"Ordinary" and "Conversational"

[TW for rape apologia/stereotyping and ableist language.]

Kenneth Clarke, the British Justice Secretary, has just proven that he's not qualified for his post. Earlier today, he declared on public radio that Not All Rape Is Equal. I do not have access to the full 15-minute broadcast since it's not available in the States, but quoting from the above-linked article:

Clarke: "Assuming that you and I are taking about rape in the ordinary conversational sense, some man has forceful--"

Victoria Derbyshire: "Rape is rape."

Clarke: "No, it's not.

"If an 18-year-old has sex with a 15-year-old and she is perfectly willing, that is rape, because she is underage, she can't consent, anybody who has sex with a 15-year-old, it's rape.

"But what you and I are talking about is a man forcefully having sex with a woman and she doesn't want to, that is rape, a serious crime, of course it's a serious crime."

No, Mr. Clarke, rape is rape. It doesn't matter the age of the victim - and Clarke completely fails to recognize that children cannot legally give consent. Therefore, sex with a minor is legally nonconsensual, and therefore rape.

Further, rape can happen to anyone, no matter the gender. Defining it as "a man forcefully having sex with a woman [when] she doesn't want to" marginalizes victims of other genders, as well as makes invisible aggressors of other genders.

Insert foot deeper in mouth:

"Date rape can be as serious as the worst rape, but date rape in my ... experience of being in trials, they do vary extraordinarily one from another and in the end the judge has to decide on the circumstances.

“But I’ve never met a judge who, confronted with a rapist as you and I would use the term in conversation, would give him 12 months, that would be a crazy sentence."

No, Mr. Clarke, rape is rape. (Oh, and "crazy" is ableist.) It doesn't matter whether the victim knows the aggressor. Suggesting that date rape is somehow not as serious as rape "as you and I would use the term in conversation" (please keep me out of that generalization) is wrong-headed in every conceivable way, and is blatantly sympathizing with the rapist, who, contrary to what you apparently believe, is actually a rapist.

A rapist is a rapist.

Rape is rape.



Apparently Clarke has apologized: "I apologise if an impression has been given which is not my view and which I don't think I stated. My view is that all rape is serious."

Only rape as Kenneth Clarke defines it, of course. His apology has all the sincerity of a schoolyard bully apologizing to the kid he just beat up while his mother has him by the ear.

My Life in Sometimes

I am in love.
I am in love with a group of people.

My Boyfrog is not single in personhood, but rather, multiple. They are a group. I've known my group since before they knew they were a group. I have been with them through the entirety of what is known in my DID/MPD support group circle as the 'Ape Shit Phase', the phase during which the group discovers it's a group and everyone strains against the system and tries to resolve themselves as their needs/wants as individuals*. Each system navigates and deals with this phase in a unique way. I'm writing from the only perspective that I have- from that of a singleton, on the outside looking in.

To be a partner of a group means many different, complicated, sometimes things.

Sometimes every decision, every topic, may or may not have several people with completely different viewpoints- who may or may not voice them directly to the person the body is speaking to. Sometimes the viewpoints may or may not be worded in the most blunt, calculated, or even hurtful way. Sometimes the individual may intend it this way, and sometimes zie may not. Sometimes these viewpoints are not openly expressed to the person the body is talking to. Sometimes individuals still vocally express their opinions inside; sometimes this bleeds to the outside conversation. Sometimes the person a partner is talking to snaps at hir out of the blue, or seems irritated. Sometimes this means there has been a switch; sometimes an individual is yelling about something on the inside. Sometimes a partner can ask if the yelling individual can stop or lessen the yelling for the duration of the conversation. Sometimes they comply with that request, and other times they don't- and I have a feeling sometimes they hear my request out and yell more.

In some groups, sometimes a partner can tell who zie is talking to at any given moment, and sometimes not. Sometimes a courtesy is paid and a partner is informed who zie is talking to, and sometimes a partner is left to wonder. And oftentimes someone will deliberately try to impersonate someone a partner is used to talking to- sometimes this is used as a test, sometimes as an observational moment. Sometimes a partner's ability to tell who zie is talking to is used to measure love. Sometimes a partner is set up to fail this particular test, and sometimes a partner fails on their own. And sometimes a partner passes. Sometimes a partner has no idea they've even been tested, but a partner always finds out that they've passed or failed, one way or another. Sometimes someone in the group will take the test too far. Sometimes someone in the group will satisfy hirself by simply hurting a partner and making them cry. If this happens, sometimes a partner breaks.

Sometimes a partner brings hir own baggage to a relationship, and sometimes that gets shelved in order to deal with other baggage. Sometimes a partner's baggage gets shelved for long enough that when the other baggage is navigated, a partner's baggage explodes. Sometimes a group gets self-absorbed in their baggage. Sometimes a partner always prioritizes hir group's baggage; oftentimes this is a mistake. Sometimes a partner will burn out or run out of spoons. Sometimes navigating burn out is a balancing act between a partner and hir group.

Sometimes a partner needs something specific from hir group; sometimes the group will accommodate that, and sometimes not. Sometimes a partner is simply left to deal with their demons alone. If this sometimes happens enough, it becomes oftentimes. Sometimes the abandonment by a group wounds deeply; sometimes it is a welcome respite. Sometimes both partner and hir group must retreat and regroup.

Sometimes both a partner and individuals of a group have triggers. Sometimes a partner's trigger response triggers individuals of a group; sometimes vice verse. Sometimes triggers must be traversed carefully. Sometimes either a partner or a group is triggered and the other can't tell.

Sometimes a partner will try to 'fix' their group's problems. Oftentimes this is a terrible idea. Oftentimes simply listening does much more good than either a partner or hir group knows. Sometimes a group is reasonable; sometimes it is not. Sometimes a partner is unreasonable; sometimes not. Sometimes neither a partner nor hir group realizes that they or the other is being unreasonable. Sometimes unreasonable must be defined as you go.

Sometimes an individual in a group will set a boundary that only applies to hirself. Sometimes that individual will talk to a partner without letting the partner know who is out. Sometimes a partner will cross that boundary without knowing that boundary is in place. Oftentimes a partner will be punished for violating that boundary. Sometimes this situation is stacked against a partner.

Sometimes a partner is romantic with several individuals within the group. Sometimes a partner is romantic with only one individual within the group. Sometimes this changes. Sometimes the individuals in the group have different romantic needs; oftentimes a partner must be fluid to these needs. Oftentimes a partner will have a different relationship with each individual zie interacts with. Sometimes individuals within a group may hate a partner. Sometimes this is resolvable within the group; sometimes it is not. Sometimes trying to look through that individual's perspective is helpful; sometimes it's not.

Sometimes a partner laughs with hir group; sometimes a partner cries with hir group. Sometimes a partner comforts hir group; sometimes a group comforts hir partner. Sometimes a partner spends the morning playing got-your-nose with the cat. Sometimes a partner spends the night frustrated over triggers. Sometimes a partner must repeat hirself so that everyone in the group hears hir. Sometimes individuals in the group repeat themselves to make themselves heard. Sometimes partners fuck up. Sometimes individuals in the group fuck up. Sometimes trust is broken; sometimes trust can be rebuilt. Oftentimes a partner must word everything carefully as to not break that trust; sometimes there is no wording careful enough.

Sometimes a partner hangs on to the roller coaster as best zie can. Sometimes a partner gets run over by the cart. Sometimes there is peace and harmony. Sometimes there's chaos and disorder. Sometimes there's both at the same time.

Always we take it one day at a time.

*I realize that I write this as a singleton, thus I can only report on my observations in conjunction with those who I know and talk to who are multiple or partners of multiples.

Fat and Pregnant? END OF THE WORLD.

So, apparently the UK'S National Health Service has decided to try drug treatment to prevent obese babies (what?). And they're doing it by giving pregnant fatties between 500 and 2500mg of metformin per day from 12 weeks gestation to delivery. Because VFHT. Because OMGDEATHFATZ is a worse fate than the drug's increased risk for hypo/hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, lactic acidosis and unspecified cardiovascular risk, not to mention a host of other unpleasant side effects. Like smelling like a fish. Oh, and the completely unknown risks to the developing fetus: "There are no controlled data in human pregnancy. [...] Metformin is only recommended for use during pregnancy when benefit outweighs risk." No breastfeeding when the baby is born, either.

Somehow, I'm seeing a problem with the idea of giving pregnant women of any body type this kind of drug, unless she actually has diabetes.

What does metformin actually do, though? Well, it reduces the liver's sugar production and decreases the amount of sugar absorbed into the body. It also increases the sensitivity of the body's insulin receptors, which means what little sugar is left in the bloodstream is more quickly absorbed. Assuming this doesn't lead to hypoglycemia, the body will adapt to this by reducing insulin production.

This is all on the unfounded hypothesis that obese mothers transfer greater amounts of sugar to their fetus, which results in fatter babies. Reduce the sugar in Mom's bloodstream, reduce sugar to the baby, reduce baby size. We have officially moved into the realm of unsightly fat on infants, completely uncognizant of the health benefits of baby chubbiness. Is it just me, or does this actually sound like Baby's First Diet? The Pre-Natal Weight Loss System! Because reducing sugar intake totally makes adults lose weight long-term, right? It should totally work for a fetus, too!

The BBC article on the subject is, of course, full of anti-fat themes, not the least of which is the conflation of fat and health, but the most egregious part of the article is the inclusion of "expert advice" from Dr. Ian Campbell of the British charity (lolsob) Weight Concern. In his words, "In an ideal world you would want women to take stock of their weight before pregnancy, but in reality that's not going to happen."

He is literally saying that fat women should not procreate, and by extension, those that do are irresponsible. Nevermind that there is no solid scientific evidence that supports the idea that fat is unhealthy. Nevermind that the weight cycling that he is encouraging is far more damaging to health than simply having a stable BMI of 30 could ever be. Nevermind that the fat stigma that he is perpetuating encourages the weight cycling mentioned above, as well as depression, eating disorders, obsession with food and weight, low self-esteem and body dysmorphia - not to mention that it demotivates the pursuit of health.

How about we, y'know, start focusing on health, not weight?

Because that would be great.

Knowledge is Power.....Right?

[TW for Self Injury (SI) and fat hatred]

I've a couple of blogs that I frequent and read every time they're updated, and one of these is Danceswithfat, a Size Acceptance blog run and maintained by Ragen Chastain (as she describes herself: Dancer, Choreographer, Writer, Speaker, Fat Person). For me personally, Ragen's been an inspiration. I like being active, and I like moving, but for so very long I've let myself believe that I'm not 'allowed' to be out and about (cause, you know, fat in public and all), and certainly not allowed to do things I enjoy, such as dancing. But watching and reading Danceswithfat helped me to love my body and realize just how much it can do, and how much it wants to do. Fat, not fat, I love myself and I deserve to do things I enjoy. So thank you, Ragen. Thank you for continuing on under an onslaught such garbage such as this.

The post describing the hate (or rather some of the comments following it), is what prompted this blog entry. I won't quote them here (since you can read the comments in that link), but these are the arguments that are generally made on FA/SA blogs by people who 'aren't quite on board with FA/SA'

-Michele Obama's Let's Move campaign is helping parents gain knowledge about nutrition!

I feel like with this statement, there's usually a lot of unexamined privilege floating around. First and foremost, let me get this out of the way before someone tries to say "OMGURAGAINSTNUTRITION". I'm absolutely, completely, and without a doubt for nutrition and health- but I'm also able to see and understand the underlying complexity that inhabits nutrition and health. The biggest problem I see with big 'campaigns' such as Let's Move is the misguided theory that 'Educating Children and Parents' will somehow solve all the Nutrition Problems (and by extension, all Obesity Problems- cause obesity can only come from Poor Eating, like Everyone Knows )

*takes a second for ya'll to reset your sarcasm detectors*

I'm all for education. It's what lets me read an article/study/etc and determine what it's really saying, see what the study it aiming for, and see who funded it. Education's great- but education is not by any stretch of the imagination- the biggest or best way to promote nutrition. Besides the fact that it's quite insulting to assume that all parents have no idea what constitutes nutrition (yes, there are some who don't have the knowledge of what nutrition is, but my point is that anytime you lump people into groups with terms such as all or none it's bad news), it completely ignores the underlying socioeconomic problems that many people face in regards to nutrition for themselves as well as their children.

There are places all over the US* which are known as food deserts- places where healthy and affordable food is difficult to obtain. Here's a map, for those who wish to see what areas food deserts effect. For these places, no amount of pure knowledge will help their nutrition. Let me say that again. With emphasis. For these places, no amount of pure knowledge will help their nutrition. No matter how much the Very Helpful People, try to 'educate' (again to emphasize the actual amount of people who 'need' to be educated is supersmall- as if there are no media/world messages about food and nutrition at all) the residents residing in these areas, they will still lack the money and ability to acquire the healthy food from which they're 'supposed' to get the nutrition from.

Also, I find it sad and a bit disturbing (but not shocking) that Those Who Would Educate, don't realize just how much time factors into the decisions of food-buying. Especially in this economy, people are (generally) spending their time looking for work, or working as much and as many jobs as possible simply to put food -any food- on the table. And honestly, after all that working and shopping and stress of everyday life they (they being mostly single parents, which is mostly made up of single mothers) simply don't have the time or the energy to prepare the healthy food.

"But they should work harder cause it's worth it and whowillthinkofthechildren and they're bad parents if they don't do this one thing," you say? Or my personal favorite (and something that was told to me over and over again by someone I admired once) "You don't find time, you make it." That right there is privilege talking. "But, I did it, so why can't they?" you ask? Then I direct you to read about bootstraps here. It's just more privilege talking.

-But I have Binge Eating Disorder and thus I gained weight, thus everyone must have Binge Eating Disorder, also known as "Fatties just need to stop eating their emotions or find something to replace the eating with"

I really really hate this 'argument' for a variety of reasons. First thing that comes to mind is, again, the 'this is my life experience and thus it must be your life experience too' which happens a lot (at least in reference to obesity) from people who are in the lower weight portion of the weight-cycling from diets, people who are in the 5% of those who can lose and keep off weight for a period of 5 years or more, or people who are attempting to recover from/have recovered from DE or an ED. No one's life experience is the same, and no person speaks for all people, and again, lumping a group of people into one category and labeling it is dangerous thinking.

This sentiment also attempts to ignore the idea of nutrition as a variable and completely individual phenomenon. What is healthy (and what the definition of health is) for one person in one moment, is different for another person, or the same person in a different moment. And here's where I break out my life experience as an example of a different perspective:

I am a severely disordered eater. This resulted from growing up in a severely anti-fat and anti-women culture and household, and from suffering all manner of abuses from 'friends' and partners, including emotional, verbal, mental, and physical abuse. I have PTSD, an anxiety disorder, and have flashbacks and panic attacks. I have cut, smashed my head into objects, taken pills, bitten, and ate in a disordered manner. Compared to all the other coping mechanisms I have used, I used my disordered eating in order to be healthy, disordered eating was and is my way of keeping myself from unhealthy practices. (And, you know, I'd call keeping myself alive a healthy choice, just sayin') And no, changing coping mechanisms doesn't work for everyone (and for those it does work for, it's not generally an 'overnight change), and no, it didn't work for me. And while yes, I've personally been able to talk and vent and do what I can to get out of the triggering situations (having a healthy relationships works wonders for that), I resent being told that my personal choice for keeping myself healthy is bad because of some arbitrary definition of 'health'. I am alive and as healthy as I can be right now, and that's what matters to me- and each individual is perfectly capable of making their own decision about their own health (using their individual definition of health), and no one else has the right to judge anyone else on those decisions.

*I know there are places all over the globe that are food deserts, here I'm just speaking of the US ones because the Let's Move campaign effects the US, and I happen to live in the US.

Why I So Passionately Advocate Fat Acceptance

[TW for fat hatred, ED idealization, depression.]

Until this January(ish), I completely bought into the anti-obesity craze. As a fat woman, I wholeheartedly believed that I was unhealthy, that I was going to die early, that if I wasn't doing something to lose weight I was a bad person, that it was cruel of me to inflict my body on the collective visual cortices of the general public.

I ate only in the safe privacy of my bedroom. I would stand in front of a mirror and curse what I saw reflected there. I was hypervigilant about my body when I was alone, more so when with friends, and intensely so to the point of anxiety and panic attacks when out in public, and I started having some agoraphobic tendencies. (Well, I still have those - I think I can count the number of times in my life I've had cabin fever on one hand. I'm quite content to stay in my tiny room for days on end with nothing but books or the internet for company.) In public, the muscles in my shoulders and back would ache from the tension of my self-protective semi-fetal posture. From the on-and-off journal I've kept, this 2008 excerpt well covers how I felt:

I have no idea how it is for others, but I'm constantly aware of my size. It is an extremely rare moment that I'm not thinking about this or that lump, what extra skin is showing because of the extra weight, the strange anatomy in comparison with a healthy woman...I guess it's all about comparison. People say never to compare, because it's all about the individual, blah blah blah. People who say that are delightfully naïve, or desperately idealistic. I'm unhealthy - in comparison to those who are healthy. I'm only overweight in comparison to those that are not. [...] Every shopping trip, every social activity, every time I put clothes on - they're all reminders. When I'm so constantly surrounded by people and signs and pressures that show me how far off track I am - what I should be, but am (for some reason) incapable of being - it's nigh impossible to think positively of myself.

Back in high school, when I was dealing with constant emotional abuse and when my self-loathing was at its peak (about 6 years before the quote above), I remember sitting in the library poring over books discussing and depicting eating disorders. I remember wishing with everything I had that I had anorexia. Even looking at the shock pictures, reading about the devastating physical and emotional impacts of the disease, I desperately wanted it, because it would mean I would no longer be fat, that the abuse would stop, that I'd be accepted, that I'd be pretty and have friends and and and...

I look back at the high school me, and I'm torn between wanting to knock some sense into her and just taking her into my arms and crying.

*steps away from writing for a moment to regain composure*

I'd heard of the fat acceptance movement at some point, but I'd perfunctorily dismissed it as delusion. It wasn't until I began talking to Alia and Ange (the other contributors to this blog) on a regular basis, and reading the many links that they shared and discussed that my horrendous thought processes began to change. I remember the first fat acceptance article I ever read - it flew in the face of everything I'd ever believed, yet, there was all this evidence, including a link to a formal research study - something that really made me sit back and think. This wasn't just some delusion, there is scientific evidence involved.

That was the first time in my life I'd been told that I'm an okay person not despite my fat, but inclusive of it.

My journey since then has been stumbling and rough, and I've had some nasty setbacks, but I've been able to own myself in a way I never have before. I've since realized that my fat is a part of me instead of just a burden. I discovered HAES, which is quite literally the first philosophy I've ever encountered that genuinely encourages self-esteem. It is the first time in my life that I've actually wanted to exercise, because this is the first time I've been told that it's my choice to do it.

I have found myself within this philosophy. I have alienated people with my vehement denunciation of our cultural fat-hating narratives. I will continue to fight that hatred, probably for the rest of my life.

By no means am I complete in this journey. Breaking free from so many years of self-hate and body-related anxiety will not come quickly.

But I am fighting, and I am progressing.


[TW for xenophobia.]

Sometimes, I make the cardinal internet mistake of reading comments.

This mistake is compounded when I read comments on Yahoo news articles, which somehow turn political and full of any number of -isms no matter the article's topic. If you ever want to learn real-life applications of those fallacies you learned about in high school English, Yahoo News comment threads are an excellent place to start.

For example, there is today's article on an Austrian national swim team member who managed to get himself buried to the neck and nearly crushed by sand on a Miami beach. The story itself wasn't too exciting - he was digging a big hole, hopped into it for a laugh and it collapsed around him. 60 people took two hours to get him out again, and he's okay. A simple human interest story, I suppose. Comments on this story couldn't be that bad, right?

Oh, wait, it's Yahoo we're talking about. The very first comment: "This @#$% foreigner wasted our tax dollars in rescue personnel all because he's a @#$%. Let's charge him for it, we can't be wasting our dollars on 60 people to dig 1 person out." The same commenter further argues: "he's never paid anything into the American system! We can't have dumbasses coming here and wasting our tax dollars! They can stay in their own countrys[sic] where they have free health care."

Clearly, because this man is Austrian, he's not worth saving so long as he's on our pure, 100% American (lol) soil unless he can first show proof of insurance, or at the very least sign paperwork that ensures he will foot the rescue bill. Nevermind that USians don't pay for their own rescue if something goes wrong (rescue != health care). Nevermind that, as a tourist, the Austrian man was paying plenty of money - including taxes and the cost of a visa - just to be here and eat and have shelter.

Y'know, I wouldn't typically waste a blog entry on some piddly comment thread, except that this stuff doesn't happen in a void. It affects treatment of "foreign" (i.e., those who are not white and English-speaking) people; they are treated as other, and therefore less. As bad as this racism and xenophobia is when done baldly, it's worse when it's gussied up and done in the name of patriotism.

Science Daily Fail

[TW for sizeism and Bad Science]

So, being the FA person that I am (and resident Fatty at most places I go =O ), I'm always looking to properly educate myself and find out more about the science behind some of these 'obesity studies'. Being an environmental scientist, and a biologist, the mechanics behind studies fascinate me; I love to pull apart studies and see what's *really* going on behind the scenes (because, honestly, there's *always* something going on behind the scenes. This is, unfortunately, how science is functioning today). It's pretty important to be able to do this, for me, as a fatty, because it gives me the material I need to refute ridiculous claims of sizist douchewaffles. This is the basic premise of why I was perusing Science Daily today.

I pulled up the Obesity News page (which would give me the 'latest' research on obesity- or so they advertised), and perused the articles they had featured there, and I collectively lolsobbed and facepalmed at these:

How Discrimination Hurts: Lack of Fair Treatment Leads to Obesity Issues

Turning 'Bad' Fat Into 'Good': A Future Treatment for Obesity?

And here's the real kicker listed right after it:

Changes in 'Good' Fatty Acid Concentration of Inner Organs Might Be Largely Independent of Diet

After I was done snickering at the titles, I (unfortunately) did the next sciencey thing to come to mind- I actually read them. This may have been a mistake on my part, as it's mostly crap, but I did learn something new in the process of reading them.

Snickers In My Purse

I bought a Snickers bar this morning, and put it in my purse. Throughout the day, I've glanced into my purse for any number of reasons, and each time, my reaction was, "Ooooh, I have a Snickers bar! Yay!" and then I'd look away and immediately forget about its existence. I'd then have the identical reaction again an hour later, next time I dug around in my purse.

It's been a day of pleasant, chocolatey surprises, and right now, it's culminating in an actual Snickers bar.

I am pleased.

Health is More Than Physical

I was on the phone just a moment ago while at work, talking with a prospective tenant when the maintenance man overheard me describe the apartment management's age restriction policy: Minimum of age 62 or 55 with a disability. When I hung up, he chirped, "Unless it's a mental disability!" And laughed.

I stared at him for a moment, then informed him that our policy is, in fact, inclusive of the mentally disabled, to which he laughed again, said "I know," and wandered off.

Really? Some people genuinely find that funny? Oh, wait, they do.

For a person to be 100% healthy, zie must be both physically and mentally hale. If someone is perfectly physically fit but has debilitating mental illness, then zie is not healthy. It is terribly bigoted to even joke about invisible disability - mental or otherwise - as invalid, because it is marginializing to the people who have to live with it every day, not to mention the very existence of such jokes bolsters the negative stigma of having a mental illness:

Transcript after the jump.

Klondike, You Disappoint Me

Here we have the new "What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?" commercial. Translation as follows:

Announcer: New Klondike Mint Chocolate Chip Bars present "5 Seconds to Glory!" Mark vs. Actually Listening to His Wife! [Sounds of Mark's Wife talking, but not being able to hear the words over the announcer]

Mark's Wife:...beautiful, beautiful yellow squash, and I thought we could potentially paint the foyer yellow. What do you think? I know it's yellow, I know...

*timer sounds with a ding and confetti flies, with much cheering from Mark and two unknown females holding Klondike bars*

"What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar" theme song

*cut back to more cheering and celebrating by Mark (and the unknown, icecream-wielding females) while Mark's Wife sits, looking confused and being covered by wayward confetti.

Mark: "Oh yeah! Mmm! I did it! I did it!"

Ok, so let's break this down a little:

Apparently, it's now a sport to listen to your [your being het-cismale, as the commercial shows] wife for a whole 5 seconds! One which Mark gladly takes on (note that Mark's Wife doesn't have the distinction of even having a name), and "wins", thus he was 'rewarded' with a yummy ice cream treat. (And women whose only apparent job in this commercial is to jump around excitedly under confetti and bring him the icecream.)

There are so many things wrong with that 30 seconds, it practically makes my head explode. First of all, the 'listening to your wife is sooooo hard' trope annoys me muchly. Here I was, sitting here, thinking that you're actually supposed to listen to what your partner is saying, not because you'll get a "reward" (which I'll get to in a minute), but because you genuinely love hir, and you care about what zie has to say.

Which brings me to the second part, rewarding the (cis-het) male with icecream. Last time I checked, men were not infants, incapable of paying attention for more than 5 seconds [which, as the video "enlightens" us, takes a lot of concentration]; much less are they infants unable to concentrate for more than 5 seconds without getting a "reward" for being a "good boy". Men are, in fact, whole, separate, complete people, just as women are- men are no more the same as children as women are obstacles to be put up with.

Commercials like this are an insult to both men and women alike. They're a product of the patriarchy, used to shortchange and tear down both women and men. This can be counteracted, however, by expecting more. I expect more. Shame on you, Klondike. Your icecream is not worth marginalizing and stereotyping people over.

Stay Classy, Mike

[TW for sexism including objectification, ableist language, discussion of rape and abuse.]

So, I have this friend. For the sake of her anonymity here, I'll call her Greta. Greta has been in and out of a relationship with a guy named Mike for a number of months now, and I've been in the background watching and fretting. Things were never smooth between them, and the last time Greta broke up with Mike was unusually rough. In her words, she had to be "mean" to him two days ago to get across the point that she doesn't really want to talk to him right now. Mike, classy guy that he is, took the opportunity to rip Greta up and down in a blog entry that he advertised on his Facebook. (Normally I'd take pains to anonymize him too, but since he so clearly wants this to be public, it would be rude of me not to oblige.)

Entirely aside from the wild twisting of reality and ad hominem attacks, some of the things he says about women, sexuality and autonomy sent me into a flailing rage.

The blog itself inspired facepalm in name alone: Mike's Super Amazing Blog! Because, y'know, the more adjectives and exclaimation points involved, the better the blog's content. The offending entry, entitled What I Want, is a laundry list of things Mike is looking for - and things Mike is definitely not looking for - in a relationship. He begins with some classic ableist language ("lame") and waxes poetic about love and its variation and peculiarities. He asserts that he has very few demands, and that all he wants is this and this and this and this and this and that too, and a "good handful of boob" would be nice.

Mike then gets to the meat of his post: ten things he does NOT want in a partner. What strikes me most about this entire section is the oversexualization of everything. In his second point, "No Text Message Relationship!", which frankly should have everything to do with communication and nothing with sex, he twice alludes to sex. Apparently texting is okay when a woman wants to shag, but otherwise, he "can think of much more comfortable places to put [his] hands" than a cell phone.

The rest of the points have me torn between rolling my eyes heavenward and shaking in fury. Let's break it down:

People Can Surprise You

As a somewhat-recently regular reader of Shakesville, I've begun to find words and names for all those seemingly 'random' feelings of uneasiness (which, as it turns out, weren't at all random). Once my eyes were opened to how the world really is, (via, the red pill), I was bombarded with all of the little, subtle, misogynistic references that were always there, but I had never really noticed before. And, since I'm not much of a going out person at this point in my life, most of these things were coming from my own family. These are the people who are supposed to love me and not want to hurt or oppress me, yet there they were, saying things that told me, over and over again, that I was less, and other, and not worthy. But, being the girl who always 'questions things', I figured that they had no idea what they were really saying; so I decided to speak up and try to talk about it with them. That went over about as well as a lead balloon. It caused so many fights that when I even try to bring things up now, I get told I'm just 'antagonizing', or I've 'become so sensitive', etc.- eventually I kinda gave up trying to bring things up with them, and now limit myself to posting relevant links on facebook, where they can choose to read them or not (most of the time it's a not).

Anyway, that's not actually the focus of this post, as you can see by the title, but it is some relevant background information. This post is about an interaction that happened between me and my Boyfrog (as he's affectionately known to the GirlBrainTrust <3 ). Boyfrog and I have known/dated each other for a couple of years, and though there have been some rocky parts, we've been successfully been able to navigate those parts and figure out what we wanted and where we wanted to go- and naturally, as I was able to become more and more aware, and more and more a part of the feminist movement, I wanted to share this with him, as it was an important part of my life.

Hell, it is my life.

So, as I read through Shakesville, I looked for a post that could sum up some of the stuff I saw happening, without making him feel like a bad person, or one who continuously hurt me, neither of which he does. Eventually, I found this entry, entitled The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck, and I found that it spoke to my general concerns while making sure it addressed the fact that the only reason I would show Boyfrog the page was because I love him and because I trust him more than anyone else. And, most importantly, because I know he does not want to hurt me. With those thoughts in mind, I typed up a mini description, pasted the link into a facebook message, and sent it off to be read.

*insert Jeopardy waiting song here*

We finally talked about it last night when I asked him if he had read it (to which he said of course) and what he thought about it. He thought for a long moment, then responded "I saw way too much of myself in her ['Liss'] writing. I have a lot of work that I need to do." I had no idea how much just a simple recognition and validation of my feelings and concerns would mean to me until I realized I was crying happy tears with a huge grin on my face. From there, we talked about my general feelings on some of the stuff I grew up with, and I got to talk about how it felt, as a woman, to have my voice hushed and my concerns dismissed (also of the fear of the meta of having my concern about having my concerns dismissed dismissed). It was amazing, and all the while he just listened, and eventually I got what was on my mind out, and we both said I love you and that we'd try harder. [At some point, I asked him if the piece could be accurately framed for some of his experiences, as he is 100% Puerto Rican living in a very white area of the country, and he said yes, so I apologized for probably having contributed to that, and encouraged him to call me out on things I say.]

All in all, it was an experience that brought us closer together, and opened all of our eyes, and one I'm very grateful for. LinkLink

DAS: Sizeism

[TW for Fat Hatred.]

Sometimes, a hateful submission to DAS* will make me smile more than I ever could have expected.

When I first saw Secret 10445, my jaw hit the floor and my hackles snapped high. The text is red caps on a green background, and reads:
"I would never date a fat guy, because I don't respect fat people. They lack discipline."
How could it be, I inwardly raged, that someone could ever say something like that? Well, unfortunately, I was able to answer that almost immediately: All this ST had to do was listen to popular culture. It's a widely accepted myth that fat people are fat because they eat like crap and lie around all day long instead of doing the morally correct thing by trying to lose the extra weight that they inflict upon civilized society. Fat people are a monolith, don'cha know? We have no variation in physiology. We are not human - we are fat, and our fat defines us.

By the time I read the secret, it had been up long enough to garner a good number of comments. I began reading them expecting to find the same fat-phobic tripe as expressed in the secret itself, only to be pleasantly surprised. With very few exceptions, every comment refuted the ideas expressed in the secret. Over and over again, people were taking the ST to task for hir bigotry. It was enough that I my initial anger melted away, and instead I found the ability to laugh dismissively at the small-mindedness of the ST's assertion. I was smiling.

And that, folks, is progress, both in a personal sense (six months ago, I would have internalized the message in that secret) and in a cultural sense. I take comfort in that people will at least fight against the more blatant examples of sizeism.

(As an aside, I'm aware that more comments have since been added to that secret, including a not-insignificant number of fat-hating sentiments, but I'm choosing to dwell on the positivity of the initial reaction instead of the hatred that followed.)

An explanation of the DAS series of posts

Have you ever heard of PostSecret? In essence, it's a method of publicly and anonymously telling a secret. DeviantArtSecret (DAS) is the same concept. Once up, secrets are open for comments by members of the deviantART community.

Secrets there run the gamut of topics, from forbidden love to childhood abuse to using one's own urine as a facial cleanser. Some secrets are funny, some beautiful, some depressing, and some are, well, extremely bigoted. DAS rules regarding secrets are minimal, and do not cover hateful topics.

The dynamic that makes DAS different from PostSecret is the ability of users to comment on a secret. On hateful secrets, there are frequently many people that will disagree with the Secret Teller (ST) in the strongest terms, or argue amongst each other over the merits and content of a secret. While DAS administrators do their best to block negative commenters, there is only so much they can do, especially when the hurtfulness of a comment is debatable.

I have been an active member of the DAS community for years now, and even have a few of my own secrets posted (ssshh!). Certain secrets have really gotten under my skin in terms of hurtful ignorance, while other secrets are heartbreaking and the comments on them infuriating. As I progress in terms of feminism and size acceptance, the angrier I become at these events, and I have found that venting in the form of a blog post is quite helpful.

However, I see little reason to go through this background explanation in each new post, so this is a simple all-purpose post I can link to instead.