A Barrage of Coincidences

[TW for fat hatred and child abuse resulting in death.]

So many coincidental happenings today!

There's the abhorrent childhood obesity exhibit at Disney's Epcot. Because kids are clearly stupid and don't already get the cultural narrative that Fat Is Bad, and require reminding while on a family vacation at Disney World. The dramatic rise in childhood/teen eating disorders is just coincidence.

There's the terrifying news that an FDA panel - swayed in part by none other than Dr. Arya Sharma(!), who has frequently advocated for HAES-like philosophy in the past, has unanimously voted to recommend the weight-loss drug Qnexa for approval. This, despite being rejected in 2010 due to evidence that the component phentermine causes "side effects like elevated heart rate that may lead to severe cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and arrhythmias; birth defects; psychiatric problems; kidney stones; decreased bone mineral density and memory impairment." In what's clearly coincidence, cardiovascular problems is what killed some of the people who took Fen-Phen in the '90s! The 'phen' part of Fen-Phen totally doesn't stand for phentermine, or anything. Ahem.

Then there's the news that few people will really connect to the obesity hysteria: the heartbreaking death of a 9-year-old girl, because she had been forced to run for three hours after lying to her grandmother about having eaten candy bars. Not one thing in that article is said about obesity or weight. But really, now. Why would they use intense exercise as punishment for lying about eating candy? It must be coincidence.

Then there's the regular parade of celebrity scrutiny and diet tips and airbrushed models that have become utterly ubiquitous both online and in the meat world. This is obviously just a coincidence, since they're just always there.

Placed side by side to these articles, I found this: 'Am I Ugly' Videos Spark Disturbing YouTube Trend (video starts automatically, but has an accompanying article). Apparently, young women have been taking video of themselves asking if they are ugly, and posting them to YouTube. Predictably, some people are kind, others accuse them of begging for attention, and the trolls have come out in force.

Why would there be a connection between the first four points in this post and this YouTube trend, nevermind the chronic insecurities that the majority of the people in this country struggle with every day?

I dunno. It must just be coincidence.

I used to be pro-life.

[TW for anti-choice narrative and discussion of sexual violence.]

I used to be pro-life. I grew up that way, feeling horror at the mere concept of abortion and only grudgingly allowing that exceptions should be made for people who have been assaulted (I considered the health exception to be the mother selfishly putting her life over that of her child's).

Then, I began to actually process the assault that I endured so many years ago, and part of that processing was reading ALL THE THINGS on the topic of rape. I learned statistics, such as the fact that 60% of assaults go unreported; that when an assault is reported, chances are high that the victim won't be taken seriously/mocked/blamed for the assault; that if the victim is taken seriously by law enforcement, the court process is grueling and frequently is dismissed, or the victim can't testify for any number of reasons, or the jury won't take the victim testimony seriously/mocks/blames the victim for the assault. It is estimated that about 1 in 16 rapes result in the incarceration of the rapist.

One in sixteen. Abhorrent.

Then, there are time constraints. The ludicrous handling of assault cases within the justice system, in tandem with the (continually more prohibitive) legal restrictions on abortion (e.g., cutoff at 20 weeks), means there is rarely - if ever - a conviction to show in time to abort the pregnancy.

On top of that, many victims don't realize that what has just happened to them was rape. Sometimes, years pass before a victim realizes what, exactly, happened. Sometimes, the victim never realizes it at all.

We Cannot Forget

[TW for discussion of sexual violence.]

Every time I listen to Andrea Gibson's "Blue Blanket" (transcript here), I hear something new. Her words are so dense and so powerful that it's impossible to catch everything on even the first ten listens; and yet, some lines are unforgettable from the moment they're first heard. I don't often listen to the poem though, because it touches on such a deep, painful topic - rape.

Tonight, the lines that struck me were "... if even a few of us forgot / what too many women in this world cannot", and the lines that have stuck with me in the years since I first heard them are "she's heard stories of Vietnam vets who can still feel the tingling of their amputated limbs / she's wondering how many women are walking around this world feeling the tingling of their amputated wings".

Those first two lines are the reason rape culture exists. Too many people have forgotten what too many women cannot. A single drop of empathy, of humanity, into the cocktail of distractions that we daily consume, would begin to dismantle the constructs that work to prevent earth-bound women from flying again.

Survivors of sexual violence have their entire worldview, their day-to-day functioning, changed; twisted into a grim shadow of the beauty that once was. We learn to live with it, but, like the amputee that can still feel the ghost of lost limbs, we still feel the tingling of lost innocence.

And we look up at the people who can still fly, who mock because we have been thrust to the earth by the throat of our trust, and despair that they have forgotten.

I can never forget.

But I am determined, someday, to fly again.