Friday, October 1, 2010

I don't think that's the right question.

I was watching the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight, and they did a story about Tyler Clementi. It segued into Katie Couric's Question of the Day or whatever silly-ass way they term it, and the Question focused on the internet and privacy.

All I could think was that's not the right question. Yes, privacy was certainly an issue in regards to Tyler Clementi, but in my head, the question should have been why the hell this young man had to feel so low, so awful, so rotten for his sexuality? Why the hell are we, as a society, still a-okay and supercool with being completely fucking awful to others and insisting that harassment and abuse and dismissing human beings as being less than because of their sexuality or their appearance is "a rite of passage", "a character builder", "something everyone goes through, so suck it up and tough it out"? I want to know what people think about *that*, not coughing up the same rote bullshit about "well, if you're on the internet, don't expect things to be private".

Lesley Kinzel's amazing piece at Fatshionista got me thinking about my own past, and then the Katie Couric question just launched me into orbit and thinking about how fucking lucky I was. I still can't explain to you why I dodged so many metaphorical bullets in my youth. I had one bad year, my freshman year in high school, and I can conjure up memories from that year in an instant. I had been privileged until that point - yes, I was the fat girl, but I had a loud mouth and was eager to please and overcompensate to the billionth degree in order to make people like me. Or, at least, to not blow shit at me for existing. And it had worked until freshman year.

From day one in homeroom, I became a target for being fat, for being "weird", for being who the fuck knows (even to this day). Tacks were left on my chair, signs were stuck to my back, I could feel the staring and the eye-rolling glances directed at me if I wore something "odd", the heat in my face as I turned redder and did my best to "ignore it" (we're always supposed to ignore it, aren't we). One guy (and he was fat, he should have been on my side, right?) barked at me, "I'd kill myself if I were you". I could not/STILL CAN'T fathom why I drew their ire, why they hated me so much, what I'd done to deserve this (because of course we must have done something to deserve it), why couldn't they just leave me alone, WHY.

I haven't thought deeply about that year in a long time. I see my survival and my (eventual) thriving as another piece of my privilege, of being able to push it to the cobwebby parts of my brain that I access less and less. But this story of this young man, and how more and more stories that follow a similar through line like his has conjured up so much hurt and so much anger in me. The hurt isn't as sharp as it was, time does dull it, but oh, Christ, the anger. The fervent wishing that I could go back in time and just punish every one of those smug fuckers, punish them with the irony that in three years' time, they'd be watching me with my ratted up Robert Smith hair and combat boots marching my fat ass up on stage to accept an award for being voted "Most Original" - shit, they may very well have voted for me.

At 38 years old, I want to stay on the high road, I want to be the bigger person and each and every trite, bullshitty cliche that gets whipped out, but the anger fuels me tonight. It burns hard for all the young (and grown up) people who are gone and who are lost and don't know what to do or where they can go, for those who hear that they aren't alone but can't believe it yet, for those who don't know if they have any fight left in them to go through one more day facing the people who seem so eager to destroy them.

I want people to be held accountable.

I want there to be consequences.

I want a reckoning.

I want the answer to "why".

1 comment:

Twistie said...

A - freaking - men!