when the status quo frustrates.

Presumptions of Fat

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I was talking with my friend Victory today online about various social things, and as is apparently legally required during interactions between females, the subject of exercising came up. Victory told me that she was going to go to the local Wellness Center, which she hates, because she’s getting “a little bit pudgy”.

My friend Victory is well within the normal social conventions of attractive- blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lovely symmetry and most importantly, skinny. I am more in-line with the social conventions for “ugly”. I dye my unruly mop of ash-blonde hair red, I have freckles (STILL) despite my best efforts of avoiding the sun like a vampire, and, most importantly, I am fat.* And when I hear my extremely skinny friends say she’s worried about getting fat (when the odds are that she could gorge like a glutton and still be as skinny as she is) it feels odd to be sure. It sounds like “I am terrified of becoming like you”.

I know, intellectually, that she’s not meaning it as a slur against me and my body. She doesn’t think of me as “fat” she thinks of me as “heavy-set”. When she thinks of the word “fat” she thinks: lazy, slovenly, stupid, slow, unattractive, unhealthy. The fact that “fat” does not in any way mean these things is not the point. She does not want the social pressure that goes along with being a persecuted group in society and she has an absolute right to be comfortable in her own body. I wish that her ability to be comfortable in her body came without the social pressures.

I’m picking on my friend Victory here because we had the conversation the most recent, but she isn’t by any stretch the only friend who says stuff like this. From my friend who works out because “It’s not fair for me to say “No fat chicks” if I’m not in top condition too”** to my other friend who used to be fat who is now skinny through a self-induced regiment that makes boot camp look like a day walk or my other friend who went and got a belly-band surgery. It is a weird cognitive dissonance for me- I know they think I’m either normal looking or downright attractive, but yet, one of my major physical features they find completely disgusting. Though rare in my social circle, when we have discussions of who is sexy in Hollywood, women who are much skinnier than I are castigated for being “sloppy” and “fat”.

Some days I wonder if I should bring it up, because discussions about one’s bodies are very personal. I meant what I said- people have a right to feel comfortable in their own skin and if that means that you absolutely cannot live with being a fat person to do what you can to get yourself down to whatever you possible can get yourself down to- either through learning to accept yourself or remake yourself*** But, I feel like all of this talk about how disgusting fat is kind of violates my right to feel comfortable in my own skin. I am not immune to culture- there are days that I absolutely hate what I look like and feel like I’m trapped in a tube of unbaked bread. But, I find when I haven’t been around a lot of visual media; days that I spend in-doors or out in the middle of nowhere with just books and radio and my husband for company, I find I actually enjoy my body quite a lot. It’s soft, it’s supple, it’s warm and perfect for snuggling. It’s sexy as hell with curves all over the place. It’s strong and it’s substantial. Some days I feel downright like a fertility goddess.****

Any other subject, I have no problem telling people off for. You think gay people are icky? That’s your problem, and something you should probably work on. You think rape jokes are funny? I have about 30 stock responses, all buzz-killing. You complain to me that women just don’t make sense, and why can’t they be more like you? I will not play the role of your token female- they make as much sense as a group as any other group of humans.

But I don’t know how to address discussions of fat that both go “You know, fat really isn’t that disgusting, and I wish you would quit acting like a major component of my body was something terrible (even though I know you’ve already done the requisite mental gymnastics to not include me in the group “fat”)” without also saying “You don’t have the right to feel towards your body however you want and do whatever you feel is necessary to be comfortable in your own skin”.

Final Note: I will delete any concern trolling that goes “But being fat is UNHEALTHY”. Bull-fucking-shit. You don’t like fat because of aesthetics, not because you give a shit if they’re healthy or not. You know what’s unhealthy? Not getting enough sleep. But, we still expect people to not get enough because of our work culture and no one wants to address that at all. But, enough makeup and you never notice the dark circles. If “health” was the issue at stake, me going “But my doctor says I’m perfectly healthy” would shut down any discussion of me needing to exercise or alter my diet. Others have already talked about this, I’ll leave it with them.

*My friends and family all hide that word in terms like “pudgy” “squishy” and “heavy-set” but I’m trying to de-stigmatize that word. “Fat” is a description, not an insult. The social norms say I’m not attractive. My social life says differently.
**Which is, I suppose, a baby step up from other acquaintances who look like slobs and still expect super models.
*** I’d go with the learning to accept yourself, though that’s harder. Remaking yourself hits a brick wall pretty quickly unless you have a LOT of time and money to burn.
****Minus the fertility. So, I guess “sex goddess”.

Apparently they give PhDs to just about anybody with the cash to buy the college courses

Friday, February 19th, 2010

So I saw this article today while surfing the ‘net:

Dreaded diseases dwindle with gene testing
Wider screening curbs inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs

Some of mankind’s most devastating inherited diseases appear to be declining, and a few have nearly disappeared, because more people are using genetic testing to decide whether to have children.

Births of babies with cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs and other less familiar disorders have dropped since testing came into wider use, The Associated Press found from a review of studies and interviews with numerous geneticists and other experts.

Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Because, you know, the screening itself doesn’t have any directly curative or preventative effect at all on inherited genetic disorders…what it does is allow people carrying genetic disorders to either decide not to reproduce or, more commonly, decide to abort any pregnancy with an embryo or fetus that carries the defective genes. Now, I personally have no problem with this; I am pro-choice through and through. However, I figured that there’d be a sizable contingent of folks out there who would have a b-i-g problem with the idea that giving out access to information that might influence someone to abort could ever, under any circumstances, be regarded as a good thing.

Yep, all I had to do was nip over to the “Comments” section after the article, and what was the very first comment..?

Very ironic and sad that a method touted as a “life-saving effort” is what gives an excuse to kill a baby.

Because of course, you know we are all on the lookout for excuses to kill babies. It’s a lot like being on the lookout for excuses to eat chocolate or go shopping!…sigh.

I can always console myself with the possibility that the hordes of people who are making remarks like that are just ignorant. Or stupid. Or both. But then, linked to the article, is another article written by some dude who presumably is not ignorant or stupid, given that he describes himself as Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.:

Disability-free world may not be a better place
Screening means fewer Down babies, but are we missing out?

A fascinating probe by the Associated Press suggests the reason. Genetic testing is leading to birth of fewer and fewer children with Down syndrome and other genetic disease in the United States.

The “fascinating probe” he refers to is, indeed, the article that originally caught my eye. And you can tell by the way he goes on in the article that he did actually read some of it, because he spends a little time talking about Tay-Sachs disease and Cystic Fibrosis. But his main point, the one he keeps returning to over and over again (after a few sops thrown out acknowledging that children born with Tay-Sachs, for instance, die by age 4) is

As some families with a Down syndrome child have noted, fewer kids with Down may mean fewer public programs, fewer resources in schools and for housing and less political clout.

On a trip to Ireland a few years ago, I was struck by a number of faces among the crowds. They were children with the tell-tale look of Down syndrome. What struck me was the realization that I hardly ever see these young faces out on the street in the United States.

Down Syndrome, which can’t be detected at all through parental screening, which is what the original article is all about, because it’s caused by a mutation in the reproductive cells themselves, not in the parents’ cells. Rinse, repeat: Down Syndrome is not an inherited genetic disorder.

But since the heartstrings clearly get tugged the wrong way by discussing babies born with Tay-Sachs disease–it’s a hell of a lot harder to paint the prevention of that occurence as parents on the lookout for excuses to kill their babies–I suppose Concern Troll PhD couldn’t really use that as his handle, huh?

Why I’m So Glad I’m Not a 21st-Century Republican Voter: A Collage

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Updated: This would be enough all by itself. The Hip Hub of Fun…! (hat tip Jesse)

The history here is well known to everyone interested in politics but worth summarizing. For most of the first 190 years of the country’s operation, U.S. Senators would, in unusual circumstances, try to delay a vote on measures they opposed by “filibustering” — talking without limit or using other stalling techniques. For most of those years, the Senate could cut off the filibuster and force a vote by imposing “cloture,” which took a two-thirds majority of those voting (at most 67 of 100 Senators). In 1975, the Senate adopted a rules change to allow cloture with 60 votes, and those are the rules that still prevail.

The significant thing about filibusters through most of U.S. history is that they hardly ever happened…

…as the chart below shows, the huge increase in threatened filibusters came from the Republican minority, after the Democrats took back the Senate in 2007. Since the time covered by this chart, the number of threatened (Republican) filibusters has shot up even more dramatically.

In an interview on MSNBC this morning, newly retiring Sen. Evan Bayh declared the American political system “dysfunctional,” riddled with “brain-dead partisanship” and permanent campaigning.

In this morning’s interview he noted that just two weeks ago, Republicans who had co-sponsored a bill with him to rein in the deficit turned around and voted against their own bill.


One Upping the Crazy

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

I have a new guilty pleasure–not sure how much mileage I’ll get out of it, but it’s off to a hell of a start. Behold, Emmett Tyrrell, founder of The American Spectator and appearing as a writer for Townhall. I think I enjoy his particular brand of right wing-authoritarian ranting because it reminds me of Onion founder and columnist Hermann Zweibel*. Beware, if you are a left wing-authoritarian who still believes in the political process, Emmett’s writings will likely fill you with white hot rage or elitist condescension, depending on how your mind responds to a nonsense narrative’s assault on your nonsense narrative.

Reading Thers at Whiskey Fire (h/t for pointing me towards Emmett) is another guilty pleasure of mine. His** party loyalty is bullet proof, which I appreciate because it gives us a modern day example of how pre-literate tribes may have been structured. Beware, if you are a right wing-authoritarian who still believes in the political process, Thers’ writings will likely fill you with white hot rage or elitist condescension, depending on how your mind responds to a nonsense narrative’s assault on your nonsense narrative.

Things That Are Different and Things That Are the Same

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The wild-eyed woman-hating that apparently characterized this year’s crop of Superbowl ads got me thinking–what do people who make a point of denying that wild-eyed woman-hating really exists in America have to say about it..? Nothing, as far as I could tell–and I don’t blame them; there isn’t much they could say, though I speculated that maybe one or two would capitalize on it as a much-needed backlash against all dem bitchez! or possibly note that the characterization of men as mindless Neanderthals that frequently accompanies ads denigrating women is pretty insulting to men, too.

But in the midst of my aimless perusal of Men’s Rights-type sites, I stumbled across this article: 10 Lies Men Tell Themselves in Order to Stay in Abusive Relationships with their Wives or Girlfriends. I was struck by how very many of the Lies Men Tell Themselves appeared to be very similar, if not identical, to the Lies Women Tell Themselves in Order to Stay In Abusive Relationships. Perhaps not a dazzling revelation–abuse is abuse, regardless of the demographics of the abuser and abusee–but then, that’s also too simplistic of a statement to make. Some forms of abuse really don’t happen much without pre-existing factors that facilitate them; for example, while both parent-on-child and child-on-parent physical abuse does occur, it occurs far more often in the former case due to size disparity, economic imbalance, psychological dominance overwhelmingly in favor of the parent, etc. etc.


Sometimes One Blog Site Just Leads To Another…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

…so I was over at Sadly, No and ended up through a series of adventurous clicks on some site called “American Thinker.” (I’m sitting in a house under three feet of snow with another twenty inches on its way in the next twenty-four hours and it’s Server Maintenance Day on World of Warcraft. Expect lots more of this, unless the power goes out.) So scanning over the various article titles, the big question in my mind was, Republican or Libertarian? Republican or Libertarian? On to the About page!

American Thinker is a daily internet publication devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans. Contributors are accomplished in fields beyond journalism, and animated to write for the general public out of concern for the complex and morally significant questions on the national agenda.

Hmm…could mean anything…keep on reading…

There is no limit to the topics appearing on American Thinker. National security in all its dimensions, strategic, economic, diplomatic, and military is emphasized. The right to exist and the survival of the State of Israel are of great importance to us

Ha! Neocon!

Hey, it’s my big chance to find out what the Neocons are up to/really caring about now that their Big Cheezes are out o’ office!

A scattering of the gems on this site:

Democrats, Meet Your Biggest Nightmare

That was actually George W. Bush, but they’re pushing for the nomination of Scott Brown. I can’t agree because he was extremely hawwt in his Cosmo nude spread.

Barack Obama and Corpse Man

Barack Obama finally mispronounced a word, which doesn’t bother the author nearly as much as the fact that he’s familiar with the Creole dialect, Haiti and how Pakistanis themselves pronounce “Pakistan.” I think what she’s trying to say is that George W. Bush’s stupidity was endearing and honest and that even though Obama’s stupidity is now proven by his mispronounciation of a word, nevermind his clumsy and feeble attempts to hide it by frontin’ like he knows Creole or whatever, his stupidity makes him repulsive and cunning. But it’s kind of hard to tell.

Toyota response to crisis an object lesson for business

The way Toyota has handled the sticky accelerator debacle is heroic because their CEO both (a) bowed during a press conference that finally had to be called when all their attempts at total subterfuge on the subject over the past at least two years failed and (b) didn’t blame George W. Bush for anything.

I know it isn’t a parody site, but it really should be. :)

It’s Like Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel

Monday, February 8th, 2010


Maybe I should consider moving on to something, or someone, a little more challenging.

…but you know, it’s really kind of okay to “call a bunch of people who are retards, retards!” As long as it’s Rush Limbaugh doing it.

Friday, February 5th, 2010


Remember this?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rahm Emanuel called liberal activists who wanted to run ads against conservative Democrats “f—— retarded” in a closed-door meeting at the White House. On her Facebook page, Palin likened Emanuel’s “slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities” to using the “N-word,” something she deemed “unacceptable” and “heartbreaking.” Emanuel later issued an apology to Special Olympics chairman and CEO Tim Shriver.

However, Palin’s conservative cohort Rush Limbaugh took offense to people, presumably including Palin, protesting Emanuel’s remark. On his radio show, Limbaugh lamented that “our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards.” That comment caused Greg Sargent to request a reaction from Palin’s spokeswoman.

Yesterday, when asked for comment on Limbaugh’s use of the “r” word in a recent broadcast, Palin spokeswoman told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, “Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name-calling at the expense of others is disrespectful.”


Today, Stapleton claims the statement was meant generally and she was not specifically referring to Limbaugh.

…I mean, if he’s gonna tirelessly promote her new book after also tirelessly promoting her for Veep during the 2008 elections...it’s not like he’s some kind of nasty, sneaking D-e-m-o-c-r-a-t, after all!

Time to Hurl

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I’m sure everybody remembers this:

Aww, that’s such a romantic pict–! hmm, wait. Isn’t that guy about twenty years older than that barely pubescent girl..? I mean, I can see some serious crepe-like flesh going on under that manly-man jawline there–oh, well, it’s not like even the most superficial perusal of internet porn won’t immediately inform you that “barely legal” is an overwhelmingly common male fanta–uh, wait again. Is that hairy old dude that sweet little sex kitten is being manfully embraced by HER DAD–?

Now, now, maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe this is really meant to portray the pure innocence and beauty of the father-daughter bond, and I just have a dirty, corrupt mind. I’m sure another picture from the very same photo shoot will absolutely clear up any doubt I could possibly have about the theme of this particular series of Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus publicity photos–

Yep, that definitely cleared that up.

But this is old news! The new news is that the sexualization of children shown above is apparently way, way too subtle. The message has not been gotten across, dammit! And Billy Ray Cyrus clearly ain’t gonna let that happen. You know, he has another daughter, and to eliminate the confusing nature of using the daughter that might have actually entered puberty sometime around the date of the photo shoot, this one is clearly nowhere near even the beginnings of sexual maturation.

Because 9-year-olds need a sexy line of lingerie!

..little 9-year-old Noah Cyrus is set to become a lingerie model.

She’ll be teaming up with her pint-sized best friend Emily Grace to launch a children’s lingerie collection for ‘Ohh! La, La! Couture’.

The company’s website describes The Emily Grace Collection as having a “trendy, sweet, yet edgy feel, reminiscent of Emily’s true personality.”

Emily’s collection will appeal not just to little girls – the line also has an exclusive Teen Collection available to a size 14.

Goodness, I suspect you’re right about that. This collection won’t just appeal to little girls.

For Your Consideration (Another One)

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010


Rahm Emanuel Refers to Fellow Dems as “F—ing Douchebags,” Palin Takes to Her Facebook Page to Demand President Obama Fire Him for Sexist Slur

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

…or something like that.

Since the “death panel” strategy didn’t work…you know, I don’t feel sorry for Trig Palin because he has Down Syndrome. It’s always hard to have a disability of any description and I of course do feel compassion for anyone who has to struggle with one, but any perusal of the writings of the parents of Down Syndrome kids will quickly show you that the mere fact of having Down Syndrome is in no way a guarantee of a miserable existence. But I admit I do feel sorry for him for his mother’s relentless shoving of him into the political limelight as an inanimate talking point.


Monday, February 1st, 2010

An interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom.

A restavec (or restavek; from the French reste avec, “one who stays with”) is a child in Haiti who is sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. (wikipedia)

I came across this article today, about a 9-year-old restavec named Sende Sencil.

Beaming, and in clean clothes for the first time since the earthquake, Sende, who was thought to be an orphan, returned to the hospital’s tents with the doctors.

As they walked, a man approached them on the street and reached out to grab Sende.

“I’m looking for her. She’s my family,” the doctors remember the man saying in broken English. “I’m taking her home.”

Pediatricians Tina Rezaiyan and Liz Hines, had been looking forward to the day when Sende’s parents might come to claim her, but this was not what they’d anticipated.

“She was trembling and hiding behind us. She was so scared of him,” said Hines, a second-year pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Flashback to 1982: Walking home from school with my best friend, Sheila.* We’d been best friends since the first grade; we walked home from school every day together, hand in hand–though not that day, because one of her arms was in a cast and she needed the other one to carry her books. My eight-year-old self didn’t even notice the cast; it had been there for a few weeks, it was part of the scenery. Only my thirty-six-year-old self stares at it, remembering how Sheila got it.

“So can you spend the night tonight?” Sheila asked me.

I could, and I did, though even my eight-year-old self dreaded it a little. Not a lot, because Sheila was there and she was my best friend and we always had such fun–putting her mom’s 45s on the plastic record player upstairs and setting it on “78″–who needed an actual Alvin & The Chipmunks record when you had a stack of 45s and a record player with a “78″ setting? And eight-year-olds think that what they see and live is the way it is for everybody–they don’t resist the system because they aren’t even aware that there is one. But the night Sheila’s stepdad broke her arm was still fairly fresh in my memory, and I had no cozy feeling that I was entirely safe from him either–he’d hurt me before too, though nowhere near to the degree he hurt Sheila.