Feminism Around the World: Canadian Burlesque Dancer Tracks Down Fat-Shaming Internet Troll…a 15-Year-Old Boy
Welcome to Feminism Around the World, a weekly feature here at TMS where we focus on women’s lives and feminist concerns around the world by applauding successes, reporting injustices, and amplifying the conversation around solutions to gender-based inequality. Because “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” – Teresa
CANADA: Burlesque Dancer Schools Teen Internet Troll
Jessica Davey-Quantick is a Canadian burlesque dancer who, like many twenty-somethings, has a prolific Instagram. Now, it’s already kind of a big deal for a woman to be online at all with, you know, a life or opinions, as evidenced by the trolls many of us suffer on a daily basis. Layer on top of that the identity of “burlesque performer,” and you bring out all the specifically appearance-focused and/or “morality” focused sexism that would either tell a burlesque performer that she’s not attractive enough, or that she should keep her clothes on, because sluttitude.
Add the fact that the burlesque dancer in question is fat? You’ve hit the trifecta of things that will bring all the trolls to the yard. Female, fat, burlesque dancer.
So, when Davey-Quantick posted this photo, celebrating her first burlesque show…
Sharing this again because there has been so much hate on my page over it. This is from my first burlesque show: it took a lot for me to get on that stage and it is one of the proudest moments of my life. The wave of love and acceptance that’s rolled over me since has been incredible. But so has the hate. This week I’ve been targeted by a group of teens telling me to kill myself; I’ve been called a whale, a planet. Just today someone created a fat shaming account just to repost this photo asking for abuse. I pushed back, because I knew I had my glitter posse at my back, telling me over and over I was loved. I contacted the teen’s parents and their school, and they’ve since apologized. I’ve reported accounts to Instagram and they’ve been deleted. I have not been silent and I’ve refused to cede public space to trolls. But most shocking to me are the comments that say I should turn the other cheek, by pushing back I’m bullying in return, boys will be boys and after all, aren’t I asking for it by having a public account, by doing burlesque, and by being fat without being ashamed? To them, I quote a wise brrr-babe when I say: I’m glad I threaten you so much you have to try to tear me down. I don’t need to apologize for my existence; and if my confidence makes you feel like your power is shifting, good. Because getting told to slit my wrists and told I’m disgusting doesn’t have to be the price of being on the internet. We get to decide what’s normal in our spaces, and I, for one, do not agree. And I know how to call your mothers. . #bodylove #bodylove4all #allbodiesaregoodbodies #confidence #fatacceptance #allbodiesarebeautiful #allbodies #bellylove #fightback #standup #nothavingit #burlesque #brrrlesque #loveyourself #selflove #bodyconfidence #selfcare #selflove #bodypositivitymovement #boyswillbeheldaccountablefortheiractions #notaskingforit #glitterposse #curvygirl #getup #looksickening #andmakethemeatit
…she received all sorts of hateful comments about her appearance and weight. However, there was one series of comments from a troll that were much more horrible. According to CBC News:
She received the typical supportive comments from friends and performers, but on Wednesday afternoon she saw a post from somebody she didn’t know that said, “Obesity kills.”
Davey-Quantick said when she gets inappropriate comments or photos she typically highlights it publicly. Usually, the person retreats, often apologizing profusely. But this poster didn’t.
On Thursday she woke up to dozens of comments on photos dating back as far as October, telling her she was a whale and disgusting and unlovable. “He ended it by posting that I should slit my own wrists and eat my own blubber,” she said. Other people had joined in with the insults.
Rather than deleting the photo, letting it slide, or retaliating online, Davey-Quantick tracked the troll down. Turns out? It was a 15-year-old boy. (And this is why we need to start teaching kids about feminism from an early age.)
Friends of hers helped her track down the boy’s father and school headmaster. The boy’s father was initially apologetic, but later not only said that his son wasn’t involved, but that Davey-Quantick and her friends should be ashamed for going after his son. He told her what too many people tell women who deal with online harassment: that she should keep her Instagram account locked to avoid things like that.
Davey-Quantick decided to post the father’s work email on her Facebook page, as her friends had begun to be harassed as well. At first, she hesitated. After all, doxxing is also a huge problem. However, his work email was already public on his company’s website, so she allowed her followers to express their concerns to him, rather than going after the kid.
She also took it up with Westminster School, where the boy attends classes. Apparently, it wasn’t only one teenage boy involved, but three. The school was horrified, and asked Davey-Quantick to send them screenshots of the comments she received. The boys have since been suspended, and were told to write handwritten letters of apology to Davey-Quantick that the school would go over with them. “In our personal, social and health education lessons, we stress that internet bullying and trolling is utterly unacceptable and can have devastating effects,” headmaster Patrick Derham wrote in an email to CBC News.
In addition to that, however, the ringleader sent Davey-Quantick a message via social media telling her about the suspension, and that he’d had his phone taken away, and he was actually remorseful. “More importantly, he was so apologetic,” Davey Quantick says. “And I got this email from him basically telling me he is so ashamed of himself. He is so ashamed that he has done this to his parents, to his friends, that he doesn’t do this normally, and that he’s learned his lesson.”
Davey-Quantick vows that she will continue to speak up and fight back against internet trolls, no matter what their age. “What happens when he tells a 15-year-old girl to kill herself?” she said. “What happens when he tells somebody that they’re disgusting? What is the end result of that? Is that going to lead to somebody in the bathroom putting their fingers down their throat? Is that going to lead to someone committing suicide? It’s dangerous.”
Here’s to fighting the good fight, and making the Internet a safer space for everyone.
(via email tip from TMS reader Sean Legge – thank you! / image via Shutterstock)
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