Triggering Talk & Staircase Wit

This post and the video in it include some body policing statements that, on bad days, I find triggering. Others might as well.

I recently saw Joy Nash’s Fat Rant 3: Staircase Wit — basically thinking of the perfect response to a fat-shaming comment when the moment to say such a response has long passed:

Generally, out in the world at large, I do pretty well with the policing remarks I read or hear. Sometimes I choose not to engage, but that’s more a matter of me calculating the odds than of being unsure of what I would say.

The trouble comes in places where I let my guard down. Maybe it’s because in most spaces — read: life in general — I have to be so on guard. Preparing myself for the comments that might be made; deconstructing the ones that are made (i.e., determining what would cause a person to publicly engage in fat hate); parsing the tone, time, and other circumstances to decide whether it’s a good idea for me to say what I’m thinking this time. Mentally, emotionally, that’s tiring. Is it such a surprise I’d like to be able to turn it off?

Which is occasionally what I try to do. It’s nice to be able to talk about bodies in spaces where I don’t have to advance and defend with every conversation.

But sometimes, when I’m not constantly defending my psyche — when I’m say, exploring a new idea or just talking about something that enthusiastically interests me — I get triggered. This is to be expected, and, in the grand scheme of things, I know how to deal with it. What I haven’t known how to deal with is when people respond unkindly to someone asking for an accommodation regarding the material (in formats where editing is possible, this is usually something like a trigger warning or placing the material under a cut).

When someone says to me, “If you get so offended/upset/triggered over one little word/sentence/post on the Internet, how do you manage to function IRL?” — sometimes with bonus insults and/or profanity — I have heretofore been suffering from a serious case of staircase wit.

The real answer, of course, is above.

But I finally figured out the answer I’d like to give — “If you’re too much of an asshole to respect the people you’ve triggered on the Internet, how do you manage to function as a decent person IRL?”

But maybe that is making an unsupported assumption.

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