Friday, March 25, 2011

On spaces part two the art of the call out.

Okay this is the second part to my post from the other day.

In the blogosphere it has become very popular to call out people for things they've said, things that they've done etc etc. In the context of social justice and activism I do believe that calling people on things when they've done something you think is wrong or bad can be awesome.

It can be wonderful to have someone say to you, "hey, hey that's not cool" and then tell you why.

On the other hand, the call out can become an object of brute force and that is not awesome.

Here is how I think a good and productive call out can be.

Per A blogs blablabla..ableist thing..blablabla sizeist thing..blablabla racist thing.

Person B reads that blog and either blogs in response or contacts that person privately, we'll get to that later. They say, something like. Person A said this thing and this thing, and this is why I feel that it wasn't an awesome way to say something.

Things can end there or people can actually discuss what the issues are and they may agree they may not. It's all good essentially. The point is that pointing out or calling someone on what you think is bullshit doesn't mean you have free reign to just go off on them.

If you're going to be honest about what you're doing a call out is to maybe point out a better way of communicating and not a means to get to be a jerk.

What do I think is jerky?

I think it's jerky to say, LOOK AT THIS ASSHOLE type things. It's not productive.

If you are using a call out in a social activism context and you're trying to change someone's mind about an issue, being a jerk is not going to do it.

Also being unforgiving isn't gonna work out well either.

No one in any social justice or activism movement is perfect all of the time. No one is going to always be inclusive with their language. No one is going to always be able to articulate things in a manner you find pleasing. No one.

Also, this is an issue I have with Tumblr and the language of call outs there in particular is that a lot of people just can't keep up with what language people prefer to use.

I find it really off putting and awful if I see on tumblr that so and so used X word and the pile on starts.

There is context to what people say. Some people are not activists thus they are not in the loop of what language is deemed acceptable in any given situation. Some people are not at ALL aware that they are saying something people have deemed unacceptable and to just say HEY STUPID you can't say that is not productive.

Furthermore I find it to be beyond the pale to expect a stranger either on the internet or in meat space to already be aware of the language you personally find acceptable. I think it's an unreasonable expectation and often I see that used as a way to just be a jerk.

Now to the private contact vs public contact thing.

As I pointed out the other day with the Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls thing, as their parameters read that space is not publicly designated on Tumblr as a strictly fat people space. It is also not user run.

In that instance I think it may have saved a lot of argument for people to contact the mods privately to ask if it is a fat space. I don't mean tell them that they posted the wrong picture and all the reasons why they shouldn't have posted a picture of a girl who appears to be thin. I'm talking about asking them to clarify what kind of space they have.

I think that when it comes to spaces that are moderator run as opposed to being user run that is the more effective means of clearing up what a space is actually for. Yes, lots of the people posted there visually read as fat but that's not what's stated in their FAQ nor in their submission guidelines so for me, my own impressions aside I would not assume it to be a strictly fat space. If I really wanted to know I'd ask.

Now when it comes to private beefs of which there are many in the Fat world right now here's how I feel.

If you want to call out someone do so. However, some people are not going to just let it go by. Some people aren't going to stop talking or stop trying to engage. That's just how it is.

That doesn't necessarily mean that people are mean or bad it's just how they are.

Other people when called out publicly (like me, yes it has indeedly happened to me) may take pause to consider what's been said and then respond.

Other people won't engage.

Here's what I keep seeing happening. People on A Team are passionate and want to defend their principles and opinions. They think B Team is wrong and they rally to make sure EVERYONE knows they think B Team is wrong.

B Team is not really into that and is also passionate and wanting to defend their principles and opinions and they think A Team is wrong.

Shitstorm ensues.

Some people on both teams disengage. Some people as they read what persons on both teams have to say feel hurt by things being said but don't believe that they have a voice because they aren't a big deal. Some people can't deal with it and get angry or hurt and lash out. Etc.

This is the point where I think (especially in FA circles) that everyone needs a time out.

Time. Out.

Communication won't happen if everyone is pointing and calling ASSHOLE ASSHOLE.

You know what I mean?

Personally at this point if I'm on one of those teams I'd rather either work out the differences personally and apologize if I've said something awful. Or I'd rather disengage completely because I only have a finite amount of energy and I prefer to expend it not on trying to turn someone to my opinion if they really aren't trying to hear it.

The aforementioned shitstorm is the risk you run when you call out someone publicly.

Now last thing then I'm done.

The un-named call out.

Quite simply I'm only sort of a fan. If you're going to talk about someone publicly and "anonymously" in that you don't say their name but use enough information so people in the know, know exactly whom you're referring to I don't think it's awesome to exclude that person from the conversation out of hand because you don't like them or what they have to say.

Doing so moves things from being a hey, I think this person is wrong to (in my eyes at least) being a personal kind of thing and I don't dig it.

Also I think if you're going to do that be prepared for that person to be publicly pissed off. I would be. Shit I HAVE been that person and I have said so publicly.

Some folks, like me for instance will say what they have to say and that's it. Others will not let it go because frankly they don't have to let it go if they've been hurt or upset or feel they have been misrepresented.

All that said when calling people out I think there are things that are vital to keep in mind out of simple human kindness.

  1. Do I really know where this person is coming from? As in is this person having a bad mental health day? Is this person maybe coming from a place of upset rather than calm? How would I feel on a bad day to see this said about me?
  2. Just because one social group (for instance Tumblr) says that A thing is acceptable that may not have filtered out into the rest of the internets. 
  3. Do I need to be right so much?
  4. If I call out this person, can I engage without being a jerk?
  5. Am I being a jerk here? Also if you don't know ask someone. I know I can be really fucking mean. Y'all don't know for the most part but I can be a vicious little fucker. Sometimes, I need help keeping that on a leash and there are people I trust to ask if I'm just being an asshole. 
  6. If you are the person being called out, before responding maybe ask yourself Oh shit do they have a point? A fellow blogger asked me privately recently if they fucked up, they did and I said so and you know what it turned out good. Sometimes that's all it takes is to ask someone who's opinion you trust.
  7. If you are the person being called out as you answer, before you post it or email it take a second to ask if you're just responding in anger? Are your feelings hurt? Are you coming from a bad place? If you are any of those, maybe instead of posting/emailing right that second say this. Look, I'm really not having a good day and I don't think I can deal with this right now. Let me get back to you. You don't have to over share your personal shit. Also if someone tells you that, please show that you have some respect and let them have their day and then get back to you.
  8. If you are the person being called out. Don't just call names back. Even if other people are calling you names, don't engage in that. It won't help anyone's cause to continue that theme of things.
  9. If you are being called out, remember it might not be personal. Sometimes we say things that escape out into the wild and people who don't know us judge us. It happens to everyone and it's probably not about you as a human being. Even if people say it is, it may not be.
  10. Most importantly for EVERYONE involved, use my rule. Don't be a dick be a Richard. Which is to say don't be a jerk. 

Honestly, when there are shitstorms in the great wilds of teh blogosphere I try not to take part because I don't really often get a sense that I need to. Being that I am in the camp of not being a big deal or authority on shit, I try not to start shit.

You all know me by now. You know if you disagree here that's fine. I've only ever had ONE problem with a reader that was serious enough to make me somewhat angry and I think that's amazing.

I think y'all are amazing.

Now.

I am planning to henna my hair this weekend and I want to give you folks some book updates (HOLY SHIT TWO DONATIONS!!!!11!1 I NOW HAVE 35$ I should fix my donate thingy, someone donated privately) I'm going to ask you if you will to tell me which posts you really love because I want to include a section of lightly prettied up blog posts. I have the stats of hits on certain entries but I want to hear what y'all have to say.

I also think that I would like to say anyone who donates gets dibs on something special so S and my other Anon donor if you'd be so kind as to let me know via my form here or in a comment if you'd like a special essay that would be awesome.

Okay holy shitsnacks I talked a lot today.

Now Homo Out.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

About Spaces, exclusion etc.

Okay.

This may ruffle some feathers. Be forewarned.

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding going around the Fat World right now.

First I want to say that some of the discussion over on Tumblr about the latest Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls thing, has been not awesome.

There were people who snarked directly on/in the direction of/did not specify they weren't a young woman's photo who is not chubby.

I will say without reservation that it is not that girl who deserved or needed the call out that she is not chubby. Some people were assholes and that's not cool. Not cool at all.

The thing about Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls is that it's not user run. In other words the people who have pictures there do not directly put them up. The photos are submitted by users/readers and approved to be posted by moderators.

So the snarky shitty comments about that girl and her body were bullshit. If you found yourself among those snarking her directly, that was a bullshit move and you were being a jerk.

That said, it is entirely appropriate to take the moderators to task for posting content that seems like it would be out of place.

Speaking of Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls in particular (as in, I'll get to fat specific spaces later).

To quote their submission rules:
# If you submit photos of yourself with little to no clothing on I will only post them if you include your age and are over the age of 18. This includes underwear.***IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU ARE WEARING LESS THAN WHAT I WOULD WEAR TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING***
# You must be female to submit photos (questions, comments and encouragements from men are appreciated, but I will post them with my own discretion) if you’re a chubby fella, go submit at Fuckyeahchubbyguys.
# If you submit obscene, disgusting comments they will not get posted.
# If you submit rude and offensive comments I will not post them. (and it takes a fair amount to offend me)
# If you have suggestions on how I might better run FYCG, suggest away… but do not be offended if I don’t respond, or if I do not put your suggestion to good use.
# All photos are subject to approval. While this is a Body Acceptance blog, its called Fuckyeahchubbygirls for a reason. If you are of average weight or are under weight, do not include a story as to why you are submitting to FYCG, I will assume its solely for attention and delete your submission.
# Lastly, this is NOT a porn site. Please only submit TASTEFUL photos, and use your better judgment on what TASTEFUL is.

Now.

As far as this space goes, there are no set standards of their definition of chubby. Notice the bolded bit there, the moderators have self identified Fuck Yeah Chubby Girls as a Body Acceptance Blog.

If people looking at it decide (which it seems to be a lot of people did) that Body Acceptance=Fat Acceptance then yes, posting a photograph of a visibly thin person would be hugely problematic.

Also please note I'm not really going to discuss the content of individual submissions, see my post here about that.

Body Acceptance and Fat Acceptance while both involve the body politica, identity and whatnot are not the exact same thing.

Something like Fuck Yeah Chubby girls on a strictly visual basis appears to be more about normalizing and encouraging body acceptance for people who identify as chubby. No where in the site information is there a single word about it being a fat people specific space.

On the flip side we have Fatshionista over on LJ.

Fatshionista is a clearly defined fat space. Matter of fact look at this here:

Welcome, fatshionistas! We are a diverse fat-positive, anti-racist, disabled-friendly, trans-inclusive, queer-flavored, non-gender-specific community, open to everyone. Here we will discuss the ins and outs of fat fashions, seriously and stupidly--but above all--standing tall, and with panache. We fatshionistas are self-accepting despite The Man's Saipan-made boot at our chubby, elegant throats. We are silly, and serious, and want shit to fit.

I will assume you can see the difference here.

Fuck Yeah Chubby girls is not presented as a safer/safe space for fatties. It just isn't.

Feel free to question what they mean by chubby. Feel free to talk all you want to about the subjective nature of the term chubby and the things that intersect with how people self identify, what a shame it is that a young woman who maybe wears a size 6 feels that she is in fact chubby.

Other great discussions. The context of being chubby. The cultural norms (as in whatever culture you belong to on a macro or micro level) that impact how someone might or might not identify as chubby.

What is not awesome is holding a space to a standard that has nothing to do with what the owners/creators have said.

Not only is it unfair to call out people for things they did not say, it's also plain rude. It's bad manners.

Now let's move on to exclusion and spaces.

Exclusion makes people uncomfortable. I believe it is human nature to be distrustful of spaces that may make you feel unwelcome or that will tell you straight up no you can't come in.

Exclusive things have a long and bad history especially in America.

That said exclusive all by itself is not an evil or awful thing.

Exclusion can be a vital and necessary component of life. Also exclusion can bring out the worst in us because we want to feel needed, important and welcome.

For instance. Taking fatness out of it let's talk about say a resource group specifically intended for women of color who have vitiligo.

Now I am a woman of color, I don't have vitiligo. I might see an advertisement for that group, or a blog talking about that group and what they do and I might think it sounds like the best thing ever.

I want to join that group.

I want to really badly.

But, I don't have vitiligo. I don't know what it's like to navigate the world as a person of color who has vitiligo. I may empathize, I may sympathize, I may want to add my skills to what they are doing. At the end of the day however, I am still not a woman of color with vitiligo and that space was not intended for me.

That isn't a personal slight. It's not a fuck you it simply is.

As I keep saying all the time, not all spaces are for all people.

If you can't deal with a space intended for Body Acceptance rather than Fat acceptance, don't interact with that space.

If a space does not include you for whatever reason, don't lose your shit over it. I say that not in meanness but in a kind of frustrated love.

Not everything is for everyone.

It's okay if a space isn't for you because it's not intended for you or if you just don't really feel welcome.

It is okay.

Shit this post is huge.

Because giant post is giant I'm going to stop here. I'll pick this up tomorrow and talk more about exclusion and some not quite accurate things I've read about fat acceptance in general.

Homo out.

Also as always feel free to ask stuff. No really I won't bite.
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Words mean things and the things I mean.

I've been sitting on an anon note that came through my Ask box over on Tumblr.

Basically this person was taking me to task for being USCentric. Also this is in the context of speaking about the personal and from a personal perspective. I'm not talking activism specific or academic.

Okay.

First of all of course I am US Centric in my posts because that is where I live and where I have grown up. I cannot be on intimate terms with a culture that isn't my own. I will not pretend like I can speak from inside the eleventy million cultures on earth. I have said repeatedly that I live in Seattle Washington. I have done some traveling but, the bulk of my experiences are born here.

And I will say in case it didn't come through I hate that term being tossed around like some kind of accusation.

I am fairly certain (especially in social justice circles) that most people realize that that the entire internet is not located in the US. Furthermore I think it's extremely short sighted to expect someone to speak to an experience that is outside of their own and expect them to be authentic.

I think that's a means of saying, well you're not from where I'm from so I'm not going to listen to what you're actually saying or take it in through the filter of my own experience.

To be perfectly honest it makes me incredibly angry that anyone expects me to speak from every experience but my own. Or anyone else for that matter. And yet, when people try often they get the epic call outs so popular on Tumblr for being appropriative. You can't have it both ways.

If you don't want to hear what an American person or X person who is not from your neck of the woods or is different from you in X ways, don't use centrism as the reason all the time. It's irritating.

Hell if you don't want to hear what I have to say, keep on stepping.

Next.

I have to confess that I hate the term Inbetweenie.

I hate using it, I don't identify with it. I hate it.

From the LJ community this is what it means:

This community is intended to be a space for those of us that are lower-end plus or higher-end straight sizes. Somehow the name "inbetweenies" came to be and just stuck. Shopping can be challenging for any plus size person and we recognize that we have a few more options than larger plus size folks, but it can still be a struggle to find clothing when one is not quite straight size and not quite plus size.

We welcome sales for clothing sizes 12-20 straight sizes but if you are selling clothing, please follow the rules below.

Ahem.

I hate this term for a lot of reasons and one of them is the usage of actual clothing sizes as markers.

I'm going to use Lesley as an example here because aside from size we have completely different body types.

Lesley and I are both fat people.

Lesley and I are fat people who are two very different sizes and two very different body types. Now look at this outfit post of hers. (Chosen because I really love both of those outfits) I believe her cardigan(s?) are sizes XXL.

The navy cardigan is, again, from Target’s straight-size section.

Lesley has (as far as I am aware) never identified as an "Inbetweenie" and yet, there she is rocking that straight size cardigan. She didn't magically get smaller, this is how she is proportioned. For my proportions, often times plus size tops fit me but not plus size bottoms because I don't have enough of a booty to fill them. Does that change my level or her level of fatness? No.

For me I can rarely if ever fit into Target straight sized cardigans because I have gigantic boobs. My clothing runs everything from a big ass size 10 to a tiny ass size 20 and they all fit me right now.

Clothing sizes are so arbitrary that using them as even a loose guideline frustrates the ever loving shit out of me.

Now my other beef with the term Inbetweenie is that I'm not inbetween jack.

The act of being inbetween alludes to there being two points that I am between.

Fat and thin?

Actually fat and not really fat? Fat but when clothed doesn't look all that fat?

I am not between fat and thin. I'm just a fat person.

I am a fat person in the context of the culture I live in, I am a fat person in the context of the population of this state. I am a fat person in the context of using a strictly BMI calculation. I'm a fat person when I go to the doctor. I am a fat person when I walk into a store and can probably not buy a pair of damn pants.

In the context of the FA realm I am a smaller fat person and me having a skirt that is labeled a size medium does not change my life as a fat person. No matter what size a piece of clothing on my current body happens to be, I'm still fat.

I often feel like being put under the umbrella of being an "inbetweenie" can get in the way of good discourse about being fat. Too many people in and around FA seem to have the idea that there is only One True Way of FA and that one must be really fucking fat to really get it. That's not true.

Also even if you use the phrase "inbetweenie" don't foist that identity on to people who don't want it.

I will be crystal clear that I don't want it.


I also often feel like (and no I am not linking nor naming names) that some people feel the need to say OMG WHAT ABOUT MEEEEEEEEEEE in ever yspace and that's not really awesome either.

Being a fat person is not NOT a monolithic experience.

Not every space is for everybody. And that is no reason to flounce from FA, send angry letters or even get upset. It is what it is and most of the time there's not really a lot you can do if you're coming from a hurt feelings position. If you do really take exception, calm down send a reasonable letter/response/etc.

That said, I will say that if you can't appreciate the experience of someone who maybe is a smaller fatty than you, don't take it out on that person and decide they can't be welcome anymore because you can't deal with it.

Also, words mean things.

If you are going to present something as being all sizes or all body/bodies positive, that doesn't mean only certain sizes or bodies. That doesn't mean you get to snark on someone for not seeming to be X enough for your tastes because it's a bullshit move.

If you want a space that is for say size 24 and up fat people, don't say that you don't mean to be exclusive because you do. Is that awful? No it's not. But words mean things and please don't use words that are contrary to your purpose.

Other words that mean things.

Fat.

Take care using the word fat.

I say that because fat means a lot of things to a lot of people. If you want to talk about fat in a specific fashion it helps to be specific.

Fat has context.

If you want to read someone the riot act for using words in ways you don't like, be prepared to be rebuffed. Vernacular and personal lexicons are not things any amount of shouting can change much of the time. Simply pointing fingers and saying (to quote the thing from my tumblr box) "You're just being UScentric" at least try and get some context to what people are saying.

And a little special note to this anon from Tumblr who sparked the first bit of this post.

Dear person who sent me that,
I am UScentric because it is the world I live in. I feel like approaching me like that without links, text or even any reference to what I said that got up your butt is extremely disrepectful.
Sincerely,
Shannon

Okay I'm done.

Homo Out.

PS..book news. The first new essay is DONE y'all. And S, holy shit thank you so much. Thank you thank you thank you.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

I don't believe you remix. Part forty two.

I have said many times before that I don't believe you when it comes to a lot of the discourse about the obesity epidemic.

When it comes to fatness everyone (for right now I'm using everyone in the context of the media, government etc) likes to yell a lot, everyone likes to point fingers, everyone wants to make their money, everyone likes to lament the awful implications of fatness from the economy to the fucking glove industry to global warming.

Here's the thing.

When people are talking about the obesity epidemic, a good part of the time what comes next? Someone wants to sell you something.

Whether it's yet another diet and fitness guru who promises if you would just not be such a lazy piece of shit and if you'd work real hard, you too can be the most awesome hardbody in universe. They say that while out of the other side of their mouths they are hawking diet pills.

It's companies telling you that all your problems will go away with this pill, this powder. They try to trap you in your own self loathing so you will get the surgery, so you will buy the "magic" slimming everything.

Or what comes next are the dire warnings.

We see the video clips and pictures of fat people. One of them might be you. The media has started using imagery not only to try and titillate you into buying everything, but finding ways to turn human beings into morality stories.

They show a fat person eating and follow with a story about some "horrifying" meal at some restaurant. The fat person isn't eating it, it's left to the viewer to assume that this person is fat because they do X thing and it's meant to engender disgust and frankly hate.

When you take away someone's face and you present them as largely unrecognizable, it sets the stage to allow people to dehumanize others in ways they might not if they saw the faces of the people. It's harder to hate someone if you are looking at their eyes.

What else comes next?

Parents are sent into fits of paranoia to the point where they put their babies and toddlers on diets or allow their teenagers who have not finished growing yet to have life altering bariatric surgery because the media puts the fear of Fat into them.

Parents are bombarded with every terrible thing that could potentially happen if they have a fat child. From diabetes to a life of misery and lonliness. So many parents in what I have to believe is their love of their children do awful things.

Some parents think that if they shame their children (bully) that they can force them to lose weight or exercise. Some parents encourage disordered behavior. Some parents tease, some perfect the art of the back handed compliment.

What happens?

What happens is that their children may lose weight they may not. They will most definitely grow up hating themselves and feeling like human shit because the people who were supposed to love them no matter what could only focus on their bodies.

How is that good?

There are lots of other awful things that are seeded and watered by the current way everyone talks about obesity.

Let's talk about what doesn't happen on a large scale.

No one holds diet/fitness gurus accountable for their often outrageous (*results atypical anyone?) claims.

No one is calling out the medical industry on their biases towards fat people.

No one is putting their foot down to acknowledge the hypocrisy in medicalizing everything about living as a fat person but, letting doctors essentially not treat you if they think you are too fat.

Why is it that no one in positions of power understands that things like health, weight, food consumption are not mutually exclusive issues? Why is it so hard to be honest about the intersection of these things?

Why is no one in one of those positions of supposed power understanding or even promoting the idea that not every single person in the entire world can eat the same way, move the same way or even have the same body?

Why is it that when it comes to almost every other "disease" often doctors will tell you that symptoms, causation, correlation and even presentation can differ dramatically among people because human biology is pretty diverse?

And now why I don't believe Michelle Obama in particular right now.

Her whole focus has been on forcing exercise and diets on children.

Being that she is the most powerful woman in the country, why hasn't she said a peep about the shit the food industry allows in our food?

Why hasn't she said word one about the established effects of things like high fructose corn syrup on the American diet?

Why hasn't she said anything about how part of the problem of getting people fresh local produce is that Big Farming throttles the life out of the small farmer with things like patenting seeds.

Why hasn't she or anyone for that matter talked about how it is not safe for millions of children in this country to just go play outside?

Why hasn't she taken the store chains that don't open grocery stores in poor neighborhoods?

Why hasn't she talked about to bolster a child's self esteem and self image so that they will want to learn how to take care of their bodies?

The answer is unfortunate and quite simple.

The money is not in answering those questions. The money is in the food industry lobby. The money is in the big farm industry. The money is in the medical industry. There is no money in deciding the the actual health of the citizenry from children on up to senior citizens.

Profits.

If all this was really about health, wouldn't someone decide that it's not in the best interest of the health of our people to have shit in their food that causes widespread harm?

If it was really about health, an entire picture of personal health wouldn't someone take the time to explain all the ways a population can be healthy and not just thinner?

So all this is to say, Michelle Obama, Mrs. President, Ma'am I don't believe you and it breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because America is supposed to be the greatest country in the world and yet we can't even take care of each other. We can't be honest and say, hey this isn't really about your health it's about keeping the profits in the health/wellness/diet/medical industries strong. Hey America, we don't care if you're healthy as long as you're buying.

That's all I can say about this.

I don't believe you.

Homo Out.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All the things?

YES ALL THE THINGS.

So it's my birthday. I turned 34 years old.

I'm officially in my mid thirties. I'm pretty damn happy about this.

So I'm not doing srs business today because the past weekish has been so full of awful things and I can't deal.

First thing.

I'm doing a book. Writing a collection of essays that I will then form into a book full of super powers and magic.

I've mentioned it off and on here. I haven't done it because the prospect frankly scares the shit out of me.

I don't really know or understand why it is exactly that writing my essays and sharing them makes me so damn nervous. It's a thing.

So here's how this is going to go down. I'm DIYing this shit all the way.

I've lined up my lovely trusted and awesome friend to edit it for me. She is someone I know will help my words be shiny and as beautiful as I want them to be.

I'm designing my own cover. I'm trying very hard to research so I can make it available to the widest audience. I'm thinking of publishing actual print books, download on demand ebooks of various sorts. I'm not sure if I'll be able to afford to do an ISBN or anything so okay here's the next scary thing.

I'm going to run a chip in thing for donations if anyone would like to help me out with editing or production costs.

I'm really serious about this and putting out a quality thing of beauty that my heart is in.

I've also got some small paying side hustles to help add to my savings. I'm hoping to save up around 250$ at least. Anything beyond that I will reconsider.

I'm looking at a mid-summerish release.

I'm..okay I'm fucking scared shitless.

I'm doing it anyway.

I decided as I've been thinking about my birthday and turning 34 that now that I have a lot of things shed. Beliefs, issues etc. I know myself really well by now and I know what I feel like my purpose in life is, now is the time to do the things that scare me.

I've been submitting fiction (and getting rejected but tis the nature of the beast) to challenging markets. I've been writing and submitting essays.

I have been picking up my camera more even though I'm yes afraid that my bad pictures as I learn will make me look foolish.

I have been working really hard on fully accepting that I am:
  • Worth the kindness and love that people have shown me.
  • Worth taking care of. That I can be an awesome partner to Uniballer and an awesome friend AND make sure that I have good shoes you know?
  • Worth asking for help or support from y'all or my meatspace people or whomever when I feel that I really need it. AND that I'm not being some kind of crazy asshole when I say, hey I can't do this by myself I need help.
SO..okay.

I'll be dropping the chip in widget in my side bar there. If you can't donate you can still help me in awesome ways.

I'm not the best at self promotion so when I'm ready if you'd like have a link to the book that would be fantastic. If you feel fancy a signal boost would be great. If you know of other ways I can fundraise for myself let me know in the comments there. If you want to cheer me on that would be awesome. Well wishes, good thoughts and prayers are also awesome. When I'm finished if you want to do a email interview or something like that to help me promote that would be great too.

Do you do something like graphic design for the internets? I'd really like some banners of varying sizes and stuff to use for link exchanging. Uniballer will make me a couple but I would be super honored if someone would make one for me.

Also probably in the next few weeks I'm going to go over my blog stats and include some posts and I'll probably be doing a poll for my regulars. Mostly in the vein of which entry would you most want to have handy to look at when you want.

I might ask for opinions on cover design.

I'm going to say something that feels scary to me.

I can't do this or finish this  endeavor by myself. I need help. I need support from people who (presumably, although haters you can contribute too if you wanna) like me.

So there we have it. This is what's going down officially.

I love you my homies. So many of you have said some of the sweetest most wonderful things to me. You've supported me. You gave me pants and things. You've made me laugh and made me weepy. You've been so wonderful. Thank each and every one of you, even you shy lurkers for just being around.

Homo Out.

I have fancy snacks and tea to have.
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Announcements and pls don't flounce.

Before I get to the meat of this post an announcement or two.

First my second ever non fiction publication is up. My essay 'Cracked' is up right now at Junk. Go read it, come back and tell me what you think.

Second announcement is that my non fiction self published collection is going to be a go. So I'm going to make a chip in thing. I'll make a whole post with some more details later this week.

Over on tumblr there's been discussion in fat circles about weight loss and what FA does and doesn't say about it.

After seeing many people flounce from FA because they've talked about weightloss or a blogger has expressed the wish not to have weightloss/diet talk on their blogs and whatnot.

Here's the thing.

Before you flounce think about this.

Most of the time when people request or declare their blog or space a no diet talk zone, or a no talk of purposeful weight loss talk zone it has nothing to do with you and has to do with them. If it is say my litterbox, I can decide what kind of pee I want in it.

For a lot of fat people especially those just finding FA, there are no other spaces in their lives where they can exist without diet talk or talk about weight loss.

You have think out side of your own personal bubble here.

If a person spends 90% of their time in meatspace listening to everyone tell them about X diet, or how many pounds they lost etc, why is it so detrimental to you for them to say this is my blog/space and this is what I don't want to talk about.

If you want a space to talk about both FA and weightloss, make your own blog.

Just like any other space on the web that you yourself did not create, the rules are not there to single you out and make you feel excluded.

If you take the rules at say my blog (I don't really have that many) as a personal slight against you and your ass, frankly that's on you.

If you need to look at it like this.

Let's say that you and I are friends and all of a sudden all you can talk about is how awesome your left shoe is. Your language starts to be peppered with equating the awesomeness of your left show with all things morally awesome.

Maybe I am not into that.

Maybe I don't believe that your moral awesomeness comes from how awesome your left shoe is. If I ask you nicely as a friend to maybe dial it back because I'm not comfortable having that conversation, is that unreasonable? Am I calling you a dickhead? No.

Part of being involved in fat acceptance is absolutely understanding that what is okay for you and your body, and okay for you to discuss may not be okay for me and my body or for me to discuss.

Aside from FA already being hard, if you want to engage you can't just say WELL IMMA DO WHAT I WANNA DO YOU MEANYHEADS.

That method typically does not make anyone want to hear out what you might have to say.

Next thing.

Yes sometimes in FA people will be disappointed when another fatty engages in diet talk or proselytizing. FA is made up of human beings and human beings no matter how smart and awesome they are feel things and sometimes one of those things is disappointment.

A very important thing.

One of the most basic and central and dare I say far reaching tenants of FA is that you regardless of what you decide to do with your own ass have bodily autonomy.

This means that yes, even if I think it sucks you can go on a diet. You can go do Jenny Craig or if you start exercising or decide to eat in a way that makes you feel fancy. You can do whatever the hell you want to.

Sometimes other people may feel like, oh well there goes another one. I will also dare say that a lot of the time the disappointment isn't personal it's sad. I know I get sad when I see people buying into diet industry bullshit.

And yes, I say that the diet industry is bullshit. It is built on a model of self loathing and encouraging people to aspire to a single idea of health, goodness and beauty rather than encouraging people to do things so that they feel healthy and good in their own skin.

Also can we be real?

I have never once seen someone say something like, "okay my diabetes is out of control and I need to change my diet and hope to get some relief" be met with actual personal attacks.

Also if you're upset that someone doesn't want to talk about weightloss with you, perhaps consider the language you're using.

If as I used in my silly analogy above you start preaching or being moralistic, most FA oriented folks are not gonna wana hear it. If you decide that you know the One True Way* of drinking Unicorn Pee and you want to tell all the fatties that they too can join you in your Unicorn Pee drinking, yeah they are probably not going to want to hear it.

If a blogger/space owner has an awful history with dieting they probably don't want to hear it.

My wordy windy point here is that before you get all twisted in the drawers area and flounce from FA, maybe take a step back and understand that not every space is for every one. Not everyone wants to even think or talk about accidental weightloss or purposeful weightloss. Some of us are seriously triggered but such talk, some of us are really hurt by it whether that's your intent or not.

Tomorrow, I think I'd like to talk about and offer some suggestions on how to broach the subject and not alienate your FA homies.

Homo Out.
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

In the Company of naked women.

This entry is sparked by this fantastic shot from Adiposivity. A room full of fat Black women in various stages of naked.

First a story.

The first time I joined a gym I was 20 or so and I was more than intimidated. The first few times I went I did not brave the locker room. I looked at the other women and found myself lacking. I convinced myself for the first few times I went that I'd try it out when I'd lost an inch off of my waist.

At some point during my first few weeks my schedule changed and I had to use the facilities. I remember being that woman in the tiny toilet stall trying to change and clean up and all and finally after I almost fell into the toilet I gave up and went into the main locker room.

I remember looking around and being amazed at the bodies I saw. I saw that women way thinner and more tight than me had things like stretchmarks and pockets of cellulite. I saw what I already knew intellectually, I saw that there are many many different ways bodies look.

Sometimes it makes me so sad that in America it is so damn difficult to ever see naked bodies without it being in a sexualized context. Now note I say sexualized and not sexual.

As a young person I remember never seeing other young bodies in a context where it wouldn't be sexualized for me to look at them openly. In America we have decided through years of a puritanical heritage that is at the same time quite perverse, that just seeing a naked body will do bad things to our children and will make us all into rapacious sex beasts.

I'm not talking about showing porn. I'm talking about something like this:


That is a photograph of body builder Lisa Lyon as done by my favorite photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. He did a number of photographs of her and this one is my favorite.

Now to my eye this is a pose of a mighty and powerful woman. She reminds me of the way I might imagine a classical female Olympian to have been had they had them in ancient times.

For a large number of people just the fact that she is naked makes it OHNOES SEX when at least in my view it's not.

That is a whole other post. Back to bodies.

I wish (even in the age of the internet) that it was a more acceptable and easier for us to seek out images of bodies that haven't been digitally altered. Every day naked people.

Judging by what people say about seeing Fat folks outfit posts, to the reaction of women I've known who have seen other womens genitals for the first time and they are amazed at the differences and similarities, I think so many of us would be so much less fucked up if we had those images.

Back to Adiposivity for a minute.

I saw that photo of those Black women and I have to be honest I had such a profound moment of sadness. I have never been in a room with that many other naked Black women with that much joy.

I'm almost 34 years old and it has never happened.

I have to honestly wonder if as I was developing and trying to figure out self esteem and body image, what if I'd seen photos like that? Not presented as cautionary tales or headless fatties. What if I had been exposed to the many shapes and formalations of the female body, could I have escaped some of the awful things?

I think it would have saved me a lot of grief.

Grief about devloping stretch marks and having cellulite. Grief about being asymmetrical in spots etc etc.

I fully believe that for sighted people it's imperative to back up the intellectual knowledge with visuals.

Yes intellectually I'm pretty sure we all know that all bodies look different. But seeing those differences I think hammers that home and I would hope can be used as a tool to help bolster self esteem and cultivate a body image that isn't tied up in a mythological ideal.

I believe that normalizing the foibles of the human body including fatness, asymmetry, saggy balls, hairy asses, cellulite, pock marks, moles, freckles in weird places, chicken legs, knobby knees, forty seven flavors of pussy lips, limps, scars, pigeon toes, sway backs, uneven boobs, chubby pudenda, small dicks ALL OF THE THINGS- would go so far in recalibrating the view of the human body.

I believe that body politics must start like charity at home. In this case home being your body. I believe that in order to show ourselves love we must let go of the idea that anyone is normal. Normal should not be the thing that we measure ourselves against.

I don't believe we should be measuring ourselves against each other because every single human body perambulating around the world is different. Once we do that we can each start stepping out of the culture that demands us be in competition which I think is also important.

Once we stop comparing ourselves, we can appreciate each other. And no I'm not talking about attraction. I'm talking about appreciating that hey, Shannon has a different ass than I do and that's okay.

Now imagine if you will the idea that you, yes you whether or not you're "healthy" or able bodied think about how wonderful it would be if there wasn't pressure to be Healthy (as in the mainstream medical/media ideas of Health with a capital H).

What if instead because you have a body and you'd like to feel good or even just better, if you could make your decisions about your body without that moralistic pressure?

This is overlong.

Okay HOMEWORK my homies. I really want you to spend maybe five minutes at some point thinking about how it impacts/might impact you to see bodies (whatever flavor of bodies) naked more often? How would it make you feel for it not to be a shock to see a naked fat person or a naked person with a non normative body?

Part two tomorrow.

ALSO holy shit y'all. I have a new essay that is going to be published soon and I am so proud of it. Watch for the link Thursday or Friday.

Homo Out.
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Monday, March 07, 2011

No fatties lit?

Recently I've been reading a broader range of online lit zines in my pursuit to become a FAMOUS WRITER* and I've noticed something lately.

Now some of my stories yes have fat people in them, some don't some are unspecified bodied people, I've noticed lately that some of my favorite lit zines publish a lot of stories with the same fat assholes.

Fat Asshole Tropes according to me are the assholes in the story who are designed to make you kind of hate them. Their inner narratives are full of the kind of self loathing that is intended not to get pity out of the reader but disgust.

These are the kind of Fat Assholes who engender your (the reader and the people in the story) loathing because they are the literary equivalent of the Headless Fatty.

Now frankly I don't care if there are fat people in a story or not but I do care when that is the only narrative being presented.

I find this turn towards the same kind of health moralism that one finds everywhere, really unfortunate.

Another example. I was reading a "professional" writers newsletter thing where one entire issue was taken up with the idea that in order to be a good professional writer one must also be this one idea of healthy.

I'm not really sure what to do about these things.

The first thing I've done is that I no longer reader a fairly longish list of zines. I'm not naming names so don't ask. Suffice it to say that I just don't give them the clicks. I won't buy their shit. I won't submit I won't anything.

I'm also finding myself being a little more mindful of my stories and whether or not the culture of a magazine would tolerate them.

That is kind of an upsetting thing.

Lately for stories I have that have very distinct race oriented undertones, I am taking pause and wondering if a mag will get it or if they won't. It's a weird thing to feel and think about.

It feels uncomfortable to me. I don't want to be thinking about these things. I really just want to write my shit and if people like it they like it and if they don't oh well.

And yet, I keep thinking about these things. I'm reading for both pleasure and to see if X publication could tolerate a story with a fat person in it who is not a Fat Asshole*. Or where yes the character is fat but it's not a big deal, it's not any kind of deal the person is just fat and other things are going on.

Unfortunately I have to read a lot in order to learn my markets. Being that I kinda don't see myself getting the next big book deal out of thin air, and that I am a short fiction kinda author just now I have to do these things. I would really like to learn how to filter out the bullshit without getting so bogged down in it.

Because right now, I'm bogged down. I'm distracted. I'm self censoring to a degree and that has to stop. I will say that because deliberately including racial/fat issues in my fiction stories is a relatively new thing for me I'll probably get over this at some point.

So that is where I am at currently. I'm also in the midst of a swirl of rejections. Some positive rejections and I'm still kind of kicking around the idea of putting together and self publishing a book of essays.

That said, I may need to hold a little fundraiser so I can pay to have it edited because I'm not the most awesome editor and if I'm going to do a little book I want to DO THE DAMN thing you know?

And I leave you with a question. Are those help me fund X project things too um...well is it dickish? I'm really torn but I don't know if I could afford to get a good sized book thing edited and published by myself.

Y'all are ALWAYS awesome at setting me straight.

Also thank you for the shoe recs. I'm thinking Danskos will win unless I find something more awesome. More on that next week.

Homo Out.

PS..Don't forget Shannon loves you k?
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Who is the worst blogger ever?

THIS GUY.

No well, okay. I have some confessions to make to you my homies.

Here is the thing.

Things rather.

So if you've read me for a while you know that I am not just a blogger who yammers but I am also a writer of the literary sort.

In the last couple of years I have gotten super serious and focused about my writing. I have to tell you, I've been working really damn hard.

That being what it is, I've discovered something. Since I've decided to really (no really seriously) try to get my non fiction published too (scary fucking shit y'all) I'm finding it really hard to write blog posts.

Almost everything I think of to post seem like they would be better essays for me. I did not anticipate this happening. Hence the lack of posts.

Okay now I have to confess.

I kept starting other posts, things maybe a little less you know yammery (yes I do make up words thank you very much) that y'all would be mad.

Then I reeled in my non existant butthurt.

Here's the deal folks.

I am trying to figure out my balance and I'd like to post and I will warn you there will probably be a lot of fluff, fatshions etc. So that's what I've been doing. Stewing about the possibility of you know, EVERYONE HATES ME NOW.

I realize I'm being silly.

So there we have it. I'm okay folks. Just trying to work out my current state of braining.

So expect some thangs. The usual with maybe a tad less yammering.

Now my darlings tell me how you are.

Show me links or photos etc to you or people you like wearing things like Danskos. Uniballer has convinced me that I will need a pair of sturdy walking shoes for when the weather gets better. I hate ugly, I don't do loafers or traditional clogs.

I'm super partial to mary janes.

Show me them.

GO GO GO.

Homo Out.
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