I’m going to illustrate a situation you may or may not have been in, but it’s a situation I’m currently in after publishing a piece on xoJane about fatshion blogging, activism and brand influence. Ok. So. There might be a time (or many times) when you’ve expressed how you feel on a topic and then someone strongly disagrees with you; suddenly everything escalates into a keyboard mashing frisson. You’re frantically trying to remember and defend your key argument while responding to lightening fast rebuttal, fingers are tumbling over the keys and you’re stumbling over your phrasing, your cheeks are over heating and your hands are curiously very far away from your body, almost like they don’t even belong to you. It seems your arms are as long as giraffe necks and what’s happening down there on your input device is kilometres away from the goings on in your brain.
Is this a common thing? I’ve seen people talk about Alice in Wonderland syndrome, and while I can definitely identify with experiences people have had and the types of bodily distortions that are described in the book, I have a feeling it’s more common than a syndrome. Maybe it’s passion? Maybe it’s identification? Maybe it’s oppression?
I’ve been taught my whole life that emotional people aren’t taken seriously; being the type who cries readily, laughs loudly and forcefully projects her voice, I’ve always felt disadvantaged when it comes to confrontation. Even if my argument was solid, I’d burst into tears or raise my voice, and suddenly the argument was lost. I’m pretty sure a lot of this conditioning happened as I was growing up, because I was an anxious and emotional child and my father used to tell me I shouldn’t cry or shout during discussions or confrontations. I learnt about the tone argument so young but never knew there was a name for it until I grew up!
Of course, it’s easier for a man to say that. They’re so much more ~logical~ (I don’t believe this is true, masculinity is constructed to have logical traits) that they don’t get emotionally involved in debates. In recent years I’ve started to think that if you’re not emotionally involved in an argument, your participation is merely academic. Or to put it less kindly, get the hell out because you’re not necessary in this discussion. People who are intimate and entwined with an issue, an experience or an identity (like oh, if you’re fat!) are more than bloody entitled to cry and scream in arguments, particularly when it’s against someone who isn’t fat.
And so I think it’s understandable to be emotional in a debate. It’s unreasonable for people to dismiss emotion and say someone’s argument is unreliable because they are so deeply affected that they sob or sweat or scream. Only a person with a buttload of privilege could say that. When two people who are affected by the same thing disagree, there are bound to be strong reactions and none of it takes away from the simple fact that obviously these two people care so very much to be putting themselves on the line. Big conversations need to have that emotional investment or else they are worth nothing.
(That said, please take care everyone. Arguing can be exhausting.)