A couple of recent posts at Fatshionista on LJ have me thinking.
One post was on how people speak to each other in the community, RE gendered words (yes way over simplifying I know), and what compliments are and aren't appropriate.
Let me be the first to say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that neither of these devolved into wank but I did see a couple of common themes that I'd like to talk about.
In the conversation about the permutations of language, greetings and gendered words I saw a lot of "I don't want to explain just don't do it" which I understand. However what I didn't see a lot of (granted I didn't read every single comment) is this.
Say you are random LJ user#2, you see a post by someone with an LJ handle that has something that contains words that are commonly used in the feminine. You say, "Hi lady, ladies, girlies, women" whatever and you've offended person #2 because they strenuously do not identify as a lady or woman or whatever.
Now how is person 1 supposed to know that?
I think we tend to forget in communities like Fatshionista that given the huge diverse populace, there are people who have not clue one about gender presentation issues, they know nothing about how what they see as a greeting to who they think is one person could be so offensive.
As often happens there was a lot of hand wringing.
A lot of it.
Personally if someone innocently (yes, as in they don't know any better) says something I think is fucked up, I don't think it's really effective to be confrontation and you stop doing that right now about it.
Especially in a community with a fluctuation of who's doing what, there are probably lots of people who had no idea it was even an issue.
I think it's more effective to simply tell someone without finger pointing. Or being upset that maybe they are confused or defensive at first. When people feel picked on as I've said before, they are likely to resent being told that what in their slice of world view is perfectly fine, is not fine.
Also, when you're not coming from the majority you have to be patient. Language and how people use language is not something that changes quickly. And often it won't change just because you point a finger at someone and tell them they are doing it wrong.
As for the post on compliments I am torn.
I believe that there is never any way whatever to tell what will or won't offend someone's tender sensibilities. One person may feel gross and horrid if someone says,
"You look hot in that outfit" or "That outfit isn't working for you."
Personally, I do fully own and acknowledge that if I post a picture of myself, in an outfit that shows off whatever bit of anatomy, I don't expect that people will ignore it. Nor do I expect that at least one person isn't thinking (or saying) they find it sexy.
Also, I think some people may have a hard time distinguishing between cheeky and pervy. Especially fat people. Of course I have no scientific or sociological back up here, but I have known many fat people or people who haven't always had the best self image to automatically assign an ick factor to someone expressing appreciation for them on a physical visual level.
As I said about compliments before, if I the complimenter don't know anything about you. I don't know that you are awesomely smart, I don't know that you have super awesome powers of whatever, I don't know you might be a douchebag, if I come upon you on the internets or on the street I have nothing else to go on, and maybe I like your shoes.
Or I think that sweater you're wearing looks fantastic. Or that your pants make your ass look like whoa awesome, I will probably say so. And in so saying, being that I don't know you personally, I cannot see through your skull into your very soul I have no value or moral judgement to make on it.
Sometimes, people just like your shoes. Or your cleavage, or your legs, or your ankle, or your fantastically fuzzy armpits or whatever.
Liking these things about another person and commenting on them are not always immediate indicators of OMG WANNA DO SEXY WITH YOU NOW.
Additionally (you see now why I didn't comment there), like I said. You cannot know from an LJ user name what will or won't freak someone out.
My big point (yes, I'm bringing it home baby) is that we seriously need to stop kicking each other in the crotch over these things.
Language is a mighty thing and it's a mightier thing when you are mindful of how you use it. The latter however does not come naturally to everyone. And not everyone is caught up on the politics of gender neutral greetings, on the strictly non sexual, non offensive compliments or ever on realizing the basics of inclusion.
So slow your roll people.
Take a breath.
Yes, if you're the person who's fur has been rubbed the wrong way it's maddening. Yes, yes I know that. I know it well. However, I also know that in order to get the person being irritating and offensive to maybe rethink what they are saying, I could not kick them in the crotch metaphorically speaking.
I've said this before I think but, when people are just getting into a political space or activist frame of mind, bombing them with all the ways they are not doing it right often times will drive them right the other way.
I have seen a lot of this in FA circles. I don't know how many comments, notes, etc I've gotten from people who have expressed the feeling of being pushed out, out of hand because they are not doing it right. Maybe they don't have the sophisticated language of politics, or they are on the fence about something, or maybe they still diet or want to diet.
Personally I'd prefer not to shove people off the fence, or once they've jumped off on my side proceed with crotch kicking them until they go trotting off.
This philosophy, or method of behaving if you will applies to many of the things I am passionate about. Whether it's anti-racism, Fat and Size acceptance, Sex education, whatever.
Okay my loves.
Yes, you too Haters don't think I have forsaken you. I love you too.
So posting will probably be lightish (with the occasional lengthy bit like this right here) while I am in literary overdrive. Hopefully this literary madness will yeild some exciting things.
I shelved one project in favor of others.
Also I swear I will take pics of the crafts gone bad.
I do feel good that I am accomplishing some of that though. For reals. I am taking run number two at the hat starting this weekend after a run to the craft store for a bigger needle and maybe I can find some little old ladies (there is the cutest stitch and bitch that goes on near my house) to give me some pointers.
I almost forgot.
Also this week I have a somewhat tongue in cheek instruction guide for how not to troll fat blogs.
Also, you guys have awesome ideas (RE my bukkit list post).
And I love you guys. Give yourselves a hug.
Now I'm back to the salt mines of queer non fiction (me writing it instead of reading it for once..weeeeeeeee)
OH yeah PS..I think my blogroll is finally updated properly. But not all the blogs I read are on it yet (My google reader is overflowing) and I am also working on a redesign but my CSS skills are rusty and the last mock up was fucking busted ugly.
So redesign this year(due for one it's seriously been like five years) and um..glee.