Watch this. I will admit that it made me tear up.
Then read this:
Just a couple of things to make you feel better about the world before you have to watch the debates tonight.
Watch this. I will admit that it made me tear up.
Then read this:
Just a couple of things to make you feel better about the world before you have to watch the debates tonight.
Lots of interesting material in that very brief piece. There is also an interesting subtext about the actual value of using non-humans to test human medical issues. I understand that human testing, especially in the early stages of trials for important (as opposed to bogus or pseudo-important profit-driven crap like most weight-loss meds) drugs are a complicated issue, but it does rather stand to reason that it would be good to not use animals where it is possible not to do so. Of course, that would mean that the companies making quiet billions by supplying animals to labs would lose business, and the humans working there would lose jobs–another case of nothing happening without un-intended consequences.
Somehow it seems like the problems/systems involved in moving folks from middle-class jobs in inherently un-ethical (and usually planet- or human-destroying) industries ought to be more solvable than it currently seems. I insist on believing that someone could apply a consortium of big brains to the global shifts in industrial (and academic, come to thing of it) structures so that the majority of the planet could stop living in a constant state of panic and instability. You’d think the Masters wanted the Workers to be permanently insecure so they don’t have the energy or resources to pay attention to The Man Behind the Curtain. Or something.
Watch this, please:
For several reasons. The first is the obvious one. White feminists do need, have needed to pay more attention to what black women have to say about their experiences for a long time. A very long time. Reading This Bridge Called My Back and an essay or two by Audre Lorde won’t do it anymore, at least in terms of being able to claim that you have any real awareness of the complexities of being a woman with brown skin. It’s an interesting question for fat white women–on the one hand, there have been lots of white feminists who’ve been talking body-acceptance for a long time, and on the other hand, the simple fact is that Gloria Steinem got to be Gloria Steinem partially because she’s conventionally beautiful. Also largely because she’s ferocious and kicks ass, but there was always a certain weird fascination about how&why someone so beautiful could/would/should be a FEMINIST that you could tell got her certain kinds of attention from certain kinds of male-dominated media. But I confess that I sometimes think I have a tiny fraction of an idea what it’s like to be a woman who is judged immediately and negatively simply because of the surface of her skin–NOT as though I were black (I claim ZERO understanding of the complex anguishes, irritations, frustrations, furies, and difficulties of that)–but as someone whose intelligence, integrity, character, worth, and general right to exist is something many folks feel they have a right to judge based simply on my physical geography. So being, say Gabourey Sidibe, must be a whole other universe of soul-bruising pain in the ass, as witness the assinine kerfuffle over whether she has or has not lost weight (google it, it’s actually nuts) and how and why.
So back to Leslie Jones. Who is not fat, but who is not small. And who has been trolled relentlessly by all the usual cadre of tragically pathological losers who spend their time vomiting their wretchedness onto social media, and by questionable humans like Milo Yiannopoulos who make their livings spewing hate at people they don’t even know (what is his pathetic deal???? Feminism is cancer????? Really????? I don’t even begin to know how to address this sort of hyperbolic stupidity.) I didn’t see Ghostbusters because it was the sort of summer when I didn’t much get to the movies, and I gave up SNL before John Belushi died, so I don’t know much about Leslie Jones. But I do know that she’s tall enough, and not-conventionally-gorgeous enough that she had a terrible time finding a dress for the red carpet until Christian Siriano stepped in and up. And I know that any black woman who makes it into the cast of any big budget movie (especially as something other than the amusing sidekick, though even that has to be no small feat) has managed to put up with rafts of crap along her road that I couldn’t begin to calculate. And being merely smart-as-hell, and having killer cheekbones to go with your 6 feet of grandeur and goofiness is clearly not enough for the world to leave your un-cringing womanhood alone. So, for what it’s worth, this is me standing up for Leslie Jones. And acknowledging/claiming that there is a hierarchy of crap-to-deal-with in the universe of feminism, and conventionally attractive white women have X amount of unacceptable, human-rights-violating garbage and violence and barrier to deal with, but women outside that demographic have a additional layers of often paradoxical (fat women are both too female and not female enough…) shit to cope with, and women of color have pretty much infinite numbers of other stupid, violent, terrifying, frustrating shit to cope with, fight with, deal with, overcome on a moment-to-moment basis. Part of me doesn’t understand why all my black woman friends don’t just start every conversation we have by punching me first and then asking how I’ve been, just to even things up a bit. Not that I’m making a suggestion.
We’re at a weird point. As much as I believe in the First Amendment, I wonder whether the guys who wrote it could begin to envision a universe in which there would be so much violent speech with so little consequence. It’s not just the asshole trolls like Yiannopoulos and the basement-dwelling, id-spewing losers for whom he is a weirdly glam proxy, it’s members of Congress and presidential candidates whose words and actions seem to me to cross the border from protected repugnance to active treason. And there are no consequences for them. There are too many white men (and women, but I fear it’s the white guys who are carrying the ugly flags on this) out there who feel free to say in public things that do violence to us all. All. I don’t know where or when this consequence-less will run into the law. I don’t even know if it will. I don’t delude myself that the hatefulness currently making so much noise in the public discourse wasn’t there all along. I might argue that Trump & Co. have done us the weird favor of turning over a bunch of rocks that really needed to be turned over so that the pathetic darkness-dwellers would be exposed to the light. But it’s getting to be like climate change–it used to be a matter of projection and theory; it’s now unavoidable (unless you’re really working on it) reality, and it’s eating the planet. The shitchat on social media is eating our culture. The planet is dying. The planet’s conversation is also toxic. There need to be consequences for the folks who are poisoning the atmospheres. But it’s a lot easier to (relatively) to name and fine and impose consequences on Exxon (be nice if we’d get around to that…) than it is to name and fine and impose consequences on shitheads like Roger Ailes and Mitch McConnell.
How does all this fit together, you ask? Well, the thing about feminism was, when I was growing up into it, that it would free men to stop being jerks just because they had penises; free women to make choices no matter who they loved, how they looked, or what color their skin was; free children from having to be one thing or another from birth, and free bodies (including the planetary body) from casual (or intentional and entrenched) violence. I’m not as naively, blithely hope-filled as I used to be. And I seem to have missed a lot of forms of oppression going on around me. But I have figured out one thing: Pretty much everything starts with the sanctity of the body. Gabourey Sidibe’s body is her business. Leslie Jones’s body is hers. The bodies of black, brown, and red humans are as sacred as those of white people, the bodies of queer humans as sacred as those of cis-hetero humans (funny, I bet self-described “faggot” Yiannopoulos would agree at least far as it comes to his queer body . Those of fat, short, disabled, un-pretty, tall, gifted, scarred, violated, famous, solitary, pea-brained, small-hearted, gorgeous, rich, poor, Trumpish–all sacred. It really is all about the body–whether you see it from a Christian perspective or any other. When we get around to seeing the individual body as the beginning of care for both humans and the planetary body they inhabit, we’ll start giving a shit instead of talking shit and being shits.
Meanwhile, I have a word for you to learn and use: Misgynoir. And I propose a rule: Remember that every time anyone disrespects a woman of color (including those in some form of hijab), they have disrespected you, oh feminists, no matter where you started from. And you should be angry.
And there’s this:
JCPenney is in trouble as a corporation. They have been for years, and I’ve heard more than one prediction of their imminent demise. They’ve tried before to introduce fashion-forward lines, and I don’t follow this stuff closely enough to know whether those lines have kept them going, but the chain has never quite managed to kick its dowdy/cheap image in spite of all its efforts. Still, they keep trying. Aside from the fact that they have been for decades the best source of a huge moderately priced window treatments, I’d like to see them hang in just because if they don’t, there are a lot of folks who will lose jobs (and as lousy as most low-level retail jobs are, the folks who have them would suffer without them). So I am intrigued that JCP, in an era when H&M, Target, and Kohls are increasingly cutting back on their lines of plus clothes, JCP has chosen to hop on the body-accceptance train loudly and start a line designed by Ashley Nell Tipton that they’ll carry in their stores up to 4X and on line up to 5X. It’s a fascinating move on several levels, and I hope it turns out to have been a smart one. It has certainly worked for the direct-sales-cult of Lularoe so far.
This is neither a logical, nor a rational response, but it kind of makes me want to say “Fuck it!” and go find myself a ballet class to take. The hoot here is that my age is probably more of a problem than my size. Apparently, the little girl who wanted to grow up to be a ballerina isn’t dead yet. Which is kind of nice.
This a beautiful interview with a poet who writes and thinks about the body, the sacred, and how to live in the world. It’s worth your time.
For the record, and before the medical folks who read the blog feel it necessary to chime in, I am not saying that obesity does not pose any risks to either general, or pregnant health. But so do a zillion other things that have nothing to do with body mass (like, do you live on land that used to be farmed? Do you live in a high-pollution area such as, say, Beijing? Do you not take prenatal vitamins because you don’t like pills? Did you get pregnant while on any number of prescription drugs? Are you underage? Overage? Have a chronic disease that hasn’t yet manifested? One that has? Was your mother a nutjob who refused to have you vaccinated for no good reason?). As long as you’re not fat, you can be pretty certain that you won’t have some jackass with a medical degree (a D.O. in this case, which makes it worse, since supposedly they’re trained to see the whole person in context–my GP is a D.O., so I do not suffer from that particular prejudice–in fact I kind of expect more from them than from MDs) treat you like you’re undeserving of basic decency. Which is not to say that there aren’t plenty of jerks out there practicing obstetrics and treating “normal” women horridly, there are, but being not-fat increases your chances of being treated civilly considerably.
34 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, my Ob/Gyn, who’d been a family friend (my father being a dentist, we had lots of medical folks in our circle) whose sense of humor I’d always admired (he hung IUDs on his Christmas tree…) informed me solemnly that my pregnancy was high-risk because I was fat. I asked why. He muttered a bit and then blurted out that 9 out of the last 10 fetal mortalities at the Hospital I was worried would intervene excessively had happened to obese mothers. I shot back that he hadn’t told me anything about those mothers’ pre-natal health, their pre-natal care, their socio-economic status, or their ages, and that the absence of any of that information rendered his single statistic invalid. He replied with an eye-roll and the concession that I could crouch in the corner and howl for all he cared as long as I had the baby in the hospital. This all happened after he’d (as I later found out) lied to me and told me the local Birth Center wouldn’t/couldn’t take me because of my weight. There are now state laws that might have prevented them from taking me, and they’re bullshit, but back then, he was just plain lying. Happily, he was not the OB from his practice who was on call for either of my labors. Unhappily, because I was in the damn hospital, no one made me get up off my exhausted ass and walk my way through the ineffective contractions that were an exact match of my mother’s first labor (both of us almost died, for a variety of dumbass reasons) and her mother’s (my would-have-been-uncle did die). In my case, 24 hours in, they gave me some Pitocin and my stupifyingly beautiful and healthy daughter popped out 45 minutes later. So it turned out fine, but the midwives at the Birth Center would have had me walking, and it also would have turned out fine and taken much less time.
That daughter has now had two gloriously healthy babies while fat. My younger daughter (a rather easier 7-hour natural delivery) is now 26 weeks into her first pregnancy. About 6 weeks ago, she and her husband, for a long list of smart reasons, moved in with us from out of state, and she had to switch OB practices. She didn’t get into her first-choice practice because it was full, so she ended up in a practice that has superb docs and midwives and NPs, but the worst office management in history (I left it because of that, though I really liked my doc), and that practice sends all its patients to Maternal Fetal Medicine at Christiana Care for their sonograms. MFM used to just be for high-risk pregnancies (real ones), but Christiana Care, the local corporate-creepy hospital near-monopoly has recently undergone something of a conversion and radically lowered its c-section rate, radically upped its lactation support, and managed to turn around what was a pretty dismal rep. as maternity unit. So, good. Great, actually. But part of that whole transition has been to extend the reach of MFM. So off our daughter goes to her sonogram, which went fine (nice wiggly baby girl in the precise middle of the size chart), but then The Doctor (Anthony Sciscione, and yes, I am calling him out), who had never met or seen our daughter before that moment walked in, plunked his arrogant, fat-shaming, sadistic, misogynistic ass down and announced to her that, in spite of her blood pressure being 110/60 and her blood sugars being (as far as anyone knew–which has turned out to be true) absolutely normal, and in spite of the fact that she has a very physical job, so is moving and lifting stuff all day, she was at serious risk of STILLBIRTH simply because she’s fat. He managed to reduce a tough cookie to tears (not hormonally induced–rage-, humiliation-, and terror-induced). What the fuck sort of physician says that shit to a woman who is 24 weeks pregnant????!!! With a healthy baby and no family history of bad outcomes???? What the fuck sort of human is that cruel to any other human, let alone a pregnant woman? Well, I grew up hearing that there were, generally speaking, specific personalities that tended to be attracted to specific medical fields and that the two specialties that tended to attract sadists were orthopedics and Ob/Gyn. Way to inhabit an ugly stereotype, Dr. Sciscione…
I know doctors are trained to despise fat men and women. I’ve been talking myself blue in the face about it for ages, so I’ll spare you that specific rant. But this is up there with kicking puppies and tripping the aged. There is no medical justification for threatening a pregnant woman whose medical condition is lucidly healthy with the worst thing a pregnant woman can think about. Stress is not medically useful. Humiliation is not medically useful. And his demeanor was in no sense either medically useful, or humanly acceptable.
This is Delaware. There is a mathematically significant chance that I know someone who’s a friend of his. Maybe even someone who would testify to his sterling character or medical brilliance or even his deep feminism. There is even a chance that I may run into him one of these days. I hope so. Because he was a sadistic shithead to my daughter BECAUSE she’s fat. And that is medically inexcusable.
Yes, she will be sending a letter to his immediate superior, along with several articles about the real damage done by fat-shaming, the invalidity of much of medicine’s approach to obesity, and some suggestions for alternate careers for Dr. Sciscione. Preferably somewhere his mysogynistic carcass will never be near another woman.
For the record, the nurse he then handed her off to so she could be trained in how to treat herself like a diabetic disaster-in-the-making started out by handing her a tissue and speaking softly and respectfully to the pregnant woman in front of her about how to manage any remote-but-potential risks without using terrifying language or treating her like a moral/mental deficient because of her size. And the front desk staff explained to her, without comment, how to avoid ever having to speak to Dr. Sciscione again. Almost as if they know how much of a toad he is. Nurses always know.