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Mar 26, 2015 maddy811 commented on Savage Love Letters of the Day: You've Got Hate Mail.
The overused accusation of pretending? Yes, my friends, we have a closet case!
Jan 18, 2015 maddy811 commented on Women's College Cancels Annual Production of The Vagina Monologues....
@49 Nah, it would probably be Post-Vagina Monologues.
Sep 19, 2014 maddy811 commented on Savage Love.
I'm one of those unicorns, happily living with a married couple and raising our now 2 and a half year old daughter.

The difference between us, much as what Dan identified in his wise retort, is that I didn't over-philosophize my longing as some point of outsider status. I met them, I fell for them over time, we grew close first as friends over many years, and then decided to be crazy people and have and raise a child together because we thought the three of us could better provide for that child together than we could apart. In other words, we didn't seek each other out solely for adult relationships, even though we all knew we were more open than most on that score. That makes us a bit different from other poly folks we've met, but we don't invest emotionally in convincing anyone that our setup is somehow superior to any other, which sometimes is hard given the shit we get from the conservatives we know, particularly family members who've disowned us.

On the flip, it's also hard to suffer the I-Renamed-Myself-Great-Open-Spirit-Because-I-Seek-To-Commune-with-Everyone types about whom we wonder: do they get fucked often just so someone can momentarily stop them from yammering on about their poly theories? To those we say, "Look, we've got bills to pay and shitty diapers to deal with" and then find ourselves all nostalgic about last week's trip to the park when some random stranger approaches to ask, "Um, I'm confused...who are her parents?"

The upside of your situation is that you know what you're looking for so you have a chance to find it. The downside is that imagining yourself a martyr in said pursuit may sabotage your efforts.

A lot can be achieved in life if you lighten the fuck up about your imagined heavy load. There is, after all, humor in everything, to paraphrase Dr. Suess.

PS. At the risk of furthering stereotypes, I thought the bisexual everyone loved to hate was the hip, lipstick wearing chick who fucked women on occasion to prove her sexual radicalism and then went back to men, leaving legions of butch lesbians in her wake whose friends warned them they should have known better.
Sep 17, 2014 maddy811 commented on Loving Obamacare, Backing Assholes Who Want to Destroy It.
What's the Matter with (Kentucky), indeed.
Jun 8, 2014 maddy811 commented on About That Hate Crime I Committed at University of Chicago.
@61 Yep. When I talk about my experiences in graduate school--a program housing ethnic, women's, and queer studies--my partner frequently replies that it sounds like a cult, and not unlike the religious fundamentalism she walked away from to come out of the closet.

I'm glad Dan has taken to defend himself, because this is the self-cannibalism of the left. The right makes big bank off the absurdity of these kinds of temper tantrums masquerading as activism. It's a key reason why the humanities have been so successfully diminished and discredited in the increasingly corporatized university.

In my experience, the language and image and self-identity obsessed college students and academics--who tell themselves that they are revolutionaries--suffer from the very "privilege" they use as a cudgel to silence anyone who challenges or threatens them. It explains why they define their adversaries in such narrow terms (i.e. Dan Savage is the enemy but Santorum speaks without incident.)

When I was a faculty member, an activist group on campus had shut down classes for over a week. Among their demands was to ban the n-word from the campus, with sanctions for violators. As you can imagine, the white libertarian ranks on campus swelled because of the presumed victimization such a move implied ("free speech!," "free speech!"). Another hot button issue that suffused the protests was cultural appropriation, to the point where the white self-martyrs set up get-your-own-Mohawk stands to protest their supposed oppression by the "Drama Monarchs" (love that).

And during all of these episodes I was teaching courses on conservative attacks on voting rights, the imprisoning of an entire generation of people of color for minor drug offenses, and ongoing historical studies of how racism continues to shape collective hostility toward the poor as an effective way to attack the social safety net.

And I cannot tell you how many of my classes got derailed because the outrage, counter-outrage, counter-counter-outrage, what-about-my-outrage came to dominate every damn conversation.
Jun 5, 2014 maddy811 commented on Living Near Skinny People Makes Overweight People Unhappy.
Oh, Roma, you're completely right about exposure to second-hand smoke and, I, of course, wouldn't hesitate to ask someone to not smoke in my or my daughter's presence, in no small part because we both have asthma. But, again, we're talking about different things. If in that situation, I certainly wouldn't do so in a way that suggested that I held the person in contempt as somehow lesser than me. I would simply ask them not to smoke near me or my family or in my house, etc. I certainly wouldn't start giving them a lecture about lung cancer or future tracheotomies as though they don't know full well the risks they are incurring.

To answer your other question, I'm not saying that there aren't fat people in denial about the toll that their weight is or will take on their health, quality of life, or length of life. I'm saying that I'm not in a position to make a determination about how and why any individual became fat or does or does not remain so. I also think it's none of my damn business to make presumptions about their psychological affairs or knowledge base, and that includes, as nocute mentioned, approaching any fat person as though I just assume that they are in denial and/or know nothing about how they got to where they currently are.

I think we all bullshit ourselves, particularly as we age, about our weight and our appearance. But I think it's an individual's own spirit work, for lack of a less new agey phrase, to consider whether or not they are harming themselves by not being honest about their health. But, again, I would say that in a climate this hateful and fat phobic, it's hard for me not to see denial as a cultural-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes I think that a fat person eating something god awful in public is a seriously brave thing to do. Have you not heard of thin people taking pictures of fat people in the gym? Or lecturing a fat person in a grocery store for what's in their cart? These aren't uncommon experiences. For fuck sake, I once offered a sick coworker in my office a cough drop and she gave me a lecture about its added sugar content and how added added sugar leads to Type II diabetes!

I've been thinking about this conversation this week while in my adult hip hop cardio class I've been taking with the same group of people since January. The ages in the room range from 20 to mid '60s, and I'm in the middle of the room both in terms of weight and age. And there are some women there who come, week after week, class after class, who look like typically middle-aged, moderately overweight to significantly overweight Americans, and yet you should see how easily they rip through some pretty intense cardio. Several of them have stronger cardiovascular fitness than I currently do despite the fact that I'm 20 years younger and weigh significantly less than they do. I would imagine that many of them, if not most, experience the phenomenon on display in this forum--this kneejerk assumption that they don't take care of themselves and that they're unfit. But I wouldn't be so impolite as to presume as much or to ask or to lecture or to backhand complement because I know too well how hurtful such things can be. It's really a simple matter of letting an individual own his or her own life experience and stopping before you project your own bullshit onto an unsuspecting person.
Jun 5, 2014 maddy811 commented on Living Near Skinny People Makes Overweight People Unhappy.
Roma, that's a fair point, but the key point is that you're making a distinction between acknowledging responsibility and the ineffectuality of scolding someone to make them change as though their own struggle is somehow a personal affront to you.

Have you ever witnessed the following?: A person so personally outraged and horrified by smoking that he/she will approach a perfect stranger in public to chastise them for it? Have you ever seen that? (I have.) Nothing such a person could say wouldn't be factually true, but I think most reasonable people would agree that the person doing the harangue is a self-righteous asshole, and ineffectual because of it.

I think you can argue that the social "need," if there is one, for that kind of confrontational approach to smokers has declined given the degree to which smoking has been purged from interior public spaces and the degree to which most people absolutely understand its long term health risks.

But, and this is a point that needs mentioning, smokers know these things too! But they smoke anyway because of a complex tangle of self-reinforcing psychological and physiological reasons. To dismiss them with a level of hatred, to the point where you make it a personal front to you that a smoker exists, strikes me as seriously lacking in empathy. And having empathy does not mean that you "excuse their behavior" or fail to hold them accountable for a predictable outcome. It just means you recognize their struggle, and you do so with an understanding that few human adults are so health-pure-and-driven that they don't have some kind of similar struggle. All humans have vices, all. Barring accidents, the vast majority of us will die, will we not, from some lifestyle-related disease: heart disease, stroke, cancer--even alzheimer's and parkinson's are shaped by a lifetime of eating habits.

And this is where I think we should stop: when it comes to being fat, you're talking about a culture where it is somehow acceptable to make a host of presumptions and judgments about a person based on their physical appearance--look at the recent posts where people insist that any overweight person who claims good health is just, with absolute certainty, being delusional. Look, I've been in dance troupes, zumba classes and on salsa dance floors for more than 2 decades, and I cannot tell you how many times I've had some thin woman take me aside, a woman who doesn't know me from adam, because she needs me to know how surprised she is to see how skilled and/or in shape I am. (And, yes, I also get neutral and sincere compliments as well--you learn to tell the difference pretty quickly.) Worse, or perhaps *the* worst, I've also had the occasional onlooker approach me not only with dieting tips, but to also say that could recommend a good therapist so that I could work on my self-esteem because being overweight means I must have emotional problems. These people are all perfectly civil, but they don't seem to realize that all they're doing in such moments is forcing me to deal with their prejudices and, in the process, ruining my evening. So, yes, of course it's true that the more overweight you are the more restricted your mobility is over time, but it's NOT automatically true that every single fat person is unfit and by definition less healthy than thin people. Weight is a predictor of fitness, not an absolute. And I'm sure all of us know thin people who are both sedentary and unfit. But when you presume license only to approach fat people, often strangers, with this kind of scolding "This TRUTH is for your own good because you cannot be healthy as you are" you are being a smug, righteous asshole. And you very well may be WRONG.

That's the point. I don't think reasonable fat people would argue that being fat isn't a concern for our health or a complex challenge to face as we age. But I don't understand why it's so difficult for some thin folks to see how they have internalized such a consuming fear of fatness that they project such license and presumption on actual fat people. It's not at all unlike the kinds of "microaggressions" people of color catalog as they cope with white presumptuousness on a daily basis.
Jun 4, 2014 maddy811 commented on Living Near Skinny People Makes Overweight People Unhappy.
Set points are bullshit and solely the propaganda of fat acceptance activists? Wow. I should tell the thin straight white male neuroscientist in the next building who has spent his career studying it. Maybe the college, one of the top in the nation, should rethink whether or not they should keep him on staff.

I really wish there could be a meta-analysis of this forum, because it seems to me that it's post after post after post of dieting advice that borders on open judgment and condemnation of fat people as individual characters failures. Let's say everything is as easy as you want it to be: being obese has nothing to do with poverty, with gender, with race/ethnicity, with geography, with life history, with the lower cost and easy availability of empty carbohydrates/toxins/trans-fats/HFCS/etc, with a society characterized by malaise/depression and sedentary hyper-mediated lives. It's not structural, it's not institutional, it's not historically located or situated. It's just that fat people make excuses to not take care of themselves.


Maybe I'm too much of a sociologist and historian by training, but I think it's an error of unit analysis if you identify dramatic changes--epidemic, say?--in an entire society as the fault of shitty individuals who just are selfish, weak, lazy, and, ffs, greedy (yes, it hit a nerve--it is a hateful and shitty thing to say, and the reason I compared it to the love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin bigots is because it was "fat people are GREEDY, but we shouldn't hate them." Riggggghhhhtttt.... At least own your contempt.).

But let's just say I'm completely wrong. Fat people are just the dregs of human existence, consumed with self-victimization to conceal from themselves from their poor choices.

Does that still mean it's ok to treat fat people thus? Again, I have to ask, would it be socially acceptable to scold, say, smokers who got lung cancer? An alcoholic whose liver has failed? We should recognize this kind of fear and hatred of an entire group of people and call it out. I don't care how fat the person is, I don't care how they choose to eat or whether or not they never ever get off their couch--why is it okay to treat people like this? I think it's quite telling that posts about the stigmatization of fat people trigger forums full of sympathy trolls who lecture about weight loss. Isn't that the mother fucking point of the conversation, i.e. that fat people endure endless presumptions and prescriptions and suffer in their social and professional lives as a result? Of course that process is both internalized and external, but, ffs, at least have some goddamn sympathy for what it must be like to be treated thus, daily, to the point where, as nocutename noted above, that fat people have to spend their days apologizing or explaining away every move or bite of food in the hopes to trying to head off at least some of it.

I had colleagues in my own academic field who were members of the Fat Acceptance Movement, and, no, I'm not one of them. I parted ways with them when they made arguments that being fat over time isn't unhealthy and that the gains of weight loss are imagined because of the increased social acceptance that results from it. I've also been a modestly overweight but fit and active person most of my life, but now find myself, for the first time, both actually, i.e., BMI verified, fat and unfit, and there's no doubt that fitness is the better way to live. I think we should all strive to be our best selves and take care of our bodies as best as we are able. But no one gets there, no one, in the face of such stigma, moral scolding, and hatefulness.

And to read that kind of shit in a progressive online space? Amen to those activists, I hope they keep on keepin' on.
Jun 3, 2014 maddy811 commented on Living Near Skinny People Makes Overweight People Unhappy.
@91Your post is the anti-fat equivalent of those Christian folks who say that they don't hate gay people but just want to save them, that they hate the sin, not the sinner, and so on. Talk about self-justification. And self-cluelessness to boot. I try to imagine it being socially acceptable for a person to heap this kind of judgment and morally simplistic thinking on, say, a crop duster who got Parkinson's disease, or an alcoholic whose liver failed, or a person who got lung cancer after a life-time of smoking.

Say, for instance, you accusation of, to borrow your all-caps, GREED. This shows that you understand nothing about the relationship between poverty and obesity. And, as a child raised on welfare, school lunches, government food, and food stamps, I can tell you that it costs a lot more money (yes, it does, don't try to lie about it) to buy fresh produce (especially if you don't have reliable transportation) than it does to buy what were staples in my house as a child: ramen noodles, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, etc.

Yes, at it's most simplistic level, if you take in more calories than you burn you will gain weight over time. But why the sudden explosion in obesity since the '80s? It's not because some subset of people started getting "greedy" and just decided to eat more than their share. It's because a national common sense emerged that fat in foods made you fat, so all of us chronic dieters were taught that we should be on low-fat, high carbohydrate diets. So us fatties were so greedy that we hogged all of the carrots, pretzels, and potatoes we could get because we thought we were safe so long as we didn't touch that cheese or those avocados. So we took in nothing but sugar, much of it processed crap, telling ourselves we were being healthy as we white-knuckled ourselves to even unhealthier weights. I vividly remember a 1,200 a day diet my doctor put me on as a teenager (!). I would carry around bags of carrots and pretzels, and wonder why I was starving. I lost 25 pounds from the calorie restriction, which for me then was all I needed to lose, but all I could think about every day was how hungry I was and I, of course, immediately gained the pounds back plus interest when I eventually gave up. And, mind you, when I was put on that diet, by a physician (!) I was in three sports and a dance troupe!

Lazy greedy bitch, I know.

And, I shouldn't have to point this out because the statistics are quite easy to find, but chronic yo-yo dieting (my mom put me on my first at 12) wreaks havoc on your metabolism over time, making each successive yo-yo much easier on the gain, much harder on the loss.

I could go on, but what I'm getting at here is that your embarrassingly anti-empathetic take on fat people illustrates that you don't have the first clue about what it means to live and work and love and endure as a fat person. I have a Ph.D. I was the first in my family to go to college. I've been on every diet you can name, and, yes, I do work out regularly (at the gym, yes) and my blood work remains normal even as I approach 40. And despite a lifetime of achievements that took me impossibly far from how I grew up, and despite being both a good person and an active person, I will still, daily, have to deal with smug and callous asshats like you who presume from jump that I'm some lazy, self-hating, greedy pig who spends her day piling on the fast food. (And, like others in the forum mentioned, I too gave up soda and fast food--in my 20s!!)

And, speaking of mother-fucking (!) greed, have you heard of the KOCH BROTHERS? Calling fat people greedy is the political equivalent of those easily duped conservatives who sincerely believe that welfare cheats and fraudulent voters are the ones fleecing the country.
Jun 2, 2014 maddy811 commented on Living Near Skinny People Makes Overweight People Unhappy.
I fall into this category.

I've gained quite a bit of weight recently. With a toddler and a full-time job and a live-in, ailing parent who I'm taking care of, the time I used to devote to exercise and dancing has declined significantly and I've been eating sweets to cope with the stress. And it shows. I'm getting older, it's getting harder, and I'm damn busy, but I know I'll get it in hand. And I'm happy with my life, my partner(s), and my family. It doesn't define me, nor my overall level of happiness or lack thereof.

In contrast, I work with three pathological women, 2 of which are under 90 pounds, all of whom are middle-aged and divorced. Every day is another round of The Diet and Self-Police Talk--what fitness regime, what dieting approach, how many pounds to go, how I cannot believe that I still cannot get into these pants, omg my belly hits my legs on my bike (she has no belly) and it's so groooosssss!!!, and on and on and on. The first refuses to attend social functions at work for fear of temptation. The second, the bigger bitch of the two, metaphorically speaking (I suspect this one's anorexic) attends so that she can lecture people who eat the party food. The third joked with everyone in the office while I was pregnant about how fat my baby would be. When not making passive aggressive remarks at my expense, they treat me like I don't have a brain cell in my head; like I've never heard of glycemic index, or metabolic syndrome, or insulin resistance, or the philosophies of The Zone v. Atkins v. South Beach v. Weight Watchers, etc.; and they act like I fed my baby liquid Big Macs because I don't know better. ("OMG, YOU breastfeed? YOU? Are you serious? Wow, I'm so impressed!" "Yeah, you're a reason why feminists need to keep the word cunt in the lexicon.")

I think that their misery, and my comparative life happiness, speak for themselves. But fucking hell are they pathetic insufferable self-hating bullying assholes to have to interact with every day.

I would presume that the intent of this essay is to talk about internalized self-hatred from being "the fat one" in a land of thin, but my current, and thus immediate, frame of reference, is how doggedly unpleasant it is to be the only fat person around fat-obsessed thin people.