On Doubt

Doubt (v) – to be uncertain

Do you ever experience doubt? Wonder if you might be wrong about something?

Like many activists, I get a lot of negative feedback from people. Don’t get me wrong, I get positive feedback too, but the negative voices are always louder and greater in number. And when I experience those voices in a cacophony, I sometimes cannot help but really listen to what they are saying, and even begin to wonder if they are right. I begin to experience doubt.

I wonder if I am really just fooling myself that it’s okay to be fat. I wonder if I am delusional in my belief that being fat can be awesome, and can be something to take pride in. I wonder if all the work I have done to read and synthesize the scholarly literature on the relationship between weight and health, on the philosophy of science, on the intersections of power and privilege at play in our understandings of body sizes, has failed to make me knowledgeable about these subjects.

I wonder if maybe they are right.

That doubt comes in, if only for a second.

And then I snap out of it. And I remember that I do know what I’m talking about. That it isn’t silly for me to fight for the rights and dignity of fat people. And I remember that I am not alone in the doubt I may feel from time to time. I’ve experienced this kind of doubt before, even, in other aspects of my life – like being a feminist. And I have friends who work as activists on issues of race/ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, etc, and they get it as well.

We’re told that we take offense to things that are harmless and insignificant. We’re told that the language used to create the world around us doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. We’re told that we see things that aren’t there. We’re told, time and time again, that we create problems because of the way we experience the world.

Because they want us to doubt ourselves; they want the world to remain just as it is – hostile to those who are different. And if they can get us to doubt what we know to be true, then that keeps the status quo safe for a little while longer. It allows them to keep their privilege unchecked – to keep their ignorance unexamined.

There’s this great Chris Rock bit (NSFW),

(CR) “I had a cop pull me over the other day, scared me so bad – made me think I stole my own car.

(Cop) ‘Get out the car! Get out the f*^king car!! You stole this car!!!’

(CR) I’m like, ‘Damn, maybe I did?! Oh Lord, I done stole a car!’”

But you know what? He didn’t. And no matter how bad someone may have wanted it to be true, it wasn’t. And it’s the same for me. No matter how bad some troll may want my beliefs about fat people to be the same as their hate filled ones, they won’t be. Because they may be able to cause me some doubt, but they’ll never make me into a non-believer.