A Modest Invitation

By | May 28, 2008

The following post references a recent situation in which attendees at a feminist sci-fi convention were photographed without their permission or knowledge, and then edited versions of the images were posted to a message board with commentary mocking the attendees’ fatness, disability, and/or gender orientation. Rather than try to rehash it all myself, considering I was not there, nor do I even go cons, nor do I know anyone who was affected – I’ll point you here for the particulars. As a non-con-goer, and a nonbeliever in “safe space” (in any all-encompassing sense, anyway – some spaces are always safer than others), this post is less about the specific incident in question, which I know little about beyond a few internet postings, than it is about this sort of hateful behavior in general.

Take my picture.

Take it without asking. Take my picture while I’m doing something I love, something that makes me happy. In a place where I can forget that my life often feels like one long activist battle, where I can not feel constantly on my guard, not feel always vulnerable to attack, not feel as though my body is up for debate.

Take my picture, and post it online, in as many high-traffic spaces as you can. Identify me if you want. By name, by location, by employer. Surround that picture with vitriolic commentary about my body, my femininity or lack thereof, my perceived sexual habits, my self esteem. Laugh, and laugh, and laugh, that gut-rattling laughter of unmitigated cruelty, that laughter that comes from laughing at people who don’t know you’re laughing at them, who were going about their lives and made a target simply for not falling, unseen, unremarkably, into culturally acceptable slots – people who are targets simply for failing to be invisible.

Take my picture every fucking day for a year. Post it online, and tear me apart. Point out the innumerable imperfections in my shape, my body, my face, my fashion choices, my eating habits, my health. Keep doing it. Do it again, and again, and again. Do it as loud as you can. Do it as often as you can bear it. Be as mean and as ugly and as unabashed as your nature allows.

Do it. Take it. Take my picture and eviscerate me online. It’s just a public, out-loud, communal version of what people do to me inside their heads every single day. It’s happened to me before, online and off. It’ll happen again. It’ll happen every day I leave the house, for the rest of my life.

I am still fat, and I am still not sorry. And nothing you can say, nothing you can post, nothing you can do will change that. No matter how many times you try to humiliate me. No matter how much you want me to hate myself. Because it’s my fucking body. And I don’t owe you a damn thing.

ETA: I just wanted to clarify a few apparent misconceptions.

1. I don’t call myself a feminist. I don’t have anything against those who do, however.
2. I did not go to Wiscon. I have no future plans of ever going to Wiscon, or to any con of any kind, for that matter. It just doesn’t interest me. However, as stated above, I don’t have anything against those who DO go to cons.
3. The above wasn’t really intended to be so specifically and exclusively applied to the Rachel Moss/Wiscon thing, though if it’s speaking to folks who were affected or upset by it, I’ve got no problem with that.
4. The above isn’t really meant to be read as angry or outraged; I’m many years beyond outrage on this sort of thing. I don’t actually worry if people hate me for being fat, or think I’m gross, or what have you. Some folk always will, I can’t control people’s feelings on the matter, nor would I want to. I was just stating my long-held position in situations like this. The Wiscon thing simply reminded me of that.
5. This website never had a “troll” comment ever, prior to this incident. Now I guess it’s cool to have the website’s troll-cherry popped, it also means I’m still deciding what counts as trolling, which a highly subjective concept. Generally though, comments that expound at length on why everyone hates fat people, and that this is the good and natural way of things, and why fat people should be killed, or whatevs – I’m pretty sure I’m counting those as trolling.

You say tomato, I say tomato.

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