This past weekend I was in Wisconsin for the WisCon convention. I have a lot of posts to write about that, including some ruminations on panels and some stuff about POC at WisCon. But this post is about something that happened during the convention that is contributing to my angry blackness and making me so angry I want to hurl gendered slurs in this woman’s direction for a week.
A woman named Rachel Moss put a post on Something Awful mocking attendees not because of their politics or their feminism or their willingness to come to Wisconsin, but because they were too fat, too white, too male, or too black for her taste.
However, the problem reaches beyond just what Rachel Moss did. It’s now what other people are doing because of Rachel. And though she can say “I don’t have control over what those people do,” the responsibility for starting this whole mess rests squarely on her shoulders. Being a veteran of online snark circle jerks, I know that had Rachel not pointed WisCon out to these people, had not mocked fat people and 9 year old kids, had not put up pictures to go along with that mocking, and had not set the tone for whatever came after, others would not have attacked us in exactly this way.
Let’s start at the beginning. A few days ago the post went up on the Something Awful forums, a site dedicated to making fun of shit. Rachel Moss, the post’s author, has some serious issues surrounding fatness, her own self-image, and understanding the difference between snark and being a total asscrab. I’m going to quote extensively here for reasons I will explain afterward, but I’m putting it under a cut for your pleasure:
[WisCon] is like any other sci-fi con, except that well over half of the attendees are female, about a third of the panels are political, there is no gaming, and absolutely everybody is a huge bitch.
Thinking Ahead: Feminists thinking about possible near and middle futures and feminist responses to them
Moondancer – A white woman who is Native American because she wears a cowboy hat and has wolves all over her shirt. And because she calls herself Moondancer. [glad you can make that scientific determination there, Rachel! --abw]
Feminism is making progress, because Moondancer’s son is a little pussy who gets beaten up by his sister and takes it. [I'm going to give you a moment to decide if the words "a little pussy" are Rachel's or Moondancer's. --abw]
The Joy of Fat Sex
I noticed immediately as I entered the room a lot of labored breathing.
Fat is Not the Enemy
Fat activism is, in my opinion, one of the stupidest types of almost entirely online-only activism there is. I’m sitting at a computer, and I’m super fat (well, not me actually), and I can’t get a date, so therefore I AM OPPRESSED. [note how she was quick to add: I'M CERTAINLY NOT FAT, this will be important later --abw]
But I can’t tell them that [their heroes are full of shit]…because they’ll eat me.
Fighting the Good Fight with Limited Resources
Cynthia: A polyamorous woman in a group marriage with [the fake disease] fibromyalgia [I am so glad to know that you're here to tell us who is white, who is not, and also which diseases are real. You must be some sort of psychic doctor, Rachel! --abw]
Nabil: Seen earlier in that fat joy facillitator picture as “the skinny one.” “He” is a non-op transgendered person…a person who looks like a woman, talks like a woman, likes men, but says that I AM A MALE AND YOU WILL REFER TO ME AS SUCH. It’d be easier if he/she just drew on a beard or something. Geez. Try harder.
Marna: Another fat activist. BLEGH.
Dissecting Privilege — Let’s Look At The Guts
Boring talk. White guy #1 talks about all his patriarchally-imposed privileges, then apologizes for them. The audience gets mad at him for being arrogant enough to sit high-and-mighty at a panel and have the privilege to talk about his privileges. Audience attacks audience for being privileged enough to sit here in chairs at a convention and have the choice to talk about privilege. Panel gets mad at audience for steering the discussion away from their own stories of privilege, because we’ve only got an hour here and there are two more white guys to go. Black man reminds people that he’s black. [There are times when "Bitch, I will Cut You" really feels like an appropriate response, no? --abw]
[this bit really fucking pissed me off. --abw]
Some of Us Are Brave: Identity Intersections in an Election Year
Description: Blah blah blah Obama Hillary hiss blah.
This is what I had come to the con for, and what I had hyped here. I got there early to sit proud in the front row.
- A sophisticated, older African American writer…Well, duh! She has to be there to prove that not all black women vote Obama.
- Two young black lesbians who organize slash conventions…Gay! Obviously pro-Hillary, on the panel to drive the point home that black women do not necessarily vote with their media-designated demographic bloc.
- An Asian man who is an elected state delegate for Barack Obama. This must be to even it out.
But, no. All for Obama. All of them.
Where in the world are all the old, dumpy women that were at the fat panels when I needed them? You’ve ruined this con! I had to hear about your awful joys of awful fat sex, and now you’ve killed the public election bitchfest I came to this thing for! YOU HAVE RUINED THIS CON. [No, honey, I'm pretty sure that was you. --abw]
Screw this. This con blows and I’m going home. Screw taking pictures of more fat people at the Fancy Dress party, and screw taking pictures of all the losers at the Livejournal party, and screw the “Gaylaxicon” party, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. The awesome post I made at SA is going to have to be updated with a whole bunch of unfunny CRAP, and there’s nothing I can do about it, so screw all of this! [if only! --abw]
Let me make sure you understand. Rachel Moss paid $45 to attend a convention for the express purpose of stirring up shit and making a nasty post on the web (not to mention leaving nasty notes). She secretly took pictures of people. She made fun of “fat” people. She decided who is POC and who isn’t. She called a 9 year old boy a pussy while naming his mother, thereby naming him.
All for the lols.
What kind of fucked up lowlife must you be to engage in these activities?
Apparently one who has struggled with an eating disorder for a long time, which goes a long way in explaining just what her deal is. And as Liz Henry points out, it is really sad for her and it comes from a place of deep hurt. But you know what? I know a lot of people who are hurting, who have disorders, or mental illness, or physical ailments that affect their mental well being. And the majority of them deal with these things without attacking children.
You can do some Googling and poke around her LJ to find out more, but if you do so you might miss her useless apology. You won’t miss her threatening to call the police because people have been making threats of violence against her person.
Now I definitely am not down with physical threats. Especially not against female bloggers. But if Rachel Moss feels scared, hurt, embattled, and like she can’t walk down the street without someone having something nasty to say about her, all I can say is: good. She deserves it. Because that’s a slice of what she did to others for no other reason than she thought it would be funny. I would not wish actual physical harm on her ever. But you know that feeling in the gut you get when you’re anxious and upset and freaked out? I hope she feels that every day for a year. It still wouldn’t be enough.
Because people found out where she worked and said they would send letters to her boss, she had the post taken down from Something Awful. Google cache of it still exists for now, but more importantly someone on a forum of people who’ve been banned from Something Awful for being too awful decided to crosspost the first half of the original post. The comments on the OP were bad enough, but these secondary dickwads took it a step further. They started pulling pictures from the WisCon flickr pool to mock the women in them. And now they’ve moved on to photoshopping the pictures. There’s even one member named Cleon who is using a picture of me as his avatar with the words 100% Nigger above it.
Again, Rachel Moss is not directly responsible for this. Also again, this wouldn’t have happened but or her. And thus my anger is tenfold.
How dare she? How dare she add to all the stuff people who come to WisCon already have to deal with in their lives by bringing bullshit like this to their space? How dare she do it in such a way that it brings us to the attention of a community of known and proven assholes who spend a huge amount of time online being cruel and stupid? How dare she attempt to disown her culpability in that? How dare she?
And though I know this is a horrible thing to say, I can’t help but think: How dare she complain about physical threats? You called a 9 year old boy a pussy you depraved sicko! You’re lucky no one knew enough to pop you in the mouth. It’s wrong, yes, but what more can you expect when you talk smack about someone’s child you don’t even know?
Here’s what I want. You can do any or all of these things or not.
Firstly, I want a bunch of people to register at SASS and start posting to that thread. But not attacks. Because attacks won’t do any good, not unless we can find some pictures of THEM to make fun of. No, instead I think we should just start posting nothing but pictures of horses and kitties and puppies and baaaaaby animals. And some gay porn. We need to flood them with so much noise that they abandon the thread. If they start it elsewhere, we just do it again.
[ETA: you know, it's sad but I got bored with that really fast :) I think I got distracted by all the baby animal pictures. And it actually seems less important now than the stuff I want below. I also realized just how pathetic those people were last night and, while I certainly don't feel compassion, I don't care enough to really worry over them. If only there was a way to just shut them up all at once. Ah well, who cares!]
I also want people to know what Rachel Moss did and I don’t want them to forget it. I want any Google of her name to bring up this and other posts about this issue. I don’t want to ignore it, I don’t want it to blow over, and I don’t want to moderate my feelings on the subject. What she did was wrong on so many levels.
Blog about this. Blog about why it’s wrong. Ask others to do so. Use her name. (After all, she used other people’s.) Write to her. This post has an email for her at the bottom. No threats of violence, obviously. But she needs to know just how many people know what she did.
We can’t stop every instance of this on the web, I know. But I spent a lot of time this weekend talking about the importance of having the back of other people on the web and in real life. Be that other POC, or feminist allies, or women who, because they are bigger than some random person thinks they have a right to be, are mocked, ridiculed, hurt, and harassed. I can’t fight the internet, but I can fight this shit. Will you help?