Cha-Cha-Cha-Chaka Chubby

When it's this good there's no saying no...

I once signed up for a dating site and despite stating I was chubby/fat/whole lotta woman I frequently received messages of the “well just exactly how fat are we talking?” variety.

These assclowns had a lot of cheek demanding I clarify shit that was spelled out when their own profiles often rocked euphemisms like freelancer. Have a job or learn a trade or write a novel – just don’t waste my time with high flying acts of chow chowery designed to disguise your lack of ambition. I didn’t care what folks looking to date me – when I was on the market, so to speak – did for work/living/rent scratch, as long as it didn’t involve sitting on my couch all damn day, burning up my internets and making my light bill sky high – while graciously allowing me the privilege of financing their fuckery.

It should go without saying, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT FOLKS WHO ARE UNABLE TO WORK. It should go without saying, but since it won’t – for the privileged hard headed folks in the cheap seats1 (cause of that whole othering POC thing, which frames our word choices as far more loaded and intentions far more sinister than if the same words were written by a NWL) – I’ve said it HERE AND NOW.

Playa, do you have a jobby job or what? Well just exactly how deadbeatish are we talking?

If the spirit moved me, my reply might go something like this:

Go to American Eagle/Gap/Macy’s and pick up a pair of [size redacted to avoid "you're an inbetweenie" derailing] pants and hold them up to the light. If they look “too fat” then my delicious fat ass is TOO FAT FOR YOU. Good day to you, sir!

I am fat. I am a chunkerbutt. I am hourglassy. I got real big tits. I got a real small waist. I got some hips. I’m 5’0ish. My weight fluctuations have mirrored that of my personal hero Chaka Khan. Sometimes I’m Chaka Khan “I Feel For You” size.

Ha. I dance like that (still). *point Cha-cha-cha pizza served head snap big finish*

For like ten minutes in 2002 I was Sweet Thing chubby and often wore my hair and clothes like that.

Mostly, I’m Chaka “Ain’t Nobody” fat2 Oddly enough I have that outfit and sometimes my hair looks like that, except dark brown. Damn, I wish I could SING LIKE THAT, though.

I used to hesitate calling myself fat, not because of any shame – cause I don’t have any – but with an earnest desire NOT to misappropriate the term, in real life only when I won’t let a zombie playa street harass me or on the web or when I’m on certain meds, do I get called fat to my face. Chubby is the way I acknowledge I fully understand that my fat is relative and my experiences have often been relatively free from the kind of tormenting – though I’ve certainly had my share – faced by those bigger than I am.

Besides, you just aren’t going to hurt my feelings by pointing out the OBVIOUS.

With FULL FRONTAL FUCKING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I am an “acceptable” kind of fat given the shape of my body and my height – my fat gets a “pass” not because I’m black. Not even cause I got real big tits, but mostly because as a black woman I’m just not supposed to be “sexy” or desired anyway. Sexualized, yes. Sexy, not so much. Being called fat – when it’s tossed about in as an insult and in an ignorant manner – is another way of saying, “You’re supposed to something else. Something a little less eye sore-ing and a lot more crotch tenting/soaking.”

In addition being fat isn’t my sole visible oppression. There are few others that get way more attention, thus it’s not always at the top of my lists of things I need to deal with, but it’s always there. Moreover, it doesn’t change how I practice my activism, which is different than most people.

I don’t seek to win hearts and minds. That’s not my style and besides, they are way better folks for that job. I don’t care what people think as long as it doesn’t blow up my spot or the spots of others dealing with oppressions. What I care about is behavior. My activism seeks to make it unpleasant and EMBARRASSING and EXPENSIVE to engage in fuckery. My style of activism – whether it pertains to fat or other -isms – seeks to cause folks tremendous shame and discomfort so they STOP ENGAGING IN THE BEHAVIOR and pressure others to do the same. That’s why I’m nasty when I smack down acts of -ism fuckery. I’m not trying to get folks to “embrace a diverse range of voices” – I’m way too pragmatic for that – I’m just trying to get them to STOP WHATEVER FUCKERY THEY ARE DOING, hopefully embarrassing them and causing others to give it serious thought before engaging in similar behavior.

I am all about the “you ain’t got to go home, but you’ve got to get the fuck up on out of here” style of activism. I’m like Eastwood after beating down a mess of assclowns who then looks around and says, “Anyone else want some of this?”

I’ll give you an example. I used to work with a woman who often used the term “Porch Monkey” (hopefully I don’t need to explain why that’s not a good thing when the bulk of the org’s service users were BLACK). I am not the freaking thought police. I don’t care what she thought about black folks, provided it didn’t inform her treatment of them at work and as it related to the services she was supposed to be providing.

I made things REALLY unpleasant. I tattled. I brought it up in meetings and finally demanded they bring in a diversity specialist to shame us all via workshops for two long days. You know what, after that, I never had to say another word and wouldn’t you know she modified her behavior. If she even started to say any word with a “pah” sound there were like five coworkers ready to bitch about not wanting to do “race training” again. Moreover, she became a better worker, when she actually had to do her work rather than complain about the folks she served. You’d be surprised how quickly folks change their behavior when the price is too high to stay the same.

I didn’t care that my doctor – initially – blathered on about my size when I had good numbers and came in for vaginal tune up. His thoughts about my size or his biases were not my business; his behavior was. So I complained. I ranted at him. I ranted for all the fatties who aren’t as mean as me.

Three years later, he’s the one proselytizing HAES and FA when I lose my way. Think I changed his heart or his mind? No. But I damn sure changed his behavior. And if you happen to go to him, you best believe he won’t be concern trolling you about your fat.

I’d do this for fatties who love me. I’d do this for fatties who hate me. I will have your back even if I don’t like you. If someone’s blowing up your spot (regardless of -ism), you can call on Snarky’s Machine. I’ll smack ‘em down hard enough to harsh their ancestors’s mellows. Seriously. Nothing gives me more pleasure – other than sex and cupcakes – than telling an assclown where to go and how to fucking get there.

As a fat activist, that’s how I roll.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a hairbrush and a standing room only engagement of Through the Fire I need to attend to. Hopefully I can finish before the neighbors call to report hearing the sounds of small animals fighting in the dumpster.

a more expletive riddled version of this post appeared on Snarky’s Machine.

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1 don’t even start. “Cheap Seats” is a termed most often attributed to Broadway where there is no such thing.
2 and sometimes this version of Ain’t Nobody fat too And you better believe I strapped big ass into an outfit JUST LIKE THIS ONE in my goth days and you couldn’t tell me shit except, “Play on, playerette.”

188 thoughts on “Cha-Cha-Cha-Chaka Chubby

  1. From someone who is often too intimidated to speak up for herself, thank you. Just thank you.

    I’m still learning to get in touch with my own inner Samuel Jackson.

  2. I am all about the “you ain’t got to go home, but you’ve got to get the fuck up on out of here” style of activism.

    Yes.

  3. “My activism seeks to make it unpleasant and EMBARRASSING and EXPENSIVE to engage in fuckery.”

    Oh, yes! That’s my general aim as well, though most people tend to ascribe that behavoir to “anger issues.” Well, duh! I am angry, I listen to people daily saying fuckass shitty things, and treat people like crap.

    Unfortunately, sometimes, the fuckards (not to be confused with fucktard, I’m using this as a variation on drunkard with out that ableism/addict hating) make it too unpleasant and embarassing for me to say anything. I’m working on getting over that shit though. I too enjoy smacking down assclowns and you gotta do what you love. :)

  4. Awesome post! Thank you for your BadAsseryActivism and for all the Chaka links. I love her!

  5. Nothing gives me more pleasure – other than sex and cupcakes – than telling an assclown where to go and how to fucking get there.

    This line made my whole morning. Great post, Snarky’s.

  6. Hang on a minute, you reduced the swear word content for SP? Well *fuck me* it must have been impressive!

    And thankyou for being awesome.

  7. Nothing gives me more pleasure – other than sex and cupcakes – than telling an assclown where to go and how to fucking get there.

    There has GOT to be a way to combine all three.

  8. Snarky’s, just for you, I am willing to admit that I skittered on over to the mirror of this post on your blog and… flapped with excitement at your final line.

    “All accomplished with a big fat ass, mutherfuckers. so boo on you!”

    Generally I go to quite a bit of trouble not to do that in public (it’s a dead giveaway, hello everyone else on the autistic spectrum) so you know I’m chair-dancing in glee.

    I love you so much! Off to buy (more) purple clothes.

    Love, me.

  9. Thank you, this was awesome. I wish I didn’t always automatically revert to being so god damned polite when people insult me. When they insult someone ELSE you bet I’m going to rage at them, but when it’s directed at me I get all brittle and tense and quiet when I should be yelling the house down.

  10. I’m usually way too shook up and scared to stand up for myself when faced with a fat-hating/sexist/whatever douche; I get things like “you shouldn’t be so angry, people won’t listen to you!” and consequentially pipe down. Thanks so much for this post, Snarky’s – I never really thought about bad-ass activism that way; that mouthing off, snarking, ranting and snapping at people can be more than just an expression of anger and frustration with the shit you have to deal with. That it can actually be a conscious choice in how to make people get a freaking clue.

  11. I like the journey this post took me on … from internet dating assclowns to Chaka Khan (yes, I watched all the videos – Aint Nobody 1 was my favorite) to activism. I am not the smack down type of activist (maybe someday?), but they are sorely needed!

  12. Snarky’s – I never really thought about bad-ass activism that way; that mouthing off, snarking, ranting and snapping at people can be more than just an expression of anger and frustration with the shit you have to deal with. That it can actually be a conscious choice in how to make people get a freaking clue.

    Think of how well fat shaming works on fat people. It’s been my observation that people hate to be embarrassed or have their previously “acceptable” behavior deemed “fucked up”. So either they will alter the behavior (like smoking) or go underground (like smoking weed). In either case, as long as they don’t have folks cosigning their behavior they will mostly like distance themselves from it.

    And then the hearts and minds people can do their magic. It’s important work, but first you gotta get folks to stop the behavior.

  13. oh, mygawd, snarky, i LOVE you. seriously, were i not in full blown love and engaged to a fabulous woman, i would be all over your shit (assuming you wanted that, of course). as it is, you’ll just have to go into my “celebrity/internet crush” queue, right behind julie goldman.

  14. I don’t seek to win hearts and minds. That’s not my style and besides, they are way better folks for that job. I don’t care what people think as long as it doesn’t blow up my spot or the spots of others dealing with oppressions. What I care about is behavior.

    It’s funny…I always thought of activism of trying to influence people’s thoughts to change their behaviour…but you are absolutely right. What matters most is their behaviour, and to hell with the rest. You’ve got the operant conditioning model of activism going on…minus the electric shocks.

    I also now have a graphic novel-like, superhero visual of you as Snarky the Smack Downer, embarrassing assclowns everywhere, in a purple batwing sweater and boots.

  15. It’s funny…I always thought of activism of trying to influence people’s thoughts to change their behaviour…but you are absolutely right. What matters most is their behaviour, and to hell with the rest. You’ve got the operant conditioning model of activism going on…minus the electric shocks.

    I was definitely that way in the beginning, but then I started studying models of social control/pressure and that just seemed way more effective.

    People don’t smoke in public, not because our hearts and minds are won over, but because it’s frown upon and costly/embarrassing if you’re caught.

  16. This was great.

    It reminded me that I used to do this — I spent most of my years around 15 kicking UP in (compulsory) religion class when the teachers would spout the “Catholic viewpoint” on abortion or gays or casual sex ( that one aimed pretty obviously at the girls). I would put my hand up and argue and assert the rights of human beings to be, you know human and it pretty often made me a social outcast (in a conservation Catholic school in a conservative Catholic community) but I just needed other people in the class who were being squashed down by this shit to know that it was wrong and that there were people who would say so. I can’t tell you how many times people (almost always girls) would come up to me in the corridor when there was no one else around and say “Thanks for what you said,” but none of them ever spoke up in class (or spoke to me when anyone was looking). I just wanted to make sure that someone was speaking against the hate, and as an articulate white kid I had the privilege to do it for those who couldn’t/wouldn’t.

    It eventually got to the point where most teachers knew not to start hating on women or gays or anyone else when I was in the room, because it would trigger a 10-minute rant and it was easier just to not be hateful and take the conversation elsewhere. One of the proudest moments of my life happened in (compulsory) social religion class in my final year, with a teacher who hadn’t taught me before and didn’t know me.

    Teacher: “All right, class, today would yous like to talk about abortion?”
    3 guys in the class simultaneously, looking at me in terror: “NO!!!”

    I would like it noted that all three of those guys were sexist, intolerant, anti-choice assholes. But they knew better than to talk about abortion with me in the room.

    Like I said, I used to do this. I don’t so much any more, and I’m trying to think why. I know how much heart I get from seeing people like Snarky’s and the other folk on SP and in the anti-oppression blogosphere get their rage on. Often someone else’s righteous rant seems to clear a space I can stand in; I love that feeling.

    From the post you linked to: “Oh, I know you ain’t about to discriminate against my ass. Not me. Not other marginalized groups I don’t even belong to and certainly not today. I look too cute today for my mellow to be fucking harshed by your bullshit.”

    Yeah. Exactly that. Thanks for the inspiration to get my rage on in the face of asshattery, if not for myself then for others after me. I think I will let my pissed-off 15yo self out to play more often.

  17. People don’t smoke in public, not because our hearts and minds are won over, but because it’s frown upon and costly/embarrassing if you’re caught.

    Definitely. And in terms of engaging in various “isms”, the message should be first and foremost that this behaviour is not acceptable, anywhere, any time.

    In a way, it reminds me of how I was raised, where my mom immediately disciplined me for whatever bad behaviour I was engaging in at the time. The explanations of why what I did was unacceptable usually came later.

  18. I… I… I think I love you.

    lol seriously – I do. That was awesome.

    Also I joined a specifically FAT dating site for awhile because I was sick of feeling ashamed of my weight with potentials (especially when they weren’t exactly worth taking home) and even THERE the question came up. One guy even went on and on about health and I was like um, dude, you met me on a fattie dating site, hey? He was like… oh – Sorry. I did finally meet a lovely bear of a guy who I’m madly in love with but man did I ever have my fill of fuckwizzles on there.

    <3

  19. Love this post.

    One question: do you find, now that you respond with anger in an attempt to change behavior (rather than responding with kindness in a–perhaps misguided–attempt to change thinking), that you feel physically different when confronted with asshattery? For example, I’m still trying to do the whole “polite education” thing when dealing with oppressive shit (which of course involves a lot of suppressing my real feelings), and whenever it happens to me my insides go topsy-turvy, my heart starts to race, and I feel like I’m going to throw up. I hate this part. Does that ever change?

  20. One question: do you find, now that you respond with anger in an attempt to change behavior (rather than responding with kindness in a–perhaps misguided–attempt to change thinking), that you feel physically different when confronted with asshattery?

    The odd thing is I’m rarely angered by it, because I’m on a mission, so I kind of get into that space and I find myself surprisingly calm. I take a dismissive tone and get a thrill out of making myself laugh – later – at whatever smack downery comes out of my mouth.

    Doing the polite education thing – now that makes me angry. Mostly, because it rarely accomplishes my goal – stopping the behavior.

    By the time I’m dropping science, I don’t want them to stop talking about a particular thing; I want them to just shut the fuck up period.

    I hate this part. Does that ever change?

    It does! My secret is to rage harder for oppressions I don’t claim as my own. Sometimes (though not always and not in a lot of cases, but for me anyway) raging on someone else’s behalf – though not in any “translator” capacity enables me to stay focused and hopefully get the person in question to stop what they’re doing/saying.

    But when it comes to race things specifically, it really depends on the day.

  21. Okay, I somehow managed to avoid a lot of annoying fat-comments when I was online dating, but I did get one guy who insisted that I describe what my body looked like and send him full-body pictures, because he said he couldn’t get a good idea from the pictures I had put up on my profile.

    Meanwhile, he had a blurry headshot, and all of his info was clearly sarcastic and not true. Basically, it’s okay for me not to know anything specific about him (I mean, he’s a dood, so clearly I would want his attention no matter what!), but that if he can’t see EXACTLY what I look like, how will he know if he wants to fuck me or not? WAH.

    Count me in the group of people who used to try to change people’s ways of thinking, but who now is just satisfied with getting assholes to change their behavior.

  22. Y’all. I’m having a Sally Field Moment up in this piece. Thank you.

    “The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” – Sally Field’s infamous and oft misquoted Oscar acceptance speech.

  23. My activism seeks to make it unpleasant and EMBARRASSING and EXPENSIVE to engage in fuckery.

    Oh I heart this whole piece but just…man I wish I was also at that point of activism when that ingrained urge to Be PoliteTM to asshatters would be easily replaced by the sort of awesomeness you’ve described here. Lots of other thoughts swirling now in my head about how to start going about doing just that but for now: awesome Snarky! We like you (and I’d venture a guess, more than just for “right now” too!)

  24. Totally agree with all of the above, and harassing assholes into shutting up has been my attempted MO for many years, but one question: why the need to equate “freelancer” with “lazy lying sack of shit”? The recession has been hard enough on my self-esteem as it is, I’m doing my best, thanks.

  25. Snarky’s, I found this post both thought-provoking and inspiring.

    I had a run-in recently with my friend’s boyfriend. He tossed off a sexist, asshat comment (about Hillary Clinton being shrill, among other things; that old canard!) and I responded with a sneer and a glare and then something to the effect of “I’m sure our very successful Secretary of State appreciates your criticism of her vocal cords.” Then I walked out of the room. Later, my friend complained that I was “mean” to her boyfriend and that he now hated me and didn’t want to be in my company. I told her point blank that I was sorry if that made things difficult for her (finding separate time to spend with me and him) but that I was frankly uninterested in being nice to him or anyone else whose mouths flapped with sexism and he could take his mouth and keep it far away from me. He owed ME (and her, and other women in the room, and Hillary Clinton) an apology for being offensive that was clearly not forthcoming, not the other way around, and it wasn’t my fault that I was RIGHT. She said she thought this was an “extreme” and “off-putting” position to take. I told her that was just fine by me if she wanted to think that! I have plenty of people in my life who do not engage in those behaviors. I did not need her boyfriend around me if he’s gonna be an asshat. I *did* need him to understand how offensive his comment was.

    And that moment + this post has made something click for me. I really AM uninterested in being nice/pleasant to people who engage in that kind of behavior. And leaving aside the equally true idea that I am uninterested in being nice for nice’s sake anyway (feminism, thank you!), I now have a place on the internet I can send people who complain that I’m too “abrasive” when I call them out on their -ism bullshit.

    So thanks, Snarky’s. This rocked! It made things that had been floating around in my brain congeal into a more definite idea.

  26. But when you were ‘Sweet Thing chubby’ did you rock the fuzzy purple bra top?
    That is the question.

    Actually the question is where can I get a fuzzy purple bra top?

  27. why the need to equate “freelancer” with “lazy lying sack of shit”? The recession has been hard enough on my self-esteem as it is, I’m doing my best, thanks.

    Me too. I’m a freelancer. But on dating sites – probably due to some bad advice from friends – that word has be co-opted to the point of meaninglessness. Drives me wonky!

    I put it in italics to denote this, but I think I should have put it in scare quotes.

    These cats are giving US a bad name. What field are you in?

  28. Then I walked out of the room. Later, my friend complained that I was “mean” to her boyfriend and that he now hated me and didn’t want to be in my company.

    Sounds like SUCCESS to me. I mean you weren’t trying to be nice. You were trying to tell that chowderhead to STFU.

  29. I often try and go for the polite education rather than the full-on excoriation. Now I’m asking myself why.

    One reason is that the folks I bring this up with are folks I care about – friends and family. I don’t want to alienate them, and if I have to grit my teeth and agree to disagree with them, I’d rather do that than wage war. But I *will* state my disagreement, which I hadn’t done previously.

    I do worry about the alienation that comes from argument. It’s why my male classmates in HS and college got reeeeeeal quiet when anything feminist came up — they were used to being shouted down rather than invited into the discussion. And then they’d badmouth the “feminazis” after class. If I ever tried to engage with them, they’d be all “okayokayokay I get it, you’re always right, fine, whatever, please go away.” Nobody learns, nobody wins. Not awesome.

    Is the flip-side of all this the fact that I’m scared of busting out my shit at people? Possibly. Probably. But at least I speak my mind and stick to my guns.

  30. One reason is that the folks I bring this up with are folks I care about – friends and family. I don’t want to alienate them, and if I have to grit my teeth and agree to disagree with them, I’d rather do that than wage war. But I *will* state my disagreement, which I hadn’t done previously.

    This is trickier. I believe in directness and prefacing everything with the phrase, “This is spoken in the spirit of love and truth” and then just breaking it down.

    For the most part, my friends and family are really on point in terms of getting it, so they aren’t generally the ones I have to worry about. But I realize this my experience and not necessarily other people’s. Which is why I own up to the fact this is my style of activism and don’t really prescribe it for others.

  31. I love this whole post TIMES A MILLION. The part about the other coworkers all ready to yell at the person? YES. The most effective negative reinforcement involves the whole community.

  32. One reason is that the folks I bring this up with are folks I care about – friends and family. I don’t want to alienate them, and if I have to grit my teeth and agree to disagree with them, I’d rather do that than wage war. But I *will* state my disagreement, which I hadn’t done previously.

    For me, there’s certainly a distinction between people who have earned the benefit of the doubt with me and asshats on the street who cat/fatcall me, you know? While I’m willing to wage war on street harassers (oh man, I will so shout right back at you), I am also willing to very politely explain to someone with whom I have an established relationship that whatever they are saying/doing is offensive to one or more groups of people. I do this all the time with girlfriends who say “I feel so fat…” etc. These are people who I know do not want to contribute to a discriminatory environment for fat people (or whoever) so as a fat person, if I say, “hey, you know, quit with the body snarking” (even if I do it with a bit of edge) generally they are willing to listen to that.

    I guess actually that’s the distinction for me, personally. People I KNOW are committed to social justice/equality/etc. from personal experience get the nice-nice. People I don’t know do not get the nice-nice.

  33. @Kristin ” Later, my friend complained …… I told her point blank that I was sorry if that made things difficult for her”

    Actually it was her boyfriend that made things difficult for her–not you! So her complaint should have been directed at him!

    You had nothing to be sorry about—what kind of friend wants you to abandon your principles of not tolerating deragatory language used against women? If he meets her dependancy needs the fine, woo-fucking-woo for her, but that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate such rubish.

  34. I love you, Snarky. I love you always and forever and SO VERY MUCH. I want to bake you delicious goodies and mail them to you.

    Sometimes you just have to stand up and SAY THINGS. Angry? What the hell is wrong with angry? IT MEANS YOU GIVE A CRAP. If everyone sits on their hands and navel-gazes when unpleasant shit goes down, then nothing will ever change! And sometimes it just takes one person speaking up and pushing the issue, to get other people talking and nodding and agreeing. WE CAN BE THE CHANGE THAT WE WANT TO SEE IN THE WOOOOORLD!

    Ahem.

    It’s HARD to stand up and be a source of all-caps CHAAAANGE. Scary. We all have to pick our battles. I know that I sure do. Sometimes I can calmly try to win some hearts and minds with facts, and sometimes I get all shouty… and sometimes I bite my tongue because I’m worried I won’t get it right. Or because I’m not in the mood to get all stomach-knotty and red-faced and adrenaline-shakey. (riotsnotdiets, you are not alone. Not alone in the least.) But I feel like I’ve got some backup, here. Some support in my convictions. This is awesome.

  35. @Snarky’s: clarification much appreciated! Little sensitive right now, as my master’s degree is seeming like an expensive and ill-considered piece of paper and I’m trying to parlay basic literacy into business editing and research work where possible.
    And yes, I agree: guys on dating sites are…icky. Tres, tres icky.

  36. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    Also, YES.

    p.s. I’m glad you compared yourself to Clint Eastwood, because I usually watch spaghetti westerns without any bottoms on. Little-known fact. If classical conditioning holds true, I’ll end up reading Shapely Prose without any bottoms on too.

  37. @Snarky’s: clarification much appreciated! Little sensitive right now, as my master’s degree is seeming like an expensive and ill-considered piece of paper and I’m trying to parlay basic literacy into business editing and research work where possible.

    Oh PREACH. I was there two years ago when I finished my MFA. Now I’m staring down the barrel of a MLIS that may or may not be useful or ever be completed. Still, I’m trying to be like Nemo and just keep swimming.

    shoot me an email. I’m always good for a few leads (long distance, PAY UP FRONT, low maintenance). I have a few friends and e-buds who all pool together once a week to trade freelance jobs of writing, archiving, project management, whathaveyou variety.

  38. OMG, the timing of this post was just unreal for me—read it on the heels of being silenced at work for the 3rd time this year by someone who talks to me like I’m a misbehaving child, then leaving work and getting harrassed on the street on the way to dance class. For the rest of the evening I battled with why I felt like I needed to be polite to these people, why I was moved to inaction by fear of hurting their feelings, how I could have educated them about the level of disrespect they were showing me. Now I’m thinking it’s not all about my burden of educating–it’s on them to knock it the fuck off.

    Sent an email after this and have already received a clear and sincere apology with a promise to stop the behavior. And if street harrasser guy is outside of dance class tonight, he’s in for it.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Snarky’s Machine.

  39. God, you are so fucking inspiring. I’m going to read this next time I go to the doctor so I can stand up to his size blather and not reduce myself to a stuttering, nodding mess like I usually do.

  40. “And yes, I agree: guys on dating sites are…icky. Tres, tres icky.”

    @GR, I don’t think Snarky would say that all guys on dating sites are icky… considering that she and I met on one :) Assclownery knows no gender, and seems to appear particularly often in all places where people connoiter for conjugal purposes.

  41. @GR & Snarky’s- I haven’t seen too many people trying “freelancer” as a euphemism for “couch-surfing MMO addict”, probably the part of the country/world I live in… I see them trying “graphic designer”. I feel so sorry for all the actual graphic designers. It’s hard enough to get any respect in the arts WITHOUT every useless jerk in the known universe co-opting your job title to be their cover.

    My rage is admittedly a little muted by my new purple sweater.

  42. Consider my socks knocked off, too. I finished reading this post and my mind went quiet and then–bing!–a moment of perfect clarity.

    Like Kristin I’ve found myself uninterested in being nice or even having any patience with people who obliviously parade their -isms around and get all BAAAW-shaped when someone (me) takes them to task for it. The last time I did it and someone else on that forum fussed at me for wasting time trying to change the offender’s mind. In my exasperation, I threw out at the complainer that I wasn’t TRYING to change anyone’s mind, I was trying to get the offending person to stop–which was the first time I’d found words for what I was really trying to do in standing up for myself/others.

    And here it is, the why of why I’m going for the stop-that-shit angle. Having this angle of attack unfolded so clearly is going to make it a lot simpler for me to break out the mean when I need to and not dither and guilt myself that maaaaybe I should be niiiicer. I’m terrible at nice anyway, and maybe getting the twits to shut up will help in their eventual listening. And if not? At least they’ve shut up and that’s that much less they can spread the hate.

  43. @Snarky’s- I know, a good friend is majoring in it. She’s amazingly talented (well I think so) and it’s still absolutely kicking her ass. And let’s not talk about the client-related insanity…

    I’d have her re-do my website if I could afford it, but until then we have an agreement. She doesn’t point and laugh, and I don’t cry. :P

  44. This post is so awesome and so timely!

    My 80 year old grandma just sent me a “ha ha” look at this gross fat person type chain email yesterday. I had almost convinced myself to let it pass, she’s old enough that I don’t think I’ll be changing her heart or mind about being a fat hating bigot. This post, however, makes me think I’d be better off sending her a reply that I don’t want any more emails that make fun of fat people.

    I’m fat (fat enough to have occasional lawn chair issues) and dammit I don’t want to be party to this kind of shit!! It’s important to let her know that I’m not complicit in this way of thinking.

    So thank you, thank you, thank you Snarky’s – boundary drawn.

  45. This approach works not just for -isms but for all sorts of assclownery. For example, anytime someone used to include me in a mass emailing that stank of urban legend, I’d first confirm its falseness on snopes.com and then use REPLY TO ALL to let everyone know that the person sending it had wasted my time as well as theirs.

    I don’t get any more of those emails. Whether these people have stopped or just stopped including me, I honestly don’t care.

  46. Snarky, you are so my hero right now. And Chaka Khan is HAAS (hawt at any size). I read the version on your blog as well. Rock on with your bad-ass self and keep fighting the good fight (and keep fighting dirty)!

  47. Fan-fucking-tastic post!! I really enjoyed this.

    I think another term that has become meaningless, at least on dating sites, is “entrepreneur.” Most of the time it just means he cooks meth on his mom’s stove & sells it out of his 1990 Chevy Impala.

  48. So much win. Snarkys, as someone who’s really bad at that sort of thing (but getting better), I admire and appreciate the hell out of those who can administer the smackdown effectively.

    And redlami, it’s amazing how well a public Snopes-ing works, isn’t it? I do know that one of the folks on the receiving end of mine did actually stop sending them altogether.

  49. @Valerian: Hi! *waves madly* Congrats on the purple sweater buying! I highly approve of purple and highly encourage its wear, as is evident from one look at my closet. *g*

    (E-mail me or message me sometime if you wanna, I’m still on LJ, too.)

    @redlami: You are so right. I noticed a sharp decline in my familyspam when I started Snopesing the silly business the more credulous members of my clan would fire off. Unfortunately, one of them just got wise and instead of ‘reply to all’ she now uses BCC–and still e-mails me the damned things, even after I landed on her like a ton of bricks for spreading swine flu panic. Some people…

  50. @redlami I’m always looking for new ways to get my mother to stop emailing me… I will try this Snopes tactic. Thank you so much!

  51. Later, my friend complained that I was “mean” to her boyfriend and that he now hated me and didn’t want to be in my company.

    This, for Christ’s sake. Like this was an unforeseen consequence? An unintended consequence? An unwanted consequence? This is a logic train crash I have never been able to wrap my mind around. “Hey, this asshole you don’t want to be friends with doesn’t want to be your friend!” Well, wait a second while I put my maudlin face on!

    It’s gonna be a long second.

  52. FYI, the Snopes tactic can backfire. My husband and I are now the designated “fact-checkers” for the family and now get ALL the stupid emails with an “Is this true?” typed in at the top. As if that makes them less annoying.

  53. In my teeniest, tiniest voice I say, I had no idea that the term porch monkey was a racial insult. It’s not like I say it all the time or anything, but I am now feeling silently ashamed for my unintended offensiveness. (I thought it meant any old person who sits on the porch being a nosy parker about their neighbor’s business.)

    Makes me wonder how many other phrases are horribly offensive, unbeknown to me…

  54. In my teeniest, tiniest voice I say, I had no idea that the term porch monkey was a racial insult.

    In some ways, that’s not even the point. If she’d used “crob flfldklgks” as a slur denoting the inferiority of POCs I would have done the same thing.

    So again, it was to smack down the behavior, more than the words, thoughts or intentions.

  55. Snarky, I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I FUCKING LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!

    And Chaka Kahn is a goddess.

  56. FYI, the Snopes tactic can backfire. My husband and I are now the designated “fact-checkers” for the family and now get ALL the stupid emails with an “Is this true?” typed in at the top. As if that makes them less annoying.

    @chava: That was step 1. Step 2 is to reply “You can check this yourself. Go to snopes.com. Type into the ‘search’ box. Look at the results…”

  57. @ Snarky’s, I want to add my voice to the multitude telling you you rock, because you do. If crappy behavior doesn’t have negative consequences, people just go on doing it.

    @ laura k, I think that’s one of the (many) reasons calling people on their -ist BS is a good thing. The more people get embarrassed or snarked at for using those terms, the less likely others are to hear them go unremarked on, think they’re inoccuous, and pick them up.

    I’ve learned about a couple terms the hard way when someone went, “Wait, *WHAT* did you say?” and I was all “Oh, crap, I’m sorry, that means [bad thing]; I thought it only meant [milder or inoffensive related thing].”

  58. @Harriet J

    I think it’s hard for people to wrap their brains around not not WANTING everyone to like you. Like, why on earth would you want people walking around saying that you’re a bitch? No one understands that I, personally, honestly, do not care. My friend was like “you were mean and now this person doesn’t like you.” And when I basically said that I did not care, that was read as “off-putting,” which is considering a bad thing when in fact OFF-PUTTING IS THE POINT. Sometimes people get lost getting to the part where I WANT to be off-putting because I want to PUT OFF asshattery around me (not only because I believe passionately in am engaged with social justice on a number of levels and because I believe calling out -isms is the right and proper thing to do as part of my own personal morality, but also because I find that shit upsetting and triggering and need to prevent it from inhabiting my life when it’s not a part of the work I am doing as much as possible).

    @chava
    I’m now the designated “is this a scam?” person whenever my boss gets unsolicited emails about, well, anything related to office supplies or web registration or accounting. It’s always a scam. Always.

  59. First, I always enjoy your posts, and this is no exception. So even though my comment is a bit (understatement) tangenty, be assured that I loved the whole thing!

    “…as long as it didn’t involve sitting on my couch all damn day, burning up my internets and making my light bill sky high – while graciously allowing me the privilege of financing their fuckery.”

    THIS.SO.MUCH (so much, indeed, that I felt compelled to comment, which I’ve not done though I’ve been reading for months).

    I just got out of a Very Abusive Marriage ™, in which my ex, as well as verbally abusing and mentally manipulating me to the point that I questioned my own reality and was near the point of being convinced that yes, he must be right that I am a completely fucking insane Boarderline narcissist (because I wouldn’t be what he wanted me to be, and he liked handing out diagnoses even though he didn’t have a highschool diploma, let alone a college degree or any sort of psychiatric credentials – but that is okay, because schooling just stifles your thinking, and he could see things clearly because he was Enlightened), and was so obviously right about everything when I was so obviously wrong (and he could prove it, ad nauseum), also couch-surfed in very much the same fashion which you describe here. While working on his novel, of which the publication date kept getting pushed back further and further. When I brought the fact up, and even ever so slightly intimated that I was tired of being the sole breadwinner (seriously, he had 0 income for the entire 2 years which we had been together), I was being “selfish”, and “consumerist”, and “putting a monetary value on his worth as a man” (I shit you not).

    So, the purpose of this comment is not to be self-indulgently ranty (I do try to fight that temptation) – however, I’ve been working on actually expressing these things because I had become so isolated from reality (I rarely spoke about it with anyone, and in my head his voice reigned supreme – still does, to an extent, though I’m working on it) that I was really beginning to believe that I was wrong, and that those things he said about me were true, and I am just a cold bitch, and a bad person (see: mansplaining – even to the extent that he tried to manipulate and convince me that I was the abusive one! because I wasn’t doing what he wanted! – and OMG there is a word for it, because it happens to other people too, and it’s not just me!). That is where this blog, and posts like yours, have been a life saver for me. Seeing someone else frame something that I’ve been conditioned to think is “wrong” of me to think, in a way which frames the behavior as definitely and decidedly Not Okay, is exactly the reality check that I’ve needed.

    So, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and all of the other bloggers on this site. I love the frank perspectives you bring to the table, I love you for unapologetically speaking from your own experience, and I love you for not letting anybody else tell you how it is when you know it to be otherwise. I can literally count this blog as one of the factors that saved my sanity.

  60. I’m liking the Clint Eastwood Snarkysmachine big time.

    Go ahead Punk. Harsh my mellow.

  61. Great post!

    Also, I was reminded of this: http://life-with-aspergers.blogspot.com/2010/02/some-thoughts-on-intolerance.html Someone there had the nerve to say that if you don’t like someone calling you a racial slur then obviously you have low self-esteem and “will see intolerance everywhere – even where it is not intended.” As if you’re supposed to read minds, and immediately know which ones intends racism and which ones have too much Asperger’s to understand that not every new word they read is appropriate to use anywhere and everywhere, when a bunch of people all insult you the same way!

  62. Oh, jeebus leggings, I love this post so much.

    I don’t seek to win hearts and minds. That’s not my style and besides, they are way better folks for that job. I don’t care what people think as long as it doesn’t blow up my spot or the spots of others dealing with oppressions. What I care about is behavior. My activism seeks to make it unpleasant and EMBARRASSING and EXPENSIVE to engage in fuckery. My style of activism – whether it pertains to fat or other -isms – seeks to cause folks tremendous shame and discomfort so they STOP ENGAGING IN THE BEHAVIOR and pressure others to do the same.

    Snarky’s, I hope you don’t mind if I say this, but I was thinking about you the other day. One of my students was being, to my mind, inappropriate and rude — dismissing another student’s experience of finding a certain word oppressive. I don’t want to give any identifying details to protect student privacy, but it’s a word that PLENTY of people see to be oppressive… or at least problematic and outdated. It’s not even a word that only the most radical activists [ETA: I am momentarily making use of my old moderator's way in to say here that, wow, my way of putting this has some serious problems -- A Sarah] understand as othering (not that that would be BETTER, but I would have been more prepared to deal with ignorance if it were something like “lame,” for example.)

    Moreover, regarding the axis of oppression in question, he was privileged, she was oppressed. Yet he presumed to speak authoritatively on what the word really meant, ridiculed and derided the other student’s experience of the word as othering, made fun of her theory of language, and then continued to use the word and said in a very in-your-face way that he wouldn’t stop using it. (This, despite the fact that I have a policy in the syllabus explicitly forbidding exactly this kind of language.)

    Well, you know that I apologize too much, try to be nicey-poo, etc. etc. I went off. Publicly. Not unprofessionally, I don’t think, but… well, let’s just say if anyone had heretofore wondered: “I wonder: You know, she’s really accommodating about things like deadlines and assignments. Does she have limits?” then KNEW NOW.

    And of course conflict always leaves me shaky, but as I was kind of processing this I realized two things:

    1) This was a new thing for me, being able to do that as myself-myself rather than online-myself. And I’d mostly learned it here at SP and gotten some especially good examples from you personally.

    2) There are some hills I’m really willing to die on. I actually didn’t know this about myself. I thought I would always be the sort of person who minced words, who played nicey-poo, who could never find the right response in the moment because she’s too conflict-averse and too scared of not being liked, who is rendered speechless by flagrant bigotry in real life and never manages to do more than the nervous laugh/exit the conversation thing, etc. But this time I thought: HANG THE FUCK ON. NO. Nothing’s worth being the sort of person who gives this a pass. More to the point, nothing’s worth the effect it would have on the other students to let him get away with this. NO.

    Hope my sharing that wasn’t self-indulgent wankery. It’s a long way of saying thank you, for this post and in general for your activism. Other people are starting to learn how to do it because you do it so well.

    (I took like two hours to write this, so once again the conversation has probably entirely changed in the interim. Let’s see what happens when I hit “submit”!)

  63. @A. Sarah, thank you, thank you thank you for your comment. So often folks need real world application in order to understand that ol Snarky lives on Planet Earth with everyone else.

  64. You’d be surprised how quickly folks change their behavior when the price is too high to stay the same.

    Exxxxxactly. Thank you for summing up the idea so concisely. Though it’s always encouraging to see that speaking out can change someone’s bedrock beliefs and prejudices, to me it seems the more immediate battle is to change their outer behavior, since the outer behavior is where it actually bumps up against other people. And changing behavior is a LOT faster and more straightforward, too.

  65. My activism seeks to make it unpleasant and EMBARRASSING and EXPENSIVE to engage in fuckery. My style of activism – whether it pertains to fat or other -isms – seeks to cause folks tremendous shame and discomfort so they STOP ENGAGING IN THE BEHAVIOR and pressure others to do the same.

    I cannot even express how much I love this and the examples that follow.

    A few commenters have mentioned having a hard time dealing with family, and others with whom one is obligated to remain on at least superficially friendly terms, when they make sexist, racist, some-other-ist jokes and comments. One of my mentors taught me an awesome technique for dealing with sexist jokes and alleged witticisms, and it applies just as well to other -isms, so I thought I’d share. First, you pretend you didn’t hear it clearly — make them repeat it, louder and/or more slowly, bonus points if you can make them do it more than twice and/or spell a portion of it. Second, you then pretend you didn’t understand the point, and make them explain what they meant and why they thought that was funny. It’s pretty well guaranteed to shine a white-hot spotlight on the -ism involved, and yet it’s just about impossible for your mom, or your friend, or your boss, or whoever it is that you don’t want to get in trouble with for telling off the lackwit, to get on your case for it (in fact, it often illuminates for them that this is, in fact, not funny), or for the lackwit to turn it back on you with the usual “too sensitive” or “need to have a better sense of humor” victim-blaming.

    The first time I saw my mentor apply this, a man who worked for one of our clients had referred to her as “Ally McBeal, here,” with that creepy little good-ol’-boy chuckle. By the time it was over, she had made him repeat it twice at increasing volume, spell “McBeal,” confirm that, yes, he meant like the TV show, and explain whether he meant only that she was a female lawyer, whether he was referring to the fact that her suit featured a skirt rather than pants, or whether he was actually insinuating that said skirt was too short, and which of those aspects he thought was funny. I’m pretty sure she could have gone on, except he’d already passed puce and was headed for fuchsia, and there was a legitimate concern of a cardiovascular incident, and he’d reached the point of stating out loud that he wished he had not made the remark, so she took pity and started the meeting. The guy’s boss seemed pretty peeved, and since we (a) didn’t lose the client and (b) never saw the guy again at subsequent meetings, he appeared to have directed his ire at the proper target.

    Why yes, this former mentor is one of my heroes.

  66. but mostly because as a black woman I’m just not supposed to be “sexy” or desired anyway. Sexualized, yes. Sexy, not so much.

    I find this to be so true, and I haven’t figured out how to deal with it except to just not be sexy in any way. I used to chalk it up to my SaTC Charlotte-like personality and my strict religious upbringing, but even in my own home I can only muster up cute. To attempt sexiness – especially in public – just seems like it would bring on all types of trouble that I’m ill-prepared to deal with (because I’ve never had to!).

  67. THANK YOU!

    I saw this presentation is psychology class that had a slide that read:

    Eating disorders:

    Anorexia Nervosa
    Bulimia Nervosa
    Obesity

    During the any questions part I said, “Obesity is not an eating disorder, it is a term for people above a certain BMI. Even if you were to believe that obesity is eating related* the term you would want is binge eating disorder.” (or something like that. I was calm and straightforward) Then I got beat down by everyone there telling me I was wrong. And then I talked to our (student) teach (who I feel a bit sorry for because she has not been taught anything about teaching, just been expected to do it with no input/observation by the people paid to teach us) that I should have phrased it differently and should not have just said she was wrong. I was so fucking pissed off. The teacher obviously felt no need to correct people for wrong information

    *I didn’t want to go into how that’s bullshit, especially considering not 6 months ago this class were being taught in a not entirely awful way about how obesity is more complex than that for weeks.

  68. As a writer I get emails from people telling me I’ve changed their hearts and minds. Now I’m wondering if I do any good at all.

    As usual Snarky, this was a really wonderful post. In person and in public I speak up more than ever and I can’t say my heart doesn’t race almost every time, but it is getting easier.

  69. This is such an awesome practical illustration of Jessica Yee’s comment that was mentioned here the other day, that “the point of anti-racism is to be for people of colour.”

  70. SnarkysMachine,

    I want to be just like you when I grow up… do you have any apprenticeship openings?

    I love your brand of activism. I try so hard to be a little more in your face every opportunity that I get. So far the best I can do is a withering glare and a “why would you say that” but maybe with practice I can get a bit more confident in my own ability to tell the ass-clown what for. (Is ass-clown one word? I don’t know… seems like a hyphenate)

    Love,
    Lexy

  71. As a writer I get emails from people telling me I’ve changed their hearts and minds. Now I’m wondering if I do any good at all.

    As usual Snarky, this was a really wonderful post. In person and in public I speak up more than ever and I can’t say my heart doesn’t race almost every time, but it is getting easier.

    I think it’s awesome that you do. I am just not that kind of activist and pretty much never have been. I just want to be the bulldozer clearing away fields so someone else can build affording homes on it.

  72. I’m another “nicey-poo” like A. Sarah who is learning to be more of a bad-ass IRL, when it’s called for. I guess I always worried what would happen if I took more of a stand on things. I still prefer to avoid conflict, but I have learned through experience that many people actually back right down when called on their crap, and that ‘bystanders’ often really appreciate it when someone is willing to speak up and call bigots/chowderheads out.

    I have a daughter and it’s quite tough to teach her that politeness is important, but that it’s sometimes necessary to NOT be polite. I hope I can do this life lesson justice, though, because it is really important.

  73. If I’m ever back on the meat market, I’m going to try to head off “just how fat” questions.

    “Imagine the point at which my being fat is a deal breaker for you, I am beyond that point. More importantly, if you have any hangups about body sizes, don’t bother me because I don’t want to know you.”

    That shit pisses me off. I’m sorry, I got distracted by that bit. Seriously though, like it’s not hard enough to find childfree non-drinking non-smokers without having to wade through shallow assholes wanting to know just how far outside their narrow little boxes you fall.

    (Sorry, I’m ragey about other things and I don’t want to derail. Some assbiscuit is trying to pull “why don’t you just leave” on me because my marriage happens in the real world where there’s patriarchy and shit, and I just happen to be up front about it. I should have never admitted that there’s patriarchy and just joined in the chorus of “Not My Nigel”.)

  74. Next time I know I’m going to be entering the lion’s den of douchebaggery, I’m going to listen to Ludacris’ “Get Back Motherfucker” and read this post first and I will be ALL SET.

  75. Thanks for this. My activism takes the form of voicing those secret shameful thoughts so many women have about not being “enough” because of (Naomi Wolf’s described) The Beauty Myth. It totally ties into this post of yours, though you seem to’ve kicked the Myth’s ass. I wonder if being Black helps with that. Like you said, you’re not “supposed” to be sexy… Huh… interesting. I must consider this.

    Thanks, again, for the great post.

    Oh, and I also love the idea of changing behaviors as the goal. Can’t do anything about people’s thoughts.

  76. @Snarky’s
    I am just not that kind of activist and pretty much never have been.
    You owned your methods & did not make them prescriptive; they are though (obviously) super inspiring to so many.

    I just want to be the bulldozer clearing away fields so someone else can build affording homes on it.
    Done and done with style.

  77. “Imagine the point at which my being fat is a deal breaker for you, I am beyond that point. More importantly, if you have any hangups about body sizes, don’t bother me because I don’t want to know you.”

    Yes! That’s what my “Good day to you, sir!” was in my responses. Basically, if you’re stupid enough to ask, I DON’T WANT TO FUCK YOU OR TEN LIKE YOU.

    I used my inbetweenie status to smack a host of crobs (like scrubs but without a song) down when I used OKC. I basically took a real delight in pointing out all the reasons they shouldn’t be trying to clown fat women, given their high degree of unfuckableness. I also wanted to bring a reign of shame and discomfort down on their ignorant little heads.

  78. Snarky, I don’t have anything clever to say beyond the fact that I LOVE YOU and I LOVE THIS POST and this week is officially BADASS WEEK. (This lady, for sure, would totally try to charm the pants off you if I ever had the good fortune to meet you in person. So be warned, mama.)

  79. I have to thank you for this post. You and other women like you have been a huge inspiration as I’ve tried to let go of my fear of making waves. I’ve found that standing up for myself and others and not letting that shit pass, I actually spend less of my time being angry. I’ve also found unexpected allies when I’ve called people out on their whatever-ist language, which has been heartening beyond belief.

    So basically, thanks for being publicly kickass, you help me have faith in the world.

  80. @SaraKate, One of my mentors taught me an awesome technique for dealing with sexist jokes and alleged witticisms, and it applies just as well to other -isms, so I thought I’d share. First, you pretend you didn’t hear it clearly — make them repeat it, louder and/or more slowly, bonus points if you can make them do it more than twice and/or spell a portion of it. Second, you then pretend you didn’t understand the point, and make them explain what they meant and why they thought that was funny. It’s pretty well guaranteed to shine a white-hot spotlight on the -ism involved, and yet it’s just about impossible for your mom, or your friend, or your boss, or whoever it is that you don’t want to get in trouble with for telling off the lackwit, to get on your case for it (in fact, it often illuminates for them that this is, in fact, not funny), or for the lackwit to turn it back on you with the usual “too sensitive” or “need to have a better sense of humor” victim-blaming.

    I want to memorize this, practice it, and have it ready for the next ass-beret who needs it. I wish I could be the one who could get people to change how they behave. Mostly I manage to get them to treat me even worse.

  81. This is pretty fucking awesome. As great as the polite appeals to the ‘heart and mind’ are, assclowns aren’t owed any explanations for being called out for their assclownery. I feel like it should be pretty fucking obvious that if doing something hurts or offends someone else it SHOULDN’T BE DONE. if someone is so curious as to why doing something is offensive they can figure it out themselves. I mean, there is such thing as the internet.

    I’m a mexican-american, and I’m really pale, so its not easy for people to single me out on my appearance, so I don’t usually get shit for my ethnicity from people, but it makes me incredibly uncomfortable when I am, and since I’m not used to it, I almost never know how to react. I think once in middle school i kneed a kid in the balls for calling me ‘a dirty beaner’ and telling me to go back to Mexico, but when its an adult who’s spewing out bigoted shit, I’m kind of at a loss. I was getting a ride home from a friend’s parents a couple weeks back, and her mother ranted on about two fifth graders having sex at tenement museum, before coming to the conclusion that it happened specifically because they were Hispanic. It was very uncomfortable for me, and all i could really say was that I was Hispanic, but the mother just tried to weasel out of being called out on her bullshit. I really didn’t want to argue because it’d be incredibly awkward since i was getting a ride home from them, but the rest of the car ride was very uncomfortable.

    The one, most obnoxious comment I get really often is the shock and hostility from people when they find out that I’m not fluent in Spanish. “How could you not speak Spanish? You’re Mexican!” I usually try to explain as the youngest child in my family, by the time I was born, more people in my household were speaking English than Spanish and so I didn’t have the opportunity to learn, but now I feel like I should call them out on making assumptions or questioning my “mexicanness” instead.

  82. I’ve found the best way to deal with fuckassery in friends and family is this:

    “Fuckass comment”

    “Oh. Wow, that’s totally offensive (bemused sigh/laugh) I’m kind of amazed anyone would actually say that out loud, IRL. Anyway, the skirt I bought is totally cute and I plan on macking on that girl tonight!” (Or continue with your conversation, you don’t have to talk about a girl that you want to mack on, obvi)

    It’s really embarassing and dismissive, like it’s so gross that people can’t even take it seriously. It always works to make them blush, stare open mouthed and then continue on with the conversation, just stammering slightly. It ends up being like a hint at the confrontation that would have to deal with if they did the same thing again, and it’s passed so quickly that everyone will make them feel like a douche if they try to argue with you.

  83. (and just to clarify, I don’t mean to say that people who have to deal with other people’s isms frequently should be better at dealing it, or ‘used to it’ or by any means less affected by it. I just meant to say that i’m for the most part really unfamiliar and confused when people do use my ethnicity to attack me)

  84. Ah, the forwarded emails. Would you like to hear my story? (Um, if not, skip to the next comment, I guess.)

    I work in a place where most of my coworkers are moderately conservative. Most of my coworkers don’t go so far as to send out political emails, but there are about 3 people who will send out political emails from time to time–not obviously political ones that endorse/diss particular candidates or parties, but ones like this and this.

    In a reply to all, I sent the links that I just linked to in response to each of those two particular emails. (I thought it would be wise not to engage with the political parts of the emails. In the first one, I just linked to the debunking, with the text of “Oops”, because that’s what I would have thought had I sent out an email with false information; in the 2nd one, I pointed out that one of the articles linked to in the original email mentioned how much oil had been extract, so it did not make sense to claim that environmentalists were keeping the reserve a secret and therefore preventing us from using it. Interestingly a NY Times article came out later talking about how this oil reserve had created so many jobs that there was a housing crisis.)

    I got a lot of people replying to all saying that I’d “missed the point” of the emails, or other sentiments to that effect, and one person who basically asked if I was trying to hurt the sender’s feelings in the first email. (My response was basically that if I had sent out an email like that with false information, I would want to know.) There was also one email replying to all supporting me (this from a supervisor, though, so it counts more :)) saying basically that it seemed clear I wasn’t trying to say anything negative about Ed Freeman, just about the original writer of the email who was using his death for political purposes. (His interpretation was correct.) After each email there was also one person who privately said they agreed with me (a different person each time).

    I found the whole experience very unpleasant, but after the 2nd one I stopped getting those emails! (After a big reply-all statement that the sender was taking me off her mailing list.)

    TL;DR: It may not make you popular, but you will stop receiving the emails if you reply to all a few times!

  85. beatrix wrote: ” I have learned through experience that many people actually back right down when called on their crap”

    This was true for me while I was an older college student (late 20s) and fat. I tripped on the broken sidewalk and was having trouble getting up. This guy behind me starts laughing and saying something under his breath. I just glared and him and said “Help me get up asshole!” and his whole demeanor changed while he helped me up. He was all apologetic and shit especially when he realized that I was really hurt. I took that opportunity to tell him he needs to stop being an asshole and treat others like the human beings they are…..right to his face as I’m holding onto his arm hobbling to the nearest bench. He could have dropped my arm and sent me to the sidewalk again, but my words punctured that ass-ism aura of his and removed the monster label he placed on me.

    I’m not saying this happens in every case, but when you’re not afraid to bring the truth in a bold face way, without fear, that mirror is too glaring NOT to crack sometimes.

  86. “Nothing gives me more pleasure – other than sex and cupcakes – than telling an assclown where to go and how to fucking get there.” I wish I had the courage to make this my personal motto…unfortuantely, I find myself yelling all of the things I should have said to my self on the car ride home, then my husband gets to hear it..usually it is more emphatic and explative ridden the second time around. Have you always been able to stand up for what you believe or did this come around at some point in life?

  87. OMG, where did you get an outfit just like that one? (From the second Ain’t Nobody video and your goth days).

    The rest is brilliant and dead on enough that I have nothing to add, but I am so, so glad there are people practicing that brand of activism out there. I alternate between that and making nicer and explaining more, myself, I think both are necessary and more complementary than people realize.

  88. Like you said, you’re not “supposed” to be sexy… Huh… interesting. I must consider this.

    Don’t listen to her. Snarky’s sexy as all get-out.

  89. REALLY liked this post!

    Now I’m thinking about how I really should be telling people off…and getting anxious because I don’t always know the right way to do it. What I get a lot of is street harassment/unwanted comments. Sometimes I do take things as “just being nice” when other women would legitimately be annoyed, but, some things just don’t bother me even if I see why they could, e.g. my neighbor calling me “beautiful” as if it’s my name, or compliments on my smile, or being called “mami” by the guy at the grocery store. On the other hand, there’s stuff like one thing that happens a lot gets to me–I’m walking past someone standing around, he calls out to me, and then is all, “what, not even going to look at me/talk to me?” with the implication that I’m a stuck-up bitch, basically. Or men I don’t know approaching me and not leaving me alone, and I feel trapped. (Ok, I guess part of it is just whether it’s someone I see regularly and has any business talking to me.)

    ANYWAY. I realize this may sound like, “Oh, poor white girl and her problems.” But, well, 95% of the time I get any attention from a man in public he’s black or latino. And…yeah, I don’t want to seem racist, as liberal white girls often don’t. Because I want to send the message, “leave me alone, I don’t want to talk to you,” but not the message, “leave me alone, because you’re black (and black guys are predatory/hypersexual/scary).” Not so much out of fear of offending guys who really are just being assholes and (may) know it, but…there’s people around, and I want it to sink in that many women don’t like this and it’s not cool. Rather than reinforcing the ever present message that white women feel threatened by/offended by the attention of latino and (especially) black men. Because that is unfortunately TRUE a lot of the time, and many guys around would have experienced that a lot doing something as simple as walking down the street or, you know, existing. I guess I’m very wary of reinforcing that experience with something that may just seem like more of the same.

    Maybe I’m overthinking, and it would be obvious to all around when someone deserves to be told off. And I know some people will always misinterpret my intentions and that is NOT a tragedy, but, yeah. Does anyone have thoughts on what I should do or say to make talking back a more helpful than detrimental thing, from a combating multiple “isms” perspective?

  90. @ Mel–

    I think its pretty easy to know when a guy is heading right past “friendly hello cause you live in my neighborhood” and straight on towards catcalling. If you’re in my neighborhood, and I have enough spoons that day, and you think the reason I crossed the street and didn’t say hello is because you’re black (and not the trash on the sidewalk, the direction I was going, or a thousand other reasons)–I’ll make nicey poo and talk for 5 minutes about the weather, most days. I live in West Philly in an area where there is a lot of racial tension, so yeah, this situation comes up a lot.

    If you catcall me outside my neighborhood and then try to make me feel fucking guilty about not saying hello to you? Or *smiling* at you? It is not my obligation to smile at you as the representative of liberal NWL everywhere. What. the. hell.

    I haven’t been great about unleashing the SLJ on the harassers, however–although lately, I’ve begun to get so fed up with the guilting that the next man who guilts me for not talking to him might just get a good old fashioned yellfest. Not sure how that makes it *expensive* and *embarrassing* for him, though. OTOH, might just make it embarrassing.

  91. Thank you for having our (collective) back. Sometimes it’s enough just to know that someone out there does. And the way you do it puts a smile on my face. I’ll try to pay it forward when I can.

  92. . On the other hand, there’s stuff like one thing that happens a lot gets to me–I’m walking past someone standing around, he calls out to me, and then is all, “what, not even going to look at me/talk to me?” with the implication that I’m a stuck-up bitch, basically. Or men I don’t know approaching me and not leaving me alone, and I feel trapped. (Ok, I guess part of it is just whether it’s someone I see regularly and has any business talking to me.)

    I ignore every person who behaves this way and find it hasn’t hampered my ability to be a good person. Forget about the person and focus on the behavior. If you want the behavior to stop it’s best not to reward it. Any response – even feeling upset – is a reward. White guys do this too and it’s merely a matter of being socialized to perceive MOC as more threatening, when street harassment is done by all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons, and none of them having to do with appreciation of beauty.

    EXCEPT construction workers.

    I have a t-shirt that reads, “A million construction workers can’t be wrong.” though I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with getting cat called by them. That said, I do feel a little sad they have become more respectful and instead of saying, “SHAKE IT BABY SHAKE IT.” they say things like, “Nice shoes.”

    After surviving serious earthquakes in buildings BUILT by construction workers, they can cat call me all they want, as long as they keep making buildings sturdy and strong.

    But that’s just me. YMMV.

  93. Obviously, people should definitely do whatever they need to do to be safe. This is why I don’t like to be prescriptive about street harassment. Personally, I find it annoying rather than scary and I do sometimes enjoy a little banter, though on my terms and only if they willing to engage on that level.

  94. Reading this post today inspired me to speak up when someone used “gay” as a pejorative this evening. I’m working hard to get out of my (damaging and destructive) “omg what if people don’t like me?!?!?!?!” mindset, and your awesome confidence spilled over and gave me some of my own….so I told the person it was uncool that they said it. So, thanks for being you, and for sharing it with the rest of us. You made a difference today!

  95. @ SM–
    “Forget about the person and focus on the behavior. If you want the behavior to stop it’s best not to reward it. Any response – even feeling upset – is a reward. White guys do this too and it’s merely a matter of being socialized to perceive MOC as more threatening, when street harassment is done by all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons, and none of them having to do with appreciation of beauty.”

    I have thought long and hard about not responding vs. responding (to all dudes, of whatever color they might be). I don’t know that the Not Responding mantra is all its cracked up to be, honestly–I’ve had girlfriends tell me exactly what you’re saying here–any response is a reward. But would we say the same thing if they did it to us in the workplace? Why is the street a different space where our response is suddenly to be silent and motionless rather than loud and fight back?

    I tried being silent with street harassment for a very long time–and it ended up feeling more frustrating. Now, I’m not sure if it accomplished more than speaking up, or not. But it felt like being silent was like that advice about bullies at school–”just ignore it and it will go away”–except, it doesn’t.

    RE: white guys and street harassment. Oh yeah, they do it too. Except they feel like they are extra special entitled to come up to me not just in the street, but in the coffeeshop, and in the library, and all sorts of non-street but still semi-public domains. They also still pull the guilt card (not as related to race, obv.) –it just works less often, as I’m more inclined to hand their ass to them on a platter.

  96. Addendum:

    So there can be, as I think SM was trying to get at, a thin line between bantering and harassment. If it works for you, it works for you–I don’t mind a little back and forth when I feel safe/am around people I know, either.

    I guess the bottom line is, trust yer spidey sense. If it says you’re being harassed, you’re being harassed, and get the heck out of Dodge.

  97. Got an apologetic and embarrassed email from grandma after letting her know the fat joke forwards aren’t cool. This woman has pulled some crappy stunts all in the name of “concern” and it felt great to let her know that I’m not buying what she’s selling. Even though it’s a small and personal thing, I thank you so much for the inspiration to stand up Snarky’s.

    @WindSparrow- thank you for the absurdity of ass-beret!

  98. “I have a t-shirt that reads, “A million construction workers can’t be wrong.” though I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with getting cat called by them. That said, I do feel a little sad they have become more respectful and instead of saying, “SHAKE IT BABY SHAKE IT.” they say things like, “Nice shoes.””

    :-D

    O Holy Mary Mother of G-d (and I’m a Jew).

    After I was born, my leggy, redheaded mother (bless her heart) remembers to the very DAY and HOUR, the anniversary of the day she ventured out of the house post-baby and got something other than a “nice shoes” from a construction worker.

    She ducked into one of those NYC corridors they build for construction and did the fucking football end line dance. In her stilettos and miniskirt. In the 80s. While singing “She’s got it….ooooh baby she’s got it!” (now, admittedly, mom just turned 60, so the story may have been embellished by now, but you get the idea).

    Bless ‘em.

  99. Thank you, for helping me realize where my otherwise inexplicable sense of self-sexiness comes from, it’s none other than Miss Chaka Kahn. I too am about five feet tall (and a bit) with a big set and belly and hips (but not much ass) and I shake it on the dance floor like there’s no tomorrow. I also have big curly hair (of the Ashkenazi Jewish variety).

    I showed my 5 year old girl some photos and videos of Chaka and she thought she was beautiful and “like a princess” (the highest compliment she knows how to bestow at this time).

    Because of my height, chubby describes me well. Over the past few days, I’ve noticed that when I make factual statements about my size (height and girth) I’m met with some “tsk, tsk”ing as thought I’m putting myself down, when I am not at all, I’m totally okay with, beyond okay with, the particulars of my body, but these dimensions mean I’m not able to reach things that are up high, or lean very far over things because belly and boobs get in the way. I was carrying a folding table today that was probably six feet long and someone said, “hey, that table is bigger than you are” and I said, “well, taller, anyhow” and it was met with a “don’t put yourself down” sort of response, but I think there’s some defensiveness on my part, hey, I might be short, but I’m mighty!

    Chaka is undeniably sexy — and appears to know it, which is even sexier. And being bad-ass is sexy, too. I am a pit bull in the best possible sense (having had the very best dog in the whole wide world who happened to be a pit bull and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her) — loyal, sensitive, smart, stubborn, affectionate and self-assured — but you do not want me to sink my jaws into you.

  100. Oh, and I recently ventured into the online dating scene before returning to my 18+ year marriage (I went to the brink but did not dive in completely) and found that my fatness was perceived to be as much, if not more, feature than flaw. Yeah, it was irritating to read profiles online from guys who otherwise looked appealing but then were all “I prefer average to slender women” but hey, I prefer guys who don’t “prefer average to slender women.” There were some great-seeming guys I interacted with and two I actually met in person. If I find myself single again, and there are no guarantees in the “trial reconciliation” realm, I will not fear for finding someone who is attracted to me. Finding someone who fits my life, on the other hand, is quite a bit harder.

  101. I’d like to join the chorus: OMG Snarky’s <3 <3 I love this post and the comments that follow.

    My boyfriend has a friend who is of the “Screaming Ally” variety who basically complains that Feminists aren’t making him feel comfortable when they talk about their lives and don’t they know they’re making him feel marginalized by talking about Schroedinger’s Rapist and they should probably take pains to cater to his precious feelings because he’s an ally and we wouldn’t want to lose him, would we? Ahem.

    I will definitely be rereading this post and steeling my inner Samuel L Jackson before the next time we see him.

  102. While I’m generally suspicious of anything equating humans and other mammals (I’m sorry, we do have the most complex social organisation, bar none), some of the good-old mammal conditioning techniques work extremely well on us, civilisation or no. So, like dogs, you REWARD the behaviour you want to see (i.e. you’ll continue actually associating with them), and you sometimes roll out (appropriate) punishment for the behaviour you don’t like to see.

    Or, expressed another way, make the benefits of good behaviour apparent, and make the costs of shitty behaviour even more apparent. While I do care what people think, as has been so eloquently pointed out, what affects us is behaviour. For example, I find much of religious belief utterly incomprehensible (and often outright offensive), but if you worship happily in your churches and in your homes and heads, lovely. It’s when people start knocking on my door and passing laws against my lifestyle, I start getting pissed off.

    I’ve got two major techniques to avoid annoying behaviour. One is the pre-emptive rant. I often find myself – not long after I’ve met someone who I’ll be dealing with for a while, such as a new co-worker – ranting about something in the newspaper like the right-wing wankers who want to put up sales tax but reduce income tax. [It's not the poor people who will benefit from such an arrangement.] These brief but strongly-felt rants tend to make my general beliefs clear.

    I don’t do it with people whose views I feel would be strongly opposed to mine, because I tend to deploy technique #2 and avoid them as much as possible. Technique #2, when I hear some particularly egregious piece of shit is to say, “Are you [fucking] serious?” with as much contempt as I can muster and a disbelieving glance at other parties in the room. It generally shuts them up, with that embarrassment factor and high social cost thing going on.

  103. @Bridgie “thank you for the absurdity of ass-beret!”

    You are welcome! It is lovely as an epithet, and often useful. I can’t take credit for coming up with it, but I am happy to share it.

  104. Thank you so much for this post. I really needed to read this today. Having recently been advised* to tackle a ‘casually’ racist in-law by “using ‘I’ statements” and “talking about [my] feelings,” I really needed to hear that taking the direct option isn’t a bad thing. That if they can’t handle being called on their shit, it isn’t my fault.

    *This advice came from a few different non-POC, who were concerned about me “rocking the boat.” Fuck. That. Noise.

    Thank you again. Also, “chow-chow” has entered my vocabulary. It’s a great bloody term!

  105. To clarify, I am a POC. I use “non-POC” instead of “white” because I’m half-white. And “whiter-than-me” is a bit long and vague-sounding.

  106. Holy sweet Chaka Fuckin’ Kahn, I love this post. And you. And this post. And all your other posts. But especially this one. Shout loud and proud. :D

  107. In honor of your Cha-cha-Chaka article, would you consider promoting the auction she is hosting online for her foundation through May 15th at http://www.chakakhanauction.org? All proceeds going for one-on-one tutoring for at risk youth in Los Angeles. You can even bid to have dinner with her or accompany her to get her star on the Hollywood walk of fame next year :)

  108. While I’m generally suspicious of anything equating humans and other mammals (I’m sorry, we do have the most complex social organisation, bar none), some of the good-old mammal conditioning techniques work extremely well on us, civilisation or no. So, like dogs, you REWARD the behaviour you want to see (i.e. you’ll continue actually associating with them), and you sometimes roll out (appropriate) punishment for the behaviour you don’t like to see.

    Yup. Definitely not interested in devoting a heap of time to folks I barely know engaged in behavior I do not want simply because they’re complex beings.

  109. Snarky, this post *scared* me.

    As someone who has been labelled “bossy” and “difficult” since – literally! – her first report card, I am always, always, always desperate to make nice to people. I’ve been told so many times that I’m bitchy and loud and pushy and bossy and hard to deal with that I’m terrified everyone everywhere thinks I’m awful.

    I’m always apologising and making nice and begging people oh please oh please don’t hate me.

    After reading this and the comments, I’m really thinking that my “whys” (I want to be liked, I don’t want ppl – work, family, friends – to think I’m a bitch) are absolutely irrelevant. I don’t have to have people *I* don’t like like *me*. Why would I even want to?

    Though, I do have to agree with the thought that changing the behaviour is good – but it feels like a hollow victory sometimes. People agreeing with me just to shut me the hell up sort of feels like missing the point, no?

    Though, at least it makes my personal environment a little nicer.

  110. A Sarah: I hope your awfully-behaving student slunk out of class feeling like a poo-hat and ready to behave like a civil human being sans feces cap. Even if they didn’t, I am glad you didn’t as they say in The Wire, show any flex on this.

  111. I think this is my favorite post. Good for you, and I wish I had the guts to be more like you.

    Oh, and at least to me self-assurance is the central pillar of physical attractiveness. The most brutal piece of Go to American Eagle/Gap/Macy’s and pick up a pair of [size redacted to avoid "you're an inbetweenie" derailing] pants and hold them up to the light. If they look “too fat” then my delicious fat ass is TOO FAT FOR YOU. Good day to you, sir! is that it demonstrates that Snarky’s Machine has self-assurance by the boat load. If any of the fools who inquired about her size are also attracted by self-assurance, then they read the response and thought “Dammit, she’s awesome and I just blew my chances.” That’s a double loss for them.

  112. Oriniwen: A teacher of mine in high school told my mom I was overbearing and mouthy (rather than intelligent and capable) in a parent teacher conference. She told me, knowing I probably needed to realize that people use that kind of criticism against women to SHUT. THEM. UP. My mom said flat out “you cannot let people use this against you.”

    I am so glad she did, because I have since been very much in favor of not giving people with power the pleasure of telling me what I have to say is worthless if I don’t say it in a nice, male-privileged-approved way.

    I had the opportunity to tell that teacher how much it affected me, what he’d said, recently. And… he didn’t even remember doing it. At all. He seemed kind of shocked. He apologized. And that made me even MORE grateful to my mom. I mean, this thing, this profoundly educating, difficult thing I had to learn, he didn’t even recall the possibility of having done.

    I mean, why would you even have to remember? If your silencing techniques work, all you have to do is go on with your life, believing things are exactly as you want to see them. There are no people around to tell you otherwise, after all.

    I am not gonna lie and say taking a policy of refusing to be SHUT UP is always fun or easy. But at least now that guy remembers me, not just for being the articulate kid he WANTED to remember, but the pissed off feminist bad ass I WANT HIM to remember.

    I am so sorry you got “she’s too bossy” crap from other people.

  113. @ AnthroK8

    I hear what you’re saying lol! I always put stuff like “good leader” and “take-charge, can-do attitude” on my resumes but it feels like I’m making up nice words for ZOMG BOSSY BITCH.

    It really is something that’s stuck with me for so long. And being a large, tall, redheaded (oooo … firey!) person means I just want to minimize myself even more. Those early childhood silencing techniques work well indeed. I doubt that any of my teachers would remember, either. The thought that little girls need to be quiet goes pretty deep.

    I know for *sure* that theres race and class issues here too. I was never formally disciplined nor did the “bossy” comments go any furthur than report card notes and occasional comments – which I’m sure would not have been the case if I didn’t come from a “Good (White) Catholic Family.”

    Small story – My Samuel L Jackson moment was to tear a strip of the roughneck who thought hanging around “chattin to the laydeeze” was a good way to spend his afternoon off. His afternoon, not ours. He was in our way and interfering with our work and I told him in no uncertain terms what he could do with his ass. I’m known at the office as “the geologist who made the roughneck cry.”

    Makes me feel like the Biggest Bitch in the History of Cuntitude and a fucking superhero *at the same time.*

  114. While I’m willing to wage war on street harassers (oh man, I will so shout right back at you)

    Yes! Some time ago, I was walking my dog and had some guys shout at me while passing in their truck and I let out this blood-curdling scream in response. They drove back by again, staring, but were dead silent. It was satisfying.

    Snarky’s, this post fucking ROCKED. God, if it weren’t for you guys, I’d probably still be cowering (okay maybe not cowering, my temper’s too hot for that) but certainly quieter and less articulate when trying to make a point. *brings out the violins* So THANK YOU.

    The timing of this post was perfect for me because I recently got into an online debate of sorts with a friend of a friend who revealed himself to be a complete asshat. He was snide, condescending, and self-righteous and I knew that no one else was going to respond, but I couldn’t let him get off the hook. I was a bit harsh but his vile, misogynistic reponse evaporated any traces of guilt real fast. And frankly, I gave him enough rope and he managed to hang himself just fine. However, I still felt kind of doubtful afterwards from “making a scene”, but reading this made me realize that hey, at least I knocked the wind out of his sails for a few, right? Maybe he’ll think twice next time. So keep up the bulldozing, we need it!

    And from my own experience, I’ve never regretted saying anything but I have regretted the times I was silent.

  115. Snarky, I owe you one.

    I came home late from a party last night, and I walked past the same group of guys that I walk past most nights. Usually I don’t get any trouble, but last night some assclown decided he wanted to get to know me. By following me down the block, hey-babying. I ignored him at first, but once it was clear he wasn’t quitting, I whooshed through the following internal monologue:

    “OK, this is legit and dangerous. Do something. Better pull a Snarky.”

    I turned around, looked him in the eye, and said “stop. following. me.” in a loud and clear voice. A maybe-the-neighbors-can-hear-it voice. And when he aw-baby-why-you-gotta-be-like-thatted me, I flipped him off without looking back.

    Dude was obviously drunk, so I doubt he remembers anything. I sort of hate that now all of a sudden I have to worry about coming home late at night? I’m also horrified that my response upon getting home was to think, “well, that’s what happens when I wear a skimpy top… wait, WHAT? No.”)

    I don’t think my response was perfect, but I’m really, really glad I responded with strength. And who the heck knows what my polite ass would have done had your post not reminded me that sometimes, a girl’s gotta shout?

  116. You are all wanting to give the best response but sometimes these guys can be really dangerous and the last thing you want to do is rial them up or to let them to know where you live. If there is a shop near by drop in there and wait until he gets bored and goes away. Always stay near other people when someone you don’t know is harassing you . If none of these are an option and he comes near you a good kick in the balls will sober him up real quick Be safe girls La Grande Dame

  117. @Michelle

    Point taken – all good advice. Unfortunately, the nearby shops were past McDrunky in the other direction. I could have looped around the block, but (a) he already knows where I live since he lives on my street and sees me come & go, and (b) I pretty much just wanted to get inside. The only other folks around were behind me and him, so my goal was to say one thing loud enough to perk up the sober folks’ ears (it’s an active corner – young guys, neighborhood kids, seniors in beach chairs). I used a tone that I’d use with a young kid about to run into the street (as opposed to a sassy one, which I figured would be more inclined to rile…). And McDrunky looked like he was drunk enough to curl up on the street and take a nap, so I wasn’t worried about him running after me (but I’m glad we had significant yardage between us).

  118. @ Michelle—

    Sorry, but I tend to call BS on the “Don’t make them Angry!!!” meme for harassment. Yes, sometimes there can be real danger.

    But often, its just another way to make the wimmins shut up.

    (And I’ve tried ducking into stores, etc etc and still had men wait for me and follow me when I left. If someone wants to get you they will get you, past a point)

  119. Oriniwen: A teacher of mine in high school told my mom I was overbearing and mouthy (rather than intelligent and capable) in a parent teacher conference. She told me, knowing I probably needed to realize that people use that kind of criticism against women to SHUT. THEM. UP. My mom said flat out “you cannot let people use this against you.”

    Oooh, have I told you all about the college professor I had who took two (female) friends and me aside one day to tell us we were dominating class discussion too much and really needed to be quiet and listen more and try to help other students express themselves instead of constantly asserting our opinions? Which, fine, I’ll cop to a bit of Hermione-ness, but something wasn’t sitting right, and it soon became clear why. Because the next thing he said was: “I just find it so surprising. I mean, I would expect this kind of behavior from big football players or something, but not you three.”

    I’M SORRY WHAT NOW?

    If I can say I had any identifiable feminist “click” moment, that was probably it. I got scolded for coming off as overbearing and ungenerous because I was smart, opinionated and not quiet about it, and dude told me flat out he found all that shocking because it was too fucking macho.

    When we were writing evaluations at the end of that semester, the proctor literally had to grab mine out of my hands before I was finished, because everyone else was done and he wanted to leave and I was still sitting there like “AND ANOTHER THING…” But I did get the football player anecdote in there. And here’s the kicker… a few months later, I’m talking to my favorite prof (who helped shape my feminism in a positive way) and out of nowhere, she says, “So you really hate Dave Lastname” huh? And I’m like, “Huh?” They taught in two different departments, I’d never mentioned him to her before, I couldn’t figure out how she would know that. Then she tells me she was in charge of teacher evaluations (or something) the previous semester, and she saw my unfinished and admittedly kind of unhinged rant about him. Me: “But that was anonymous!” Her: “You think I don’t know your writing by now?”

    Heh. Fortunately, she was also appalled by the football player anecdote and found the whole thing amusing (hence initiating a fairly unethical conversation about it). And the hated prof did not end up staying at that school. And I was reaaaally tempted to write his full name up there, knowing this comment could come up in searches, but I decided to take the high road because he was young then, and who knows, maybe he became somewhat less of a dick. But WOW, WHAT A DICK.

  120. Kate: I almost asked you to give us the dickhead prof’s name, but realized that he might be able to take it out on the female prof who talked to you.

  121. “If you want the behavior to stop it’s best not to reward it. Any response – even feeling upset – is a reward.”

    Good point, Snarky’s Machine. Because, yeah, guys who do that kind of shit aren’t really doing it because they think it will be appreciated. It’s not a misunderstanding where he genuinely believes he was “just being nice.” They enjoy making women uncomfortable.

    And to SarahKate: your mentor sounds awesome. I actually copied and pasted your post and emailed it to myself. Especially since I’m starting law school and wary of lawyers’ special brand of ridiculousness.

  122. P.S. And of course, I’m aware that all races do the street harassment thing, and that’s just my experience. For me that’s a statistical effect of location–almost every man I see on most days is black or latino. Now that I think about it, I remembered something I may not have thought of because of internalized stereotypes (b/c Asian men are passive, right?). When I lived in Hong Kong for a year and ventured out of the Westernized areas without my husband, it took all of half an hour to be on the receiving end of some very rude English practice from a group of young men.

    And in the past, being around mostly white people, for me, has meant being around lots of super-educated, relatively wealthy people in educational/arts settings, and in those settings I can’t remember anyone of any race acting that way.

  123. I wasn’t a SP reader if you ever did tell that story, Kate, so I am very glad you wrote it here.

    Yikes. I hope that professor got it together in subsequent years, because… WOW WHAT A DICK. I don’t think I finally really truly got to peace with that parent teacher conference until I had a chance to tell Mr. Whatisface to his face what his (evidently) offhand comment meant in my life.

    Another sting in that nettle was that Mr. Whatsisface would tell me every time I saw him for *years* how brilliant my older brother is, how he is the best student he’d ever had, unserweite, so on, and so forth.

    My bro is brilliant, no doubt about it. And guess what he is not and never will be? That’s right. He’ll never be shy and retiring about sharing his opinions. And he’s a interlocutor from the Snarky’s Machine School of Samuel L. Jacksonitude.

  124. I get told by my mom all the time that I’ll “never find a man” because I’m “too aggressive.” I should clarify that my mom is 85 years old, so it’s really a generational thing. But still, thanks mom (eyeroll).

    Snarky, I’m completely supportive of your style of activism and I try to practice it myself. Like you, when I speak up, my intent is to get people to stop what they’re doing/saying. When it comes to internet dating, though, I think I have more of an uphill battle, so to speak, because I’m not an “acceptable” fat. Unlike you, my body shape is not proportional. My shoulders are wider than my hips, and I carry most of my weight in my boobs and belly. I’m not an hourglass, but more of an inverted triangle shape, with an ‘apple’ shape belly and no ass. Think Sheri Shepherd before she lost weight. Think Jo Frost (the Supernanny) with a bigger mid-section. That’s my shape.

    I don’t mean to be all victim-y here, but based on my nearly 10 years of internet dating experience, I have a ridiculously hard time getting a guy to even respond to my profile, flirt, wink or message on a dating website, let alone use up my electricity, internet connection and good will in an attempt to ‘date’ me. Not that I want those things, of course, but I’d like at least a response or two. It can be hard to stay vocal about my fat activism if my very physicality seems to elicit an immediate ‘no’ from anyone who checks out my dating profile.

    So I’m glad you’re out there and doing it, making people think and stopping their fuckery. And I know I need to create the change I want to see in my life, be proactive, etc, etc. But sometimes it can be damn hard as a disproportionately-shaped fat woman who is also educated, independent, with her own car and place to live, to find a guy willing to check her out, let alone keep fighting the good fight and standing up for what I believe in. If I can’t even get a guy to look my way, how will I ever learn that he’s freaked out by my independence, my work ethic and my education? ;} (Evil sarcasm with a grain of truth.)

  125. Okay, am I the only one uncomfortable with the dig at the unemployed?

    “These assclowns had a lot of cheek demanding I clarify shit that was spelled out when their own profiles often rocked euphemisms like freelancer. Have a job or learn a trade or write a novel – just don’t waste my time with high flying acts of chow chowery designed to disguise your lack of ambition. I didn’t care what folks looking to date me – when I was on the market, so to speak – did for work/living/rent scratch, as long as it didn’t involve sitting on my couch all damn day, burning up my internets and making my light bill sky high – while graciously allowing me the privilege of financing their fuckery.”

    It makes me uncomfortable.

  126. She clarified that she didn’t mean people who are not able to work, and very clearly painted a picture of the type of dude she meant – people who have no goals or ambitions, aren’t contributing and taking advantage of her financially.

    Just because a person is unemployed, doesn’t mean they’re the type of person she described.

    Why do you see this as a dig at the unemployed and why are you uncomfortable? Because from where I sit, you’re stirring but you’ve added nothing to the pot.

  127. @Rachel: I cringed a little at that paragraph, but then I realized that it’s my issues/guilt-about-them talking loudly, not actually anything that Snarky said. I’m almost entirely (99.999%) sure she wasn’t saying “I want to set you on FIRE*, Valerian (or any of the other awesome-but-unemployed people surely around)!”

    If I feel like that it’s because I’m sitting here gnawing on my liver again and I just haven’t noticed. See, I’m mostly-unemployed (for what are at this point quite a few reasons, all of which I’m trying to change), and I’ll admit that it’s been affecting my sense of self-worth. I have very productive days, I get things done, the next day I’m so afraid that I can’t go get the mail without throwing up. My boyfriend and I live together. Last time I was wringing my hands, he said he’s not worried about the money, we’ll figure that part out, he just doesn’t want to feel like the only person trying.”Equal effort”. Right now that has me spending a lot of time studying and working on the house. Soon it’ll be going back to school full-time and (hopefully) working part-time.

    I’m kind of rambling… I don’t feel like you’re being fair to Snarky, who is wonderful and fabulous, and always says the kinds of things I wish I were smart and funny and courageous enough to say.

    *Defenestration of course always an option…

  128. @michelle wood — I think you are sincere and mean well, but: I really think everyone who’s gotten to the point where they’re strategizing how to call out and humiliate harassers already KNOWS that harassment can become dangerous. I rather expect that’s why we’re trying to help make a world where being a harasser is embarrassing and costly.

    Too, it’s possible to do both: think about how to embarrass harassers and think about one might (MIGHT, not be guaranteed to) exit a dangerous situation. Which one is taught more? In my experience, the latter. This is one of the few places I know where people talk about the former.

  129. @Rachel – But you didn’t quote the next part, in which it seems to me you’ll find the answer to your objections:

    It should go without saying, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT FOLKS WHO ARE UNABLE TO WORK. It should go without saying, but since it won’t – for the privileged hard headed folks in the cheap seats1 (cause of that whole othering POC thing, which frames our word choices as far more loaded and intentions far more sinister than if the same words were written by a NWL) – I’ve said it HERE AND NOW.

    Playa, do you have a jobby job or what? Well just exactly how deadbeatish are we talking?

    This is about the nerve of some dudes raising a metaphorical eyebrow, stroking a metaphorical chin, and bringing out a pair of metaphorical calipers and asking: “Just how fat are we talking?” of someone they meet online who’s unapologetically said “HEY I’M CHUBBY!”

    As though Snarky’s Machine – or anybody else they meet on the site – owes them jack shit. As though Snarky’s Machine should reasonably by expected to waste any more time explaining herself to suit them: “Well, y’see, I’m THIS fat, not THIS fat or THIS fat or THIS fat but more fat than THIS. Still interested? Pretty please?” As though she has any reason to be interested in someone who would ask that question.

    But it’s particularly disingenuous when you consider that some of these dudes do exactly the kind of weasel-wording that Snarky’s has NOT done by describing herself as chubby. They’ve described themselves as “freelancers” when, it turns out, they mean that they’re not only unemployed, but not even looking for work and possibly only joined the dating site to find a woman who will finance their perpetual adolescence. They’re acting superior and demanding further details when Snarky’s ALREADY been straightforward… yet they turn out not to have been straightforward themselves.

    At least that’s how I read it. Snarky’s, have I got it right? And sorry if I’m inappropriately speaking for you.

  130. @kcjones “This post is inspiring. I am really trying to be more badass in my responses to -isms, but I am still a work in progress.”

    I can testify to that! I’m in the same boat! I just tried rather unsuccessfully to call out someone who constantly uses the words “whore” and “cunt” against any woman she’s pissed off at—and she seems to be pissed off at a lot of women–esp. her co-worker for some reason. Well..I told her “whore” is such a derogatory word used against women and such sexist language doesn’t help.

    The tirade I got in a message from her and her friend letting me know that:
    “the word is no different than any other name or curse that’s used. My top one I use is fucking cunt, which probably offends a lot more people than whore does, but it gets the point across. I don’t believe in political correctness or anything similar, so a whore’s a whore to me. And it’s used as a joke word too, if you’ve noticed….”

    and:
    ” I really loathe political correctness… It’s what’s killed comedy. If you have to watch what you say all the time there’s nothing left to laugh about as anything one says could conceivably offend somebody. I remember the good ‘ol days when you could say anything you wanted on comedy sketches. I think people have forgotten how to laugh at themselves and others these days. I respect everybody’s personal beliefs, but if we all started worrying about “ism’s then none of us would ever speak as we may offend man, woman, child or beast. It’s one thing to be stupidly crass as many comedians are, but it’s another thing altogether to watch what you say for fear of seeming sexist. Funny is funny and I’m perfectly happy with my role as a female and don’t worry about things like sexism which take all the fun out of life.”

    That last sentence made my head explode— all synapses fired at the same time and I”ve lost all communcation skills at the moment….. How to articulately respond to “Political Correctness” cries of censorship and even the death of comedy?!!? Well…all I could come up with was to quote Melissa from Shakesville:

    “The one thing privilege doesn’t freely give a person is insight.”
    –Melissa McEwan, Shakesville

  131. @diane — You’re not me, and I’m not in your shoes, and I wouldn’t give advice except I heard you to be asking (so forgive me if I heard wrong)… but here’s something I could imagine myself trying:

    “Wow, what a thorough treatise on… uh, let’s see… political correctness, the death of comedy, respecting other people’s beliefs, and not caring about other people’s feelings when something makes you laff.

    Look, perhaps I wasn’t clear: You can think political correctness killed comedy. You can think that slut-shaming is some sort of brilliant high comedy rather than a tired-out fixation that many grownups of goodwill have gotten over or at least manage to get through the workday without doing fifteen times. You can think Alan Thicke hasn’t had TV work for a while because he’s gone off in a spaceship to see if the man in the moon will show him that smile again. Believe me, I couldn’t be less interested in doing all the work needed to bring your opinions up to code.

    Know what you can’t do, though? What you can’t do is call women whores or cunts in my presence and not expect me to get up in your face, smile broadly, and say in my loudest Politically Correct Pain In The Ass voice: “IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE WOMEN WHO GET PAID FOR SEX AREN’T REALLY HUMAN BEINGS!” or “IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS ARE GRODY!” and then fall to the ground braying in sarcastic laughter and basically ruin your funnay story about whatever woman wasn’t doing what you especially wanted her to do. The reason you can’t expect this, is because I’ve just WARNED you about.

    I’m so glad we’ve had this little talk.”

  132. Good points, A Sarah! Another possibility that came to my mind is no longer using this anti-”political-correctness” person’s name, and just calling her a bitch or a cunt or whatever to her face whenever you would otherwise say her name to her face. Then when she complains, you could remind her that (a) calling someone by her *name* is more politically correct than calling her a bitch or a cunt or whatever (b) she said she doesn’t like political correctness (c) therefore…

  133. At least that’s how I read it. Snarky’s, have I got it right? And sorry if I’m inappropriately speaking for you.

    That was bang on. I definitely am talking about a strain of fellow who frequents dating sites for the express purpose of preying on chubby/fat/plump women in order to exploit their supposed low self esteem issues/desperateness for profit and misogyny.

    We’re in a freaking recession and SNARKY HERSELF DONE LOST HER GOOD JOB WITH BENNIES six freaking months ago. So I was real clear who was I describing. And as a freelancer who can barely use the title, due in no small part by the number of assclowns perpetrating a fraud with that title, I am more than happy to blow up their spot.

  134. Our society culturally instructs folks to frame fat women as the “booby prize”. I mean if they have “a lot” going for them or a “pretty face” well it’s not ideal to a thinner woman devoid of those things, but it’s tolerable.

    Armed with that framework, men on dating sites have like NO shame demanding that fat women jump through hoops, perform flights of fancy and bring them bacon every six minutes.

    Moreover, if you’re fat on a dating site – and direct about it – your body is up for discussion and thorough examination. You need to be appropriate defiant or ashamed of your fat and if you want to have any shot at dating a guy who isn’t a jerk, you better make sure you PUT IT IN THE HEADLINE – as a jerk once stated on OKC.

    So given all that, if some motherucker comes at me with this kind of cheek, you best believe he better be Richard FREAKING BRANSON or lest find himself with another quarter contribution to his badly needed “Buy a ladder and get the fuck over it!” fund.

  135. Good points, A Sarah! Another possibility that came to my mind is no longer using this anti-”political-correctness” person’s name, and just calling her a bitch or a cunt or whatever to her face whenever you would otherwise say her name to her face. Then when she complains, you could remind her that (a) calling someone by her *name* is more politically correct than calling her a bitch or a cunt or whatever (b) she said she doesn’t like political correctness (c) therefore…

    Even better, use “assclown” or some other term that isn’t charged with misogyny. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Otherwise, good idea.

  136. @diane

    This woman sounds like a real jerk. You tried reasoning with her and it didn’t work, so I wouldn’t even do her the courtesy of throwing more smart words at her wall of ignorance.

    I like A Sarah’s letter. You tried politeness and reason, and she still wants to engage in asshattery. Scorched earth time, baby.

    Also, I didn’t realise comedy was dead. Guess I’ll have to hang up the microphone and spend the rest of my days watching Lisa Lampanelli dvds and dreaming of a better time.

  137. The “I’m so tired of PC” thing makes my head asplode, even tho’ I know it’s a totally fallacious and inaccurate argument and it’s an excuse for ass-hattery, etc. I still wish I had that one-liner response because I can’t even articulately come back to that one. I’m appreciating the tips like A Sarah’s.

  138. @A Sarah — Thanks for great ideas to respond should I decide to cotinue to converse with her. Although I don’t expect I will as she seems a very negative person who wallows in self-created drama and then whinges on about it putting the blame on everyone but where it belongs—on her own damn self. I’m sorry I ever agreed to help her with the project she was undertaking.

    @Jennifer @gFgrad — Yes, I was tempted to respond back by calling her a non-entity. The character “Gumby” came to mind — green and wimpy. (I always liked Pokey though.) But in the end I decided not to continue the conversation… I think the saying is “pearls before swine”?

    @Eli — “scorched earth” YES!! Definatley time for that! She’s let it be known she really couldn’t care less so why should I then be bothered? No reason really.

    @Kelly — I too would love that killer one-liner to respond to cries of “PC”. I haven’t thought of it yet either… All I could think was “Yes, treating women as people.. interesting concept I know”.. but in the end the Melissa’s comment from Shakesville summed up all that I was feeling quite eloquently. And if you ever do come up with that one-liner..pass it on over here!

  139. “Also I joined a specifically FAT dating site for awhile because I was sick of feeling ashamed of my weight with potentials (especially when they weren’t exactly worth taking home) and even THERE the question came up. ”

    I just realized, did any of the people who found you at the specifically FAT dating site and bugged you about your weight be all “are you fat enough for me?” instead of “are you too fat for me?” I also just realized that if anyone did then yeah they were still being jerks.

    “Even better, use ‘assclown’ or some other term that isn’t charged with misogyny. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Otherwise, good idea.”

    Your idea is better than mine was! :)

    “@Kelly — I too would love that killer one-liner to respond to cries of ‘PC’. I haven’t thought of it yet either… All I could think was ‘Yes, treating women as people.. interesting concept I know”.. but in the end the Melissa’s comment from Shakesville summed up all that I was feeling quite eloquently. And if you ever do come up with that one-liner..pass it on over here!”

    Howzabout “Eh, whatever, assclown.”?

  140. I love you, Snarky. Thank you for this article. I feel like I started out in life with a natural talent for smackdowns, but after years of being told that it was off-putting/getting in trouble in school/losing jobs, I eventually trained myself to be polite and quiet about my opinions.

    You’ve just inspired me to say, FUCK. THAT. I’m nurturing my inner Snarky from now on. I think she’s still in there. :)

  141. @diane:
    “I don’t believe in political correctness or anything similar, so a whore’s a whore to me. And it’s used as a joke word too, if you’ve noticed….”
    Sooo… She’s saying that the coworkers she doesn’t like literally have sex for money? Or is it a joke? Which one is it? Is she saying that ‘whore’ is a “joke word” because she believes it’s an inherently funny word? Does she believe it’s never used seriously, to insult people? WTF is she going on about?

    I respect everybody’s personal beliefs, but if we all started worrying about “ism’s then none of us would ever speak as we may offend man, woman, child or beast.

    Uh, so how does she explain the fact that you’re able to articulate your opinion? And clearly she does have a lot of respect for her fellow human beings and their beliefs, or she wouldn’t be calling her coworkers “cunt” and “whore” and responding like this to you.

    Your coworker is fucking ridiculous.

    I don’t exactly have a good one-line for the whole “political correctness”, thing, but I always mentally substitute “polite” for “politically correct”. (Simply telling people that might make a decent one-liner.) But anyway, my response in this case would be, even if she believes political correctness kills humor [and even if she thinks that calling her coworkers "cunt" and "whore" is inherently funny, which is even more dubious], she does not work in a fucking comedy club. There’s all kinds of stuff that comedians say about other people, and much of it is not appropriate in a work context, even the stuff that isn’t “ism”-filled.

    So the whole “political correctness killed comedy” seems like a very strange tangent to me. (I guess this is sort of a hybrid of reasoning with someone and embarrassing them?)

    I liked the other suggested responses, too.

  142. Diane, is your co-worker talking this way at work? Even in private conversations in the workplace? Because it’s clear that she *should* STFU no matter what when it comes using her hate speech. But if it’s in the workplace, she MUST STFU, especially now that you’ve called out her bad behavior. It’s sexual harassment in the workplace.

    I know these situations can be complicated due to employment heirarchies and such, but without knowing any of those details, and having watched something similar unfold over lunchtime conversations in my own workplace, albeit with homophobic AND misogynist language, I would say she has more than one reason to watch her step. As someone said on another thread here, she really needs to STFU HARDER.

  143. I love your brand of activism. Honestly, I don’t think ‘the majority’ people have any reason to listen to anyone else if they aren’t confronted, and sometimes the confrontation has to be loud and messy.

    Mine is the more quiet type where I take the time to sit down with people and have a conversation with them, hopefully using enough logic that they see how stupid they’ve been. I often get the people running to me who have had a smackdown like you’ve described, and who have been afraid to say or do anything that could possibly be offensive. Some of them react angrily at having been told what’s what, and some just don’t understand why their trying to be nice was taken the wrong way. Then we (metaphorically) sit together like we’re in kindergarten and logic it out.

    But without someone with more attitude than me laying it out like it is, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything. So thank you.

  144. @diane:

    “I remember the good ‘ol days when you could say anything you wanted on comedy sketches.”

    You could point out to them that whenever privileged people are able to freely say whatever they want about non-privileged people without being called on it, that also means that non-privileged people’s voices aren’t heard.

    Not that it always does a whole lot of good, but you could also point out that laws have changed and whether she likes it or not, the norm at a work place is supposed to be no sexual harassment and no derogatory language. If she doesn’t like it she can go work at a comedy club or be unemployed, and insult all the women she wants to.

  145. Snarky, every post that you write here is so amazing. Right-on points plus entertaining writing? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    As an aside, I am thin. Curvy, but thin. If I even called myself chunky, actual chunky girls would laugh in my face. And yet my one foray into dating sites lead to a barrage of emails about how I needed to lose 10/15/20 (!!) lbs in order to be considered attractive. WTF man.

    This is why I read SP. I am teaching myself to love my body, and when genetics kick in and I gain 40 lbs in a year around age 30, hopefully I will be able to accept that I will still be awesome. Or at least, no less awesome than I am now – awesomeness level is debatable. :)

  146. I fucking love your writing. I do read your blog, but I’m not much of a commentor anywhere, especially on blogs I’ve just started reading (just started may in fact mean several months. Yeah I’m working on my commenting). Loved your piece on Educating Rita too, and you’ve inspired me to rewatch some Bruce Willis films with a new eye.

    Over the past few months I’ve definitely found myself moving away from attempting to change hearts and minds and being nice and explaining things fully, I just don’t have the energy. If you’re acting like an arsehole, I just want you to stop acting like an arsehole, and I don’t owe you any niceness about it.

  147. Part of why I love reading foreign language (to me) blogs is that I get a chance to become more aware of the real meaning of slang terms. I actually learned the term “porch monkey” at school, but no one ever told us it was a racial insult. We actually have a similar term in German, which is used to describe those people who put a pillow on their windowsill and just look outside all day propped up on their elbows. It’s still not a nice term, because a lot of those people are probably just lonely, but at least it’s not derogatory. Thanks for clearing that up for me so I can be aware of it when I speak English.

  148. So I have a smackdown dilemma that no one else seems to have mentioned and I could use some advice.

    Teenagers. What can one realistically do without being a total ass when the people one is being street harrassed by are teenagers, and one is an adult woman? Ever since I split with my ex I’m out and about alone a lot more, just walking around, taking the bus, etc., and there’s been a lot of really blatant harrassment from teenage boys, everything from quiet leering to catcalls to blatantly getting up in my face and blocking my path in a group as I walk home with bagfulls of groceries (that group of boys I’ve encountered multiple times). I’m 36. If these were adult men I’d be going into full-on SLJ mode, but they’re kids, and it just seems…wrong for a grown woman to be really really mean to kids. On the other hand, I’m kind of small, and a lot of these kids are physically big enough to actually hurt me if they were so inclined. Especially when it’s a group of them.

    Advice, shapelings? I’m honestly at kind of a loss. I can’t help thinking how awful it would look to a random passer-by to see me swearing at some high school kid, but some of them really are way out of line. And in terms of the particularly obnoxious group of 3 boys that I’ve run into multiple times, I know damn well they’re doing it largely because they think it’s fun and hilarious to be able to scare me. Which they do, because they’re all close to 6 feet tall and I’m 5ft2. But that seems silly, because they’re children.

    Confused is me.

  149. Um, my line for how mean I am allowed to be is somewhere along the “How much harm can they do?” spectrum. They are not adults, and I am, but that’s not the point – and it’s really not the point when they do it to their age-peers, who are if anything more vulnerable, even though they might be more justified in defending themselves.

    I’m not sure, but possibly “Does your mother know you talk to women like that?” or “talk to strange women in the street?” or similar clearly-indicating-they-are-a-child-and-you-are-an-adult. Or the great traditional, “How fucking DARE you?”

  150. @CassandraSays, if they’re exhibiting the sexual behavior of adult males, and if they are the size and strength of adult males, I don’t think they count as kids in this context. Doesn’t matter how youthful their faces are, or what it says on the birth certificates — it’s not the complexion or the piece of paper that could assault you.

    You might choose to treat these specific jackasses as children, in order to increase the shame factor, but I don’t think you’re in any way obligated to do so just because of their age. They’re capable of raping you, which means they get treated like potential rapists.

  151. You made me cry, I was so enthralled with the energy you have! Your words make me feel like celebrating, and make look back on my days in school feeling guilty that I wasn’t losing weight to look like my classmates, wanting to create a brighter future full of sincere self-acceptance. Thank you Thank you Thank you! You are an inspiration. Truly.

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