Posts Tagged by Culture
|January 30, 2013||Posted by Issa under Radical Self-Acceptance|
“Our culture teaches us about shame—it dictates what is acceptable and what is not. We weren’t born craving perfect bodies. We weren’t born afraid to tell our stories. We weren’t born with a fear of getting too old to feel valuable. We weren’t born with a Pottery Barn catalog in one hand and heartbreaking debt in the other. Shame comes from outside of us—from the messages and expectations of our culture. What comes from the inside of us is a very human need to belong, to relate.”
|September 5, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
In 2008, I moved into a van and I started blogging. I named that first blog Holding The Empty. That was a strange turn of phrase, and I was frequently asked to explain the name. Here’s what I posted in explanation (slightly modified):
I started this blog when I decided to move into my van. Moving into the van was an odd decision for me, made on impulse and with a desire to “give up” on certain aspects of my life more so than a specific desire to live in a van. Trying to decide what to name the blog dovetailed with thinking about my motivations for moving into a vehicle.
Here’s what I came up with.
Our culture tells us that we need to have goals. We need to be doing, growing, gaining, getting, and always in the process of being something else.
You’re in high school? What are your plans for college?
You’re in college? What job field are you going into?
You’re dating? When are you getting married?
You live in an apartment? Are you going to buy a house?
You’re married? When are you planning to have kids?
You bought a two bedroom house? What will you do when the kids arrive?
You’re an assistant manager? Are you going to be promoted soon?
It’s October. Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?
Oh, cute baby! When are you planning your next?
When are you going to lose those extra pounds?
Are you up on the latest green activities you’re supposed to be doing?
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Oh, and by the way, do you have the new car, the big screen TV, the latest cell phone, the trendy religion, the right length skirt for this year, coordinated living room decor, the right teeth whitening products, new shoes, the latest bestselling novel, and are you volunteering often enough?
The main theme that I hear with this is that your life is supposed to be full. Full of plans and goals, full of the right this and that, full of meaning, theoretically, and also full of stuff.
I’m not interested in necessarily denying the value of having certain things in your life, but I wonder if we are collectively denying the value of just not. Have we left any space that isn’t full? And if we haven’t, where will we put the things that come along that could truly add value to our lives? Someone needs to mind that space. There needs to be room for empty.
I think of myself as holding that empty space, at least for myself. I’m making room for other possibilities by denying the drive for fullness. My own life has certainly been overly cluttered, mainly with the expectations of other people – expectations that aren’t in line with my true values. I’m not sure I even know my true values, because there’s simply been no room for them.
Living in my van and having no real job isn’t exactly a goal or a path for me. It may not be what I’m doing a year from now. I honestly have no idea what I want from my life right now, and I’m just giving myself permission to do that. To not buy things. To not have aspirations. To not make plans. To not have any idea what I want or how I’m going to get it.
I’ve tried holding the fullness, clinging to it, really, and I don’t think I was ever better off for it.
For now, I’m holding the empty.
I’m no longer holding the empty in my own life. I own a house! And a truck. And, at last count, 16 animals. And I have a child, of course, which makes a great big fullness in my life. But curiously, my parenting of Dylan involves holding another kind of empty.
Especially when he’s so little and new and dependent on us, I want to create and protect a physical, emotional, and spiritual space in which he can do what he needs to do and feel what he needs to feel. We have to do that for him, because he can’t do it for himself yet; he doesn’t have the freedom or authority to surround himself with the people or information he chooses, select or significantly alter the physical space where he lives, or even just decide he wants to bake some cookies because he feels blue and self-indulgent one night.
I want to be careful not to throw my weight around and unthinkingly wield my considerable privilege as an adult, because I know that his emotions and perceptions right now are just as real and valid as my own. Regardless of what our culture says, a child isn’t an inconveniently not-yet-finished adult but a whole person … even if he needs more help than I do.
But I try to remember that if someone simply refused to let me do what I wanted to do or go where I wanted to go, or served me a meal I didn’t choose and didn’t feel like eating, or wouldn’t let me have food or a drink when I was hungry or thirsty, or physically restrained or moved me against my will, or ignored me, or locked me in my room because they didn’t like the emotions I was expressing, or took one of my belongings away from me … that would make me feel really frustrated and out of control, and in some cases downright frightened. Holding the space sometimes means not doing those things because we can find another, less invasive, way.
It’s important to me to acknowledge that Dylan is a real person, right now. He will also grow and change over time, and I see my parenting role as making room for that.
I’m good at pushing back against the expectations of our progress-oriented world. In 2008 it led me to sell all my belongings and move into a van. It’s nice that that same drive serves me well in parenting as well.
It’s not my job to impose a bunch of restrictions and expectations on Dylan or to let the world pressure him with its demands of progress and growth.
It is just my job to hold an empty space big enough for him to stretch out in.
Whatever Dylan wants to do, whoever he wants to be, I will make room for him here in this world.
|September 3, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
A couple of weeks ago on the Unconditional Parenting (UP) discussion group that I moderate, the terrible dangers of cell phones on kids was brought up. One parent mentioned that parents these days felt pressured to give young kids cell phones. I said I didn’t feel pressured about it. Rather, I’m looking forward to Dylan having his own cell phone! I love my technology and don’t fear it in Dylan’s life. Other parents see things quite differently.
Shortly after that conversation, I received an offer to get a free copy of the book Raising Generation Tech by Jim Taylor, PhD so I could do this review. Dr Taylor has written several other books, including Your Children Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You, and as a parenting and psychology expert he blogs for popular websites and appears on news shows. On the heels of that UP discussion, and as Dylan gets more and more interested in the technology around him, Raising Generation Tech popped up at just the right time!
Right off the bat, Dr Taylor makes a distinction between authentic popular culture and synthetic popular culture. I was resistant to this distinction because I don’t want to just reject current popular culture because it’s current and I’m increasingly not. Isn’t it a cliche that parents are always worried about “kids these days”? You can find texts from centuries past moaning about the perils of popular culture. I hate to fall into that trap. On the other hand, Dr Taylor makes the case that because of our fast-pace, broadcast-to-millions technology what we think of as popular culture is not really “popular” but instead comes to us from a limited number of materialistic, capitalistic companies. “Popular culture” these days is advertising. It’s important to pay attention to what we’re being sold. Some of the potentially alarming things that Dr Taylor mentions don’t concern me at all. Kids listing god/heaven last on a list of important things? I approve! On the other hand, the sexualization of very young children is a big concern of mine.
I appreciate Dr Taylor’s attempt to not be alarmist about technology itself. Other books demonize the hardware, such as The Plug-In Drug, which argues that the evils of television are inherent in the machine. Instead, Dr Taylor talks about how it’s not the tech that’s the issue, it’s the particular relationship your child and your family develops with the technology. This can be difficult when parents and kids can view and approach tech so differently, but it’s important not to increase that rift by attacking the equipment itself. Dr Taylor promotes setting a good foundation for your kids’ use of technology.
Raising Generation Tech dives into the potential positive and negative effects that technology can have on kids’ self-identities, self-esteem, thinking, decision making, relationships, health, and more. Dr Taylor gives each aspect of kids’ lives a multi-faceted look and presents research to help fill out the picture of how technology and popular culture interacts with these different parts of life. Since these aspects rely on values and judgements, I suspect that most people will find some disagreement with Dr Taylor’s conclusions. I cringed every time he tossed around “obesity” in the health section, for instance. And I disagreed with much of what he said about what makes positive relationships, because I have experience with people with disabilities that make them less able to benefit from traditional, face-to-face relating.
That being said, it doesn’t matter if you agree with each thing in this book or even most of them. What matters is that this is an important topic worth exploring, and Raising Generation Tech does an excellent job of leading the way for that exploration. There are many practical tasks offered to help you think through your own values and the effects of technology on your kids, and you will come away from reading with a greater understanding of yourself, your kids, the world you are navigating together, and the technology you’re using to do it.
|July 23, 2012||Posted by Issa under Radical Self-Acceptance|
In part of a response to a comment on These are the Fat FAQs, I wrote:
What matters…is that my whole culture strongly encourages us to hate ourselves. Capitalism is about creating the problem of self-hate and then selling us the fake, non-working solutions. That is the most important thing for me to fight. [Nothing is] as important as accepting myself, my body, my mind, and the selves of the people around me.
As I typed that and then published it, I felt wrong about it because it’s bullshit.
I don’t mean the body acceptance part; I’ve got that part down. I am on my side when it comes to my body. I love my body, and I stick up for it.
But my brain is a different story. I am a person with depression. And anxiety. And a sometimes really amazing amount of just stress, seemingly out of proportion to my situation. I blame this stuff on my brain. There’s something wrong with my wiring, I tell myself. Something in there is off-balance, out of whack, broken.
I think of my brain and myself as broken.
But as I typed those words the other day, I started thinking along a different track. What if thinking of myself as something that needs fixing is itself the core of the problem? What if my diagnosis is a pre-packaged problem-and-solution offered up by my ill culture, rather than something gone wrong with me?
Would it be possible to take the radical self-acceptance I’ve found for my body and strive for that with my mental states as well?
This is a huge question for me that I’m not really ready to tackle with any force, yet. I feel really defensive about it. Of course I need fixing! Acceptance just means staying miserable! (I say to myself.)
I am taking an antidepressant. I plan to continue doing that. But the wheels in my mind are turning…
|May 16, 2012||Posted by Issa under Radical Self-Acceptance|
I just couldn’t resist that title. Say “Fat FAQs” fast a couple of times!
Thanks to those of you who replied in the “rude questions” thread. I’ve taken ideas from that thread, cleaned up some of the concepts from the rude comments the other night, and pulled ideas from other conversations I’ve had and questions I’ve been asked privately. I’ve strung them all together into a single chain of questions and given you a wealth of links if you want to learn more. If you have more questions, let me know. It’s a big topic, but let’s help each other spread more good information!
Are you really saying that it’s okay to be fat?
Yes. I like the phrase “fat acceptance”, because at the end of the day all the science and the studies don’t really matter. It’s really just okay to be fat. Even if being fat is caused by eating too many cookies (which it isn’t) and it dooms you to ill health (which it doesn’t), people are allowed to make decisions about their bodies and their health all on their own, and it’s none of anyone else’s business.
You aren’t serious about this “diets don’t work” thing, are you?
Completely serious. Diets don’t work. By diet, I mean anything you are doing to fuck with your eating habits in order to lose weight. Even if you’re fucking with your food to lose weight “for your health”, that’s still a diet. If you’re calling your attempt to lose weight a “lifestyle change” or “eating better and exercising”, it’s still a diet. Whenever attempted weight-loss is studied, the results are a resounding failure. The researchers say things like, “It is only the rate of weight regain, not the fact of weight regain, that appears open to debate.”
If you truly want to learn about the failure of anyone, anywhere to find a way to make people lose weight and keep it off, there is plenty out there. You can’t just read the headlines, because headlines are written to sell things rather to inform people. But scratch the surface on the available information, and you’ll find a world of evidence. Evidence of failure. 6-10 pounds lost over two years. 3-10 pounds over a year. 4 pounds after 18 months. No change in weight after 3 years. No change after 8 years. A review of 31 different studies with various levels of failure. A narrative literature review of journal articles on weight management concludes that it “fails to meet the standards of evidence based medicine” and questions the ethics of continuing to promote failed treatments.
But what about calories in/calories out, thermodynamics, or how losing weight is obviously SO SIMPLE?
Second, if you’re using a “calories in/calories out” argument, you don’t understand how bodies work and what metabolism means. I recommend reading about set point theory and thinking about the ways that limiting your “calories in” is actually just cheating your body. The bottom line is that your body is complicated, and it’s working just fine, thank you, without you getting your thinking involved with your calories and messing up the program.
At the end of the day, we have no idea how to make fat people into thin people or thin people into fat people. No amount of sputtering about laws of physics or what you think is “simple” and “obvious” will change the fact that who is fat and who is thin is largely about genetics. Oh, and also, dieting seems to cause weight gain. I don’t have any studies to back me up on this, but I’ll wager a guess that if you want a culprit for some of the uptick in weight in this culture, it’s the diet industry itself.
Aren’t fat people just lazy/not trying hard enough/not motivated enough?
Dieting is basically self-imposed slow starvation. During the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, the men were on a “diet” that many would consider modest these days. During the experiment they became “nervous, anxious, apathetic, withdrawn, impatient, self-critical…depressed…obsessed with food.” Sounds an awful lot like how a lot of dieters feel. As a result of this experiment, we got the term “semi-starvation neurosis”.
When you understand that dieting is self-imposed starvation, calling it lazy or a lack of effort or motivation is revealed as a really callous thing to say. It’s not a demonstration of poor moral character to be unable to starve yourself for very long. Imagine being tasked with holding your hand over an open flame for as long as you can. Some people could do it for longer than others, but whenever it is that you snatch your hand back, it hardly makes sense to chide you for not trying hard enough. How about trying to breathe 20% less than you currently do? Again, different people would be more or less successful at this task, but when you gasp and go back to taking in enough air, it’s not because you’re lazy.
If you think fat people aren’t motivated enough, you have a serious misperception of how much it can suck to be fat in this culture. Trust me. We are motivated. The “willpower” nonsense is truly nonsense. Almost every fat woman in this culture has actually performed many acts of extraordinary willpower in her lifetime, by voluntarily starving herself over and over and over again.
What about me/my sister/coworker/friend who lost X amount of weight in the last X amount of time just by doing X.
Almost anyone can lose some weight using any number of popular methods. However, the research and the odds overwhelmingly say that you will gain that weight back. The more recently someone has lost weight, the more enthusiastic they are about explaining how everyone can do it, but they’re still wrong.
This is an area where I’m taking a really strong stand. Promoting weight-loss attempts is at best highly misguided and at worst unethical and cruel. Almost no one can lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off long-term. Of the few who can, many do so by adopting obsessive eating habits and essentially making weight-loss their full time job. Suggesting that significant, long term, intentional weight-loss is simple, easy, or even possible is itself a hateful thing to do. Don’t do it.
Then how do you explain the starving children in Africa?
No one is arguing that starvation doesn’t lead to weight loss. It does. However, purposefully starving yourself long-term, voluntarily, is a ludicrous proposition. A person who is stuck underwater will eventually run out of air and die. That doesn’t mean that I should be expected to hold my breath for an unlimited amount of time. That’s just silly.
Even if losing weight is hard and most people don’t succeed, shouldn’t you still try? For your health?
No. The whole fat and health thing is way more complicated than than you’ve been led to believe. Oh, it sounds all dire when the media gets going, but the truth is that being fat is NOT an indicator of bad health, does NOT increase your risk of death, is NOT a risk factor for heart disease, and “NONE of the 21 diseases popularly attributed to obesity…are actually associated with excess deaths at any BMI category, including obese.”
Want more? Fat people don’t go to the doctor more or have more medical procedures or hospitalizations. They don’t take more sick days from work. The are no more likely to have chronic diseases than thinner people.
Still more? Fatter cardiac patients are more likely to survive. Fatter dialysis patients are more likely to survive. Fat people have better outcomes with blood transfusions. And then there’s this: Fatness is protective and beneficial for health issues that include infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and fat people are more likely to survive a hospitalization at all than thinner people.
On the other hand, dieting may very well be bad for your heath. Intentional weight-loss is associated with increased aggressiveness, loss of lean muscle, kidney stones, decreased immune function, disordered eating, negative self-image, increased mortality, and increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal.
If/when your size does affect your health, what can you do about it?
Whether you’re skinny or fat or somewhere in between, you should address your health concerns by addressing your health concerns. Type II diabetes should be treated, regardless of what size you are. Sore knees should be addressed, regardless of what size you are. Weight-loss should not be prescribed as a medical intervention, since we have no idea how weight-loss can actually happen, and the attempt itself has negative health consequences.
Aren’t you just looking for a way to justify not exercising/being fat/not working hard enough/eating whatever you want?
No one needs a justification for that. I don’t have to exercise, and I can eat whatever I want. You don’t have to exercise, and you can eat whatever you want. You’re in charge of you, and I’m in charge of me, forever and ever, amen.
If that makes you uncomfortable, then we may be getting closer to the root of the problem. It’s not the fat people; it’s the desire to own and police the bodies of other people.
Are you saying that eating like shit and not exercising aren’t bad for you?
Nope. I’m saying that being fat isn’t bad for you. How you eat and how much you move around are separate topics. Eating well and moving around more are good for you, whether you’re fat or thin. This is a really important point: weight and health are two separate things. Your weight and how much you eat and how much you exercise are all different things.
So it’s true! Fat people eat like shit and don’t exercise.
Where did you get that idea? Think about it for a minute. Is it possible that you don’t really notice when you see a skinny person eating a cheeseburger, but when you see a fat person eating the same thing, you think, “Hmm, well, there ya go.” Some fat people have great, nutritious, modest diets and exercise their butts off. Some fat people are Cheetos-dust-covered couch potatoes. Some skinny people have great, nutritious, modest diets and exercise their butts off. Some skinny people are Cheetos-dust-covered couch potatoes. It turns out that fat people don’t generally eat more or exercise less than thinner people. It’s just that our collective narrative renders fit fat people invisible.
Aren’t you promoting fat/encouraging people to be fat/making people fat?
It doesn’t really matter if I am, because you can’t make thin people fat any more than you can make fat people thin, and by the way, remember, it’s okay to be fat. So maybe I am promoting it. I’m saying it’s okay to have a body like mine. What of it?
But obesity epidemic!
Please drop the scary words attached to obesity from your vocabulary. Obesity isn’t an epidemic, a crisis, or a nightmare. “Obesity” is simply a description of a ratio between height and weight. It isn’t any scarier than tall people. Besides, when you read about how obesity is on the rampage, apparently going to take over the world, you’re being misinformed, since obesity rates have been steady for about a decade.
But the children!
Just no. Children being fat is not related to negative health outcomes. What is a negative outcome is shaming children about their weight. When everyone from the First Lady on down is convinced they’re at war against your body, that has to take a toll on a kid.
How can you be healthy or get healthier as a fat person?
The same way everyone else gets healthier. Many of the things that we hear as weight-loss advice is shit, of course. But some of the basic stuff in there – eat more whole grains, fruits, and veggies, get your heartrate up a few times a week, find ways to move around that are enjoyable to you – these things will positively affect your health, even though they don’t lead to weight loss.
This is one of the great tragedies of our focus on weight. It makes eating well and exercising a means to an unattainable end. There are lots of great reasons to eat nutritious foods and move your body around more that have nothing to do with weight-loss, but fat people who have tried to lose weight and failed may give up on these activities. Anyone can pursue greater fitness. This includes thin people. Thin people don’t benefit from the false equation of health and fat, either. Moving around more and eating better can improve the health of everyone, regardless of their size.
Also, let’s keep in mind that there is no moral imperative to be healthy. No one has an obligation to be healthy, to value health, or to do anything in particular about their health. We can focus on our own health, but the health of other people is none of our business.
In pursuing fat acceptance, are you also pursuing a fitness/exercise/workout routine?
I’m not. I promised myself years ago never to “exercise” again, because doing so is always an act of hatred against myself. Other fat people do exercise, for fun, for fitness, or to build certain skills. Fitness and fatness are two separate things. Some fat people work out, some don’t. Some thin people work out, some don’t.
Does being fat accepting assume that the doctor says you are in good health and you feel good and have the energy to participate in all the activities you want?
No, it doesn’t. Most people don’t get a doctor’s permission to live their lives. Being fat accepting is for fat healthy people. It’s also for fat unhealthy people. It’s for fat people who exercise. It’s for fat people who don’t. It’s for fat people who get winded easily. It’s for fat people who run marathons. It’s for fat people who go in for twice-yearly physical checkups. It’s for fat people who haven’t seen a doctor in years. It’s for fat people who are pursuing fitness. It’s for fat people who aren’t.
What are your thoughts on all the different ways people are fucked up about what to eat?
I think it’s no surprise. The weight-cycling industry has been marching on largely unchallenged for decades now. Who cam blame us for being a bit confused? Almost everything you read about food is framed as a pressing moral concern, an intricate puzzle to be solved, or a battle to be waged. Advice about what to eat and what not to eat is scattered, contradictory, and sometimes downright incomprehensible.
When it comes to GMOs or organic or whatever, I mostly try to avoid putting too much attention there, because it’s too easy for me to get sucked back into attaching moral issues to food. It’s more important to me to release that need for control over which foods are “right” and which are “wrong” and just eat what seems desirable to me in the moment.
Why are you so rude/aggressive?
(Yes, I really got this question.)
I get pretty worked up about this stuff sometimes, because the lies and the social pressure aren’t just interesting. They are actively harmful to real people. Over 60% of the adults in the US are categorized as overweight or obese, and we face discrimination, abuse, and in many cases extreme self-loathing as a result of the rampant moral panic about our bodies. I hope that I can muster up more aggressiveness and more energy to battle this issue. As Ragen Chastain has pointed out, our culture has declared war against us. It’s time to fight back.
This post has 50 some-odd links in it. It took me a week to put my research in order and then write this post. I don’t expect you to read and absorb everything here immediately. I’ve been studying this topic for almost two years. And I’d love to hear your comments and questions! If you are going to comment, though, I do expect you to have a basic grasp of what I’m saying here and have accepted that at the very least, what you have “always heard” or what “everyone knows” is much more complicated.
It’s okay to be fat. Almost no one can lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off. Dieting is bad for you. You can’t make fat people thin or thin people fat. Genetics mostly decides who is who, and your bodily processes take care of the rest. It’s not unhealthy to be fat. Eating well and moving around more are good for everyone but don’t cause weight loss. No one is obligated to pursue health.
I’m interested in examining fat from a more personal perspective, and writing about how to change your relationship with yourself and your size. I feel like I needed to get this basic, factual, foundational stuff out of the way first. These are my premises. I’m excited to explore what comes next, after some of the bullshit about fat as been cast aside.
|May 9, 2012||Posted by Issa under Radical Self-Acceptance|
When I talk about various topics related to fat acceptance, I often use the phrase “fat-hate” to refer to the harmful attitudes that people have. Some people might think that’s a bit hyperbolic when it seems like the topic on the table is just dieting, weight loss, nutrition, health, etc. It seems clear to me, though, that the public opinion on those topics is extremely misguided, and that the reason we have so much trouble seeing them clearly is that as a culture we’re nurturing a serious hatred for fat people. Even if you, personally, don’t think you hate fat people, when you speak the mainstream party-line about weight-loss you are supporting the fat haters.
As a stark illustration of what I mean by fat-hate, a few nights ago, I received a slew of comments on my post Diets Don’t Work that I declined to publish in the comment section. Apparently that post was linked in a forum about fitness, and people came over to comment. In case you have doubts about the hatefulness that is out there, I’m going to publish some of those comments here.
Warning: Some of these comments are disgusting, misogynistic hate-speech. Please skip this section if these are likely to be harmful for you. You can jump back in at the next bolded line.
Some of the comments went the direction of general dismissal and name-calling.
You “fat acceptance” people are pathetic trying to justify why your lard-infested bodies have grown to that size.
Having a debate on this is like arguing with a supporter of the theory that storks bring babies to their parents. It’s sad to see that people with views like this exist.
Are you kidding me, you are beyond delusional. Diet do work, your attitude however does not. it takes work and time, neither of which i believe you want to give up. Stay fat as fatass.
Some managed to provide some humor.
fatties gonna fat
(Yes, that was the entire comment.)
I don’t understand why you think it is your birth right to eat yourself to death?
If you believe in god think of it as the devil testing you every time a delicious muffin is put in front of you.
I think from now on, whenever I eat a muffin I’m going to give it a devil voice and have a little mock conversation with it before I eat it.
And then some of the comments veered off entirely in hate-land.
A group of fat lazies patting each other on their fat backs… Disgusting! I have no respect for you….How is this so hard you weak willed monstrosities?
And this one I’ll copy/paste in its entirety:
check out all these fucking fat delusional whiny cunts. i’d tell you to get off the fucking internet making a fool of yourself and get your fucking wide load back into the kitchen but i’d say you disgusting blobs of what i can only assume are human females have spent far to much time there to begin with. cals in versus cals out it isn’t hard you fucking waste of organic material. I can’t believe fat people buy into the ‘fat acceptance’ mentality, being morbidly obese will never be accepted you will always live on the fringes of society as living jokes starved of human intimacy and in most cases will never find a parter willing to stick their cock in between your disgusting slabs of fat to find the brown lips between your legs, nor want to force their arse on your pale blood deprived cock. jump on a tred mill and stop being the embodiment of western society; excess, gluttony, laziness and wilful ignorance.
That’s from a forum where they’re talking about fitness, huh? You wouldn’t think fitness had anything to do with hating 66% of the population so much that you’re willing to spew this kind of hatred at them. But it does. It’s very, very easy for ideas about fitness, health, nutrition, attractiveness, etc to veer over into hating fat people because our culture is very, very good at setting up competition between us.
I’ve been seeing a “motivational” image going around saying something about how no matter how little you’re exercising you’re still doing more than someone on the couch. Who is the person on the couch in that little bit of “encouragement”? Is it a fat person? A “lazy” person? What does your exercise have to do with that person at all? Why do we need imaginary “bad” people to be better than when we’re talking about our bodies? The truth is that those imaginary people are real people, and the opposition we set up against them affects their lives.
Hating fat people is very, very popular these days. Be careful that you don’t feed into it.
An Invitation to Ask Rude Questions
Some of the comments the other night weren’t all that bad. They brought up tired old arguments like calories in/calories out or the “how could genetics have changed in 3 generations” thing. They were incredulous comments but not necessarily hateful. On any other day, I might have let them through, but I decided to reject the whole stream of comments.
I’m going to make a post that replies to some of these basic arguments. I’ve been approaching this topic pretty broadly so far, and I think it’ll be worthwhile to assemble some straight-up answers to some pointed questions.
If there’s anything you’ve wanted to ask or say and though it might be rude, here’s your chance. On this post, you can comment anything that isn’t outright hate-speech. I’ll assemble the questions/situations from these comments and the rude ones from the other night and put up a Q and A post in response.
Don’t be shy. When you hear that diets don’t work, that diets make you fatter, that your genetics plays a big role in your weight or that willpower isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, what’s your reaction? What questions do you wish you could ask? Ask away!
|April 26, 2012||Posted by Issa under Uncategorized|
Maybe someday I’ll be an old farmer… and an old writer. In the meantime, I’ve got my little homestead, and I write in fits and starts, but I never slow down on reading. I read every post by Gene Logsdon, an old farmer and old writer. It doesn’t surprise me that my attitudes about the land line up with those of an old timer. It does surprise me when this 80 year old man seems to share a lot of my political ideas, too. Whatever he has to say, it’s always interesting to me in a surprisingly quiet and intimate way.
My homesteading scars are limited to a couple of lines on my arm from the wood-burning stove. I’m sure there are more to come, though. From Scars Keep The Record of Our Lives:
If you want to get a lively conversation going among farmers, bring up the subject of scars. For some reason we glory in telling about the marks of maiming or near death that decorate our bodies like so many road signs along the trail of life. Hardly a one of us doesn’t have a crooked leg or missing finger, or a lost limb… Perhaps it is the gravity of the situation that awes us into wanting to talk about it.
This spring has been undeniably bounteous for me. The growth, the babies, my joy in the details. It always seems like spring comes just in time. From Nature’s Promises Kept Again:
Going into March… I am torn between despair over a political process descending into lunacy and an economic process that guarantees only an ever-growing poverty class. I am glad I do not know how to tie a rope into a noose.
Then I look out the window one morning and see the great miracle… Slowly but surely all the spring wildflowers return— actually this unusually warm spring, they came fast and furiously— and I feel that great uprising of joy and hope once again. Nature does not renege on her promises.
The resilience and stability of nature is amazing and we often miss it because the news of the day focuses on the failures and threats, not on the successes. In all the earth-shaking changes that have shattered our sense of security over the past forty years or so, here on our farm, right here, the state of wild nature is remarkably little changed.
And then Living At The Whim of the Weather was written right as spring was snatched back momentarily this year. I don’t think I lost any plants, even though I definitely planted early.
Gene’s most recent post It Pays to Stay Home resonates with me, too. I love to go out into the world, but I love to stay home at The Wallow, too. Until I moved here, I never knew how interesting one’s own backyard could be.
Staying home has to be one of the most unpopular ideas in America where the whole culture embraces faraway travel as essential to happiness. Many of us don’t really have homes that can provide as much enjoyment as travel promises. Rather than spending our money to acquire such a property, we are taught to buy such enjoyment with far away travel. Perhaps what we need is proper publicity. To advertise traveling at home, a documentary could open with unbelievable close-ups of ants herding and milking aphids on an apple tree, a raccoon destroying a bluebird house, a hawk dive-bombing a mouse, a flint arrowhead sticking out of a creek-side cliff. Then a roll of drums and a voice sonorously introduces the docudrama: “Today we are going where no explorer has gone before— YOUR BACK FORTY.”
If you’re ever in the mood for some down-to-earth farming posts with insight, I recommend Gene Logsdon at The Contrary Farmer.
|March 9, 2012||Posted by Issa under Counter/Culture|
I first ran across the phrase “peak oil” somewhere around 2000. At that time, it was pretty fringe, and I filed it away in mental folder of things that I believe are true but don’t talk about in polite company. Fast forward 12 years, and I’m feeling pretty smart. The phrase “peak oil” appears in the mainstream media and no one really argues that there’s a problem. They only argue about how big a problem it is.
Given how big a problem the lack of oil is going to be to our culture, the headlines are remarkably calm. Unless you’re an economist or an environmentalist, the words “peak oil” still might sounds distant, ill-defined, and not that important.
And they might sound like something that’s still in the future.
Peak oil happened in (roughly) 2005. There’s going to be a bit of what they call the “bumpy plateau”. And then it’s all downhill from here.
I know that in matters this profound, I’m entirely a spectator. There’s nothing I can do but hang on, really.
Still. I read things like this:
As oil is the “enabling” energy source, which makes it possible to deplete all other resources at a high rate, a stepwise decline in the availability of oil would halt the process of depleting (almost) all other resources (firewood in rural areas and a few others are the exceptions). So, the further the collapse is delayed, the less there will be left to start over with, making any attempt to prolong the oil age quite unhelpful. This is an ecological argument: the greater the overshoot, the more the eventual carrying capacity is reduced.
And I wonder if I should be doing something to hasten the end of our failed cultural experiment.
I wonder if I should be preparing somehow. Even though I know there’s not really any way to prepare.
What about you? Do you think about peak oil? What do you think about peak oil?
|March 2, 2012||Posted by Issa under Counter/Culture|
Check out this post card from Post Secret:
Aside from the postcard’s message, I find the drawing interesting. This person is wearing a short skirt and high heels. So what is supposed to tell us that it’s a man? The hairy legs, of course, even though women naturally have similar hair on their legs.
Why can’t this drawing be of a woman? I am a woman, and my legs look like this. Well, my legs are a lot bigger. And I would never wear heels with an ankle strap. And red doesn’t match my hair. But anyway. I have hairy legs. And I wear skirts and high heels with my hairy legs.
Mother Culture whispers to us from everywhere, including Post Secret postcards. Mother Culture whispers many things in this image, messages about gender, beauty, and our bodies.
My voice cannot counter all of that, but I will try anyway: High heels and short skirts go perfectly with hairy legs. Your body is just fine the way it is. You do not have to shave bits of it off.
|January 13, 2012||Posted by Issa under Counter/Culture|
A couple of weeks ago while driving, I came to an intersection with two dedicated left turn lanes – that is, I and the other drivers in my lane and the one next to us could turn left if and only if a left green arrow came on, and once we were in this lane there was no easy way out except to turn left.
Something was wrong with the signal and the left arrow never came on; we just sat while our light stayed red and the other lanes of traffic got to go a couple of times.
The legal thing to do in this situation would be to call the police and wait for an officer to arrive and direct traffic. It’s not hard to come up with that as the “correct” solution, and for this pretty busy intersection an officer probably would have arrived in less than 10 minutes. Maybe 5. We wouldn’t really have been that inconvenienced.
Instead, the two drivers in the front of the line watched for a good opportunity…. and then we all drove through the red.
Everyone is a criminal, one way or another. Ever smoked pot? Drank alcohol while under 21? Brought alcohol to a party with people under 21? Peed behind the club on the way to your car? Flashed someone? Had sex with someone under 18 when you were over 18? Left your dogs or your kids in the car while you ran into a store? Ordered flowers without the right paperwork? Ever pushed, pulled, poked, or smacked someone during an argument? That’s assault. Ever yelled at someone that you’d like to wring ou neck? That’s battery. Ever downloaded music you didn’t have permission to download? Eaten food on a train? Failed to trim your bushes? Used someone else’s prescription? Ever been paid for something like babysitting or lawn-mowing and not reported it to the IRS? Or bartered for something and not paid taxes on it? Have you ever tossed a cigarette butt out the window? Shoplifted? Loitered? Driven over the speedning limit? Changed lanes without using a turn signal? Jaywalked? Played a poker game for money with friends? Written a violent story?
I’m guessing the answer is yes. Some of those things are felonies. Some of those things will get you on the sex offender registry for life. Even very minor crimes can be enough to start you on a lifelong downward legal spiral if you are poor, black, disabled, or otherwise make an easy target for a capricious and profoundly prejudicial system.
In “I’m a criminal and so are you“, Michelle Alexander wraps up with this pointed conclusion:
I doubt Barack Obama thinks of himself as a criminal, though he should. He has admitted to using illegal drugs during his college years — lots, in fact. What if he thought of himself as a criminal? What if he identified that way? Would it lead him to feel a bit more compassion for those who are branded drug felons for life, unable to find work or housing, and deemed ineligible even for food stamps?…
I am a criminal. Coming to terms with this aspect of my identity has helped me to see more clearly — with blinders off — the ways in which I have been encouraged not to feel any connection to “them,” those labeled criminals. I see now that “they” are me, and I am them.
When we vote, when we make judgments about people, when we decide on policy, when we think about what is right and wrong and who is who, it’s important to keep in mind that the law brands almost all of us as criminals, and the state is happy to round us up. “They are me, and I am them,” indeed.