Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page
I have seen variations on this title EVERYWHERE:
Not a woman, not even a person. Only a STRIPPER. Would it happen if the victim were anything other than a sex worker? “…faces deposition in slain short-order cook lawsuit.” “…faces deposition in slain customer service representative lawsuit.” “…faces deposition in slain executive director lawsuit.”
The only reason this could be [MAYBE] justifiably used is if the woman’s occupation meant she somehow wanted to get murdered more, or the way in which she was killed has something to do with her occupation, like: “Weak I-beam at fault in construction worker’s death.” Even then, I’m squeamish about boiling down a person to their occupation.
This is not new, or even exceptional. It just happens to be flooding my various inboxes, so I’m holding it up as just one example of the Rape Culture.
I’ve been tromping creeping with an ear-trumpet through the feminist blogosphere for about a year now, and I’m experiencing my first live Feminism Kerfuffle™ in the form of a post by mai’a over at Feministe about children, motherhood, and, through comments, the role of WOC in mainstream feminism.
I include details of my short time in the blogosphere to make clear that I’m far from well-versed on the various discussions within feminism, and all of the amazing nuanced intersectionality that should come part-and-parcel with working for social justice (and, apparently, is widely sorely lacking.) mai’a’s original post focused on strictly adults-only spaces and how they exclude caregivers (and, in our society the majority of caregivers are women, thusly the practice excludes and oppresses women). I’m not going to talk about this, as I haven’t made up my mind about it yet. I want to focus on mai’a’s follow-up post, in which she talks about her experience of the label “mama” in different contexts, and what that means: specifically,
“being a mama is not a description of one’s biology or genitalia. it does not describe how many children we have nestled in wombs. it is not a description of age or even male/female gender.
it is who we are. it is what we do. it is love by any means necessary.”
From my n00b point of view, what I see happening in the comments is what I’ve seen from trolls on other, less controversial threads: women who identify as feminists are recoiling, digging their heels in, and fighting back – without consideration of, and in direct opposition to, the voice of the oppressed. Folks are practicing classic pearl-clutching: “What do you mean, you don’t identify as a feminist? Then why are you writing on a feminist blog?! Good heavens!” …aaaaand the critical-thinking skills have left the building. Faith tries to inject some perspective:
Here’s a thought: instead of getting offended by that statement, maybe you might want to step back and consider why someone like bfp would utter such words. Someone whom I’m guessing also believes very much in the full humanity of women everywhere. If even women like me who have identified as feminists for years are not offended by that statement, then maybe it’s time for some people to consider that maybe there are some very valid criticisms to be made about the feminist movement in general.
Of one thing I am certain: Mainstream Feminism Has Issues. And, though I don’t agree with other things in the OP, I agree with mai’a on this: “if your brand of feminism does not embrace and push to the forefront the critiques of itself, then i have no interest in your brand or your movement”. Folks are not engaging with mai’a’s critique; they’re just grabbing their Feminism badge and running for cover behind the brick Feminism barricade, flinging things like “you’re excluding and oppressing me by pointing out things that are problematic but don’t affect me so I don’t think about them! That’s not helpful!” at women who dared to step into hostile territory and speak truth to power.
Ellie provides an example of this:
Do these women owe me an explanation? No, not really. But I also don’t see how exclusion, whether it’s of them or of me, helps anyone here. I understand, perhaps the community has not always done the best job at including everyone, I can acknowledge that. But does it help any more now than it did then?
Imagine that statement coming from a Men’s Rights Activist. See the problem? Traditional feminist perspectives and practices are being called into question, and the practitioners cry “exclusion! silencing!” instead of thinking critically about the issue.
This is not the way to go about having a dialogue. This is oppression rearing its ugly head in a place where, though varied and opinionated it may be, the folks in power shut their mouths and the voices of the marginalized are finally, actively, heard.
As of today:
- Smashing headcrabs with a crowbar
- Reading awesome books and drinking beer
- Swimming laps (with the added vindictive pleasure of “fuck you” to folks who think fatties shouldn’t wear bathing suits)
- Cross-stitching Stargate chevrons while watching Jane Eyre (thank you, Masterpiece Theatre, for making a version that doesn’t suck)
- Making puddioca, then eating it
- Visiting my sister and SITTING ON THE PORCH (goddamn it, I love sitting on the porch)
- Actually going to yoga
All of the above are subject to change.
Now is the time of year that I start getting hyped up for the Renaissance Festival. 3 years ago I finally had enough cash to buy a set of garb, and let me tell you, that was one of my favorite baby steps into fat acceptance. This is odd, because technically a bodice is a way of restricting a woman’s body (and justifying our weakness and tendency toward “hysterics,” because a person can’t breathe properly in that shit). But I got all courageous and tried that sucker on, and a nice lady-in-waiting laced me up and I went to go look at myself in the mirror and it was awesome AND THEN another lady-in-waiting came up to me and clucked her tongue in disapproval and pulled that sucker down so my decolletage was front and center which was even MORE AWESOME.
So I like Renaissance Festivals.
Which made me lol at Sady’s missive on Menaissance Festivals, especially where the white folks “get off on re-enacting cartoonish imitations of massively oppressive time periods while somehow also always imagining that they would be members of the privileged elite class, and not one of the lowly and downtrodden.”
And also this quote from Paul Mooney, via swpd:
“White people like going back in time, which is always a problem for me. I can only go back so far. Any farther and my black ass is in chains.”
I can go back as far as I want and, as long as I’m rich and white, baby, it’s all turkey-legs and jousting from here. Outside of that you’re fucked, but I know the manly lord that’ll get you into the beirgarten.
THE TRUTH REVEALED: the entire United States is FAT because we are guilty of being clueless of how many calories [we] do or should eat (according to a totes accurate and representative INTERWEBZ survey of 1,024 people). THX USATODAY!
Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak of the International Food Information Council Foundation (Jesus, what a name), “an education group supported by the food, beverage and agricultural industries” (who are TOTES not involved in making tons of money off of diet food),
Having some frame of reference could be an important first step in tackling your weight, she says.
Unless I was in a VR chair during my formative years – in which case I didn’t actually live them and my brain is filled with false images of people I’ve never met and places I’ve never been – when I was a teenager, I carried around a notebook. In that notebook, I would write down the calorie count of everything I put in my mouth. I would tally up all of the calories and, using the average amount of calories burned while jogging for someone of my height, weight, and age, I would subtract the calories an average body burns in a day and exercise until I’d burned off the rest. I wouldn’t feel “balanced” until I’d done so, even if it meant working out until I was exhausted, sick, and shaky.
I did not lose weight.
But but but Wendy says “Your output must equal your input or you’ll gain weight.” How could I have been so wrong?! There must be something wrong with me – my body doesn’t work right, maybe I’m just not working hard enough, I just need to exercise more and eat less, and then I’ll be healthy and not a disgusting lazy fatass!
Oh, wait. That’s not right. I’m not lazy. I do hot box yoga, and swim, and hike. And sometimes I don’t. I weigh less now, eating when I get signals from my body and not restricting my diet, than I did when I was a teen and only eating fat-free ranch dressing and SnackWells cookies. There must be something else amiss here.
Oh yeah! I remember! Calories-in/calories-out is a LOAD OF FUCKING HORSESHIT.
And show me a goddamn fat person in the United States (especially a ladyfatz) who is not conscious of their food intake and the burning judgmental stares of bystanders. If there is a reason fatties are still fat, it is NOT that we are unaware of what awful people we supposedly are.
I haven’t in a while, but once upon a time I used to read fan fiction. I actually read a lot of fan fiction. I would keyword search on my favorite characters and read whatever came up on my screen, which meant I read some of the worst drivel ever mashed out on a keyboard. On the other hand, I read some amazingly well-crafted, engaging fan fiction that made me totes happy and, in the case of After the End, kind of confused me once the actual canon came out and it didn’t match up.
So, when I say that the Twilight series is on par with that former category, know that opinion comes from a place of experience.
Which is not to say that I didn’t read them. I did. I admit it. I read them all in a few days, ravenously, like a little kid who finds herself alone with her Halloween loot and goes to town. And I kind of felt the same afterward, too – overfull and nauseous, but with that tinge of regret that comes with knowing you blew through it so fast, and there isn’t anymore left.**
So, I’m torn between two interpretations concerning Bella. 1st, obvious interpretation: Bella is an inanimate object, like a tennis ball, being volleyed back and forth between two men who do nothing but seethe with hatred at one another when the ball’s not in their court. This is shitty from a feminist perspective, because CHIVALRY, and, Bella makes virtually no active decisions in the entire series. Even when vampire-types want to kill her dead, it’s not because of something she did (her personality didn’t attract Edward [her smell did, not something she can control], she didn’t actively provoke James, she didn’t kill James, she didn’t choose to be pregnant, and jeez, even her vampire superpower is passive and keeps her from fighting as her heinous newborn self).
The 2nd, more complicated interpretation: Bella as a Mary Sue. This should not be complicated – everyone knows that Mary Sue stories categorically suck.*** BUT WAIT, there’s a great discussion happening on Mary Sue policing. There is a dearth of strong female characters in source material so what the hell is so wrong with writing a few in? “It’s wish fulfillment!” shout the self-proclaimed Serious Writers of Fan Fiction. “It’s lazy writing! Stop trying to include characters you can relate to in worlds where they do not belong!”
As Margaret Lion points out in comments, Captain Kirk and James Bond much? I’m pretty sure Gene Roddenberry and Ian Fleming wished HARD that they could be the womanizing, action-hero characters they invented, rather than their lackluster, everyday selves.
Yes, Bella’s not strong or bad ass or interesting. The few traits Stephenie Meyer emphasizes (clumsiness, ho-hum run-of-the-mill talent, “plain” in a culturally lauded [thin, blemish-free] way) are easy to relate to, and familiar, and desirable, and make her a placeholder for girls who live in a patriarchal culture and wish their life was fantastical and exciting and dramatic and tragically beautiful.
The solution to this conundrum, I think, is not demonizing young girls for being “Twihards.” It’s working to change the culture that dictates the only thing a woman can be is attached to a man, and writing fiction with interesting female characters that do more boulder-crushing and lightning-zapping and puzzle-solving and battle-winning and awesome-being. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a few sparkly immortal men in there too, if that’s your dish, as long as they don’t mansplain ass-kicking.
*even though there isn’t an eclipse in the movie and I know that the book titles are supposed to be clever plays on daylight and all that but the plots are so thin that the “moon cycle” series metaphor doesn’t even work, y’know?
**I have a history of liking source material that sucks, and picking out the few meaty bits to elaborate on myself: the characters of Rosalie and Jasper intrigue me, and Carlisle is just damn hot. Can someone with more talent than me write some backstory for these folks?
***I wrote a Mary Sue character series. Over 240 pages of it. No, you can’t read it it is gone forever THANK GOD.
Fatties aren’t supposed to wear shirts with horizontal stripes so I went out and got one HA HA HA.
That was supposed to be the end of this post, but then I got to thinking about my fashion choices before and after Fat Acceptance. Many other writers are covering the topic of fatshion already (and pleez go partake of their eloquent wisdom!) but I thought I’d throw out a few personal specifics, y’know, for realness purposes.*
According to those closest to me, I am boring. I don’t go in for patterns (except for, apparently, HORIZONTAL STRIPES), I like jeans, I like black (even my tattoos are black and gray), I wear flat shoes, and I have some kick-ass accessories but only wear them once in a while.
All of that is not so different from when I hated my body, except for 2 crucial things: CUT and QUALITY.
My aesthetic preferences are, no doubt, due in part to my demonization of femininity in favor of being “one of the guys” (which is another topic for another time, and which has also been covered elsewhere), but the plain t-shirt of today and the plain t-shirt of 10 years ago have some differences, which I have conveniently laid out in a table:
So what role has FA played in all this? Well, now I like trying out different styles that highlight my body instead of hiding it. I also invest in higher-quality stuff because a) I think my body is worth it, and b) I don’t think it will be obsolete in a year because I will somehow miraculously become thin and have to start my wardrobe over from scratch.
I will now meander over to Etsy and drool over the drop earrings with vintage glass beads.
*I have the privilege to purchase brand-name clothing, though usually from discount stores. (Why the hell would you pay 40 bucks for a t-shirt even if you could, anyway?) This was not always the case, and is not possible for everyone. Trying to find current, stylish, cheap fatshion is almost always a nightmare, so there is no reason to police anybody, including fatties, about their wardrobe choices. So don’t do it!