7.22.2010

Opt out

I started writing a comment at Big Fat Blog that was getting WAY too long for a comment, so its becoming a blog post. BFB has a post up explaining that Fat Activists don't hate dieters. All of it is completely true and I completely feel the same way but the post still kind of frustrates me. Not that BFB made it but that there are those who made it necessary. Its not that I feel any hatred towards dieters, but I do feel some anger over the way Fat Activists constantly have to explain that.

We obviously aren't demonizing dieters. I've never seen any legitimate Fat Acceptance voice do anything that could fairly be even perceived that way, much less characterized as such. That it is an attack that gets made so frequently isn't a reason to question ourselves because its not really about us at all, but rather the limited tolerance others have for Fat Acceptance. Its a way, conscious or otherwise, for others to try to disenfranchise us by making our discussion about THEM rather than US. And frankly, THAT is something for us to actually get upset about.

We should hate that we are constantly made to feel like we need to explain that we don't hate dieters. That we are constantly being pushed to wish them good luck. Its a way of trying to enforce a discussion on their terms and that is something that should bother us. Its about not letting us move forward to make our case. I'm not upset when someone wants to lose weight. Well, not at them personally anyway. It upsets me on a cultural level, but I feel utterly no hatred or anger towards the person who feels what is the natural way to feel for most people in our society. My anger about these issues is towards the larger cultural forces and frankly I have a right to that anger and I have a right to feel like the way fat people are made to feel is an injustice.

I do hate the culture of dieting, but I feel no animosity towards individual dieters. Point of fact, I feel terribly sorry for them. Hearing someone is on a diet doesn't anger me, it saddens me. These people aren't who I am fighting, they are who I am fighting for. There isn't a "who" I am fighting at all, really. Its an attitude the justifies fat hate, internalized or externalized. It is a culture which promotes and endorses fat stigmatization. If there are individuals I am fighting, it would be those who promote and often profit off this status quo. Not the people I perceive to be victimized by it.

And frankly, that should be clear. The only dieters I've ever called out are those who promote it to others. And its not their internalized fat hatred I am troubled by but that they have taken steps to promote and exploit internalized fat hatred in others. The issue we see is that the culture of fat stigmatization encourages people to so completely internalize fat hatred that they see any threat to that attitude as a threat to them personally. While I can I understand that dynamic, I cannot compromise to it because to do so would be to deprive and limit my right to feel differently.

What this is really about is our right to opt out. To opt out of a cultural structure that stigmatizes our bodies and to find a new path to serve of physical and mental well-being. That right is what is threatened when people try to bring diet talk into fat acceptance spaces. Oh, I have seen dieters who like to portray themselves as the victims of big bad fat acceptance, but nothing could be further from the truth and that is why I don't think we can respond to such distortions with platitudes and protestations. We need to call it out as an attack on OUR autonomy. Their autonomy is not remotely imperiled by someone finding their own space to express their own views and find support for their choices. We shouldn't have to even explain that. This is OUR space. OUR community.

Maybe there will be a day when the power of fat acceptance threatens the autonomy of those who disagree with us, but that day is absurdly far off that even entertaining the notion of it is farcical. The truth is, I don't go to diet support sites to tell them they are wrong. I'm not aware of anyone in FA who does that. I don't post scolding lectures on the walls of dieting Facebook friends. In spite of what you see on TV, fat activists don't protest weight loss meetings. We do nothing that would make it fair for people to accuse us of hating dieters. But the people who often make those charges ARE the people acting that way. They are disrespecting us by trying to destroy our spaces, our communities by insisting we offer them "inclusion" to disagree with us and demean us. We show our respect for their autonomy, but there are many who won't show us that same respect who want to silence us.

I don't wish dieters ill. I don't hope their diets go poorly. I also won't hope they go well or wish them good luck. What I want is the right to wish them nothing. I cannot in good conscious wish someone well doing something I feel is a horrible mistake. Our options aren't limited to two, however. Its not wish them ill or well. We can simply opt out. I do not condemn individual dieters and I should have the right to also not congratulate them.

When someone hates their body, wants to lose weight, stigmatizes their fat, I feel sympathy and frankly some sorrow. I don't feel hate and anyone who perceives that is just making that up in their head and I can't be held to that. I don't hate them for those feelings. I'm not angry at them. But for my own conscious and well-being, I cannot feel happy about those feelings either. I can accept that people will feel differently. I can tolerate that difference of opinion. Obviously I'm already doing that. But that doesn't mean I have to like that opinion. Agreeing to disagree means still disagreeing. It means respecting that disagreement. Nothing FA does shows disrespect to those we disagree with. For some on the other side, that's just not the case. They shouldn't set the terms and limits of our own discussion, though. I have utterly no desire to hate a dieter, but I also have no desire to wish them all the best with their internalized fat stigmatization. That is NOT too much for us to ask for.

29 comments:

Regina said...

You have said so well what I have been thinking! This topic has been making the rounds in the Fatosphere, and I have been trying to find the words that actually represent how I feel about it. Your post is spot on...especially about autonomy.

The "autonomy" of FA is the crux of the movement. FAers choose to reject the cultural push--DEMAND--that everyone conform to some unrealistic and wholly homogenized version of beauty and thinness. Why on earth would any dieter seek affirmation, justification and pats on the back from our community? The rare occasion I HAVE seen a dieter get rebuffed was when they had those expectations. Almost as if we couldn't possibly be in support of a culture that believes everyone deserves to be treated humanely and not scrutinize/demonized for the number they produce on the scale. Yet, those dieters read the same studies we read that reveal the truth about yoyo dieting and the failure of diets altogether and STILL try "one more diet" to attain societal acceptance. The Fatosphere is a place in which you can exist, opine, read, relax and ruminate about the challenges of living in a body-perfect world without being bombarded by the morality police who believe you are the cause of all the world's problems. It takes a lot of effort to actually practice self-love and acceptance when so much is thrust in your face by mainstream media.

For me, the FA movement is about what you so eloquently said: "What this is really about is our right to opt out. To opt out of a cultural structure that stigmatizes our bodies and to find a new path to serve of physical and mental well-being." Thank you for stating this so well....I'm OPTING OUT!

Brian said...

Right. The thing dieter's need to be told is that this isn't about them. And not talking about them doesn't mean we "hate" them. It just means we want to talk about something else. What we're seeing is the phenomenon where anything less than enthusiastic endorsement of dieting is turned into an attack on them. Its deeply wrong, though. Their "choice" to attempt to lose weight and to stigmatize their bodies is under no risk. Ours is. We should be upset that we have to keep explaining ourselves to these people. Its just a way to keep us from having our own discussion.

I get the BFB post but I'm angry that it keeps needing to be said. Nothing that goes on at FA implies hatred or animosity towards dieters for dieting. Trying to crowd out my point of view, on the other hand, is something I'll be upset over.

Dee said...

Great post. Is it okay if I link to it in the BFB comments to withoutscene's post? Nice to see that you've opened up comments, too. Cool.

wriggles said...

I held off commenting on BFB because I didn't want it to seem like I was having a go at withoutscene.

However, I feel this is the latest in a quickly extending line of 'FA disclaimers', where we have to constantly expend huge amounts of time and energy reassuring others who often have no or at best little cause to be nervous.

It feels like a continuation of the tedious big sis/bro role so many fatties get trapped into.

Then there's the endless false equivalencies and jumping to respond or anticipate- a bit like the Shirley Sherrod situation, taking the word of those who clearly have no grasp or regard for FA at their word. Trying to prove that FA really is no threat to anyone.

Maybe there will be a day when the power of fat acceptance threatens the autonomy of those who disagree with us

I would have thought that, but all of this seems to be uncovering the reverse, or at least, that our erasure is taken for granted as an adjunct of other people's "autonomy". Cheek!

That there doesn't seem to be any level of self esteem that fat people can have which doesn't upset everyone's applecart, is something we need to consider.

Other people's quick response to any perceived infraction, however minimal stands as a direct contrast to our endless tolerance of liberty taking at our expense and shows others don't need our protection.

Where were they when we were sinking down? Where were all these people reassuring fat people that this doesn't mean we hate you?

DivaJean said...

I have to agree with everyone else that it becomes tiresome having to comment on what FA isn't every time the subject comes up.

I work with a significantly younger age population in the staff where I am currently employed. There are maybe 3 out of 17 that are over age 40-- and everyone else is in the 22-30 range. The diet talk at lunch time about what people will and won't eat is mindnumbingly predictable. When I make a comment that I have opted out of that game, it becomes that I am somehow against them. I usually point out that their dieting isn't anything against me, its their choice for their body... and so on. Its a bit boring at this point.

Even worse, in my opinion, is that I work as a nurse and am expected to document BMI and diet recommendation on the BMI result. I beg off on this a little bit- when I have to document this, I usually just put a disclaimer like "this is what the fact of math is-- this is what the reality of the situation is" since I have some really muscley clients that the BMI math gives crazy "OMG teh deathfats" results. Some of my co-workers think that I am overthinking and overdocumenting, however, one of these clients is mad crazy fit and ready to take on bootcamp for the military-- science be damned, I am not putting the words "obese, high BMI" in that chart without a disclaimer. This is pretty much looked upon as my fanaticsm, but I just want to make sure I am doing right by my clients.

notblueatall said...

YES! This is how I feel every time a woman comes into my cafe and starts with the diet talk. I feel like it is MY Safe space and I try to change the subject or remind them that food isn't the enemy, etc...but in the end it's my tiny (albeit in a large body) voice speaking out against the booming loudspeaker that is the diet industry. =0(

Brian said...

I am deleting a comment here made by "Shannon", someone I sadly fear many of us are aware of, as it is disruptive, belligerent, and frankly dishonest in its attempt to justify his hostility towards fat acceptance. Although it was a very good illustration of how dieters perceive personal attacks over their dieting when the concern is really over diet promotion and invasion into FA spaces an act of disrespect that DOES merit a hearty retort. Still, I'm not in the habit of giving people a platform to destroy discussions, so it and any and all subsequent posts will be deleted.

Brian said...

Back to the people actually participating in a discussion instead of posting "ME ME ME" screeds...

Dee, of course feel free to mention this post at BFB. As I noted, I have no objection to the content of the post but I'm frustrated with those who continue to make such posts necessary and I feel we need to start looking past them because after 14 years, its clear there will always be dieters who want to make the discussion about them.

Wriggles, as usual, I don't think I can say it better. I realized last night how much this dovetails with my earlier frustration with the media conflating FA and feederism which I gather got even worse in an ABCNews.com article. Nothing FA has ever said would suggest that connection. It is entirely produced by the prejudices of people outside FA in how they perceive us. Dieters do the same thing to justify their perverted sense of victimization by oppressive fat acceptance.

Diva, I think your anecdote hits on why our constant disclaimering is so manifestly unfair. We are expected to be subjected to never-ending diet talk but if we merely note our own decision to chart a different course we are accused of attacking the dieters. By their logic, what are they doing to us? If our individual choices AND choice to express and advocate those choices are such a threat to them, what do they think we go through everyday?

Only diet culture, by in large, can't make these disclaimers. Because THEY actually are attacking us. Maybe not every individual, but the institutions most certainly are attacking us on a personal level and many adherents follow suit. The level of moralizing against fat people is downright cliche. The gulf between what we deal with and what dieters find objectionable from us is comically large.

Its like they thing we don't all get exposed to diet talk every day of our lives. We all have experiences like notblue's. All of us have to sit through diet advocacy that is often FAR more hostile than any of our FA advocacy. We deal. We manage. We sit there silently or try to offer counterpoints. Even our silence isn't enough, though. THAT is something we should be angry about.

silentbeep said...

I could not agree more with this whole thing Brian, wow. I have become increasingly uncomfortable with what seems to me, the repetitive apologizing that goes on in the fatosphere that goes along the lines of "i don't hate you, really I don't because you are dieting!" Even though this is a diet-talk free zone, many of us still end up talking about dieting in the context of " i don't hate dieters" over and over again because for what? It's like there is this attitude that dieting is this precious thing that needs to be protected from fat activists. I have never seen anyone in the last two years of me reading FA blogs, and being a blogger in the past year, actively, personally go after individual dieters, on a hateful level, ever. Dieting is a privileged activity that is given enormous cache in our culture, and I think that attitude is still there in much of the fatosphere.

silentbeep said...

"All of us have to sit through diet advocacy that is often FAR more hostile than any of our FA advocacy. We deal. We manage. We sit there silently or try to offer counterpoints. Even our silence isn't enough, though. THAT is something we should be angry about." Exactly so right on. And I'm sure Shannon will right about how awful you are btw. It's happened to me a couple of times I think. Upside? More traffic :)

Moose said...

Personally I worry less about the "I don't hate dieters" stuff than the FA people who preach anti-thinness.

Every time I see or hear someone who claims to be FA talk about "what real women look like" and "REAL men/women don't like toothpicks" I want to start the smackings.

Yes, the national average in the US [and, I believe, The Magical Land of Canadia] is well above the size 4. Yes, the size 10s that are currently called "plus size" are by many of our standards, "skinny." But not every woman who is a size 4 is getting that way with restrictive diets and unhealthy practices.

I have friends who would kill to weigh just 10 lbs more. They get turned down when they try to give blood. They get sick constantly. Some of them have other health issues that cause them to be thin, but so what? Some of us are fat from health issues. Some aren't. It doesn't matter how you get your body shape. You are what you are.

YES, we take tons and tons of crap for being fat. I'm not justifying that one whit. But if you want to be taken seriously about 'acceptance' recognize that you don't get there by being a bigot, too.

Jerome said...

@Moose: the only commenter who has mentioned that trope so far is you.

Brian said...

Moose, who is doing that.

I'm not aware of any credible Fat Acceptance voice that actually expresses anything remotely identifiable as prejudice or hostility towards thin people. Frankly, what you describe is a parallel straw man attack to the false charge that we hate dieters. Because we aren't saying anything to suggest we hate thin people either.

Look, most of the people going on about "real women have curves" are not only not a part of fat acceptance they often are far more hostile towards fat people than they are thin people. I'll grant you may find some newbies to FA who harbor those attitudes, but no meaningful voice in the movement ever expresses that and indeed most have taken an aggressive stance to argue against it. That's not fat acceptance. Its a cultural co-opting of fat acceptance that obviously doesn't get it. And believe me, the people they are championing are a VERY narrow group and it certainly doesn't extend to any exceptionally fat person. And frankly the consequences fat people face for our transgressive bodies is quantifiably worse than that faced by thin people. Neither can be tolerated, but lets not act like that makes them exactly the same, either.

But the simple reality is attacking thin people just isn't happening in FA. Maybe on the fringes, but it does FA a disservice to act like this is a problem we have to confront.

Dee said...

Cheers, Brian. I'm SO sick of hearing that bullshit. The "real women have curves" thing is a naive, defensive stance, and I've never heard it coming from anyone who's involved in the fat acceptance movement. Not that or any kind of thin bashing.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

To the other anonymous - BigLiberty's post is CLEARLY about diet culture, not about individual dieters. And she writes herself that her post is satire and therefor somewhat hyperbolic.

Actually, to my mind what BigLiberty says is not so much different from what some rare voices of reason have said about bonding among women through negative body talk - women are collectively victims of a culture that sees our bodies as public property and expects us to conform to beauty standards that are unrealistic for practically all of us. Yet, despite her victim status every woman who comments negatively on her own or another woman's body also helps to maintain the status quo. It's the same with dieters: they are victims of a culture that expects everyone to adhere to an unrealistic ideal (not just in terms of how a body is supposed to look like but also in terms of what food and how much food we are supposed to eat). Yet by dieting and especially by talking about dieting and expecting praise from others for dieting (and exercising for weight loss or "body forming" only) dieters also play a part in maintaining the status quo - and please note that I say this as someone who has not managed to escape diet culture completely yet.

I experienced a perfect example of this a few years ago when I was an undergraduate. I was rehearsing a play with some other women. It was already very late and all of us were hungry. Since we missed dinner we decided to order pizza. I cannot tell you how annoying the conversation about how much we should order was! There were a lot of "Oh, but I CANNOT POSSIBLY eat more than one slice..." comments. Well, yes, after rehearsing for five or six ours straight without any real food pretty much everyone can eat more than one slice and it is healthy and normal to do so. Setting up a standard, however, that it is not normal for an adult women to have more than one slice of pizza for dinner after rehearsing for hours and that eating anything more than that is an incredible amount of food, however, is not healthy. If you really don't want to eat more than one slice or don't want to eat at all you are free to do so. But do not comment on it.

Brian said...

I deleted the "anonymous" comment as not only was it disruptive trolling, its premise lacked honesty. The post referenced at BigLiberty, which is labeled satire, is clearly about the culture of dieting and not condemning individual dieters. While I'm not sure I'd have made that post, I don't think its at all fair to characterize it as making personal attacks against dieters.

This is why people like to pretend we are personally attacking dieters. Because their real ambition is to shut down criticism of dieting culture. If all such criticism is turned into personal attacks, that its all off limits to them. Because that is the message they really want to silence. So any abstract discussion must be taken personally. Its all about controlling the terms of the discussion. Writing the rules that they want us to abide by. We must reject their rules. For an animated satire just as much as a deliberate dissertation. We must affirm our freedom and willingness to address diet culture's failings and advocate for our preferred path.

Sleepydumpling said...

Fantastic post! THIS is how you challenge people's thinking and help other FA activists grow and evolve.

I read the BFB post and it mirrored a lot of how I felt. I don't hate people who diet, nor do I hate those who want to lose weight. I really feel that.

But this post helped me find a way to express why I was feeling about being expected to voice that I don't hate dieters or those who wish to lose weight. That I even have to defend the no diet/no weight loss evangelism talk. Thank you for being so articulate about it.

Moose said...

Belated, sorry, but I want to say: I was not talking about comments here, I was talking about Fat (or Size) Acceptance in general.

I hear (read?) FAs talk about "real women" with curves and how skinny people are "gross" all the time on the fat-acceptance list run by NAAFA, among other places. Sometimes I wonder why I subscribe to that list.

I'm not talking about newbies, either. I'm talking about people who have been around for a while referring to skinny people "looking like they must have anorexia" or the ubiquitous comparison to the "concentration camp victim" and the like.

There was a fantastic piece in Jezebel, of all places, about this. [Actually Jezebel is better about being pro-size-positive than most similar sites, but still fails sometiems]. http://jezebel.com/5531846/things-ive-heard-about-thin-women

Brian said...

Moose, I'm not saying that an unproductive resentment towards thin people doesn't exist. The issue is it something Fat Acceptance should be held accountable for and the answer remains no.

I subscribe to the NAAFA fat acceptance list, too, and I don't recall seeing those kinds of things expressed at all. I'm not saying its never happened, but its not endemic. And that Jezebel article blames "size positive" blogs for something without actually citing who is saying those things so there is no way to judge how appropriate the author's leveling of blame is. A lot of "size positive" communities have no association or even support for Fat Acceptance. Everyone time I've seen the issue come up on the fatosphere, that attitude has been firmly rejected and denounced. As it should be.

The attitude exists. There is utterly no question about that. But its not coming from reputable voices in the Fat Acceptance movement. If ever it were, I have no doubt that many people would be quick to tell that person why they are wrong. But just because an attitude exists as a reaction to cultural forces in favor thinness doesn't mean that attitude is "Fat Acceptance". FA is not an umbrella for all of the resentment people feel towards the thin ideal. Fat Acceptance has long defined itself in opposition to fat stigmatization and the formation of any reactionary thin stigmatization. The community in action has always shown no tolerance for people insulting thin people for the size of their bodies.

Anonymous said...

Brian, thank you for opening your post to comments. I enjoy your writing and have often wished to give you a verbal thumbs-up. As far as liking or disliking dieters goes, I would inquire about their reactions when someone on a dieting group makes a fat-hating remark. Do they ever call that person out on it? If not, what makes their hate acceptable? (There ARE people who manage to piss off both sides, but they're fairly rare.)
I don't like the term "real woman" either. While it is used as an insult to smaller women, it also insults fat women by being yet another euphemism, and euphemisms backfire.

Regina T said...

I have never seen an example of FA bloggers allowing comment about "real women" or thin bashing go unchecked. If the blog host doesn't call them to task about it, then the other commenters do. I think it would be impossible for a true Fat Acceptance believer who has been battling hatred based on appearances to allow conversational discourse to devolve into hatred based on appearances on the other end of the spectrum. It just really doesn't make sense. Sure, people's emotions that stem from receiving the abuse and hatred of a society CAN make those that never had to endure that kind of abuse a target of their frustration, but to imply that FA blogs would tolerate or condone that kind of commentary kind of paints us a stupid.

Most FA blogs out there are smart, thoughtful, and fully embrace ridding our society of ALL value placement based on size, looks, identification, and abilities. Are there angry fatties who spew hatred towards skinny people? Of course....but they are rare, and called on their hatred by others. You rarely see on thin ideal blogs/media a rally against the post or commenter that raises their fist against fat people with hate filled language and insults get chided by others for their remarks. More often you see continuous jumping on the bandwagon and laughter at the dehumanization of fatties.

Also, I think those that believe FAers hate on anyone dieting or who happens to be thin aren't really looking at true Fat Acceptance blogs. There are a few blogs out there that CLAIM to be about Fat or Size Acceptance, but continuously promote things like being a "healthy weight" or "eating right" or "exercising regularly" from a concerned troll mode. Those blogs just aren't about Fat Acceptance at all. They are about the illusion of acceptance ONLY IF you conform to some mainstream ideal that is fueled by the diet and pharma industry. Fat Acceptance means exactly that....Fat Acceptance. My fat is only one factor of my being and I refuse to hate myself because I have more adipose tissue than others. Not hating myself includes the actions of: not dieting, eating when hungry, not moralizing food into good and bad categories, wearing clothes that I like (not clothes that hide my fat self), moving my body for enjoyment and pleasure, not allowing doctors to claim I am unhealthy despite test results that prove I am, demanding courteous and respectful treatment from others, and being happy with who I am TODAY...not 30 or 100 lbs from now.

So, if you're looking for evidence or confirmation that fat people hate thin people on true Fat Acceptance blogs....then you're looking in the wrong place. Fat people may be envious of thin people, but after enduring often a lifetime of discrimination, dehumanization, insults, health scare tactics, disrespect, and pure hatred from others who believe obesity = being less than others, you should be able to understand that fat people want to visit places that are free from those things that trigger the self hatred....like diet talk, obesity fear mongering, and body shaming. If you can't understand that, then you probably need to do some self-reflection.

Brian said...

Regina, I think you hit something important in your last paragraph. Given the crushing stigmatization fat people face in our society, that some respond with resentment and bitterness towards the ideal they are judged by shouldn't be surprising nor should it really be cause for much hand-wringing. Its wrong, but its not hard to see why people have those feelings. We absolutely need to be clear that they are divisive and destructive, but we can keep it in perspective, too. The bitterness grown out of disenfranchisement pales in comparison with those larger forces of shame and self-hatred that are impacting fat and thin people alike. THAT is far more of a problem than a resentful (though unlikely to be self-accepting) fat person grousing about whoever they perceive to be the privileged class. Odd as it may sound, I don't blame most people for the fat hostile views they hold. I don't condone them, but in our culture I know why they hold them. They, too, are a symptom far more than the problem.

Regina T said...

Brian wrote: "Odd as it may sound, I don't blame most people for the fat hostile views they hold. I don't condone them, but in our culture I know why they hold them. They, too, are a symptom far more than the problem."

I completely agree with this statement. It is hard to not take insults as a personal attack (because it is) but the greater issue at hand here IS the societal view that is so prevalent. I think it's ok to call out the hatred when it rears its' ugly head as a means of allowing truth and reality to be heard. When you create a place in which those actions are not tolerated, the voice of humanity can be clearly heard. It's the getting to that point in spite of the hammering over the head from the mainstream media that thin and beautiful is the only thing that makes you worthy of good things. It may be challenging and difficult, but it's a fight worth fighting.

withoutscene said...

Brian, I totally get what you're saying about it being almost idiotic that we have to defend against such things which we never even implied. However, I do think that to NOT address it is also problematic. My post was a first step in thinking through this trend, which I really feel is increasing. And I think it's part of a paradigm shift problem--people existing in the other paradigm or who aren't really entrenched in fat activism/fat activist thought, have a real hard time getting it. I'm annoyed, but also think it's something real and ignoring it won't make it go away. However, I fully get that the way I presented things allowed the opposition to frame and/or control the conversation. This post is a good reminder of that and an impetus for me to think more radically about solutions.

But also, I was just thinking we should add "You're shaming us for feeling ashamed" and "Fat people don't OWN body hate" to a new bingo card.

Finally, so happy you opened up comments.

Brian said...

Really was not intended too much as a critique without. You're right that we need to address it and its not like what you said wasn't completely true. I don't know. Maybe its a tone thing where we address it in a way which stakes out the position that this isn't any of our problem. We can't ignore it away, but I think maybe we should let our frustration come through more. I mean, it was clearly there but I just don't want the people asking us to justify ourselves to mistake our retorts for concessions and I'm not sure how we do that since they have an endless capacity to misconstrue us.

withoutscene said...

I didn't take it as though it were a critique of me, but when I think about it it is an issue of strategy. I really do think there's some great stuff to think about here.

A reactionary strategy is not the best. Awhile back I was going to read some George Lakoff with some other fat activists to think about strategy because Lakoff studies why the right wing so often controls the conversation and I wanted to apply the things he says to fat activism. But alas, way too busy for that.

Anyway, even though this instance may not be about language per se, it is about who controls the conversation. And if you spend all your time responding/reacting, you are letting others guide the conversation. So, as I said, I just think this was a good reminder for me that we have to think about our tactics and what we put out there...and at very least, we have to change it up and not exist as reactionaries only.

Brian said...

One thing I've been meaning to write about is how FA needs to recenter the debate. I've addressed this at times with regards to how the other side has worked to recenter the debate drastically in their direction. Its a big-picture reason for us to be cautious about self-moderating because we are still going to be seen as the extreme. While we try to move to the center, fat stigmatizers are getting even crazier. The net result drags what is seen as "moderate" towards mainline fat hostility. But its a tough thing to solve. As much as I think we need more radical fat acceptance, I'm not always sure what that even means. I guess, though, that moderate fat stigmatization is moderate less in substance and more in tone, which is often what we do as well. Only they also have the people with extremist tone. I hardly think we should match that, but its putting us at a disadvantage.

biglibertyblog.com said...

Perhaps I'm showing my PITA side, but the diet culture satire post I made on purpose after reading this very post, to flush out trolls like the first "Anonymous" comment. Also, writing it was fun. After having participated in diet culture for so long and then moving on, I've realized how truly absurd and irrational many of its tenets are, and I sought to poke fun at it.

Obviously I didn't poke fun at dieters individually, especially since, duh, I used to be one of them! ;) But of course the post was used for yet another troll's anti-FA distraction tirade, which is the very point of Brian's post above.

I'll continue to make fun of what I consider the absurd and irrational thinking/reasoning/elements of fatphobic culture. I assume this will likely offend those who buy into fatphobic culture, but satire is a powerful tool of social activism that I'm not about to discard. Besides, it's meant to make fatphobic readers feel uncomfortable...I don't see that as a bad thing at all. ;)

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