Today on Twitter, I talked briefly with a couple guys about how they perceived a lack of outrage about the Gawker “virgin politician has a one night stand well before she was a candidate” story vs the outrage of the Marie Claire “anorexic thinks fat people are gross and don’t deserve to be on TV.”
I thought I’d say a bit more than I did on Twitter.
People expect better from Marie Claire.
I honestly don’t think there would have been quite the outrage if it had been posted on a Cosmo blog. We don’t expect much from Cosmo. Marie Claire is the popular, nice girl in high school who volunteers at a soup kitchen and is on the homecoming court. When the nice girl snaps and suddenly bullies the fat girl, everyone stops, notices and yells at the nice girl. Or sends her to the principals office.
Marie Claire is the magazine that at least addresses issues around the world (even though often in a “privileged white girl saves brown people” sort of way), so we expect them not to out and out bully fat people. Yes. The photos they use are airbrushed and the images are just as bad as Cosmo and other lady mags, but they at least sorta try not to be awful all the time.
People expect bullying from Gawker.
Gawker is a bully, like Puck in Glee who may occasionally do something good or nice, but when he goes back to bullying… nobody is surprised. Hell, Gawker helped create Julia Allison’s fame just to be able to tear her down. We don’t expect Gawker to be nice to women.
Telling our fat stories.
It is so much easier to be outraged when you can speak in solidarity. All women have felt fat. Regardless of actually being fat, we have all tried to lose weight, we have all been afraid of being fat. Even those of us in the fat acceptance world (where I’m trying to move further and further into) can admit that we weren’t all always comfortable with our bodies and our weight.
We can say, “I am a fat person, I love a fat person, I battle my weight, I want to love my body and you, Marie Claire, are being hurtful when you say that.”
Telling our sex stories.
Almost every women who read that Gawker story probably thought, “Oh shit. Not only is the press going to use our ‘bad’ sex stories against us, they are going to use our ‘sexless hook-up’ stories against us. It isn’t just about not having sex with married men, now it is about our pubic hair and making out without having sex.
I stopped and went through my memories of decisions I’ve made about having and not having sex. I cringed at the thought of what a paper would pay one of those guys to write a story about the night I said, “no,” and they respected my decision. How can that be turned against me?
Our sex stories are supposed to be private. We get to decide who we have sex with and who we say no to. We get to have private lives before we become politicians. Drinking and having sex while single (or married or committed or polyamorous) doesn’t affect a political platform unless the platform preaches abstinence education.
This has been one helluvah week for hating women, women’s sexuality, and women’s bodies, hasn’t it?
When I stopped working directly on women’s issues (as a residence director and as the manager of a rape hotline), I stopped being angry all the time. I was complacent. I just didn’t have the fight left in me. I turned over the fight to other women who had more energy. I thought things were getting better.
Things aren’t getting better. Somehow the clock is getting turned back to more puritanical times. Witch hunts, scarlet letters seem to be coming our way and I don’t know what to do about it.
This isn’t a fully formed thesis or even a complete essay. I’m not versed in feminist theory or media critique theory. I’m just angry and saddened by the treatment of women in the media this week. More than I’ve ever been.
Originally posted on I Tumblr For You