Sunday night, I was watching TV with my boyfriend and scrolling through Facebook when I read about a video called "Dear Fat People." At the time, it had been taken down from YouTube, but someone else had put it up. I watched it, and was horrified. I don't say that only because I'm in love with a fat man, though of course, that certainly colors my view. But there was something so sickening to me about how she talked about fat people, literally as if they should not exist, or only exist if they were spending their entire lives working to no longer be fat.
So at 11 p.m., I sent some emails and made some calls and did interviews. At midnight, I wondered, What am I doing? Nobody had assigned this to me; I wanted to cover it, both because I knew it was going to be a buzzed-about story, and because I wanted to add another voice speaking up against the hatefulness of this video.
So I did, and Salon liked it, and published it. Right now, as I type from an airplane on my way to L.A., it's their third most viewed piece.
It's also one I've gotten rare hate mail for, which I've posted on my Facebook page. Those emails, to me, say so much. People are willing to speak out defending someone basically saying fat people are the scourge of the world, because she backs up their own prejudice. I want no part of that, ever. Lindy West also has an excellent response at The Guardian. I certainly couldn't muster that much empathy for Arbour.
I was far less interested, personally, in the "free speech" canard as I was in how telling fat people to fuck themselves could become a rallying cry. We need to do better, and we are, I hope.
As I gear up to teach a new set of writing students on Friday in Burbank (there's still room to join us!), I'm looking forward to hearing what they think about their own lives, about their fantasies, about things they want to say and share but perhaps don't know how or where to go about doing so.