In many ways, I’m embarrassed to admit what I want to talk about. It’s a personal question. Please bear with me because I want to talk about my looks. It’s been bothering me for awhile now. So, I gotta ask you: Hey, Internet… how come none of you jerks ever calls me fat?! WTF?!
Recently, Brianna Wiest wrote an insightful article about internet commenters. With her defiantly uplifting spirit she addressed the negative culture of internet commenting. In response to a raft of vitriol from commenters about a piece by Kate Menendez about privilege, Kovie Biakolo, wrote an eloquent piece about the dangers of internet mob culture and how we anonymously dehumanize people online. Speaking to the same point, Nico Lang wrote a great piece about hateful commenters, the downsides of being honest and vulnerable online, and made salient points about intentionally hurtful, shaming tactics of internet commenters. Since that post he’s turned off the comments section on his articles. Nico’s explanation of his decision was well reasoned, and emotionally well stated. In fact, all three of those writers’ pieces were far more nuanced than I can manage. Between you, me and your smartphone, we’re lucky to read their stuff on the regular. Please don’t expect such unfettered wisdom and thoughtful consideration from me.
I wish to be as positive and intelligent, as perspicacious and wise as the three of them. But it takes lots of instruments to make up a symphony, so I write about what strikes my fancy and just try to stay on rhythm. Recently, I wrote a piece making fun of ugly babies. After that I wrote a piece about abortion. And I knew to expect some mean comments. But I was surprised when I didn’t get a single one for making fun of ugly babies. Learned a lesson there. Apparently, ugly babies are fair game. Good! With the abortion piece I had to figure some people would have strong opinions. They did. I figured I would get some hate mail. I did. Like digital clockwork, the internet didn’t let me down either time.
Some nice folks called me callous, despicable, shallow, the worst of humanity and of course, a murderer. But no one called me a fat pig. No one called me a stupid whore! They didn’t call me a stupid fucking… well, anything. And you know what, it kinda hurt, Internet. Why am I not a fat pig? I don’t get it.
Chelsea Fagan wrote an article about 27 Things White Girls Love More Than Starbucks and internet trolls went ape-shit on her. They called her all sorts of names! She’s one of the funniest writers I read on the internet on a daily basis. I’m not brown-nosing her when I say this, she knows how I feel, because like you, I comment on her articles and I send her messages telling her about my reactions to her work. I’m one of her readers, too. And that’s why I see all of the comments on her stuff.
Frankly, I’m surprised I have any tan left on my backside after how many times she’s made me laugh my black ass off. One thing’s for certain, the woman is funny. Obviously, she’s not a news anchor telling us how it is, she’s a highly opinionated social critic with tremendous pop culture recall, arcane observations, a mind sharper than a drawer full of steak knives, and based on her output, fingers ready and fast, loaded for bear.
I love her think pieces and savor her consideration of any subject that strikes a chord. But hey, no lie, I feel like a lucky cokehead who just scored when I click on on a new piece of hers and she’s written about a fresh trend, some guilty musical jones, trashy movies, some silly-ass celebrity, Disney heroines or villains, our shared cultural moments, dating foibles, or ridiculous affronts to our social compact, whatever’s in her sights. I just want to see her shoot. If you read her stuff, you know, Chelsea Fagan’s a natural born killer.
Comedy is violent. That’s why comedians say they kill, slay ‘em, knock ‘em dead, murder ‘em, etc. Humor is a way to deal with pain, our shared pain, and together through laughter we kill it off, and thus, it’s a violent act. When something is funny, it doesn’t damage us, it eases tension, it smoothes over hurts, and reminds us we’re all the same.
If I can read 27 Things White Girls Love More Than Starbucks and laugh out loud, then Chelsea Fagan is doing her job. And she’s doing it well, because I’m neither of those. I’m not a white girl nor am I someone who sets foot in Starbucks, and yet, Chelsea finds enough truth that an outsider like me can laugh. Since she doesn’t personally know every single white girl on the planet she spoke in generalizations and stereotypes. Seemed obvious; but I guess not, after I read the comments on that article… (record scratches)
You and I both know some readers might not laugh. Comedy certainly isn’t universal. But some commenters seem to feel personally attacked. And they fired back, looking to hurt and/or maim the author. They said whatever hurtful things they could muster. And this wasn’t the first time. I’ve seen it happen with plenty of Chelsea’s articles. Yet, I was still left scratching my head, wondering how anyone gets that fucking upset because a white girl talks about what other white girls love.
Like, here are just two samples from 27 Things White Girls Love More Than Starbucks, one commenter, Chelsea Fagan sucks major dick, said:
and once again chelsea fagan is a bitch, shocker!
Okay, not the worst thing. It’s the internet after all. But commenter, VB, went a little further, brought some of that YouTube vibe up in the place and said:
Chelsea Fagan sounds like a smug b*tch. The funny thing is that she is fat and has an obvious butterface… so this is essentially, a terrible self-indulgent article by a fat, fugly pig.
On a side note, sorry we don’t want to envision your royal fatness in a yoga outfit. ;)”
What-the-fuck, VB? That’s bullshit! I write about arranging a secret abortion and no one gets this emotional. Chelsea wanders out into the murky waters of what white girls may or may not love, and that’s where all the real hate is? I mean, come on! People kill doctors over abortion. Yet no one gets super-emotional and calls me a fat, fugly pig. It’s like you don’t even care, Internet!
So I gotta ask what does Chelsea do that sets off that sweet internet hate-bomb? And yeah, I know she has to expect to catch “la haine” when Chelsea aims at an easily-riled target like the French. That’s understandable. They’re French. They’re kind of internationally known for having strong opinions. But… white girls? I didn’t see that coming.
I mean, yeah, we all know white girl stuff can drive someone a little insane. You don’t have to tell me that. I know. Shit gets hectic. But then someone like VB crashes the party and starts calling Chelsea a “butterface.” (By the way, VB, butterface doesn’t mean what you think it means. When a girl is pretty much hot/sexy all-over, but her face… boo-yah-shakka! That’s when you say she’s a “butterface.” That’s how that works.)
But hey… not every internet commenter can be WhatGoodWouldItDo. If you’re tired of being a troll, and let’s say you want to use your powers for good, and like, I don’t know, actually be funny when you post, pay attention to WhatGoodWouldItDo. She’s been giving out lessons in funny on the daily… and they’re free! (In fact, Kovie just gave WhatGoodWouldItDo her very own holiday. Dare to dream, internet trolls.)
To be fair, Internet, maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m dense. Maybe abortion really isn’t the same sort of hot button, emotionally radioactive subject as “things white girls love.” Yet, even if that’s true, I still thought a secret abortion might bring out a few nasty shots about my appearance. But, I got zilch. Nada. What do I tell myself to feel better about the fact no one called me a disgusting whore? What does a guy have to do to get called a “fat, fugly pig” around here?
I’m sure some of you are thinking, well hold up, Zaron. I’ve personally clicked on some of Nico’s articles and called him horrible slurs and wrote terrible comments about what he should do and/or endure sexually. That should count for something! And you’re right. It does count. But that’s about his sexuality, it’s not the same. I mean, it’s horrible what you’re doing. And I think you know that. You’re using something that’s true about him to try to hurt him. Yep, that’s some reprehensible shit. But it’s not like you call him a fat, fugly pig and just dismiss him outright. There’s a subtle difference.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing these two separate and distinctly different instances of hurtful comments. That’s pointless and insensitive. It’s not a foot race of shame and pain. My point is, by attacking Nico for being gay or a survivor of assault, it’s like calling me a nigger. We see that one coming. It’s based on who we are, on our identities. It’s hurtful, sure. But at the same time it’s way too easy. It’s like you’re not even trying.
Rather than attack them based on their identity, I’ve noticed writers like Chelsea Fagan, Chrissy Stockton, Kovie Biakolo and Brianna Wiest, all get negative commenters and trolls who are super-quick to use the women’s appearances to dismiss their points of view. Their looks are used to undermine whatever they say, and either they’re too pretty to have their opinion, or they’re not pretty enough, or they’re just ugly and should shut the fuck up.
This has happened to me, I think… once. Some guy, bless his heart, said he wouldn’t be taking dating advice from someone with blue hair. Now, when it comes to the work of my peers, I see all the poison pens at work. I read what all they must endure from negative commenters who love to reduce their value to their looks, and suggest their ultimate worth is tied to their appearance. That’s some powerful shit.
But dear negative commenters, you never share that power of critique with me or the other male writers. You just make fun of our typos. And it doesn’t matter if the guy is gay or straight or Raul Felix. Even our “I-know-you-love-to-hate-me” uber-broseph, who gets mocked for throwback attitudes, gets called out for his bad jokes, lazy misogyny and sloppy racism, all of which he’ll use for the sake of easy jokes (which he freely admits), that dude only really gets called out for his opinions. No one comments on his soft, feminine eyes. (I’m just kidding, Raul. You have the eyes of a Marine.)
Or take the time when Christopher Hudspeth wrote an article that was basically a post of nine selfies. The meanest comment was from Trevor:
I like your writing less now, thank you.
That was it. Nothing. Imagine the comments if Chelsea Fagan did a post that featured nine photos of her. The internet might catch on fire.
Do you save all your best trolling to use against women? And a woman can be trans, gay, person of color, any number of other social distinctions… but the fact she’s a woman with strong opinions, that’s all it seems to take for her to get hit with all that sweet irrational emotional name-calling and fat-shaming you never want to ladle out on well-deserving straight men. I guess it feels like a waste trying to fat-shame a straight guy. We might turn around and agree with you.
Fat, fugly pig? Well, heh heh… yeah, I could stand to lose a few pounds. But who am I kidding? Holidays are coming up and I do love me some leftovers. Amirite?
Where’s the fun in shaming some dude if it doesn’t hurt him? But shaming a woman? Now, there’s some real power there because 9-times-out-of-10 she’ll actually think about what you said, she’ll consider your words, no matter how hurtful they were. You know that’s true and that’s what makes it subtly the worst.
The difference is if you call me a nigger I won’t spend the next few days wondering if I’m black or not. And Nico knows he’s gay and a survivor of assault. He also won’t wonder about those aspects of who he is. But to call a woman out on her looks, that’s a dog whistle. That’s an injection of corrosive doubt. And it’s total bullshit! If you think I don’t see what you’re doing, you’re the fat, fugly pig, Internet.
I gotta know: How does someone get to the point they feel a strong need to type out a comment and call Chelsea a “fat, fugly pig” because of some funny shit she wrote about loving autumn? Who cares that damn much if she says every white girl on the planet loves fall sweaters and riding boots, and shares her tendency to get sweaty dancing with a potted plant because an ass-shaking jam came on and she had to dance? I really don’t get it. How does anyone read her stuff and think- fucking fat pig!
And I’m not white-knighting it, a woman like Chelsea Fagan can defend herself; she tough (like all Southern women are), and she’s far funnier than me, she doesn’t need my help. I’m speaking for all the ignored straight men. Are we that horrendous that you won’t use our looks against us? Is it like calling balls ugly? Just way too easy.
I mean, I wrote about a secret abortion, ugly babies, dead bodies, and the Illuminati for chrissakes! And no one said I looked like something that fell head-first out of the Hulk’s ass. Why am I not a “fat pig?” What am I missing? Why won’t you consider my looks? Other than become a woman, which isn’t a realistic option for me, what must I write about for you trolls to get so emotional you call me a fat, fugly pig?
There’s really only the one remaining conclusion. The internet is just totally fucking sexist! And if the internet is a reflection of the world, then, that means trolls like you are making the whole world a violently sexist place. No! That can’t be it. It can’t be that a few trolls could ruin a couple of nice places like Earth and the internet. Does it really only take a single drop of tar to ruin a glass of water?
Quick! Hurry! Call me a stupid fugly pig! Or fat-shame me! Anything! Prove me wrong, internet trolls! Don’t let bastards like me be right when we say you’re embarrassingly sexist.
And I have to assume you internet trolls are both men and women. If that’s true, that sucks. That’s gonna really make it hard to put this bullshit sexism to bed if we’re all doing it. But hey, I’ll go write my next article in the hopes that at least one of you will call me a disgusting pig who should kill himself. I would settle for stupid whore. Just as long as you say it like you really mean it, like you say it to Chelsea. I like it when everyone gets treated the same. It’s a small dream, but it’s mine.
I’m counting on you, Internet.