Becoming Insult-Proof

I don't get a lot of hostile commenters at this blog -- it's small and insignificant (except to me and a handful of readers) -- but at other blogs I frequent as a reader and commenter, I often see insults and invective tossed around.

Hell, I've been known to get in a zinger or two myself, if the asshattedness gets overt enough.

One of the things that amuses me, though, is when someone has attempted to "insult" me by writing things like "You're just a fat lesbo who couldn't get a man if she tried!", or has attempted a frontal assault on a fat-acceptance blog by spouting something like: "You obese cow!", or sallied forth to decimate a progressive feminist blog by screeching "You're all a bunch of man-hating dykes!"

Honestly -- these people need new writers.

Here's the thing about "traditional" insults -- a) they stop having much power after you've heard them a million times (usually from the mouths of people whose ideas about other things seem so wrong-headed that you think: "They don't approve of me . . . . I must be doing something right!"), and b) when people use something that you've already clearly and unashamedly owned, it really isn't much of an insult (ie: "You're just a fat lesbo . . . " -- Hmmm, Let's see -- Portly . . . . Check! -- Dyke . . . . . Check! -- leaving me simply with the desire to type: "Glad you noticed my handle. You get an 'A' for reading comprehension.")

So, tonight, I got to thinking about what someone actually might say to me that I would honestly feel "zinged" by --- and I discovered that there's not much left. I know I'm a roly-poly little pervert, and I not only don't mind that -- I actually like it.

Sure, it's inconvenient being queer sometimes (you know, civil rights, physical safety, and all that bother), but I stopped whining and started working on resolving that crap long ago (moving out of Kansas was a good start), and I'm now at an age where if someone decides they don't like me because I am fat, or queer, -- well -- they just aren't people who I will choose to waste much, if any, of my time on.

Hence, "fat fucking lesbo" doesn't even raise my chin-whiskers anymore.

Someone could accuse me of being stubborn, or relentless, or of monopolizing a conversation -- they could attempt to zing me with comments about how I vacillate, or how I often don't follow through on things that I say I'll do (mumblemumblemumblerepeatedpromisestoblogdaily, coughcough-putting labels on all my posts). They could even go for the soft tissue and accuse me of being a mental case.

But see, they'd be right. So, how would that be an insult?

I suppose they could say something to the effect that, as a queer, I'm worthless, bad, and need to be eradicated from the face of the Earth -- but if they said something like that, they'd just be wrong -- so how would that be an insult?

I think that, in order for an insult to truly "take", it has to be something that simultaneously possesses a seed of truth, and it has to be something that you don't want to own.

If someone wants to call me a loud-mouthed, opinionated know-it-all, and my response is "Yeah, tell me something I don't know,"-- the energy of the intended insult is simply absorbed and that energy then belongs to me. To do with as I please.

My beloved has a phrase for this: Spiritual Aikido.

So as I was cogitating on all this, and wondering what little disowned aspects I might have that could still get me all up and sputtering if they were thrown at me, I got to wondering about trolls and the like, and how they take the insults that are thrown at them -- do they feel wounded or upset by what people say to them? Or do they already know that they are acting like assholes? Just a thought.

I know that coming to a greater knowledge and understanding of myself -- forthrightly facing and owning things that I used to think of as "flaws" in myself (which I now think of as simply "qualities"), has rendered me pretty much insult-proof. I no longer have many heroic images of myself, but I also don't have a big pedestal to get hurled off of.

So, here's a bit of Portly advice for you, if you want it -- next time someone "insults" you, and it upsets you, look for that seed of truth, and how you may want to distance yourself from it -- then either step up and proudly own it -- or, if it's hogwash, leave the speaker to cleanse a pig with it.

I think that this whole line of thought started when I saw the following video clip (again, it's Crackle -- be sure to pause it if you don't want to watch the unending comedy line-up of inconsistent quality that follows the first video) -- this clip was notable to me in that it contains not only the rarity of a woman stand-up, but a woman stand-up of menopausal character.

Notice, however, what "Mrs. Hughes" does with the very first line of her set -- she makes a joke that lets the audience know that she knows she's fat by cultural standards -- thus (I believe) derailing a whole set of possible hecklers. She proceeds to her second line and also lets the audience know that she knows she's "old" by cultural standards.

Having done comedy myself, I recognize the efficacy of this -- I started all my sets (especially if I was playing in a venue that was not primarily LGBT, with a forthright identification of myself as queer -- in a funny way -- for the same reason).

Here's to Mrs. Hughes and becoming "insult-proof".

From Crackle: Mrs hughes skewed views

Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:08 PM  

9 comments: said... March 4, 2008 at 6:30 AM  

Amen girl. Amen.

One note on the comedienne though -- while I understand the reasoning behind acknowledging the "gorilla in the room" before someone else does... it's gotten so when I see an overweight comedian take the stage, I know I'm in for at least one full segment of self-inflicted fat jokes.

Not sure I like that. 2 cents...


PortlyDyke said... March 4, 2008 at 8:23 AM  

I'm sure I don't like it, and I agree with you -- I see this all the time.

That's why I liked Mrs. Hughes' approach -- she acknowledges, but right in her joke, I think she implies that any problem with her being fat is probably in the perceiver's perspective -- note: "Oh! Is this gonna block your view?" No judgment on herself, no excuses, no references to herself as lazy or gluttonous. Haven't seen her other stuff, so I don't know if she gets into it that way, but I liked her approach in this set.

NameChanged said... March 4, 2008 at 11:38 AM  

As a teacher, I had to learn very quickly how to become insult proof. In my case I just remember, I don't need to be friends with a high school student.

Paula G said... March 4, 2008 at 1:29 PM  

Great post. I just recently found your blog when Kate Clinton mentioned it in her newsletter.

You make a great point here:

>I think that, in order for an insult to truly "take", it has to be something that simultaneously possesses a seed of truth, and it has to be something that you don't want to own.

Exactly! Once you own who you are and all that you are, no one can really insult you. While people are our mirrors and teachers (if it charges you up - ask yourself "what can I learn here?") mostly it is just all their own stuff that they feel they need to throw at someone.

And thanks for the little Mrs. Hughes... that is a super good laugh! said... March 4, 2008 at 1:32 PM  

You were mentioned in Kate Clinton's newsletter?? Rock on!!

I've had a brush with celebrity today!

:::oo that tickles!:::


Hasta lasagna chica.

katecontinued said... March 4, 2008 at 1:51 PM  

or, if it's hogwash, leave the speaker to cleanse a pig with it.

Why can't I think to say things this clearly? Kudos to a really helpful post - from she of the thin-skinned. There, I guess I can start working on that seed.

PortlyDyke said... March 4, 2008 at 3:41 PM  

Kate Clinton mentioned me? Who knew? I ran sound for one of Kate's concerts back in Portland in the way long ago.

Christina said... March 5, 2008 at 10:34 AM  

When there is truth in it, I'm not offended. When it's a bald-faced lie or total misinterpretation or condescending clap-trap, I get pissed. But that's in RL, not trolls. I find that trolls are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

But, insult my family, true or not? Not a good idea.

Anonymous said... March 6, 2008 at 10:54 AM  

Spiritual Aikido

I love, love, love this term!!!

Hmmm. Aikido. Water Chi(Ki). From an energetic perspective ... very good at defusing Fire Chi. So, obvious aggressive and incendiary language would be well defended against. Now Wood Chi. Thats a problem. I suspect that the language equivalent for a Wood Chi attack would be a droning relentless conversation with hidden passive aggressive comments. Yes. I do believe that such an attack, could defeat Spiritual Aikido.


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