Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feminism and Fat Acceptance.

Awhile ago I tried looking for positive images of fat women online. I wanted to see photos of strong healthy women who carry more fat on them than is usually considered to be "healthy". Not only was I looking for strong and healthy women, but I was looking for sexy women as well. Not the "plus"-sized models with their shapes similar to other models--flatter stomachs and gentle rounded curves--but average everyday women. Ones with lumps and bumps, no airbrushing.

I found something disturbing.

Many websites I discovered were run by men. And these women were objectified just as much as their skinnier counterparts. So-and-So was sexy, but didn't have the correct waist to hip ratio to be perfection. Great butt, but hips not wide enough. Breasts not big enough. Big beautiful rolls, but still somehow wrong.

And in several fat acceptance websites there was a similar message. Unless you're already completely willing to accept yourself as fat and and perfect as you are, then they didn't want you. In many there were very valid reasons for not wanting to hear it as it could drag them back into their own bad habits. The very reason I left my Intuitive Eating group. Most of them were recovering bulimics and recovering anorexics. I know my being there was not helping them at all. Our issues were similar, but we had different ways of expressing them. I couldn't help them and they couldn't help me. So I left. But, I digress. In a lot of the Fat Acceptance places I found there was no room for those still working through issues. Still struggling with their need to balance fat acceptance with a very real desire to lose some weight. No allowance for wanting to lose weight even if it was only for your own physical comfort. They'd been through it all and were sick of hearing about it, so none of that discussion to be found here thank you very much! To them, talking about wanting to lose weight was not fat acceptance, so "fuck you very much" they say to any daring to want to lose weight.

Perhaps I just found bad websites? I couldn't help feeling though that just like a lot of women nowadays who think there is only One True Way to be a feminist, or One True Way to be a mother, or One True Way to be a dieter, instead of supporting one another, they were tearing each other down. It's like that book When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies says, women are so busy tearing themselves and each other down because they don't believe they have the right to take up equal space to men.

All of this looking for fat acceptance and feminism got me depressed. And then it got me angry. So busy tearing into each other instead of really addressing the issue of equality. Too busy picking at their husbands or other women for doing it wrong instead of working to make it right. Good god, what would happen if we put all of that effort into fixing the world instead of trying to fix our waistlines?

And then my anger shifted. Despite all the strides we've made since the bra-burning days of yore, we still haven't made enough progress. Yes, we have the pill, but women still have to BEAR the children. Aldous Huxley thought up IVF in the early 1930s and in the 1970s we finally had realworld applications for it. Yet we still don't have artificial wombs.

And then it hit me. There's another subtler way in which the sexual revolution is still lagging behind the times. And I don't know if this is the difference between men and women emotionally, or if it's still a cultural thing where women are raised to be nurturing and men are raised to be the nurtured.

How many of you that are in relationships, or have been in relationships, have offered blowjobs or handjobs just for the sake of it because you thought your partner might be interested in them? Or because you were in the mood to give them one. And then the sexplay had stopped once they'd orgasmed?

I'm betting it's a fair few of you.

And how many of you have done those kinds of things when NOT in the mood for sex, just to keep them happy.

Again, I'm betting a fair few of you.

Let me ask you this. How often is the shoe on the other foot? In my own marriage...twice. TWICE has he thought to offer me something sexual, with no strings attached. There have been a few times when I've had to ASK, but only twice has he offered. When I broached this with him the other night, he admitted that he just doesn't think to ask. He's doing better than every other guy I've been with. He's at least asked without prompting or reciprocation. And now that we're both aware of it we can work towards fixing this inequality.

Other friends I've known in the past and current friends have all intimated the same thing. The woman gives and the man takes. Always giving and giving to everyone but ourselves. Always raised to nurture and be selfless. Always raised to be second class citizens.

It's the 21st century people, and we still don't have equality. We as women in general, let alone fat women who are looked upon as even less than that. This is another of the things that I've been so angry about lately, and one of the big reasons I've been binging so badly. I really don't know how to cope with my realisation of just how unequal our society still is. Racism, bigotry, fatism, all the other horrible ways in which people are denigrated every day. Why do we hate so much? Why do we put other people down? I know I'm guilty of it, doesn't mean I have to like it when I do it though.

Finally I came to the realisation that worrying about the world's ills was another way I was avoiding my own issues. Yes, a lot of my issues stem from the cultural biases, but I can only change my own little corner of the world. I can fix my own relationships with both the men and the women in my life. How can I help others accept themselves or me as I truly am, if I can't first accept myself?

This is the thought process that led to me wanting to take those photos of myself both naked and clothed. This is where the driving need comes from to accept myself as I am right here and right now. Looking in fat acceptance websites or for sexy fat women online won't help me to accept myself. This is something I need to find within myself. That's why it's called SELF Acceptance. I don't have any answers for any of the bigger issues, but I can look for the answer to the questions of, "Who I am?" and "What am I worth?"

But lemme ask you this, Who are you and what are you worth? Or maybe instead of me asking you that, you could ask yourselves the questions. Who am I? What am I worth?

I can't really answer those yet, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of finding out!

6 Nibbles:

Marshmallow said...

Being a virgin who hasn't ever been asked on a date - I can't provide any... err... 'evidence' on the sexual activity as a sign of gender inequality, but I totally understand the argument.

I also understand the 'no breathing room' in the Fat Acceptance movement - that to embrace your body, you had to say, "I am perfect the way I am".

I have to admit that I've come a long way from where I once was, but I'm not satisfied. I want to go further. But I also want to participate in the fat acceptance movements and fuck me, I see no reason why I shouldn't.

So what if I would like to be a bit thinner (it will probably mean being a bit heavier though, as I totally intend to achieve this through weight lifting)? I don't hate my body the way it is, but I think I still have challenges to give it and goals for it to achieve.

It's rather sad that I work in a male dominated industry and get more respect and equality 'being one of the boys' than being feminine.

Who am I? What am I worth?

I am Marshy. And if manage to find a price to put on my head, you're not trying hard enough, since I am priceless.

As you are, Kada. :-)

Amanda said...

Good god, I think you just broke my writer's block. I'm going to look at this in more detail myself, but in short:

Yes, I've been in relationships and semi-regular liasons in which the first scenario was glaringly obvious. I never really thought of it in terms of that being something "men" did though, rather just the fact that I was with 2 selfish guys. The ex actually fell asleep mid handjob and mid blowjob: twice. So needless to say, play ended there. It reflects pretty badly on those two guys that the most equally giving guy I've ever been with was when I was in highschool, and I never had either sex or oral sex with him.

That's one of the problems I have with most Fat Acceptance sites, too- the idea that wanting to change at all is bad, regardless of the reasons behind it. I'm all for women loving their bodies as they are, and wanting to be accepted and not discriminated against for being fat, but I also think it's wrong to say that a woman who wants to lose weight can't be accepted into that community. I still want to lose weight because I like to be fit, and it's easier to do excercise when I weigh less, and because it's easier to buy clothes, and healthier in the long term. I don't think that's wrong.

I'm going to stop now, lest I go on for hours. I'll check out adipositivity tonight, when I'm not at work.

Amanda said...

Urgh. I did write about it, but somehow I went from feminist rant in my head to depressing horrible I hate myself writing. You might not want to read it:

I'd give you the actual post, but I can't access my blog at work, so I'm not sure what it is.

Kada said...

{grin} I commented back, Amanda.

kathrynoh said...

I'd never expect a guy to *know* to offer sexual pleasure (just for my sake, not his). I think often women expect men to be mindreaders about our needs, sexual and emotional, and then get shitty because they aren't. I don't believe equality is about expecting guys to know our needs but about standing up and saying - this is what I want.

Then again, I don't think I've ever offered a blow job without being begged... repeatedly and even then rarely, unless I'm in the mood ;)

Kada said...

I'm not expecting mind reading. It's more of the fact that the offer is never given. No 'D'ya fancy an X Y or Z, love?"

Oh, I do stand up and say what I want...or lie there and ask for it. But, one does get tired of asking all the time.

He never gets to the point of begging. He knows I love to give them to him too much. ;)