Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Anti-fatism up close and personal

My experience last night with the shock jock from Philly reminded me of an experience I had as a child. I went to an elementary school where we spoke English in the morning and Hebrew in the afternoon, and where pretty much everyone I knew was Jewish. My parents talked a lot about anti-Semitism, but I never encountered it.

Until I entered 7th grade at the local junior high, and one day, as I walked down the hall, a group of laughing 8th graders showered me with pennies and shouted, "Run for the pennies, kike!"

I was so naive I was more puzzled than upset. What was a kike? I didn't even know.

Once I found out, the waves of shame and humiliation took a long time to diminish.

That's how last night's radio show was for me--really the first time I've encountered fatism in such a virulent form, especially as followed up by a commenter this morning. (Alex from Philly, don't even bother. You'll be deleted and go straight to troll hell.) It's hard to take it in when you meet up with such hatred, whether it's based on the color of your skin, your religion, or the size of your waist.

Years after that day in junior high, I realized what's at the heart of all such prejudice and hatred: self-loathing.

If I were a more generous person, I'd feel compassion for all those who spew mindless hatred because they're secretly afraid they themselves don't measure up, because they hate themselves. But you know what? I'm not feeling particularly generous today, so I'll leave it at "I hope you get yourself some help."

14 comments:

Rachel said...

Self loathing - that's exactly what it is. You nailed it, Harriet (and I had the same troll; he must have made the rounds).

I often wonder if these same internet trolls, emboldened by online anonymity, would be like in real life. What would they dare say to your face? The internet sure does provide a platform to see what some people really think.

Lindsay said...

Yeah, I've been getting anonymous trolls at my rarely-viewed blog too. Odd that the only people who see it are ass monkeys :-P. Anonymity is horrid, if you have to say something behind a veil, you shouldn't be saying it in the first place.

Deja Pseu said...

Shock jock? Were you on the radio? Or was that just referring to the trool? (my new word...cross between "tool" and "troll")

Deja Pseu said...

Ah, never mind. Scrolling down now I see your post from yesterday.

mayarimom said...

Harriet, keep fighting the good fight!

Kate Harding said...

Oh, man. Depending on the shock jock in question, I think I narrowly avoided being put in the same position you were. I'm so sorry.

Susie said...

Don't let 'em get you down, Harriet. Just keep doing what you know is right, and ignore all the haters. They're not worth it. Sending groovy vibes from SF!!!

Harriet said...

Hey Susie,
You've got your hands full out there in SF, with all the "The new Mac is anorexic" shit, don't you??

Maggie said...

GAWD, Harriet. I don't know which exquisite sentence in this post disturbs me most.

Not that it helps, but there seems to be a pretty big (and vocal) population of completely stupid, ignorant, disrespectful people out there, speaking out on topics across the board. I recently read this brilliant Leonard Pitts column on Obama, and then made the mistake of reading the comments afterward, one of which began "And what have you negroids done with your freedom?" And upon Heath Ledger's death, fred phelps (lower case intentional) has already announced plans to picket the funeral because of Ledger's role in Brokeback Mountain.

So. It doesn't seem to matter what the cause is, there will always be astonishingly horrible people in our midst. All you can do is keep speaking your truth, keep fighting, and put some miracle-grow on your skin. :(

TropicalChrome said...

I mostly lurk on the blogs in the fatosphere, but just reading about your experience with this so-called "entertainer" made my stomach turn. I am sorry you had to go through that, but sorrier still that this person (and his other "guest") felt that something like that would pass for entertainment. And perhaps sorriest of all knowing that someone out there probably did find it entertaining.

There are awful people all over, and you have my deepest admiration for standing up to them. Just because they say hateful things doesn't make them true.

Lisa R. said...

Keep fighting the good fight, Harriet. As for the shock jocks and thier ilk, I'm not sure it's really possible -- or even desirable -- to convert those on the far "right" of the fat acceptance divide. They may be a lost cause.

It's the folks in the middle who worry me. They may do the most damage by seeming to be accepting and polite, but spread fat hatred insipiently with their cloaked and sometimes passive-aggressive (perhaps subsconscious)comments and behavior.

Anonymous said...
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Harriet said...

Good point, Lisa. I've met more than few of those folks in the middle types. In fact I lost a good friend a couple of years ago because she suddenly turned into one of those, out of the blue.

Harriet said...

Maggie,
Negroids??? Seriously. Sounds like a very bizarre and racist 17-year-old.

There will always be trolls among us, just as there will always be the poor. I guess.