Dear everyone ever,
I am getting mighty sick lately of people who identify as progressives being complete assholes and thinking it is justifiable because their assholery is directed at someone (generally a public figure) whose politics aren't progressive.
This first crossed my radar (as I'm sure it did for many others) during recent political candidacies in the USA; first the relentless attacks on Hillary Clinton's gender, fashion and physical features - to be fair this came mostly from the right but when she was running against Obama for the Democratic nomination it got pretty gross on the left, too - and later with Sarah Palin. Any time a female candidate/politician rises to prominence in the States, the misogyny just goes everywhere, and progressives can't pretend to be innocent. Nor can Canadians. As someone who witnessed a male friend refer to Ann Coulter as someone he would like to "hate fuck", I can testify to that.
I think misogyny is the most obvious and frequent example because it is acceptable in this society to police women's bodies, and especially women in the public sphere, because there is also (I believe) a latent resentment even among progressive men to see women succeeding in arenas designed by and for men. I think you get a lot less flack in certain circles for saying you want to hate fuck Ann Coulter than for, say, making a rude comment about a politician in a wheelchair. Which makes it sound like I'm playing Oppression Olympics, but really what I mean is there is an assumption that women's bodies are always up for debate/discussion, regardless of their performance at their jobs or their political views.
What got me thinking about this was this amazing piece over at Shameless about the progressive people in Toronto who are constantly making fun of our mayor because of his weight. But I think that just triggered a lot of other stuff that's been bothering me lately. I guess it's not so much that people do this - call Rob Ford a "fat fuck", call Ann Coulter a "tranny", call Sarah Palin a "slut" - it's that when called out on it, instead of apologizing and trying to do better (as I think they would or might if their target was also progressive), they get defensive and/or try to justify it because the target is right wing or because the right wing does that to us, etc. etc.
No. Not ok.
When you call Rob Ford a fat fuck you are calling me a moral failure because I am also fat. When you call Ann Coulter a tranny you are appointing yourself the gender police and contributing to a culture where the rape and murder of trans folk is an epidemic. When you call Sarah Palin a slut you are making the world an unsafe place for women - because our sexual expression, behaviour and choices (or at least your perception of them) are what define us instead of our ideas and values and actions.
When you do these things, and do them unapologetically, it makes you a bigot. Yes, it does. You begin to remind me of those other great policers of women's bodies, the anti-choicers screaming at patients outside of clinics. Don't go down that road.
Please stop. You're hurting us and you're hurting the progressive movement. And when we find it totally ok to police the bodies of public figures, is it any wonder that no woman's body is her own? You calling a female politician out on her fashion choices doesn't directly criminalize abortion - but they are all strings of the same web.
It's a shame that as a fat progressive woman, there are very few spaces where I can discuss/debate Rob Ford's policies without the fear that I will feel uncomfortable and hurt because I know someone will call him out for being fat. And the fact is, I'm just fat. I can't imagine what it is like to be disabled, trans, non-white, old etc. and try to participate safely in progressive discourse.
That sucks. Clean up your act, jerks.