A friend who is noteworthy for his considerably less “reactive” and more complex and nuanced understanding of politics and global affairs called me out yesterday about my somewhat un-nuanced and non-discussion-facilitating Facebook response to the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court. Just in case you’re not among my FB friends, my response went like this:
F**k ScaliaThomasKennedyRobertsAlito. F**k Citizen’s United.
Of course, it wasn’t meant to be a nuanced or civil-discussion-facilitating response. It was meant to express my considerable anger. I doubt, sincerely, that any attempt I might make at having a civil, nuanced, and complexity-exploring discussion about much of anything with Justices Thomas or Scalia would ever be a worthwhile use of my breath or time, in any event, since they’re both pretty wedded to their neanderthal approaches to the constitution, and Thomas doesn’t exactly have a decent record on women’s issues. I’ve heard a rumor that Scalia’s wife is a liberal and that they regularly argue these things, so, assuming she’s a pretty smart lady, whatever I could say to him has probably already been said by her.
Why, you ask, does that decision have anything to do with the issues I tend to talk about here on Fatmatters? It wasn’t about fatness or about living-while-fat. And, though it’s been a while since I wrote anything about religion or, more specifically, having-a-body-while-Christian, does it?
Yeah, it damn well does. First, let’s get the fact that this was NOT a first amendment case. It was not about religious freedom. It was an extension of Citizen’s United (also known as The Worst Case EVER, or damn close to it). It was about the right of corporations to act as individuals and make determinations about other humans’ bodies based on their personal opinions. Justice Ginsburg’s already much-circulated dissent (in which you can practically hear her screaming with frustration) has already enunciated potentially catastrophic directions in which this decision could take lower courts–how it could be used to extend to all sorts of other things.
On the “nuanced” side of things, I will acknowledge that Hobby Lobby’s family owners also pay and treat their people rather better than A.C. Moore, Jo-Ann’s, and Michaels–their main competitors in the crafts supply biz, and that they were only asking to restrict (by not including them in their health coverage) the use of some, not all methods of birth control. So, there is some sense in which they can, indeed, claim to act out their understanding of what it means to run a company according to recognizably Christian principles–by which I mean the paying-people-decently bit.
But, jeez, I am so terribly, terribly tired of The White Patriarchy as it expresses itself in Evangelical Christianity claiming that it is beleaguered, repressed, or denied its rights. I could explain at some length why this is not true, but let’s just go with calling it what it basically is: bullshit. TWP & EC manifest in creep-out stuff like having girls “promise” their virginity to their fathers at “Purity Balls,” which are like debutante balls except that the girls are really young and are promising their fathers control over their bodies–at ages where they cannot possibly understand what is being done to them or to their understanding of their bodies and their rights. So they cannot possibly be acting with what is legally understood as consent. And their creepy daddies are putting “promise rings” on their barely-adolescent fingers to symbolize “holding” their virtue in “trust” for their husbands. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT THAT SUGGESTS THIS IS HOW JESUS WANTS WOMEN TREATED. Not a single word.
In fact, just for the record, Christ’s relationship to women is so radical in the context of 1st c. C.E. (which, if you don’t understand, you can get a quick dunk in by looking at the Taliban’s approach, or that of the Wahabi establishment in Saudi Arabia–yeah, still stuck in the first century of the Common Era) that my brainier evangelical friends are all pretty serious feminists, since that’s pretty clearly where Jesus was headed with all those female disciples and stuff. “Medieval,” which is often used to describe groups that want to impose Sharia law is an insult to the Middle Ages.
So what does any of this have to do with being fat? Well, the most direct implication would be that corporations could start claiming that since, according to my old friend St. Paul (oy, that man) the body is a “temple,” fat employees could be denied all sorts of benefits for not treating their bodies as the temples they are. So it could turn into another way to invade the lives of folks who happen to be some version of fat. I’d love to say that I can’t actually see that happening, but I can. There are plenty of Evangelical churches that already pressure people to join Christian Weight Loss groups of one sort or another–all of which, of course, adhere to the weight-loss-as-salvation model of The Biggest Loser in one sense or another.
But really, the whole thing comes back to the Supreme Court affirming yesterday that The Patriarchy gets to make decisions about the bodies of humans with whom they disagree, especially if those humans are women. And women’s bodies that do not conform to very narrow norms are also defined by The Patriarchy as being in desperate need of control. Well, actually, they just want to control all women’s bodies, but non-“normative” ones get singled out for special contempt.
Basically, though, the Hobby Lobby decision doesn’t have much to do with fat, per se, but does have a great deal to do with women, with religion (which I suspect it will turn out to have been bad for, too, by way of making even more folks dislike organized religion even more), and with the increasingly widespread and repugnant death throes of the domination of most world cultures by men via the suppression and abuse of women. I don’t know that there is any more of a “War on Women” than there is a “War on Christmas,” but there is for damn sure a War on Progress being fought all over the place and a War on Truth (or Fact) being fought on this continent by the state of Texas and Fox News. And none of that can go well for women, fat, thin, young, old, white or not-white. Which, of course, means that it continues to trap men as well in an equally narrow band of identity–but it’s harder to give a shit when they’re clinging so hard to that narrow identity and using it as a bludgeon to keep us females down.
So, yeah, F**k ScaliaThomasKennedyRobertsAlito. And F**k Citizen’s United. And, just for today, fuck nuance. It was a bad decision and a rape of the First Amendment. And I get to be just plain mad for a good long while. So do you.