’t defend her brothers (or indeed herself) when the time comes. If nothing else, even if I wasn’t going to comment on behalf of the men in the video, I should have spoken up for my own views on being single. I think there’s already too much of an unhelpful stereotype that women who choose to be single do so because they hate men, or because they find men repugnant when said men don’t meet up to some arbitrary Hollywood standard of attractiveness. None of that has anything to do with why I’ve chosen to be single. And I resent the implication that I would remain single on such a ridiculous premise as “because men are fat,” especially when that implication is coming from another single woman.
As it turns out, one woman did respond negatively to Jane’s e-mail, but she missed the point quite spectacularly. She attached a photo of a tall, slender, muscular man with dark hair and blue eyes, and she said, “Jane, be fair— they’re not all ugly trolls!”
I thought for a moment about how if this were reversed and a group of men were talking about how not all women are fat pigs and that some are sexy supermodels, as women we’d be absolutely fucking incensed. But it’s okay when we do it to men, right? Men can take it, and if they can’t, then that’s even more evidence that those particular men (i.e. the fat ones) can be safely dismissed as not manly enough to be worthy of our attention.
Seriously, what year is this?
A woman calling a man an ugly troll, regardless of what he looks like, is an incredibly short-sighted act, not to mention that the comment says a lot more about the woman than it does about the man. Yes, we all have things we find physically attractive and things we don’t find physically attractive, and I’m not saying I’m always perfect about not judging people unfairly, but to write a human being off as unworthy of companionship due to his appearance not adhering to fashion magazine standards… that just seems, well, disgusting. It also means that if it’s okay for women to tear men down that way, then it has to be okay for men to tear women down in the same way… or, as is sadly so often the case, for women to tear each other down and men to tear each other down. Why do humans find that kind of behaviour necessary? And worse, why do they think it makes them look funny or cool to act and talk that way?
Ever since Janevideogate, I’ve been wondering if I’m making too big a deal about this issue. The video was intended to be a lighthearted joke, after all, and I’m certainly no stranger to over-analysis. But I feel there’s something very wrong about women complaining that they feel pressured to starve themselves down to a size zero because many men judge them solely on how thin they are, and yet those same women are happy to point and laugh and say that they’d rather be single forever than have to date a fat man. I’m aware there’s a general public opinion that fat people, both male and female, don’t have feelings, and that it’s okay to ridicule their fat. But it seems to me there’s an even higher level of taunting that fat men in particular are required to endure, simply because they’re expected to “be men” about it, and sadly we have come to equate masculinity with an ability to withstand hurtful insults dressed up as cheap humour.
I’m curious to hear opinions on this topic. This recent event has certainly prompted me to re-evaluate my own views on gender expectations, especially where body image is concerned, and to try to find some way to express myself effectively to those whose jokes I find offensive and cruel.