I am so sick and tired of men attacking women’s appearance when women say something that they do not like. The most flagrant display of privilege occurred when a man whose body exists outside of standard notions of acceptability, attacked the woman pictured, on the basis of her appearance. The Twitter user @deezydothis crudely referred to the woman pictured as “Fetty Abena” in an attempt to humiliate her, while silencing legitimate questions about the sustainability of a charity project he was involved in. For those that are unaware, Fetty Wap is a popular singer/rapper notable for lacking an eye and publicly embracing his atypical appearance. “Fetty Abena” is a play on concepts. Essentially, instead of addressing Ms. @F_Aggrey’s legitimate concerns about the sustainability of his charitable project, @deezydothis chose to humiliate her by bringing attention to her eyes. He followed his demeaning comment with more abuse. A now deleted comment stated to her “you literally cannot see the bigger picture”. In addition to displaying a callous disregard for Ms. @F_aggrey, the above interaction represents what often occurs to women who ask uncomfortable questions: a denigration of our appearance.
Privilege And Hypocrisy
Privilege is the power to treat others in a manner that one would never allow themselves to be treated. The power to disregard, to maltreat, and to fail to consider the feelings or well-being of those harmed.
Privilege is the luxury of disregarding the feelings and well-being of those whom your beliefs, words, and actions harm.
Privilege is men with active, exploratory sex lives, eagerly degrading women with sexist slurs like “whore”. It is Christian pastors amassing great wealth despite Biblical warnings about wealthy men’s difficulty entering heaven. It is straight men mastering adultery while condemning the existence of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Pansexual people. It is the wealthy, who take luxurious vacations, telling poor people who do back-breaking work for bare minimum wages, that “a lack of hard work” explains poverty. It is a greatly obese man like @deezydothis, using Ms. @F_aggrey’s appearance as a source of mockery in an effort to silence her critique.
I want to make it clear that I do not intend to body shame or fat shame @Deezydothis. I bring up his weight to discuss how privilege and a sharp tongue shields him from cruel abuse. It is to point out that despite existing in a body type that is regularly the target of abuse, maintaining an image as a wealthy, classed man has allowed the content of his message, rather than his aesthetics, to be the focus of his interactions on Twitter.
Yet Ms. @F_aggrey was not afforded the same level of respect. Rather than dealing with the content of her message, he stooped to making cruel and demeaning remarks about her eyes. He did so in a public sphere, for the always present, ever eager Twitter trolls to consume and bully.
The Importance Of Questioning Charity
Charity is not justice. Charity is handing a woman a fish after denying her access to the sea. While we may recognize the importance of charity as a short-term strategy in dealing with a resource deprived space like Ghana,it is also important to explore the ways in which charity is exploited as a means for those with excess to brand themselves as benevolent.
The crux of the matter is: in our severely unequal society, poor people are expected to shut up and be grateful for any scraps that they are offered. They are not allowed to question the intentions or actions of those that are more powerful.
The desperation that stems from destitution, coupled with the imbalance of power between the poor and the rich, often ensures that those with resources command gratitude for the smallest deeds.
Even if their actions are shallow and unsustainable.
Even if their general attitudes scoff at those without resources.
Ms. @F_aggrey’s concerns were not a malevolent attempt to smear a brand. They were a righteous and important, albeit uncomfortable, effort to ensure that BBnz live’s charitable ventures were ethical and continuous.
Corporations and other for-profit entities have taken notice of this social phenomenon. These entities often utilize unsustainable, short-term means of giving, to boost the popularity of their reputation and their brands. In such a social context, where poor people are used as a means of promotion, Ms. @F_aggrey’s concerns were not a malevolent attempt to smear a brand. They were a righteous and important, albeit uncomfortable, effort to ensure that BBnz live’s charitable ventures were ethical.
Without the vigilant and compassionate watch of people like Ms. F_aggrey, charity becomes a part of a for-profit business model; through which poor people are used as props.
Her questions honestly granted BBNZ live the opportunity to clarify their intentions with this charity venture. They could have answered in the following two ways:
- Yes, we intend to engage in more charitable events with these children. Here are our plans for the future OR
- No, as of now we do not have the capacity to continue this charity event. While it is a one time event, we hope to be able to feature more charitable events in the future, once we build the capacity.
Instead, @deezydothis chose to disrespect and attack Ms. @F_aggrey’s aesthetics. Demonstrating not only a lack of professionalism, but also a deep discomfort with being challenged.
Such discomfort often causes cruel and unnecessary lashing out.Yet it is women that are continually negatively stereotyped as emotional and dramatic.