I gather that recently an individual has been attacking fat positive spaces for trying to maintaing a safe space for fat people. The argument goes that this is discriminatory against thin people. Which is just plain unfair. I talked about this a little last month when I explored privilege as operating on a spectrum. I believe there is something just inherently wrong about people with privilege accusing those without of discrimination. That's not a license for the stigmatized to abuse the privileged, but that we need to view such disputes with a respect for what it means to have privilege and what it means to be disenfranchised. The fact of the matter is that most people are capable of this respect just fine. Most people don't rush to make things about them when they feel "put upon" by an oppressed group. Most people can find ways to object to genuinely troubling things with a respect and understanding that is warranted and not unwarranted cries of being victimized by the oppressed. Most people can respect safe spaces.
So, what of those who don't? In this case, the person in question has a long history of, well, exactly this. I don't really get the surprise here. Before he insisted that spaces for fat people must be accommodating to thin people, he insisted that fat acceptance spaces didn't have a right to be fat acceptance spaces. I can tell you that after I made that post, he harassed me repeatedly for a couple months. Aggressively emailing me over and over while I made no response. Writing multiple blog posts to attack me for not engaging him in his attempts to start a feud. It was strikingly similar to attacks I got late last year from a Men's Rights Activist who objected to me writing about rape culture. Its actually a pattern that's pretty common among people who object to safe spaces as being "discriminatory" to privileged, dominant views.
I have begun to recognize that for all their insisted opposition to safe spaces, what they actually want is to enforce the "safe space" of privilege. Privilege affords you a "safe space" of everywhere and that is something many privileged people seek to protect. They insist they represent inclusiveness, but this is nothing more than craven appropriation of progressive language. Appropriation of our language is something fat acceptance should be quite sensitive being in a culture where "diets are mean" is a slogan for a diet company. Their brand of inclusion, though, is all about excluding marginalized view points. Ensuring they remain crowded out by their privileged positions. They believe in having a space which is safe to express their views. They just believe that space is everywhere. Safe for me, not for thee.
We can't put up for this. The fact is, there are a lot of people who read fat acceptance blogs who aren't there yet, but they don't think to demand that fat acceptance adapt to them. There are a lot of people who feel shame for their body but recognize that the experience of fat people is not "exactly the same" as what they are seeing. Most people don't feel excluding because some spaces are maybe not all about them. They don't make much noise about being respectful of our spaces because that is how you are respectful of other people's spaces. We should remember that these people are there. We shouldn't expend much concern on the few who can't just respect our views and our communities, but demand we respect them. We shouldn't take seriously those who want to create safety for privilege. Respect isn't too much to ask. Fact is, lots of people are already offering it.