AL 893B: TBINAA Content Intern

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

Month: July, 2013

Next

Although it’ll take place after this for-credit part of the internship is over, my next content week is already looming. Thus far, I’ve basically been avoiding the thing that’s most important to me, the thing that I really really want to talk about—fat acceptance—because I haven’t been brave enough to address it, particularly somewhere that my name will be attached to what I say. But I think that, for my next content week, I want to delve into fat acceptance.

I’m not entirely sure what the week’s content arc will look like, but I definitely want to find pictures and videos like this one or this one wherein fat people stand up for themselves, deal with hatred gracefully, and illustrate that weight discrimination is harmful and that everyone deserves better. So maybe one of those videos to start the week off?

I also definitely want to talk about some of the things that I think about/experience because of my weight. Like clothes stuff. I might write something about how difficult clothes shopping can be, and how limited I feel to garments that conceal most of my body while other people are basically encouraged to show off as much of themselves as possible. (Especially in the summer—tank tops, bikinis, short shorts, etc. But fat people are never supposed to wear those sorts of things, and I’ve internalized that. Part of the reason I don’t wear those things is my own desire to not offend people’s delicate eyes with, God forbid, my uncovered body parts.)

Or, for example, how I always notice whether I’m the fattest person in the room. Do other people think about these kinds of things? I don’t know, but I do, especially in situations where I don’t fit in, literally. Like last year’s WRAC beginning-of-the-year meeting took place in one of the auditorium-style lecture halls in Bessey and those chairs are super unforgiving. As in, it’s kind of miraculous that I managed to sit in one. So I felt weird (and also super uncomfortable) for the whole meeting, which was especially shitty because I was new and didn’t have any friends yet.

I’d also like to do a piece on selfies—how selfies are usually seen as the realm of selfish, immature millenials but can actually serve a valid, important function. Namely, taking lots of selfies can be a way of practicing self-love. I’d want to call that piece Self-Love Selfies or something like that and talk about my own experience with putting pictures of myself on the internet. (It’s been a lot more liberating than I was expecting and a lot better for my self-esteem.)

I could write something about dealing with post-diet rebounding, too. One year I did a really calorie-restrictive diet, lost a lot of weight, then couldn’t hold out anymore and failed and gained it back. (And then some.) But I want to explore how even my new knowledge of fat acceptance—dieting generally leads to net weight gain and is generally bad for you—fights against the things I’ve been told and taught and doing for so long. For example, even though I know dieting won’t work, I still have that urge to diet. And, interestingly, I’m kind of mad at myself for dieting in the first place because that in and of itself is largely the reason I’ve ended up where I am. So it’s hard not to 1) diet or 2) hate myself for having dieted. And I want to put that out there for other people who may experience similar things.

I need to run this stuff by Sonya first to see what she thinks, but my guess would be that she’d approve. Hopefully.

Content Week 2: Wrap-Up

First things first. A Beginner’s Guide to Intersectionality, the piece that Sonya hadn’t yet linked to on Facebook by the time of last week’s blog entry, never saw Facebook. I’m fairly certain Sonya didn’t intend to be dismissive or hurtful, but the dynamics of the internship have left me with relatively less agency than I’d prefer (as we’ve discussed), which drives me a bit up a wall.

Okay, that being said, here are the stats for the last piece of my second content week:

Posted 7/14

But _____ism Doesn’t Affect Me: Why You Should Care About Intersectionality
Tumblr notes: 31
Facebook likes: 75
Facebook comments: 7
Facebook shares: 31

I had originally wanted “But _____ism Doesn’t Affect Me” to go up on Saturday so that the piece I really wanted to write—the one about oppressive language—would be the last of my week, on Sunday. Obviously, though, it didn’t pan out that way.

For my first content week, I determined all the content that I covered; every post sprang from my desire to write about a topic. It was interesting to have Sonya request a particular post from me, especially because I wasn’t enthused about the subject matter. (Yes, I have lots of feelings on intersectionality and how it affects even the people who don’t think it affects them, but that wasn’t the piece I wanted to write.)

After I’d written the piece and sent it to Sonya for her approval, she asked me to include more about my own experiences with intersectionality. I’d kind of intentionally avoided talking too much about myself—I’m not a fan of feeling vulnerable to thousands of people (which, to be fair, might be seriously exaggerating how many people actually read my pieces). Still, I did what she asked, and it seemed to go over fine.

One super interesting thing that happened, though, was that someone outside of The Body is Not An Apology pulled a direct quote from my Tuesday piece and put it on Tumblr (that quote can be found here). And that quote has gotten a lot of notes. (247.) I only know about it because one of my friends follows someone who reblogged it—otherwise, I’d have no idea. So someone who doesn’t know me and isn’t affiliated with the organization I’m interning with thinks that what I said was cool enough to warrant a Tumblr post. And people thought that that quote was cool enough to warrant 247 notes. (To be fair, I reblogged it also, adding a note.)

The funniest part, at least to me, is what piece was pulled:

“For example, I’m not a trans* person, but I’m able to recognize lots of instances of transphobia. I’m even able to intervene when I see transphobia happening. But if a trans* person were to tell me that something I’ve said is transphobic, I would have to accept their assessment as correct even if I didn’t think I was being transphobic. I don’t get to decide what’s transphobic. I haven’t had their experiences, I might not recognize embedded transphobia, and I shouldn’t get to speak over a trans* person. My voice isn’t the one that needs to be heard in this situation.”

Not exactly the section I would’ve thought would resonate, but the people who reblogged or liked it have Tumblr names like “breakingthegenderbinary,” “qrookedqueer,” and “queerdeviance.”

It’s pretty cool that people think that the things I write are cool.

Besides that ego boost, Sonya wrote to me after my week was over, saying this:

“I just wanted to thank you for your week!  the content was very good and the piece on intersectionality really hit a chord.  Folks are engaged.  Thank you for your hard work.”

Even though this internship has been frustrating in a lot of ways, this past content week was also awesome in a lot of ways.

Content: Week 2

My second content week is nearly over, and, if possible, this week has been even more frustrating. Although I’ve had control over when I post my content to Tumblr, Sonya’s still in charge of linking on Facebook, including the language used to speak about the content. Here are the numbers thus far:

Posted 7/8
“White Privilege” by Macklemore
Tumblr notes: 13
Facebook likes: 8
Facebook comments: 0
Facebook shares: 1

Posted 7/9
Who Should Be Considered An Authority On What’s Oppressive?
Tumblr notes: 29
Facebook likes: 52
Facebook comments: 13
Facebook shares: 1

Posted 7/10
WHAT ABOUT ME? How privilege is often invisible to the privileged
Tumblr notes: 17
Facebook likes: 73
Facebook comments: 2
Facebook shares: 28

Posted 7/11—guest post by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg
Authority, Privilege, and Oppression: A Response to Rachel Seiderman’s Who Should Be Considered an Authority on What’s Oppressive
Tumblr notes: 10
Facebook likes: 20
Facebook comments: 3
Facebook shares: 0

Posted 7/12
A Beginner’s Guide to Intersectionality
Tumblr notes: 26
Sonya hasn’t posted this to Facebook yet

As you can see, none of these posts took off, but Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s did okay. Yesterday’s did okay on Tumblr but hasn’t yet gotten cross-posted to Facebook.

You might notice that there was a guest post from my co-intern, Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg, on Thursday. She messaged me Tuesday after my piece was up to tell me that she liked the piece but had some fundamental disagreements with it and did I mind if she wrote a response. I said I didn’t mind, so she wrote a response, which Sonya okayed me posting. (And, actually, Sonya wanted me to post it on Wednesday, but I work on Wednesday and didn’t get that email until she’d already said never mind.)

Anyway, I posted Rachel’s piece and it didn’t get a big reaction on Tumblr. Then Sonya linked to it on Facebook on Friday, even though I posted something Friday. And didn’t link to my piece. And…

So here’s the thing. I was already feeling like Rachel is Sonya’s pet (she spends more time talking to her, they Skype, Sonya always seems more enthusiastic about Rachel’s pieces than anyone else’s), and then Rachel directly quibbled with my stuff. Which I know should be fine and seeing other people’s points of view facilitates learning, etc, etc, but…I’m just so frustrated that on top of everything else it feels kind of awful. Particularly because, in the end, it sounds like Rachel and I are advocating for similar things except apparently I’m not nuanced or smart-sounding enough for her.

I guess my lesson of the week is trying not to take things so personally.

Also, I sent Sonya stuff for today and tomorrow, my last two days, and she hasn’t gotten back with me on either one, so I haven’t posted anything today. Which means I’m losing a day. I think she’s traveling, which I understand, but, again, I sent my piece to her Thursday around 1am. She had the two days she asked for. I hope she’ll send me something about tomorrow’s stuff because part of what I want to post is this video that argues against calling things “so gay.” I think (I hope) it would really resonate with our audience. But if Sonya doesn’t say anything to me, I can’t/won’t post it.

Moving Right Along

The planning phase of my next week of content is well underway, but I was really hoping to have some feedback from Sonya before writing this blog. She asked that we send her our pieces two days ahead of time so she’d have enough time to really look at them, which I did—in fact, I sent her my Monday piece on Friday. So perhaps completely reasonable to assume she’d have something, anything, to me about what she thinks. I’m particularly frustrated that I haven’t heard back because I also laid out my plans for most of the rest of the week, and I’d really like to know what she thinks of those plans before I put the time into writing the pieces. Hopefully I’ll hear from her today, or else I guess I’ll just have to post my Monday piece at my own discretion.

Here’s some of what I’m planning for this next week of content.

Monday:

A quick introduction to privilege and the song “White Privilege” by Macklemore. In “White Privilege,” Macklemore talks about the cultural appropriation of hip hop (and jazz and rock and roll, to a lesser extent). One of the clearest statements of his white privilege affecting his career is when he says, “Hip hop started off in a block that I’ve never been to / To counter act a struggle that I’ve never even been through” and “‘Cause we got the best deal, the music without the burden.” In other words, hip hop sprang from a place of oppression that Macklemore can’t begin to understand because he didn’t experience it.

So what’s Macklemore’s option? He goes the route of recognizing those who came before him. He says, “I feel like I pay dues but I’ll always be a white emcee / I give everything I have when I write a rhyme / But that doesn’t change the fact that this culture’s not mine.” I’m offering this kind of recognition of cultural appropriation as a way to counteract privilege’s harmful effects.

Tuesday:

A piece that analyzes an image Sonya posted on the Facebook page last week that evoked some really negative responses. The image basically asserts that people in positions of power shouldn’t get to decide what oppression looks like, something that I completely agree with, but some of our followers seem to have gotten the wrong idea. Part of my strategy was to flip the construction of the image’s quote to emphasize the positive rather than the negative.

For example, this is the image:

positions of power

And this is what I’m offering as perhaps the way the quote should’ve been expressed:

Women get to decide what is misogynistic
Gay people get to decide what is homophobic
Trans* people get to decide what is transphobic
People of color get to decide what is racist
People not in positions of power get to decide what is considered oppression
That’s how we move forwards, not backward

This way, it’s clear whose voices should matter most in particular circumstances.