I first heard of Lindy West when she did a segment for This American Life where she confronted a troll who had been so hateful as to create a fake account with her recently deceased father’s information just to hurl abuse at her. She wrote about how much it hurt and the troll actually apologized and took down the site. Later he was willing to be interviewed by her and talk about his motivations. It’s an extraordinary moment in journalism.
I follow her on twitter and she fights back. It’s amazing considering the amount of abuse that is heaped on her. Forget trying to understand the why of it all. Why do people feel the need to spew venom from behind anonymous accounts? Why does a confident and happy plus sized woman inspire such hostility and negativity? The answers to those questions are both simple and complex. Humans suck sometimes.
What is remarkable is Lindy’s decision to stand up and say no to it all. She talks about her journey from shy child to awkward teenager to self conscious young person before finding her voice and her confidence to speak up for women, fat people and others. She is remarkably candid about her abortion, struggles with self-confidence and weight and her love affair with comedy and stand-up in particular.
Lindy brings up some interesting points about loving something that hates you back. Male comedians often make jokes at the expense of women, fat women in particular. The rule of comedy is to punch up not down, but fat people are still considered fair game. Ridicule and open disgust can be heaped on fat people either as a straight joke (aren’t they disgusting) or under the guise of concern trolling about health.
Lindy’s writes about infuriating subjects, but her writing is ultimately empowering. Despite the current political climate, despite the rampant violence and misogyny dominating every corner of American society, change is happening. Slowly, oh so slowly. One person at a time.
“Women matter. Women are half of us. When you raise every woman to believe that we are insignificant, that we are broken, that we are sick, that the only cure is starvation and restraint and smallness; when you pit women against one another, keep us shackled by shame and hunger, obsessing over our flaws rather than our power and potential; when you leverage all of that to sap our money and our time – that moves the rudder of the world. It steers humanity toward conservatism and walls and the narrow interests of men, and it keeps us adrift in waters where women’s safety and humanity are secondary to men’s pleasure and convenience.”
― Lindy West