Nature is an ecoterrorist!

Posts tagged ‘fat acceptance’

Fat, Brown and Animal: Being Other

When people want to insult a fat woman, they say, “she’s such a cow.” Well, and even if she doesn’t fit any cultural definition of fat—though it’s usually accompanied by a verbal illustration of how said Cow Lady is fat-like, e.g. she breathes heavily or is clumsy. Similarly, a man who’s fat is said to be a pig.

Insults aimed at fat people have more to do with the inferiority and deficiencies ascribed to animals than they do with humans or body fat. A cow is supposedly clumsy, stupid, emotionally and mentally placid, lazy and gluttonous. Pigs are also supposedly clumsy, stupid, emotionally and mentally placid, lazy, gluttonous and messy/filthy/unclean. Are they any of these things? Probably not to themselves, or another pig or cow; they are to us because they are patently not human, though, in a similar way that non-Westerners are assumed to be immoral, filthy, scheming and/or barbaric. They refuse to play by our rules, because they don’t look and act like us.

Am I getting this through yet? Patriarchy, as we know, is a proselytizing religion: infidels are to be converted or used as hunting-sport with which our patriarchs can prove their masculinity by destroying. As is heterosexism; the Abrahamic West imported homophobia (as well as misogyny to a large degree) into Japan as it did with leftie hatred into China as did the Romans import a new and even more abusive form of slavery into Kemet. White westerners have very typically assumed that because they were, well, them, their culture, their beliefs, their history, their politics and their actions were better than anyone else’s, ergo anyone who differed in any of these things could be justifiably enslaved, imprisoned, killed, ripped off, or just generally treated like crap without qualm or consequence.

Carnism is a proselytizing religion, too. I have never met a carnist that, hearing I was vegan, didn’t try to convince me that veganism was too extreme, too privileged or too unhealthy. (Naturally, you want to defer to people who personally and economically benefit from carnism on the subject of veganism vs. carnism.) WIC emphasizes a diet heavy in dairy and devoid of fresh fruits and vegetables, and by the same hand gets rid of a good amount of the unsellable dairy in the country. Heifer Int’l imports the European reliance on animal products into poor, non-white, non-Western (UK, US, AU) regions, starving them by taking away food, poisoning them by introducing nonhuman-to-human pathogens and parasites, and rapidly increasing the speed and spread of desertification through killing off grazing foliage and drinking enormous amounts of water. I shouldn’t have to go further. The subversion of non-Western cultures by the Western Three relies a great deal upon the importation of animal product-heavy diets.

At the same time, patriarchy didn’t get as far as it has by merely vilifying and maligning women. It had to convince men (and women) that being a woman was a horrible fucking thing to be, since they were so… inferior and childbearing and yucky. Part of the slanderous misinformation against oppressed groups was making sure that those who weren’t oppressed wouldn’t sympathize too much with them, or they might be them. So too with animals. Animals are routinely used as a placeholder for every vile human on the face of the Earth: they’re animals, they say, like animals construct fucking rape prisons. I’m not arguing animals are innocent or pure or whatever; I’m just arguing that they haven’t constructed a proselytizing culture that actively traps, imprisons, and punishes those who don’t fall into the “right” categories and belief systems, so they haven’t given themselves nearly as many opportunities to fuck themselves up. Trust me, were, say, finches doing what humans were right now, they’d be just as fucked up too—although I guess that presupposes that you can do what we’re doing without being fucked up.

Effective oppression requires that you not just place the oppressed group within a property category, but that you convince anyone not oppressed just how unworthy of help they are, and how much like them—and therefore a target—you will be if you actually try to do anything meaningful for them.

And if they want to treat you like property, all they have to do is compare you to someone who’s already property. Fucking listen to me! If they want to treat you like they do animals, all they have to do is compare you to fucking animals.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that every group of humans on the face of the Earth that they have imprisoned and forced to labor have been compared to farm animals and beasts of burden? Pele’s exploding tits. Black people were shown off at what were essentially latter-day livestock shows. Black people were said to be animalistic: stupid, large, clumsy, lazy, gluttonous—like cows. Do you think it’s a coincidence that every group of humans on the face of the Earth that they have wanted to exterminate have been compared to—drawn as—”pest animals”? Japanese, rats. Ditto for Chinese. Vietnamese, dogs. Mexicans, rats, dogs. Arabs, snakes.

Snakes, rats and dogs—animals who have committed the mortal sin of refusing to stay still and be exterminated because humans wanted them to, making them Incomprehensible!

How can people be this stupid? Do I really need to spell it out for you? Fine. Oppression of humans will never be fully eliminated without taking down carnism—the idea that animals are just fine to use as property and the actions underlying it—because there is still that fundamental exception. Carnism is the basis for humans’ belief that it is okay to treat someone who experiences their life as property.

It is a fucking excuse, and you fucking know it, or you would actually educate yourself about veganism, and not from carnists—people who benefit, personally and economically, off of carnism. You got exactly no right to be angry at me for tellin’ you the truth: were we in a different time period, you would be just fine with doing this shit to a given group of humans, because you believe this is okay, period.

Away from 101, back to fat. When someone is compared to a given animal group (quarry, farmed, pest, pet, and another group that’s “beautiful” and worthy of their habitat), the stereotypes from that animal group pass over to the brand-spanking-new fucked-over human group.

Fat people are compared to farmed animals: pigs (hogs), cows. Implicitly, then, fat people are what these animals are supposed to be—as I mentioned up at the beginning of the post. I am not saying these assumptions about fat people are justified—in fact, just the opposite, because I don’t believe those assumptions about animals are justified in the first place. Oppression justifies oppression. Farmed animals are like this, thus it’s dandy for us to do this to them; fat people are like this, thus it’s dandy for us to consistently fuck them over and shame them, etc. etc.

No oppression exists without another to precipitate that. Funny, that. Also, as an aside, humans are alarmingly unoriginal if you look at the history of oppression in the world.

Before I end this, I want to note one more thing, and that is another similarity in perceptions of farmed animals and fat people: they are seen as unimposing, impotent and non-threatening. Despite the fact that farmed animals are actually quite dangerous to humans in ways that suggest we wouldn’t be hunting them in natural circumstances, they’re essentially seen as ridiculous because we were able to dominate them. Fat people, too. A fat man, furious at being treated like an immoral, lazy eating-machine, only comes across as comic relief—a fat woman comes off as even less impressive than that, the most impotent and powerless of them all.

Oppression is oppression is oppression. Human oppressions are only branches of this oppression: carnism is the trunk from which all human oppressions are justified, and property status and human supremecism are the roots. I’m going for the roots. You don’t have to join me, but you had better stay the hell out of my way while I’m swinging my axe.

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Identity/Fat

It’s been noted before that female-coded clothing is never neutral: no matter what tone you may be wearing or what cut or style, there is no point where that clothing will not be perceived as saying something about you. Large, gaudy necklaces tag you as “artsy”; short skirts, breast-crushing shirts and stockings mark you as misogynistic fratboy fuck-target. Mismatched clothing tags you as “punk,” pathetic, or hipster. Batik clothing makes you a New Ager or middle to upper class trustifarian. Sneakers means you’re desperate to fit in. High heels? Asking for it.

Female-bodied people have virtually no ability to control how they are perceived. Being able to say, “this is the kind of person I am” is something exclusively reserved for men—who, while they may have typed clothing, also have neutral clothing available to them—because women are property, and the kind of “packaging” they have defines what kind of product they are. Maybe you’re an S&M product? Or a Happy Hooker product? Perhaps you’re the Feisty Prowler type—what about the Shy Bookworm? Your identity—who you are as a person—is not as important as what kind of front you present, because your personality cannot be fetishized and objectified: your appearance can.

However, even then, many women have the ability to skew how they are perceived—either through judicious use of clothing tags or making their own clothing. There’s one group of women who have no ability to control how they are perceived, even in the limited scope that most women have. You know them—you’ve been taught that they’re disgusting, and that their fallen state is an external sign of their personal failures: if they weren’t such horrible wastes of flesh—if they just wouldn’t keep shoving fourteen pizzas in their mouth a night*—then they’d be… um… well, fuckable, I guess. That’s about as close as any woman comes to “acceptable,” though.

They’re fat. I want to take a minute right here and give a shout-out to all my fat comrades and the strength it takes them to get through a day, let alone still challenge the status quo.

Fatness is intersectional in nature: it is bound up in body-policing, femininity (of not taking enough, let alone too much), beauty ideals, race, class, and probably a lot of other things I’m not thinking of right now. Beyond anything else, people who are thin are given more institutional power—sexual, social, economic—and those who do not meet the unreliable definition of “thinness” are continuously disenfranchised by the same system. Fat men get farther, but that’s not saying much.

I want to specifically point out how little control fat women have over their projection and acceptance of identity, though. To a point, thin women have some powers of self-identification—again, they’re limited, but still there—but fat women have none because the totality of what they are perceived to be is what could be best described as infintesimal in scope.

My fat female-bodied friends have no option and no choice. If they act happy, they’re stinky and obtrusive; if they’re feeling sexy, they’re laughable and pathetic; if they have desires, they’re gluttonous and smothering; if they’re affectionate, they’re flippant; if they’re bouncy, they’re vapid and unintelligent; if they’re cute, they’re obnoxious and thunderous; if they’re loud, they’re overwhelming and don’t know how to control themselves; if they’re sad, they’re emotional eaters; if they’re angry, they’re bitter, shrill bitches. Fat women cannot win, ever, but with a totality that most thin women couldn’t even grasp at.

One of my friends a few years ago confided to me that her social anxiety and reticence developed when she realized that no one ever saw her as cute and bouncy—they saw her as obnoxious, overbearing and stupid. Her withdrawal was a way out: because she couldn’t bear to be seen as this stupid, silly thing that was such a distortion of who she really was. It didn’t matter that she had an eating disorder, and that she was eating high raw because it was one of the few ways she could make it disappear in totality: when people looked at her, they saw fat. That was the totality of who she was, to them—unhealthy, prediabetic at best, probably cancerous, and definitely an eyesore if not necessarily contagious. Even when people weren’t making “moo” sounds at her, she could tell by their awkwardness and skepticism that they condemned the hell out of her.

She chose to withdraw because that was the only option for control she had ever known: as a child, the only way she could get away mentally from her family’s abuse was to turn to stone inside and convince everyone that nothing mattered to her. The extent of people’s judgment and prejudice against her body didn’t just make her ashamed: it made her change into a different person.

Because the person she was didn’t matter, only the packaging. In a society where your presentation matters more than your personhood, and where your packaging implicitly justifies violation regardless of its austerity… you’re not safe. As someone who is trans, I’m not safe—because my packaging matters more than who I am.

Property status—that process and underlying ideology through which you are turned into a product—must be abolished. No excuses. No mistakes. No compromise.

I want to make clear that fatphobia will not be allowed on any part of this site. Body-policing is unacceptable and only reinforces the idea that womens’ bodies are communal property for whatever reason—though I’m sure it’s just because of their “health.” In light of a history that actively encourages women to starve to fit acceptable ideals of femininity, behavioral and physical, and in light of the fact that there is no known way to make fat people into thin people—you need to do better than a 95% failure rate—you get to shut your ignorant yaps.

*Does anyone actually know someone who does this? It’s highly eating-disordered even so, but apparently I’m eating baby-flavored doughnuts every night… silly fools! I’m vegan! Don’t they know I only eat dumpstered babies?

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