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A plea for your voice.

(MASSIVE Trigger warnings for sexual violence)

Hello darlings.

Yes, it’s been a really long time. As some of you have gleefully pointed out. And frankly, it’s not us, it’s you. Not you, individual readers, you, citizens of the world. It’s exhausting, and frankly, we don’t always have the energy to keep being angry and feisty and clever. Sometimes, we just want to lie down and be bad feminists.

But, sometimes there’s important work to be done. And this is one of those moments. Because, there’s this. That we even have to have a select committee into funding for sexual violence services is one of the reasons the Lady Gardeners would prefer to curl up under a tree with a good novel and a teapot full of bourbon. But here we are, nonetheless.

If you would like to make a submission, the details are in Coley’s post, and some information on how to do it is here. (FOTLG Oliver points out that evidence can be heard in private.) And a workshop for submissions is being held, if you want to go along to that.

For the very remote chance that you don’t know why funding for these agencies is important, and the statistics aren’t enough to convince you, we have a story from a (obviously anonymous) friend of the blog. It’s…not fun, and there’s about a million trigger warnings and we’ll be wielding a very heavy hand in the comments. But this is why rape crisis and the agencies like it are necessary. This story is horrifyingly common amongst all genders and ethnicities and orientations. And it’s why you should go ahead and make a submission.

It’s a Saturday night, which is a terrible way to start a story. I’m sure I was meant to be somewhere, but I don’t remember. My house is empty, of people and stuff, which my erstrwhile flatmate has taken with her. It feels like she took all the joy from the house too but again, I’m probably misremembering.

I’m wearing flannel pyjama bottoms and a singlet top. Later, I’ll fixate on that top. It’ll stand for things I can’t stand. And one day it will bring me to my knees, when I find it unexpectedly in the back of a drawer. But for now, all of that is ahead of me. For now, for the last time for a very long time, I’m safe.

There’s a knock at the door. It’s an odd time on a Saturday night, but I don’t think much of it. I open the door. It’s heavy in my hand, and the first thing I notice is the smell. Whoever is at the door has been drinking. And they’ve been drinking sweet dark rum.

I realise who it is and time slows down. All I can think is “don’t let him in the house. Don’t let him inside. There’s no good reason he’s here.”

This man has already hurt me. He has already made me scared. He’s already shown he doesn’t listen to me, and doesn’t care that I’ve asked him to leave me alone.

I try to slam the door, but he’s bigger and stronger and is already in the door. The door bounces off his leg, his elbow, and he’s inside, slamming it shut behind him.

He’s talking, but I don’t remember the words now. In my head it’s incoherent babbling, but I’m sure it’s not. It can’t have been, and I have a vague sense of apology. A feeling that he wanted me to forgive him for being an asshole.

But I don’t know. Because what happened next is so unforgivable.

I’ve been backing away from him, and suddenly my back presses against a wall. I turn to head up the hallway, but as I do, he’s standing in front of me. He grabs my shoulder and pushes me hard against the wall. Once, twice, he shoves me back against the wall. It’s like he’s shaking me, and my head cracks against the wall, and I feel my shoulder blades bang against it, and wonder if that will bruise. (It does, badly and it’s so ugly that for weeks I can’t look at my back, even clothed.)

He leans against me, and when I struggle, he takes a hand and wraps it in my hair, pulling my head back, holding me there. With my head bent back, I gasp for breath.With his hand in my hair, I can’t pull away from him, and I am sandwiched between him and the wall. He brings his lips to mine, and when I try to pull away he yanks me back to facing him. I gasp in pain, and i see him grin. I try to push him away again, and he slams me back against the wall, knocking the breath out of me. My knees buckle, and I’d fall down in pain, but he holds me up.

His teeth scrape along my neck, and his knee slips between my legs, pushing them apart. I feel him biting down on my collarbone, and the hand that’s not holding my hair squeezes my breast. Even as terrified as I am, I wonder if the bite will leave a mark, if it was hard enough to break skin. Even as terrified as I am, there’s a voice in the back of my head berating myself for caring about bruises at a time like this.

I shove back against him and he slaps me, letting go of my hair, and I scream, telling him to get off me, to fuck off, to leave me alone, until he clamps his hand over my mouth, and presses against me. He pulls at my top, snapping one of the straps, dragging it down over my breast which he claws at, squeezing and pulling and pinching. One of my hands is caught behind me, and with the other, I try to push him, but he’s too close, and too strong, and he swats my hand away.

I bite down on his hand, doing all the things I was taught in primary school, fighting and screaming and struggling. He brings his hands around my throat, squeezing until I can’t breathe, until I stop struggling, and I realise he’s talking to me, calling me a stupid bitch, a whore, a slut, all because I didn’t give it up when he wanted it.

Holding me by the throat (and this is the moment I realise how tall he is, that he can hold me there, like that, by one hand), his knee hard up against my pelvis. He’s muttering that I like this, that this is how I want it, and then his hand is inside my pants, and his fingers are inside me, and I’m shaking my head, but I can’t move, and he’s pressing his thumb against the side of my throat, and I am scared that if I move I won’t be able to breathe. And all I can think is that I’ve been here before, in this exact situation, almost, and if once is unlucky, what is twice?

I try to twist away from him, but I can’t, and I struggle and slap at him and his fingers are inside me and it hurts and he looks down at me and tells me to stop pretending I don’t like it, that I basically begged for this, and what a slut I am.

He pulls his hand away from me, and takes a step back, like he’s going to say something, and he grabs my wrist, and twists it, and all of a sudden I realise there’s a gap between us, and I bring my knee up, as hard as I can, between his legs. He doubles over, and I push at him, and he falls, crouched on the ground. In a much calmer voice than I can imagine having, a voice that doesn’t sound like mine, I tell him to get the fuck out or I am calling the police, and miraculously, he does.

All of that plays in my memory, on repeat, either in slow motion, or in rapid bursts, his hand on my breast, cut to his mouth on my neck, cut to his fingers trailing over my hip. All of it, often, for months. But I don’t really remember what happened next. I know I sat on the floor and cried, for what felt like hours. I know I said something glib on twitter, and then changed my clothes, burying my ripped top in the back of a drawer and throwing out my pyjamas. I didn’t know what to do, or what to say, so the next day I avoided people, curled up on the couch in my empty house, watching bad movies and crying. And drinking all the tea.

It wasn’t until the day after that that I thought maybe there was something I should do. Something other than catch myself standing in the mirror looking at the bruises on my collarbone, my thigh, the scrape along my neck, the brusies on my back, realising I’d been standing there for ten minutes. Something other than tell myself over and over and over again how lucky I am, how much worse it could have been. All I wanted to do was stop crying. And to do that, I’d have to tell someone. And if I told someone, it would be real. It’d be a thing that had happened, not a dream, not something I could wish away.

I’ve told this whole story to three people before now. My counsellor, the police, and someone on the phone at rape crisis. And I’d never have got to the first two without the last one. And that should be all you need to know.

If you need help, there are support services available. Feel free to share in the comments. Kindly, preferably.

Well, that escalated quickly.

Trigger warning for rape, rape culture.

Here’s how to tell if you’re a misogynist asshole.

1. Take pleasure in offending women.
2. When a woman calls you out on that behaviour, demean and negate her.

If that doesn’t prove it to everyone you know, double down with a nice bit of rape/child abuse joking.

photo

When called on it, say you we’re just joking about a fictional character. That makes it OK!

[Update since I started writing this: you can then apologise(ish) and delete the offending tweet.]

Look, I’m not going to have anything better here to say than Sady, Lindy and Molly have said.

So, let’s just repeat this a couple of times: rape jokes aren’t funny. Rape jokes aren’t funny. Jokes about rape culture can be, but it’s a high bar, and one that few comedians can clear. And when your joke falls flat, it’s not just that you didn’t get a laugh, it’s that you’re hurting and re-traumatising rape victims. (Of whom, statistically, you likely have at least one amongst your friends/listeners/followers.) And you’re helping to prop up a culture that minimises violent crime. Why do you want to be that guy?

Of course, if you believe Twitter, you people who make these kinds of jokes have supporters. I’m, of course, part of the PC police, and you should be allowed to say whatever you want. And, of course, you are. You can tweet whatever bullshit you like. You can lash out at women who call you sexist and be a bully, and upset people all you want. And I get to think that you’re a piece of shit.

But when you have the pulpit of a massively influential radio station, and the tiny amounts of fame that New Zealand allows, you don’t get to do that without people complaining. And I’d have thought that if you are a half-decent human being, you’d have considered the responsibility you have. A responsibility to not make rape victims feel worse. To not uphold a culture wherein women (and some men) feel unsafe and at risk. You talk, mostly, to young people, over whom you have influence. Are you really comfortable making the world a bit more shit, instead of a little bit better, as you do that? Couldn’t you use that influence, gained through what I am sure is your massive talent, to help us? Or at the very least, to not actively hurt us?

Of course, I’m just a boring, humorlessness, unfunny, overly-sensitive, stick-up-her-ass, PC feminist, right? You carry on.

jlawthumbs up

Pay As You Weigh(t, what??)

The thing is…it makes sense, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t know enough about economics or aeronautics to know. But yes. Logic dictates that the heavier the plane is, the more fuel it’ll use. I get it. I don’t know. Maybe they could try to come up with more efficient engines or ways to fly? But I don’t know.

Which is why, I guess, for those of you that don’t confront this all the time, it seems fair and logical. Sure. I weigh more, I should pay more. It works out great for you, because you only weigh 75 kilos. Your flight might even be cheaper! Fatties like me will be subsidizing it. And it’s fair, right? If I don’t want to pay more, I can just lose weight. Or not fly.

Except…I do deal with this all the time, so I see it a little differently. I already pay more. My clothes cost more. I can’t just go to glassons. I have to go to expensive stores, where they don’t have anything I want to wear anyway. To buy underwear requires an engineering degree and the GDP of a country similar to Samoa, and god forbid I want anything sexy. I go to the supermarket, and the pantyhose I want to by are more expensive than “normal” stockings, and even when the same brand is on sale, the plus-size ones never are.

This is fat hatred, plain and simple. Maybe the company doesn’t think it is, but then, the company doesn’t seem to have thought about much. How is it going to treat pregnant people? Or people who require wheelchairs or walking sticks? The CEO thinks that this will encourage people to get healthier. I think it will just encourage people to be ashamed of their bodies. Especially when they turn up at the airport and have to pay more, because they’ve gained a kilogram since they bought their ticket. Flying is already humiliating enough, what with the cramming oneself into the seat, and wondering if this is the time the seatbelt won’t reach round you, and the moment when the person next to you comes up the aisle and their face falls when they realise they’re sitting next to a fat chick. Way to make it worse.

Yes, I could lose weight. That’s an…. argument. But given no weight loss programme is proven to work, and companies have spent billions of dollars developing them, lets put that aside for a moment. My option is to not fly. What if I have to fly for work? So now my career is threatened because of my weight? (More than it already is) What if I want to attend a wedding or a funeral? Sorry can’t afford the fat tariff, can’t go.

I’m pretty comfortable discussing my body these days, and I came to a realization a while ago that fat hatred can’t hurt me. Because there’s nothing anyone can say to me that I haven’t already told myself. But this? Made me want to crawl into a hole and cry. This? made me rage and type in all caps and yell at people I like. This? Made me never want to visit Samoa, a country I love, ever again. This encourages a stigma against fat people, is shaming and policing and concern trolling, and will do nothing whatsoever to address the very real lifestyle disease problems that Samoa faces.

This? Is why we can’t have nice things.

Comment of the Month II

You guys remember Brody, right? Good times. Apparently March is when the trolls come out, because just over a year later, Peter wants us to know he agrees with Brody about how much we women suck.

It’s a shame “Peter” isn’t more original, because a quick Google shows that he cut and paste his (long-winded) comment from noted Pick Up Artist and MRA “Roosh”. (To whom I am not linking because I am not sending even one person his way. Feel free to Google the first couple of lines of Peter’s comment – you’ll find it pretty easy. Disclaimer: The Lady Garden takes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage caused by the rage that will ensue.) (Incidentally, “Roosh” is one of the people behind the Reddit “victims of feminism” fund, and yes, Googling that will result in some impressive head-desking.)

Anyway. If you have the stomach for some mind-blowingly poor logic and some incredible misogyny, here it is. Be entertained. Trigger warning for…well, massive douchbaggery, I guess.

—-

I completely agree with Brody. You see, the problem with modern feminism is that it has disrupted a gender equilibrium that has existed for millenia. And yes, that equilibrium had men exerting their control and superiority over women, but it was an equilibrium nonetheless that has helped the human species perpetuate and colonize the Earth. Feminism’s successful foray on mainstream culture has destroyed that balance and made it increasingly hopeless for today’s man to land a decent woman who cherishes him, let alone one who can be a suitable mother to his children.

I will concede that some aspects of feminism are just and proper. Women should have some say of how many children they want, if they want to work, and if they want to get married (and with whom). They should not be held as sex slaves against their will. They should be rewarded based on their skills and accomplishments just like a man should, and equal pay for equal work is reasonable. However, today we have women overreaching and demanding more than their fair share. They want high positions not based on their skills but simply because they are female, continually shoving false “glass-ceiling” and unequal pay myths down our throats. They want courts to subjugate men they divorce for the most trivial of reasons, and they want to put-down and play any man who attempts to form a connection with them using a provider (beta) game that has worked for his most recent ancestors.

Unfortunately there will be no setting back of the clock. As long as women retain suffrage, our politicians will continue to appease them for votes by refusing to scale back anti-man laws. Unfit mothers will continue to keep custody rights while fathers pay support for a child who is brainwashed against him. Single motherhoodwill increasingly be glorified. And as long as American-style capitalism provides decreasing job opportunities for men, women will continue to excel in mundane office jobs that better suit their social, emotional brains instead of the factory and engineering jobs of the past that provided men with a fair income for his entire family.

I believe that today’s man can still restore his dominion in a world that is skewing against his favor by doing one thing: becoming a sexist. He must possess sexist beliefs for three reasons:

1. To have sexual relationships with women who are at least as pretty as he is handsome.

2. To assert his superiority over his female competitors in the workplace by playing the office game as well as they do (e.g. constantly bringing up accomplishments to managers, being outspoken, being two-faced, ass-kissing, and backstabbing).

3. To get laid at all.

In the past you didn’t have to believe that you were superior to women. The system was set up so that all you had to do was go to school, get a good-paying local job, and ask your mom to put in a good word with the neighbor’s cute daughter. The first girl you fucked would probably be your wife, you’d have your two kids, and you’d live the so-called American dream. Today this is not possible. Your father’s father would be unsuccessful at mating in today’s climate of feminism which has allowed a tiny percentage of alpha men to monopolize the best women. As American women become more obese and gross, there are fewer desirable women left outside of the alpha males’ harems. The nice guy is left with nothing but scraps—and those scraps have attitude.

While it doesn’t look good for you in terms of marriage, at the minimum any educated, employed man in a first-world nation should be able to sleep with a handful of decent women a year. But without having sexist beliefs, he will wholeheartedly struggle in that front. Here’s what it means to be a sexist:

Having a low level of respect for women.

Having the belief that the genders are not equal (you should nod or smile at the following quote: “A woman can do anything a man can do, as long as a man first shows her how”).

Not listening to them about anything.

Studying flavors of game based on the alpha-male model, an effective countermeasure to feminism.

Preferring the company of compliant, feminine women of different nationalities where feminism has not made strong inroads (Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, South America).

You don’t have to hate women and you don’t have to abuse them. You don’t have to commit any crimes against them. But you must believe that you are superior and deserve more than them. With the addition of game practice, you will then be sexually rewarded for those beliefs.

It’s a sad fact that the modern feminist withholds sex from the nice guy, disgusted with his subservience, while servicing the sexist alpha man, increasing his power and rewarding him with more sexual delights than he could have experienced since the days of Itzcoatl. The nice guy is weak and starved, left sexless and alone, a pathetic specimen resigned to the brunt of jokes in beer commercials and crappy sitcoms. If he wants to be procreate, he has no choice but to rise from the ashes a sexist. The more of those beliefs he accepts, the more he’ll get what he wants in the fucked-up world we currently live in.

Enjoy the comments, darlings.

#marriageequality: ALL THE FEELS

For your edification, the man declared by Twitter to have won the debate. Highlights include ghost chips, eschatological, and Two. Two!

Don’t panic everyone. I still know. I just don’t give a shit.

This morning, I was noodling around on Tumblr, thinking about this post, and how I was having trouble figuring out what I wanted to say, when I saw a comment fat-shaming a manatee. A fucking manatee. And I realised what it was that I wanted to say.

It’s this: SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU IGNORANT, HATEFUL, SPINELESS PIECES OF SHIT.

It’s a year since I wrote this post. I was in a pretty horrible place then, and writing all that shit down didn’t help. Your comments and tweets and emails did, but even with that, it was a few days before I even felt up to leaving the house, and weeks before I felt like I could be myself again. I’m glad I wrote it, but darlings, that piece hurt.

A lot can change in a year, though. A lot. Everything. In thinking about how I wanted to re-write that post, I asked Twitter to talk to me about your bodies. And what you told me is that you love your body – in private and with the people that you love. You love it for what it can do, for its strength and capacities. But the world hates it, and you hate that the world hates it. Or, you hate it, but you still feel like you deserve respect and care and love anyway. Or, you hate it, and you try to hide it, and the world has taught you that it is your responsibility to hide it because your fleshsack is disgusting and unsightly and ungainly, and no one should suffer the indignity of having to look at it. Because Eeeew.

Darlings? FUCK THAT SHIT. And fuck everyone who has ever made us feel that way.

Here’s what I know now.

My body is capable of great things. Of incredible pleasure and immense pain, and a gamut of sensations in between. The world hates my body, and wants me to feel bad about myself because of it. And it is so easy to fall into that trap, so much easier than fighting it. To hide, and cover up, and not force the world to embrace my pasty ass. And hey, I’m fat, so I’m inherently lazy, right?

No. Walking the street in my body is an act of defiance. Wearing togs in public is an act of incredible strength. I’m Joan of fucking Arc in an tight dress. OK, I’m not, because beheading makes me squeamish and my French is schoolgirl at best these days, but I’m someone awesome.

And I’m not someone awesome in spite of my body. I inhabit it, I feed it, I feel it move. My stomach is as much a part of me as my ability to quip. And I am going to love it, even as a multi-billion dollar industry tells me every minute of every day not to. Because I am smarter than them, and I don’t care about their profit margins and their messages about perfection. Perfection is dull, and I am as cute as all hell, and anyone who thinks different isn’t worth my time.

So, my darlings, what can I tell you? Pour yourself a bourbon, or your self-medication of choice, and think about this. If you’re fat, or thin, or bald, or whatever way you fall outside the beauty norm, take heart. If you left the house today, you were brave, and you deserve a pat on the back. Your body is beautiful. Every body is beautiful. And you deserve better.

You deserve a world where your friends don’t tell fat jokes. Where ads implying you are unworthy of basic human dignity because of your size, or your hair colour, or your ugly hands, use that insecurity to sell you things. Where the fat girl in the movie is always a comic, and there are no fat men at all. You deserve a world where your health is a matter between you and your doctor and your loved ones, and not random strangers or well-meaning colleagues. Where people understand that the size of your thighs says nothing about the quality of your personhood.

I don’t know how to make that world, but I have to think that those tiny acts of defiance, of walking with our heads high and our chests out has to help. It’s not easy, and it’s not something I can ask of anyone, but it is something I am trying to do. Some days it takes all my chutzpah, but I am leaving the house, and saying Fuck The Haters, I like my short skirt, and if you don’t, you can kiss my ass.

I still feel all those things I felt last year. I still want to hide. I still want to curl into a ball and cry when I see the sandwiches scene at the end of Bridesmaids. But when we live in a world where some person can apologise for posting a photo of a manatee because it’s not “thinspo” we have work to do, and I am not going to waste time caring about people who are so shallow they think the size of my ass matters at all.

Your Guide to surviving the Sevens circle of Hell

Yes, it’s that time again in Wellington. Sevens time. Where packs of dudebros roam the streets, puddles of vomit adorn the city suburbs and those of us who think basically being a shithead is dumb get called snobs. Good times.

Dante’s seventh circle of hell houses, among others, those who are violent against people and property. How very apt. So, my guide for the weekend:

1. Leave town, if you possibly can. This is very short notice, but seriously, wouldn’t a weekend in invercargill be lovely? At the very least, try Petone. There’ll still be some fuckknuckles that have slipped through the cracks, but less en masse.

2. Carry a bat. A big one. For every time someone yells “get your tits out for the boys”, and does not respond to your raised middle finger.

3. If you cannot source a bat, try an actual sevens player. They are big, fast, and the ones I have met have always been appalled by the behaviour their tournament engenders. Such a shame the organisers don’t appear to have the same qualms.

4. Employ mis-direction. Point in the opposite direction and yell “look! That guy is dressed like a couch! Hahahahahahaha.”

5. Try to remember that there are thousands of people who go to the sevens and enjoy it without causing any problems and don’t assault or otherwise harass anyone.

6. If you’re going, try to remember that “the full sevens experience” doesn’t have to involve vomiting, urinating or any other bodily functions in public. It doesn’t have to involve asking women to indulge your fantasies, or otherwise being a gross, entitled fuckwit. It doesn’t have to involve using the security of you and your friends dressing the same to form a pack that simply serves to intimidate and frighten strangers. It doesn’t have to involve “dressing like a slut”, if you don’t feel comfortable with that, and if you do, it doesn’t mean anyone gets to treat you with anything less than respect.

7. Seriously. This is not a nice time to be in the city, if you’re not interested in large crowds of very drunk and excitable people. Last year, several drunk men surrounded me, and demanded I show them my tits. At lunchtime. On The Terrace. A few years ago, I was watching a guy shave his head, being impressed at his dedication to his costume, when he waved the clippers at me, and offered to give me a Brazilian. And not in such polite language. Courtenay Place will be feral and disgusting. Avoid it if you can. If you can’t, do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. Tell people to leave you alone. Enlist the help of whoever you need to, whether it’s the police, your friends, or bouncers. And don’t take any shit from anyone. Be safe, darlings.

Sharing the love

Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Who do you wear makeup for?

Of course! Of course we should make sure that women obsess over their appearances above all else, hate their bodies, and spend their lives running from aging and then pretend that this conversation is all about ‘judging women’. SHUT UP WORLD. This argument is the same one that derails every single conversation about prostitution. “Stop judging me!” ensures that every conversation about male power and sexism is personalized into an “I choose my choice!” concept of female empowerment and twists ‘choice’ into something completely personal and devoid of social and political context.

(I, Tallulah, would point out that I sometimes wear makeup as a defense. Red lipstick is my battle paint. I’m aware that is still buying into cultural tropes about beauty, but I do do it for me. Because it makes Me feel better. That’s not so much “I choose my choice” as “I recognise the patriarchal paradigm in which I live, and I am choosing to indulge it to take what strength I can from it”.

On short skirts and consent and grey areas. (trigger warning.)

Shakesville’s Today in Fat.

But the worst thing is that it didn’t get any better when I left, when I supposedly became free to express myself in whatever way I wished. My happiness at now being able to wear jeans (they had been outlawed for being “too Western”) turned into glee at being able to wear short skirts, low-cut tops, whatever I wanted. But now, again, I was not allowed my own sexuality and instead, that of others was thrust upon me.

My own sexuality is whatever makes me feel aroused, and because I’m a unique individual, the things that turn me on won’t always turn the next woman on.

Strong Female Characters (can we retire that phrase yet?) in real life.

The New Statesman reviews The Year in Sexism.

The US Violence Against Women Act expires. Lest we feel smug, let’s remember what’s happened to rape crisis and counselling services in New Zealand, shall we?

Penny Red on Rape Culture:

Rape does not have to be a fact of life. It is not your responsibility to be cautious, to restrict yourself, to be quieter and better-behaved so that men don’t rape you. If you choose to live your life in fear of male violence, nobody will think any less of you – the fear is pertinent and legitimate, and sometimes there are grave consequences for women who talk too loudly and flirt too much and take too many risks. Yet there are also consequences for those who don’t.

This is pretty great parenting.

The new feminism:

Meanwhile, it is hard to tear the feminist blogosphere away from endless debates about the sitcom Girls and whether “ladyblogs” are, in fact, feminist. A heavy focus on reproductive rights is necessary, but it crowds out much else. Domestic work more often refers to the division of work between career ladder-climbing husbands and wives than to full-time domestic workers. The online world of feminist commentary has made a diversity of voices available, but navel gazing often predominates.

Some great posts and articles on bodies and size and fat. On Feminist Philosophers, what say you found a magic pill for weightloss? Would you take it, even with all the nasty side effects? And via Feminist Philosophers, a link to a post on Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty: On feminist philosophy and weight loss. The post discusses an article in feminist philosophy journal Hypatia: if you have access to a university library, you may be able to track down the article. A quote from the article:

“I realized that maximizing my ability to move, quickly, effectively, strongly, was entirely conducive to my feminist aspirations and
activities. I wasn’t aspiring to skinniness or frailty, just the opposite: I wanted to bring strength and vigor to whatever struggle I chose. I wanted to get to my fighting weight.”

The New York Times discusses a recent study which suggests there is a lower mortality risk for people seemed to be overweight. And Echidne has an extended discussion of the study, and of the New York Times article: On Fat And Mortality. The Recent Meta-Analysis.

What makes the debates about fat so very nasty is the moral, even prudish tone. Being fat is seen as a behavioral problem, as a form of moral failure, as one of those deathly sins: greed or gluttony, made manifest. It’s one of the human vices one cannot hide the same way one can hide, say, cruelty or avarice. It’s viewed as ugly. Fat people have no willpower! Fat people are greedy! Fat people are Lesser Than Us Thin People.

All that is over and above any medical arguments about overweight or obesity. It’s the moralizing zeal of others which truly hurts anyone labeled overweight and the odd assumption that one can make those moralizing comments openly because, after all, being fat is bad for you.

Guest Post: On Harassment, Conditioning, and Silencing

Big old trigger warning for sexual violence on this post. Seriously. [Also, a note from Tallulah – we’ll be being very careful on the comments with this one. Go easy.]

I could talk about the PE teacher in my town who was asked to resign due to his harassment of female students, who was then hired as a school bus driver for a rural route with both primary and high school students. I could talk about how, from the age of seven, I refused to wear skirts or dresses, and from the time I entered high school at 10 to when I moved at 16 I always wore bike shorts or CCC shorts under my dress, because he was not particularly subtle about the way he looked at us – and those bus steps are high. I could talk about how this was common knowledge and was never denied by any authority figure we ever raised it with, but rather we were just kind of brushed off. I could talk about how, sometimes, I was the last person on my bus in the afternoon and I was never quite sure if something bad would happen to me, even though for a long time I probably couldn’t have articulated what it was that I feared.

I could talk about how I spent ten years of my childhood believing it was perfectly normal and acceptable for a seven year old child to stop wearing her favourite clothes because a grown man she relies on to get to and from school from a relatively remote location gets a thrill from looking up her skirt.

I could talk about the art teacher at my high school who used to run his hands up and down our backs, right along the spot where your bra sits. Considering most of us were fairly new to wearing bras in the first place, this was a decidedly uncomfortable experience. I could talk about how he used to get just a little too close for comfort in the supply room. Nothing overt, nothing nameable – just enough to make you drag someone else along with you if you needed a fresh piece of paper or you ran out of ink. I could talk about how the odd comment or complaint that was made was completely handwaved, that we were told to be very careful about what we were saying, that we could get someone in a lot of trouble by “starting those kinds of rumours”, and did we really want to be responsible for that?

I could talk about the first time I was made to feel ashamed of my body, at twelve or thirteen, getting into a water fight with my stepfather and uncle in the height of summer. I could talk about my grandmother completely flipping out, talking about how disgusting it was, how grown men should be ashamed of the way they were behaving with a girl. I could talk about how she then spent the next few hours trying to convince me I was being somehow victimised, while I was mostly confused about what had taken place – it took me a long time to work it out. I could talk about the unvoiced but ever-present fear for months afterwards that my grandma would bring it up again, that she would bring it up in the wrong place or to the wrong people and that my uncle, a schoolteacher, would suffer for it.

I could talk about how that destroyed what had been a fantastic relationship with my uncle, and how, ten years later, he still won’t hug me at Christmas.

I could talk about being called a frigid bitch and a slut in the same breath in high school. I could talk about multiple instances of sitting in a big group of friends, hearing someone trying to get into someone else’s pants, starting off sweet enough but quickly descending into emotional manipulation and thinly veiled abuse. I could talk about the time I went off with someone willingly enough and being followed by someone I considered a friend, someone who would not leave no matter how many times I said “no”, who only went away when the person I was with said that he “didn’t feel like sharing”.

I could talk about the family friend who always made me feel a little bit off for no discernible reason. The one who if I was left alone in the room with him, I would always find an excuse to leave. The one time I expressed this, I was told I was being a drama queen, and that I needed to grow up and stop being so precious, that one day I was going to have to deal with people I didn’t like and I might as well get used to it. I could talk about how he never did anything untoward, never gave me any specific reason to feel unsafe – but years after I last saw him, when he was  found guilty of four historical sexual assault charges, one of rape and three of indecent assault on girls under twelve, I was, for reasons I still don’t entirely understand, completely unsurprised.

I could talk about my boyfriend justifying his rape of me with “you could have fought me off if you really wanted you, you slut”. I could talk about how, when I tried to tell people, I was told I was being a nasty, spiteful, vindictive bitch. I could talk about how selfish it was of me to say such things, that he’d overcome such a hard life and was going to go on and make something of himself, who the hell was I to try and stand in his way?

I could talk about how my response to being raped was to sleep with anyone and everyone because I rationalised that if I never said no, then no one could force me. I could talk about how I have been told time and time again, by people who should know better, that this is a sign that I wasn’t really raped at all.

I could talk about how, when I finally worked up the courage to make a formal complaint of sexual harassment against my boss, I was asked why I had let it continue for so long, and what I had done to make him think his behaviour would be welcomed.

I could talk about how when a much later boss got me completely wasted at my leaving party, to the point where I couldn’t walk, and fucked me in a back alley, he waited until I was sober the next morning to tell me that he had a pregnant wife, because he heard through the grapevine that I was very strict about not sleeping with married people or straight women, and he thought I should “learn my place” and realise that I’m “not such a high and mighty bitch with a moral high ground after all”.

I could talk about these things, but I very rarely do. Since I was seven years old, I have been told that my body is not my own, that my consent is not my own, that my feelings of discomfort are not my own. I have taught myself to suppress my gut instinct upon meeting people. I have been taught to smile, to be polite, to suck it up if I feel unsafe. When I complain, I have been told I’m being irrational, oversensitive, and selfish. The underlying message is, how dare I try and ascertain any kind of control over my own body?

I should talk about it. But I don’t actually know whether I can.

Carry That Weight. No pun intended.

Ah, Twitter. Both a boon and a bane. Great for organising social outings and sourcing hot shoes. Really, really bad at social justice.

It’s somewhat depressing to jump on Twitter after a nap, only to find people who should know better making fat jokes. In the guise of punning about music. I really wish this were an uncommon occurrence. Sadly, it really, really isn’t.

Oh! You’re so funny! Fat people like to eat lots! They’re obsessed with buffets and friands and ham. Great.

And of course, when a bunch of people called out the fatshaming, there was a chorus of whining of “but I just wanted to make puns about food!”. How nice for you. Then why did you have to include the hashtag about fat people? Why denigrate people because of how they look and their perceived relationship with food? Because you can, because you didn’t think, because fat people don’t have feelings you could possibly hurt.

Here’s the thing. If the Beatles were fat dudes? It’s very, very unlikely they would be famous enough for you to be making puns about them. Sure, random dude on Twitter, you can name four fat artists (Adele, Beth Ditto, Aretha, Fat Joe), so everything must be OK, and there’s no imperative in the music industry to be thin. Or something. Would the girls have screamed, so long and so loud, if they four nice-looking boys from Liverpool have been overweight.

I wonder if the people who wrote that hashtag over and over again took a moment to think about the people they might be hurting when they tweeted. The teenage singer who wants a career but was told she can’t because she’s too big. The boy who wanted to be on TV, but was fat. Any overweight person who had the temerity to think that despite their size they might be entitled to personhood. I can only speak for myself, but it felt like being punched in the stomach. I mean, I couldn’t feel it, on account of being so desperately addicted to curly fries, but still.