You know, I just got done reading this bit of gender-related journalism by Owen, and I have to say that I just can't bring myself to do more than empathize a bit. Is it because I am, deep down, a jerk that isn't affected by other peoples' plights? I'm sure some will think so. Is it because the person is transgender and I must find that wrong and immoral? Again, no matter what I say, that will be others' impression of me. Or could it be that, realistically, and probably cynically, speaking, some people still aren't accepting of how people want to live their lives, and she should've known that something like this would happen? Also, does it really take only a couple jokes to break someone down?
That sounds about right, yes? But does it excuse what happened? Hell no.
Let me tell you something, being targeted by the sharp edge of the comedy sword is not fun, if you don't have thick skin, but it's not that bad. Unless you can't laugh at yourself. And if you can't do that, then you are someone I would most likely not have fun being around. Anyway, if you have a sense of humor about yourself, and you find yourself being the butt of the joke, or jokes, then it's not all that bad. Especially when you are surrounded by your colleagues who, above all others, besides close friends and family members, should like and, most of all, respect you and the work you do. Nothing else should matter.
How about this. Try being the fat, smelly kid, in elementary school, who then became the fatter, smellier kid, who sweat profusely, because of their weight, in middle school. Be that kid in an environment where public opinion of you can shift exponentially overnight because your 'friends' finally discovered you were unpopular and, therefore, did not want to associate with you because you would cause them to be as unpopular as you.
Be that kid. Be me. Or, at least the person I used to be. Because that is a helluva lot harder than being the adult who got made fun of, whilst being surrounded by their friends and fellow colleagues, by being called 'it' or 'thing'. As an adult, unless you do something horrific to a person, or persons, on a public forum or in a private little group, your friends will still talk to you and their thoughts about you will not shift. You wont lose your job because of a few comedic jabs your way. In fact, the only thing that will happen is you get angry because you take yourself far too seriously. But no rational adult would ever leave your side because of a joke.
Let me break it down for you. My best friend, in third grade, would hang out with me all the time. In fact, he showed so much support for me because I knew I was fat, and so did he. He still remained my friend. And almost every day after school we would play football and I would work my butt off, sweating it out with him, so that way I could be slimmer and get made fun of less. This went on until, I believe, spring the next year. Either way, whenever Space Jam came out, that was when things went downhill.
You see, I was still being made of by my peers, even though I was working as hard as I could to better myself, as a kid. Well, one day my friend was passing out birthday invitations to everyone — but me. I asked him if I could come and he said that I wasn't invited. About a month later he handed out slips of paper, that contained his new address, to people because, at the end of the school year, he would be moving.
I didn't get one of those slips. In fact, I had to take one off an empty desk to find out where he was moving, because he was my only friend, and I thought he must've meant that slip for me, as that was my old desk. He saw me take it and said he didn't want me to know where he was moving.
And that was heartbreaking. I didn't have another friend until fifth grade, and, even then, those friendships didn't last long.
As I didn't have anyone to play around with outside, I found solace in games, and that lack of physical exertion led to me eating more, playing outside less, and getting fatter. It got to the point where someone said, in gym class, that I was fat enough, and had . . . boobs, that I could wear a training bra. Everyone laughed about that, and, I admit, I kinda did too.
Until the next week when someone put one in my gym locker. Then they goaded me into putting it on, and I did, because I wanted to feel accepted. And then disappointment enveloped me when I realized it didn't work.
Gym was also my second class of the day, which meant that, if I forgot to bring my essentials, I would smell for the rest of the day. And I forgot sometimes. Some kids would tell me to shower again, others would see me coming from down the hall and hold their noses. Hell, they would even see me walking around town and yell that I needed deodorant. One day, right after gym class, someone held a their shoes up to my face and made me smell them. When I told him the shoes smelled awful, he said (in front of the other gym kids) that they smelled exactly like me, then.
One day in particular, right before school started, people left a stack of five sticks of deodorant on my desk. I got laughed at right as I walked into the room.
And the teachers weren't much better. My history teacher pulled me out of her class and called me, 'A fat idiot who wouldn't amount to anything' because I forgot my homework assignment in my locker. She had tenure, my family had come to find out, so she was untouchable, despite my parents' best efforts to get her fired. One day I finally worked up the nerve to tell on one of the kids who had been physically bullying me, and he told me to lose weight and it wouldn't be an issue.
He eventually became the principal of the elementary school.
I did have some people who remained friends through the torment that was middle school, of course, when they saw people making fun of me, they had to join in. You know, lest the become unpopular themselves. But we would still hang out, outside of school, because the other kids, more popular than me, wouldn't know. I was a secret friend. And I really had no choice but to accept it, otherwise I would remain a total outcast.
And, throughout all of this, despite me crying myself to sleep at night, having nightmares about other kids tormenting me, and begging my parents to let me stay home sick, I remained me. I didn't change, other than weight and odor wise. I maintained my sense of humor. I still laugh at me when I deserve it, and even when I don't. I get teased by my friends, and even acquaintances, whom I also tease in return.
And it's great. It's easy to deal with that, because it's in good fun. Because we care about each other. Sure, there are those people, much like that comedian, who like to prod people because they find it funny and it gets laughs. And you have to ignore them, because, they are a stranger. They are not someone you associate with on a regular basis. You will, most likely, never see that person again. But, that is nothing compared to being a child who only seeks acceptance from their peers in an environment that refuses to accept anything less than what they perceive as popular and perfect.
Live years in an environment like what I described, and you will know that a few jokes can't possibly dehumanize you as much as you think.
Let it be known that I have been struggling to hit the Publish button because, well, I don't know why. I wrote this all out, about 20 minutes ago, and I am struggling to hit that button. Maybe because I'm sharing a lot about my crappy school life, ergo, childhood. Or, that people will realize I actually have feelings and don't feel true rage every moment of my life . . . and these are the things I don't like to tell anybody, let alone internet people.