It shouldn't; but it does.
Earlier this week someone jumped all over me for posting something about thin privilege. Her comments are all kinds of fail, so click carefully if you are sensitive to thin privilege denying.
The gist of her comments are that by calling out "thin privilege" I'm alienating people. Like I said in my original reply to her, there's no reason to sterilize the truth behind a privilege as to not make people uncomfortable. There is discomfort in examining your own privilege. It’s not easy. If it was, oppressions wouldn’t exist anyway. I hate that I feel I need to rehash all this again, but as a quick summary: It just really doesn't make sense to not call gender privilege MALE privilege just as it doesn't make sense to not call body privilege THIN privilege. It doesn't mean that men can't face sexism (rooted in misogyny) just as thin people face body shame. But ultimately the default "correct" person in male privilege is a man and in thin privilege it's a thin person. That doesn't mean that men or thin people are to blame; it simply means they benefit from a faulty system.
We good? Great.
What I really want to hone in on is her idea that an oppressed group should change their language/tone to be more accommodating to out group individuals. What's not on my Tumblr is a tirade of other asks from her that I didn't publish (because I'm not really in the business of giving people who don't believe in intersectional feminism a platform. I gave her a few shots, and she failed.) She wrote:
By excluding thin people from body oppression entirely you are segregating fat people from other body types who deal with the same type of oppression, and that hinders not only your perspective but those you wish to rally into agreeing with you. An example of being a good activist is Martin Luther King, he was sure to advertise the oneness of whites and blacks. Black people were already segregated from whites, his goal was to remove that stagnant connotation by familiarizing blacks with whites and bringing them together. Now, if he stood on that podium and hollered about the white mans’ privilege would we have progressed at all? It’s important not to limit your mind to one perspective. It’s important to adapt to the ways that other people feel and think, and their perspectives so you can fully understand where the core of each issue lies. Otherwise, you are only halting progression and contributing even more oppression towards your own cause.Oy. Oy. Oy oy oy.
I'm not going to tackle her incredibly simplified view of Dr. MLK's activism right now. I don't have the time or patience for that. What I do want to challenge is this idea that by simply using the words "thin privilege" I'm being exclusionary and segregationist.
First of all, I will reiterate (for the 50th time) that I never made this an us vs. them thing. I just stated the type of specific privilege that is relevant here. That's not saying that thin people don't experience body shame; it's saying the the core of most body policing is related to fatphobia. If a thin person feels alienated by me calling out thin privilege; that's on them. For example, I am an ally in anti-racism and I don't feel threatened or alienated by examining white privilege. Because white privilege is what racism is. If I can't acknowledge that, how can I learn? But beyond that--sometimes a movement isn't for you. And that's ok. A mature, competent person can understand that there can and should be spaces for people who are different from them. It's the same thing as me trying to go onto the This Is White Privilege blog and trying to make them accommodate me or stop calling it white privilege. There's absolutely no reason they should be concerned about me! It's not my space! (But trust me, people do that all time.)
Secondly--and I mean this question quite seriously: Can anyone name one REAL time that activists made progress by changing their tone, language, and messaging? It reminds me of the constant chorus of people who say, "I believe in equal rights of men and women, but I call myself an 'equalist' or a 'humanist.' Feminism is too angry." NOPE. You've just bought into the bad wrap that the movement has gotten as a way to weaken it.
Furthermore, what kind of people would I be bringing into the body acceptance movement if they can't acknowledge that thin privilege is a thing? How are they any different from the mainstream culture if they feel alienated by calling it what it is? Sure, you might win flies with sugar, but who wants flies anyway?
To back down from the words "thin privilege" (or "feminism" or "white privilege" or whatever) is a step in the wrong direction. It should never be the goal of an activist to make people comfortable. Comfort is the cousin of complacency. And complacency is compatible with the status quo. If we want to move the ball forward, so to speak, we have to be actively challenging the world as we see it. And right now, the world as I see it, still routinely positions thin bodies as the RIGHT body. That doesn't mean that every thin person will never be body shamed; it just means that the world is designed in their favor.
And I refuse to pretend it's not.