Friday, August 11, 2006

You should learn not to make personal remarks

Last night I was having a conversation with Betsy*, which began with me kvetching about people who comment on what I'm eating, and ended up as a general analysis of the way people comment on things that are none of their business. This made me think about the posts on Spanblather and No Right Turn about pressure to have children.

There is a huge annoyance factor of having people comment on stuff that is none of their business. There's really no good response - because if you tell them they're being rude then you're the problem. Also the more annoying you find it the harder it is to say anything without being snippy and making it A Problem.** Plus there's simply a matter of gaging a relationship - as a rule of thumb unless you know someone well enough that you know how they feel about you commenting on their lives - then it's a good idea shut the fuck up.

But that's not actually what I wanted to blog about. It's the policing aspect of this I can't stand, because whether or not people know it, whether or not they see themselves as above those sorts of things the eternal questions about why people live their lives differently are policing behaviour. They are only applied to choices that are not acceptable.

So I'm going to start fighting harder - I'm going to watch what I say, and consider running interferance for other people, and for myself worry less that someone might think I'm annoyed by them, and more about the fact that I am annoyed by them.

* This is my new pseudonym for my best friend. I decided it wasn't fair if only the Frog had a pseudonym. It comes from the best movie of all time, of course.

** Which isn't always a bad thingthe other day I walked out of the room on someone for making the relatively for saying 'there's nothing healthy about a corn-chip (it was at a party and I suspect he didn't notice, but it made me feel better). I'm thinking of instituting a no tolerance bubble for any comments about what I'm eating that are derogatory, unless the person is using I-statements. Then I'm going to extend it out till everyone learns that their food experiences aren't universal and that it's really not worth using the word 'healthy' to describe food around me, because they will be there for days.


  1. Anonymous12:20 pm

    Yay, I can comment again!!! :) I really wanted to leave a comment during the Louise Nicholas case about how much I was loving your posts :)

    Anyway, this is a really interesting post, and one which I feel I relate to a lot. Like, a LOT.

    The policing of bodies....I feel like I am constantly policed, and I try my very hardest to ignore/avoid it. I get comments on my marital status, what I wear, what I eat, and how I act/behave.

    Unfortunately you are right - if you reject the policing openly then you look like you're an intolerant freak, so to speak. Example: If I eat hot chips for lunch, I get comments ("that should balance out the water" - I had a glass of water in the other hand). If I eat vegetable kebabs, I also get comments ("That looks healthy!"). I really want to say, "Can you not comment on my food, please - it's rude and you are talking shit anyway," but I don't of course. My tactic is to avoid these comments by not sitting next to people at lunchtime who I know will comment on what I'm eating. I can't get snippy with them - I have to work with them every day, and it takes a lot of energy to try and explain why I don't think eating hot chips is bad for me. (NB These comments have come from both women and men)

    I don't know how well my tactic works really. A few weeks ago, a senior person at work commented on the amount of lint on my jacket!!!!! I wanted to kill them. But now I avoid them. (They said something really offensive to me a few months ago, and I totally challenged them...and yeah, I don't think they're my biggest fan now, and no, they didn't learn, hence the lint comment and me not saying anything about it.) It's really not easy when they are, as I said, very senior at my work. I also heard another colleague teasing a young female colleague about how big her lunch was. Again, wanting to kill. Again, I avoid.

    So, I guess I pick my battles. I'm not going to walk out of the room because someone says chocolate is unhealthy, because I don't think they'll understand my actions. Hell, I thought that way myself once, and I do have sympathy for many women who think like that. But I'm also not going to get into conversations that are draining and upsetting for either myself or the other person, because I value my energy too much, and it's usually fully expended by my workload anyway.

    But I am surrounded by those who police, and I feel I am constantly being policed in one way or another and I'd love to know what strategies people use to deal with dumb-ass, personal, policing comments.

  2. Yes yes enough with the judging and policing already! GRRRRR!

    It's moments like that that I kind of wish I had Dorothy Parker in my head feeding me witty comebacks. That'd stop them judgers and policers in their damn tracks. Stupid people. Did I say GRRRR already? Ok I need sugar.

  3. But sugar is bad for you Span :-)