Kate didn’t like the criticism she received for this tweet and doubled down on her fat-shaming, food-snarking and body policing. (Criticizing what people eat because they’re fat is all of these things.)
eta:I wanted to clarify that when I say “I’m ok with liking problematic media” it is implied but not stated that I like these things while being critical of their problematic aspects. Critically approaching art and people is very important to me and my on-going process of being a better person. I can like things & be critical of them and I can be critical of something & like it. It’s important that I say that for those who don’t know me or know that that’s how I approach media.
I really truly am a fan of Kate Leth’s comics and they way she deals with the issues of being a woman, being queer, being kinky, being tattooed, basically with being a lot of things we share. I like her original art and her work on Adventure Time. I think it’s rad that she works at a comic shop and is involved in events like Ladies’ Night (I wish my LCS did that!). I think Kate is a talented artist and a rising star and I thought of her as something of an activist and feminist (she’s certainly written comics that present her that way).
But this isn’t the first time Kate has made problematic tweets/comments. Her unwavering support of Laci Green is troubling to me as I’m troubled by anyone offering blanket support in the face of thoughtful criticism (and Laci has been criticized thoughtfully & respectfully as well as being attacked unfairly). I’ve found her comments about Catholic school girls to be more creepy than admiring (and would be downright disgusting if they came from a privileged cis/het man). Last month Kate made racist tweets and while she ignored my criticism, she did apologize when another friend called her on the problematic use of language.
Kate has told all her fat fans that they don’t matter by making offensive/oppressive tweets and refusing to hear, acknowledge and learn from the criticism.
Kate has blocked me so the decision is already made for me about whether I’d keep following her on twitter. Obviously I don’t want to put the art of someone who treated me this way on my body so I’ll figure out something other than her prideful taco on my inner upper left arm. I’m not sure if I’ll keep wearing the shirt with the same design but I don’t especially feel like promoting her art or talking to people about how great she is (something that happens every time I leave the house in that shirt).
My media-savvy friend Chelsea Klukas (@chelscore) said something early in our twitter friendship that has stuck with me and informed my reaction to a lot of “dramz” on & offline since. I’m going to butcher it but the general idea was: People make mistakes. How they react when those mistakes are pointed out is often more telling about the person than the mistake itself.
I knew that tweeting my criticism at Kate would probably be dismissed as “social justice-ing” and she would ignore me. I didn’t expect to be blocked but I guess I was giving Kate too much credit about being able to hear criticism. I’m hurt on a personal level by the reaction but on an active level (the one that defines who I really am), I’m just going to take the lesson that not everyone wants to be better and move on without following, supporting or enjoying Kate’s work.
I had written all this and then my friend Juliet & I had an exchange that I want included:
Juliet is right of course. We need to be the change we want to see, being progressive people making progressive comics. I can’t draw for shit but I’ve got some enthusiasm. And it seems there’s a space to fill that I used to think Kate Leth had a handle on.
eta2: Kate has deleted her fat people/poutine tweets and added the following explanation:
I won’t call that an apology because it’s the classic “sorry you were offended by the offensive stuff I said and won’t acknowledge as offensive” fauxpology. Kate doesn’t own her behaviour or my response, instead she tried to apologize for my feelings (which I have a great handle on, thanks) and deflects any responsibility.
Apparently my tweets are considered harassment (you can see the two that I tweeted at her above and scroll through my public profile if you think I’m being untruthful). It hurts that someone I respected is so dismissive of me. I assume the tweet below is in reference to Juliet and I criticizing:
I maintain that I was respectful in contacting Kate and I would have happily engaged with her in dialogue. Instead I was dismissed with no response and am left to wonder what she thinks a better “execution” would be.