I just can’t…


These days, I just can’t.

Presumably, people attach themselves to liberal and progressive activism because they value open-mindedness and tolerance. They see it as an intrinsic part of valuing human life. Tolerance meant defending the legal and cultural rights of others to exist. It meant being open to new ideas rather than just accepting the status quo.

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. Being tolerant no longer involves the inclusion and participation of marginalized people’s. It no longer means respecting the right of all people to have their day in court. It means we must celebrate and validate them, and give them a platform, even if doing so violates our goals and boundaries. It means being open to attitudes, behaviors and people whose goal is abuse, exploitation, and erasure. Being open minded no longer means open to ideas that challenge the status quo. It means being open to the status quo and revamped versions thereof as being “revolutionary” when they’re not. And as good liberals, we have to take it up the ass or else risk being labeled a bigot.

And notice that it’s always we who are the bigots. People aren’t called bigots who insist on colonizing our movements and our spaces, being contemptuous of our goals and violating our boundaries. We’re the bigots for not doing a good enough job sucking it and pretending we enjoy it.

You know what else I’m tired of? People ignoring the “social” part of social justice activism and making social movements all about them, their choosy choices, their special snowflake feelings and circumstances. You can’t make, or analyze, social observations without someone whining that they aren’t like that, they don’t experience that, or that you’re somehow not sufficiently inclusive of their totally individual life/categories of oppression. Well, that’s because it’s not about you. Social trends don’t cease to exist, or matter, just because they don’t affect, or reflect on, you. It’s like object constancy, a capacity that infants normally develop within the first few months of life, wherein they learn that objects and people still exist after they’ve left your line of sight. I wish more social activists would learn that.

I’m done being open to violations of my principles. I’m done being tolerant of abuse and exploitation. No more.

In other, related news, I recently reunited with an old childhood friend and she has claimed, for years, that she is fat accepting. Upon probing, however, I realized that she spends a lot of time talking about dieting on her Facebook page. Upon questioning her about it, she still claims to be “radically fat accepting” but she’s the heaviest she’s ever been and she’s not quite comfortable with it.

So we have officially entered the Twilight Zone where radical fat acceptance is inclusive of dieting. Big surprise. I’m done.

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11 comments

  1. Amy · October 31, 2015

    Your writing is very thought provoking, I’ve read a handful of your posts today and I really like them. Keep up the good fight, you deserve your voice to be heard without the thread of attacks. It’s tiring, I’m sure. Thank you for your words

  2. sellmaeth · December 1, 2015

    “So we have officially entered the Twilight Zone where radical fat acceptance is inclusive of dieting”

    Well … I am on a diet of sorts to gain weight, so … I don’t see why it would be oxymoronic. Also, you can be on diets for better health (I did low carb to improve my skin) … just saying, because I am annoyed that people always assume I want to lose weight when I talk about healthy eating. (I am underweight as it is, so they’re basically suspecting me of being anorectic.)

    Your friend, though … probably she just finds it easier to accept others than to accept herself. Better than the other way round I suppose?

    • joannadeadwinter · December 1, 2015

      I don’t care much about people’s eating or exercise habits. I have mine and not all of them are “fat accepting” either. Lots of people have health needs, ethical concerns, religious practices, etc. that require a special diet and I’m cool with that. This is more a generalized rant about progressive spaces going crazy with the “big tent” concept. I have seen a number of fat accepting spaces become places to talk about weight loss dieting or other obsessive eating patterns, even though those places were initially designed for people learning self-acceptance and/or recovering for eating disorders. People were leaving because they were triggered in what used to be a safe space. Fat acceptance deserves space just for radical fat acceptance. Women and lesbians deserve spaces just for them without having to cater to men, trans, or straight women. Progressives just have trouble setting boundaries. Those that do set boundaries of any kind are labeled bigots. Whether they are “bigots” against people on Weight Watchers or “bigots” against “women with penises,” the threats of being called a bigot or closed-minded has made meaningful discussion or networking nearly impossible. It’s a rough world out there for progressives on the internet that want to go beyond 101 stuff or endless navel gazing over whether you can wear high heels and still be feminist. I wanna move on.

      And yes, it is often easier (for the more progressive among us) to accept other than accept ourselves and I don’t think anyone accepts themselves all the time. But I think as progressives, the solution is to encourage self acceptance and challenge negative conceptions of ourselves, rather than promote negative conceptions as our goal. It’s part of the journey towards our goal, but not what the “movement” should be about. I feel the same way about feminism. None of us is a “pure” feminist, but we still have the right and obligation to point out stuff that’s problematic and encourage people to at least think about it. That’s why I hate “choice” feminism so much. Any criticism of anything a woman does is deemed “anti-feminism” even when she promotes things that are totally, undeniably, straight out of patriarchy.

  3. kellbrigan · March 26, 2016

    About “radical fat acceptance” including dieting. Yeah, right. Recently, ASDAH ran a column on why fat acceptance requires involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. Not attention. Not support. Involvement. Here’s the post: http://healthateverysizeblog.org/2016/02/04/the-haes-files-actually-this-is-our-job/#comments And, here’s my response, which is still “waiting for approval.”

    How about this: as soon as black activists start talking consistently about discrimination against fat people, we start dealing with racial issues. Fuck, I can’t even find a HAES MD IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY, and you want to take on issues that have nothing to do with fat people’s needs? How about working for fat people FIRST. I seem to have this conversation about every five years. There’s always someone more important than us. NO. FAT PEOPLE FIRST. FAT LIVES MATTER. WE’RE ALREADY BEING MURDERED ON A DAILY BASIS. WE’RE DENIED ACCESS TO LIFE ITSELF. WE ARE ALREADY IN EXTREME CRISIS. WE NEED ALLIES WORKING FOR OUR WELFARE, NOT TO HAVE OUR MEAGER RESOURCES DIVERTED AGAIN AWAY FROM US. NO. Not “race.” (And, it looks likely you’re only advocating for an extreme left-wing approach, to boot.) NO, NOT EATING DISORDERS. NO, NOT THIN PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY “SUFFER, TOO.” NO. NO. NO. Fat people are as important as anyone else. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES. WE HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR, AND PLENTY TO DO RIGHT HERE IN OUR LIVES. NO. FAT LIVES MATTER AND WE NEED TO DEAL WITH OUR NEEDS, OUR MURDERS AND OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW.

  4. joannadeadwinter · March 27, 2016

    Kell,

    ^^^THIS^^^

    Everything you’ve said is spot on. I feel like every movement I get involved in, someone has to derail it by making it all about their super special unique selves. Well, what about fat Lithuanian pagan sex workers that are pre open transsexuals? What about ME? Huh?! Believe it or not, movements need to be about something, and that something needs to be specific. When a movement becomes about everything, and tries to be all things to all people, it ends up being about nothing and cannibalizes itself. Or it becomes colonized and about something other than what the original movement was about. Successful movements are for each other, not each individual with their special interests. They stand for a common set of issues and goals. Are there differences in how issues affect people according to sex, race, etc? Of course, and movements need to address those issues. However, the core issues (ie fat rights) remain front and center. Black Lives Matter has Fuck all to do with fat rights and doesn’t belong in the center of our movement. BLM is it’s own movement with it’s own spaces and fat rights deserves the same.

    • K.Jane · May 9, 2016

      I’m not too familiar with the fat acceptance movement, but I think you make a lot of valid points about how a movement can’t be about everything or it doesn’t work. I used to consider myself really liberal because I was pro-choice when I was about 14 and hugely in favor of increasing the minimum wage. I still support those things, but a big reason I don’t consider myself a liberal is because it supports the trans movement which is lesbian-hating and misogynistic as hell. (I ended up here because I liked some of your comments on Gendertrender). I also hate how you can’t discuss social trends without the special snowflake stuff. For example, you can’t point out that maybe it’s a bad idea for a woman to be economically dependent on a man because you’ll offend middle class housewives. I also hate the notion that we should support everything any woman does even if it’s anti-feminist. Why should I support that woman who started the anti-lesbian Michfest boycott just because she was a woman? Should I have voted for McCain/Palin just because Palin is a woman, even though I deeply disagreed with her and McCain on most of their politics?

      I support female-only and lesbian-only space and I support having a fat acceptance movement that is actually about fat people and not every other random thing. Black Lives Matter is a not a fat-acceptance movement so it should not be the focus of a movement about fat-acceptance. You can support both if you want, or neither, or just one, but you are right that they aren’t really related to each other.

      I remember years ago when I occasionally used tumblr a lesbian made a light-hearted post saying that she’d definitely watch a Disney Princess movie with a lesbian princess. A lot of people liked the post, but then people started to pile on her. How dare she just talk about lesbians!? Why couldn’t the princess be bisexual or why can’t we have a movie about a female football player and a male cheerleader as a couple? That’s totally more queer than actual homosexuality! There were also demands for a black princess instead. (On that one, looks like the liberals failed their precious intersectionality by acting like black and lesbian are always exclusive categories.)

      • JoannaDW · May 20, 2016

        Fat acceptance is basically the idea that body size and health are our own business, that government shouldn’t interfere with these matters any more than they should interfere with reproductive rights. It tries to dispel stereotypes about fat people and bust old health myths that have been circulating for years, i.e. that thinner is better. We challenge the idea that there is a real obesity epidemic or that children are at increased risk for obesity. Anyway, that’s a movement in and of itself, but like any other movement, there are people that demand to ask not what they can do for the movement, but what the movement can do for them.

        Feminism is also very much a victim of this mentality. We have the false notion that empowerment is a personal subjective feeling of getting to choose or enjoying what you are doing, as opposed to whether something increases our power, rights, and protection as a class. However much you might like keeping house and raising children while hubby makes the money, this will do fuck all for you when your husband becomes abusive, dies, becomes unemployed or injured, or divorces you. It also does nothing for women as a class in a society where “earning your keep,” contributing, and money equal political power, and where political power means survival. And no, merely having and raising children does not, in itself, contribute to society. Do you think the Duggars are contributing to society by building their own cult? Nope.

        Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you come back soon.

      • k.jane · June 30, 2016

        The fat acceptance movement sounds pretty reasonable. I definitely agree that thinner isn’t always better. BMI standards are pretty ridiculous and impossible for most people to obtain. I have had friends with wildly fluctuating weights because there’s always on the latest yo-yo diet.

        Yes, very good points about feminism too. As for the motherhood issue, I completely agree that having children doesn’t automatically make society better or contribute to society.

        I actually decided at some point when I was a kid that I didn’t want kids, and I have political reasons for not wanting kids as well. I could find another woman and play queer-coded-knock-off nuclear family with her but that isn’t going to do anything to help lesbians as a group. It’s not going to help us have our own spaces again away from the the trans cult and other men and it’s not going to give young women who are lesbians an alternative to both the homophobic alphabet soup orgs and the homophobic right-wingers. I could very well end up raising children who later betray me and other lesbians by siding with the trans cult when instead I could help other women who are already lesbians. Even if I had children who weren’t like that, taking care of them would mean less time spend on other lesbians.

        Also, though I don’t earn a lot of money, I am still a western consumer and use more resources than most other people and I should not inflict more western consumers on an over-populated world.

      • joannadeadwinter · June 30, 2016

        Thank you so much for dropping by and I have a similar philosophy, i.e. better to support those already here than add more people. I also feel that as people who have long been marginalized by nuclear family structures, we should be the last ones rushing to mimic them. We should be shunning these structures.

        Fat acceptance has its radical wings, its wishy washy wimpy wings, and its moderate wings, but when you dip deep enough, most people can relate. Anyone that values freedom and bodily integrity should, if nothing else, take umbrage at the idea that government should have any role in regulating our diets or exercise habits, especially on the basis of science that is best, speculative and ever-changing and at worse, pseudoscience.

      • K.Jane · July 8, 2016

        I don’t get the appeal of replicating nuclear families either. Bev Jo and icemountainfire have done awesome posts on the subject of lesbians and motherhood and I’ll just say I agree with them.
        My parents are mostly okay, but plenty of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals have been badly hurt by the institution of family. Also, I really am not interested in joining alphabet soup organizations in promoting surrogacy, artificial insemination, or other fertility treatments since I’m against those things.
        I think surrogacy is horribly exploitative to poor women and I don’t see how it’s that different than the notion that poor people should sell a kidney to be slightly less poor. Volunteer surrogacy for family is just the same. Transkid Jazz Jennings has already decided that his sister is going to carry a baby for him and his future husband, and we all know if she says “no”, she’ll go from being the most obscure member of the family to an “unsupportive, evil bitch” hated by everyone in the queer/trans camp.

        With the artificial insemination, I’ll just say that I’m sick and tired of seeing “lesbians” in the media who are so obsessed with having sperm/having a baby that they’ll fuck a dude to get it, making them not really lesbians. Also, it’s beyond wrong to trick someone into reproducing. I’m also tired of being informed, usually by heterosexuals, that I don’t have to give up on having kids because of A.I. Well, the thing is that I NEVER wanted kids. Also, with countries like India and China having way too many males to females, do we really need to start that over here? Things get worse for women when there are an unnaturally high number of males. Unless it’s done properly, artificial insemination children can be up to 80% male. Not to mention, all the health risks associated with pregnancy. My endocrine system is beyond fucked up and I could have even more health risks than most women if I tried to have a baby. (Also, I’m sick of this notion that childfree women are unusual or freaks. 1/5 of the women of my mother’s generation, the baby boomers, did not have kids and about ¼ of the millennial women are expected not to have kids. I view couples who don’t have children as families of two. And hey, maybe they don’t like to consider themselves a family because they came from dysfunctional families, and that’s fine too. Hell, I wouldn’t want to replicate a conventional family either, even if it was just my S.O.)

        As for fertility treatments, I view them as another way to get women to voluntarily fuck up their health, like the fad diets. Some of those drugs can cause sciatic endometriosis and possibly cancer down the line. Not to mention, they’re expensive and you can end up with a sextet of children instead of just one child.

        But I guess since I don’t support any of the stuff, regardless of whether the couple is heterosexual or homosexual, I guess I’m a homophobe. (I’m also homophobic for pointing out that Caitlyn Jenner is a man. I’m so bad.) There’s lots of states with kids in foster care, so why not look after one of them if you must have a kid?

        I completely agree about government regulation. The government wants to come up with a food pyramid or a food square? I don’t really care. The government wants to tax foods because they’re “unhealthy”? I don’t support that, even if it is an unhealthy food. Besides, doctors used to tell people that trans-fats were good and that they shouldn’t eat avocados because all fat is bad. The definition of “unhealthy food” can change quite frequently.

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