Tag Archives: concern trolling

Debbie says:


Etta Candy deserves an entire blog post of her own, but the only things I know about her come from Rob Bricken and James Whitbrook’s piece at io9:

Created by William Moulton Marston only an issue after Wonder Woman’s debut, Etta Candy appeared like she should be the heroine’s comic relief. She was a goofy cartoon character who loved candy (carrying it everywhere), and she shouted strange catchphrases like “Woo woo!” and “For the love of chocolate!” But if you thought for a second that Etta was merely a joke character, she would have quickly corrected you, probably by punching you in the face.

Lucy Davis will play Etta in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. If she’s portrayed one-half as bad-ass and radical as she is in the panels Bricken and Whitbrook show, she will completely eclipse Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman — and I’ll be in line to watch her do it.

Laurie and I both blogged about the 2008 Newsweek cover showing Sarah Palin’s real (or nearly real) skin, and it’s interesting to see that people are still talking about it in the context of women running for office. Julia Baird takes it on in the New York Times:

The real question here is about perfection: the standards by which women are judged, and the seemingly ever-present, imposed need to airbrush the images of women. Even vice-presidential candidates. This is something we must ask if we want to shrink the too-long list of things that distract people from what women actually say when we try to speak in public.

Perfection is also at issue in the discussion of Zoe Saldana’s casting as Nina Simone . Samantha Cowan at TakePart examines the controversy:

A new official poster and trailer for the movie shows Saldana wearing a prosthetic nose and dark face makeup, reigniting the controversy surrounding the decision to cast Saldana as the titular character in Nina. Saldana has faced criticism since news surfaced in 2012 that she would replace Mary J. Blige—who had to drop out owing to scheduling conflicts—to play the High Priestess of Soul. Saldana addressed the situation in 2013, telling Allure, “It doesn’t matter how much backlash I will get for it, I will honor and respect my black community because that’s who I am.”

Saldana, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, has alternated between saying that people of color don’t exist and identifying as a black and Latina woman. Regardless of how Saldana identifies, many believe the role should have gone to an African American woman—or at least a woman with a darker skin tone and features that more closely resembled Simone’s.

When everyone is talking about how people (but mostly men) use Tinder and its ilk for faceless sex, a completely different kind of anonymous sex designed for women is apparently a new craze in London. Dominique Sisley reports at Dazed:

The process is simple. You head to the class, strip off from the waist down, and lie across an unknown, fully-clothed man while he strokes your clitoris. The aim? A shared meditational experience, and “the deeply human, deeply felt, and connected experience of orgasm”. …

Although [orgasmic meditation] is mostly marketed towards “free, hip, powerful” women, TurnON Britain (the official UK branch of the movement) also offers classes to men who feel a “willingness and desire to know the feminine” – or in other words, guys who could do with a little more guidance in that area. As the course summary eloquently puts it, “learning how to handle her pussy is equally important as learning how to handle the rest of her. Imagine what would be possible if you learned to do both?”

Leaving aside the unfortunate choice of “handle” in that quotation, this sounds like something from the 1970s, come back in a new guise. The article says that tens of thousands of young Londoners are participating; I hope they’re having fun!

In a completely different aspect of human sexuality,  uterus transplants are now a thing, and a good thing.  The procedure is designed for women with uterine factor infertility (UFI). I can’t help but wonder if and when it will become part of the suite of trans surgeries, and change the landscape of how pregnancy relates to gender.


We have, of course, been railing about BMI for decades. I’m still fond of my description of it as “braindead, meaningless, insidious” from 2007. Premiere statistics and data site fivethirtyeight.com is jumping on the bandwagon with this article by Katherine Hobson. Hobson is  too focused on “waist circumference” for my money, and I think she’s still deep in the belief that fat is bad for you, however it’s measured. Nonetheless, she goes against the grain of journalists everywhere by ending with a fat-positive quotation:

There’s another camp that doesn’t care about finding a better measure of excess body fat at all but would prefer to move beyond metrics of extra fat. “Sure, waist circumference is better than BMI, but the focus on fat and on body size has done us a disservice,” said A. Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist at UCLA and first author of the recent International Journal of Obesity study on BMI and health indicators. “It’s thrown off the focus on actual health markers.” And, she said, it has contributed to a stigma against the overweight.

She’d prefer to see a strategy that focuses instead on changing behavior. “If you’re eating healthy, exercising and sleeping well, I don’t care how much fat you have,” Tomiyama said.

And in that context,  Hobson should read Linda Bacon on fat ambassadors, allies, and detractors. Sadly, Bacon wrote this column because of how hard Sarai Walker, author of Dietland, is finding her new life as a fat ambassador.  Bacon has nothing new to say about allies and trolls: she just tells the truth well and clearly.

… a message to those who persist in “concern trolling” about health: Recognize this: respect should not be contingent on health or health habits. Educate yourself. Weight stigma and discrimination are much more health-damaging than fat tissue can ever be. If you are truly concerned about the health ramifications of someone’s large body, be part of the solution, not the problem: show others respect and compassion, rather than shaming and blaming people for their weight or suggesting they change it.

Lisa Hirsch sent us the Sarah Palin link. Otherwise, all are links from my regular reading, which includes Feministe, Shakesville, Sociological Images,, Feministing, io9, and TakePart, along with other sources. No, I don’t know why the background of this post is black; it happened during drafting, and my html skills don’t seem good enough to fix it.

Video Responses to Fat Hatred

Lynne Murray says:

In recent years, as the drumbeat stirring up hatred of fat and fat people has got louder, I have heard some pretty horrifying stories from fat activists whose only crime has been to say, “Yes, I’m fat and it’s okay.” This simple sentiment seems to provoke a disproportionate amount of rage expressed as hostile, hateful remarks, vicious e-mails, and even death threats.

I tremendously respect people who are attacked and manage to defend themselves in an elegant and effective manner.

Debbie passed this recent wonderful response from singer/songwriter, Meghan Tonjes, who heard about it from Ellen Kushner. Tonjes suffered an internet fat hate attack, and here is her response:

Tonjes has also set up Project Lifesize, a YouTube area for body positive videos. She says, “When I was younger I didn’t have anyone in my corner telling me that I was beautiful, regardless of what the media or my peers told me. I wanted to create a dialogue about not weight acceptance, but self love.”

Another video blogger, SikaResult’s, response to Weight Bigotry was pointed out on the blog Living ~400 lbs:

When an attacker protests that the attack was warranted “for the fat person’s own good,” that’s concern trolling, and sometimes it’s necessary to call it out for what it is. Short and limited responses seem to be wisest; dialogue with the mindlessly hateful (or determinedly clueless) can be an exhausting exercise in futility. Just because we are self-accepting fat people doesn’t make us saints or sages, and doesn’t gift us with an endless reserve of patience and limitless positivity. I love the expression “sanity points” because you can run out in a hurry in such debates.

I usually don’t engage in the dialogue of measuring different kinds of body acceptance against one another. But just in case someone else has the slight reservation I had, I want to share a hesitation I had about the two videos above.

My appreciation for Meghan Tonjes’ YouTube videos was a little tempered by her suggestion that having lost 60 pounds equated with taking good care of her health. Then when I looked at her other video blogs I had a “Yikes! Oh, dear!” moment when I found that she’s tracking her “progress” in videos entitled “Weightloss Challenge.” I’m not including the link to that video log. It’s easy enough to find if you want to. But it really triggered some negative emotions for me, and others might have a similar reaction. I put the word she used, “progress” in quotes just now because those of us who have engaged in weight cycling will recognize the honeymoon phase of early weight loss. Five years down the road (by which point 95% of those who lose weight by any means will have regained it) Tonjes may reassess whether or not this was either progress or taking care of her health. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and that T-shirt doesn’t fit anymore.

On the same axis, SikaResult’s response to Weight Bigotry video blog shows the young woman engaged in some very impressive physical activity. Clearly she made her point that you can’t judge what someone is capable of doing physically by that person’s body size.

Those two aspects of these totally positive videos put me off a little because the weight loss in one and the intense physical activities in the other seem to be offered as proof of how each woman was taking care of her body as if somehow that made it okay for her to be fat. The flip side of that coin is that fat people like myself are not “okay” fat people. It’s sort of like the deserving poor versus “those lazy bastards.” I admit that I’m particularly sensitive to those arguments. Maybe I need to have a Lazy Bastard T-shirt made confirming my affinity group.

Let me stress that in neither video did either young woman say anything about it not being okay to be heavier or less capable of physical exertion. But I think these concepts lurk under the positive statements as a defensive tactic. I don’t think we should need a reason to demand to be respected as a physical being. Our bodies are our bodies and relative fitness for any given task shouldn’t define our worth.

I admire these women’s courage in words and actions. When it comes to defending oneself or others against hatred, I value every effort.  We are totally on the same side in this struggle. In the heat of battle, no actions will be perfect. Taking imperfect action beats standing by and letting evil flourish unchecked.