Friday, May 11, 2012

Stupid-ass Questions with Easy Answers

So on one of the message boards I frequent, this gem popped up.  Knowing this poor, poor woman was crying out to the group for a little help,  I decided it was up to me (especially after I read the comments).  I'm not much of an advice columnist, but we'll see.  If this works, maybe I can branch out.

I've noticed lately, pretty much since I've been on my weightloss kick, that when I see tremendously overweight people out in public, eating gross things ect. I get very judgemental. I really don't want to be this way, and I feel bad for thinking the way I do, but I can't help but think "It's not hard to lose weight, and you shouldn't be eating that"

Is it wrong for me to feel this way?


Dear IIW:


With love,


Sunday, May 6, 2012

We've come a long way?

Repost of something I wrote years ago.

(Trigger Warning for Domestic Abuse)

Several years ago, I was watching a history channel special on JFK.  The show asserted that the reason JFK had won the election was because of two things: women and TV.  Women voted for JFK because they saw him on TV, and he was cute. 

At the time, I was living with my grandmother, who was in her eighties, and I remember asking her, "Grandma, did you vote for President Kennedy because he was handsome?"

"No, I did not," my grandma snapped back, startling me with the vehemence of her response.  "I voted for him because he said that he would raise the minimum wage, and I had five babies to feed.”

“Oh, okay,” I answered, but Grandma was just getting started.  I’d obviously touched a nerve.

What Boys Can Learn From Girls (or: Be a Pussy).

A repost of something I wrote years ago.

(Trigger Warning for homophobia, child abuse, and sexual assault.)

My brother is a decent kid, and I love him, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s homophobic. 

To his credit, he doesn’t want to be a homophobe...he’s a good, progressive boy raised by a progressive mom, living in a progressive area (San Francisco), and he has a lesbian sister (me) that he loves.  He’d never beat up or tease a gay kid--he’s stuck up for a gay kids, or kids that were perceived as gay/effeminate, at school and boy scouts, even--he’s totally supportive of civil rights for the queer community and voted against Prop 8.  I’m not saying he should get a medal for this; treating gay people like, well, people, is the bare requirement for being a decent human being, in my book.  But I say this to establish that he doesn’t hate gay people or wish us harm. 

But he’s still homophobic. 

I use homophobic in the literal sense, not the general usage of the term.  He is afraid of gay people.  Well, gay men.  Like many 19-year-old, heterosexual boys, he’s a product of our porn culture, and really likes lesbians.  At least the “hot” ones.  (But that’s a different rant, for a different time.)  Gay men freak him out.  Though he’s known several out gay boys, he’s never had a gay friend, and doesn’t want one.  He’d never dream of interfering in the lives of gay men, but he doesn’t want to be a part of their lives, either.

To his credit, he admits that this is a problem, specifically his problem and not something that gay people cause just by the fact of their existence.  To his discredit, he doesn’t think that it’s possible to change the way he feels, and has no intention of making an effort to change.  “It’s just the way it is,” he says.  “Any guy would feel the same way.”

(Presumably, he means any heterosexual guy.  It’s a little thing, but it really shows his deep bias against gay folk, even with his progressive politics.  All guys are heterosexual.  Gays are “other.”)

We had a long conversation the other day, during which I tried to get to the bottom of his homophobia.  How can a kid who doesn’t really have a moral problem with homosexuality, who actively supports gay rights, who has been raised around gay people and has gay family, still harbor a deep fear against gay men?  It came down to a couple of things.

First, he finds gay sex skeevy.  Okay.  I can understand that; I find a lot of sex gross, hetero and homo.  Hell, the time I heard my parents having sex in the shower scarred me for life, but it doesn’t mean I’m afraid of my parents.  After some thought, he agreed.  Yeah, he thinks gay sex is nasty, but it doesn’t make him afraid.  He just doesn’t think about it.  Which is good, because frankly, I think that people who like to sit around all day long thinking about sex acts in general, and sex acts that gross them out in particular, are just perverts.  (Here’s looking at you, Peter LaBarbera.)  So that explanation doesn’t work.

The real answer, we discovered, is that he’s afraid that a gay man might find him attractive.  He’s super uncomfortable with the thought of another boy checking him out.  He has no idea what to do if a guy hits on him--what will he say?  How should he act?  And, of course, there’s an underlying fear of rape.  Even though he acknowledges that it’s stupid (and arrogant), that he knows gay people aren’t roaming the streets looking to molest his ass, he’s still afraid. 

The kicker of the conversation was when he looked at me and said, totally seriously, “You’re not a man.  You can’t understand.”


Repost from my livejournal.

(Trigger Warning for disordered eating and sexual assault.)

Anorexia is a weird thing.

For a girl who was 300+ lbs throughout high school, anorexia was always the terrible disease I longed to catch. I tried being anorexic--not dieting, I mean, I tried cultivating a fear and hatred for food. Didn't work, for the obvious reasons. So I had a gastric bypass, which may or may not have been about as destructive (my intestines ruptured; I nearly died). It got the job done, and I made the decision with my eyes wide open about possible deadly consequences (though no one mentioned intestinal rupture!), so I don't waste time regretting my decision. Anyway.

A gastric bypass isn't a magic bullet, especially when you are very heavy pre-surgery. The first year, it's impossible not to lose weight, but after that, you're on your own. I got down to about 180 lbs, then went to rehab and shot up to 230 lbs pretty quick. Since I had lost over 100 lbs, I was still considered a success story, but it certainly didn't feel that way. So I resolved to try and lose weight again, and began actually doing healthy things, like limiting food intake and exercising. All for the good.

That changed after I was raped.

This Slut Votes

So a group called This Slut Votes has started to try and organize against the recent epidemic of anti-woman Republican legislation. 

I fucking love it. 

This might not be a surprise, considering the name of this blog, but I'm a big fan of reclaiming language.  You wanna call me a bitch?  Bring it.  If your definition of "bitch" is "woman who disagrees with me and doesn't snivel about it" than, fine, you got it, I'm a bitch.  After I heard my brother say, "I usually don't use this word, but Hillary Clinton is such a cunt," I was, like, if Ms. Clinton is a cunt, than I sure wanna be one, too!  

Not everyone agrees.  That's fine.  I understand that some people who've been hurt by such language in the past don't like to hear those words thrown around, or feel that "reclaiming" does more harm than good.  I've seen it argued that taking on "slut" is giving into the male-pleasure dominated porn culture, and that it can never truly be an empowering word. 

But I don't think that's what's going on here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Weight Reality

This is a repost of something I posted on facebook.

People on a message board I frequent (at My Fitness Pal, a very cool website with some assholes in the community, like everywhere) were talking about how they hate seeing fat people in public, and how fatties just gross them out, and how awful they feel when they see a fat person buying unhealthy food at the store, etc. I was so angry that I just had to reply. Here it is:

It is impossible to tell from looking at someone what their lifestyle is. Even when I was at my heaviest (300+ lbs), I still worked out and tried to eat healthy.  Hell, I was a vegan! I have a medical condition and am on medication that makes weight loss almost impossible (which is why my doctor recommended a gastric bypass, which helped but didn't magically fix). When moving hurt, I still made time to exercise in a healthy way, and I was able to keep my blood pressure and sugar levels in a good range (a better indicator of health than pant size). Weight is incredibly complex...experts and studies confirm that it is so, so much more than "eat less/exercise more." Genetics, medication, health conditions, and past lifestyle choices all play a huge part. And heavy people have often been on many, many diets...most of which, studies show, fail, and then cause excessive weight gain and slow metabolism later in life. The assumption that someone who is overweight doesn't take care of themselves, or if they just worked at it they could lose weight, is false and fed by our weight-obsessed society.

Class and money play a huge role. Have you ever tried eating a healthy diet on food stamps? It's almost impossible. My mother tried to feed a family of six on a very limited food budget...she would have loved to have fresh fruits and veggies in the house, but when a package of Top Ramen was cheaper than an apple, and actually satisfied the hunger of her children (an apple is a great snack, but doesn't cut it for dinner), she chose the item that didn't make her kids go to bed starving. Processed food is terrible for you and causes weight gain, but that's what poor people buy, because a) it's cheaper, b) it lasts, and c) it's quick to make, and when you're working 2-3 jobs and going to school (as my mom was), you don't have time to cook healthy dinners. So please don't judge the mom whose shopping cart is filled with items you personally disapprove of; you have no idea what they're going through.

And you really don't know what someone's lifestyle is like based on a quick glance in the grocery store. A couple years ago, my mom sent me the store to pick up candy and other desserts for a church party that evening. While standing in line, the person in front turned around and sneered, "You'll never lose weight if you keep eating like that." Well, considering the food all had milk in it, I wasn't planning on eating any of it. And she seriously thought I was gonna take 15 bags of candy home to eat? Is that really what people think fat folks do, sit around all day eating bags of candy?

When I was the low girl on the work totem pole, my boss sent me out to get food from Costco for everyone. So I was getting several hot dogs and snacky things. When I was walking back, a woman said, "No wonder you're fat," with a horrible, smug and disapproving look on her face. Yeah, like I was gonna eat four hot dogs on my own, and anyway, it's none of her business! I was a lot less confident then, so I was in tears by the time I got back to work, and told my boss I couldn't do the food runs anymore (she was pissed on my behalf and totally agreed...they never made me go again). I was so hurt. It takes courage to go out and try to be happy when you're very heavy, and it just takes a little comment, someone reminding you that to the rest of the world you're hideous, to make you want to go home and slit your wrists or never go outside again.

I have on several occasions been used by mothers to fat-shame their children. It's horrible on two levels: 1) because they're talking about me like I'm disgusting and the worst thing someone could be, which is SO dehumanizing and hurtful, and 2) because they are using me to scare and shame their daughters, passing on the torch of body hatred, and teaching their kids that it's okay to make rude comments about someone's weight, because fat is the worst thing you can be. Quick example: when I was a cashier, a girl was bugging her mom for M&M's. The mom said to her daughter, "Do you want to end up fat like her?" (pointing at me). I quickly finished ringing her up, then had to take a break because I started crying. (I'm a lot tougher now, but, like I said, I used to be more sensitive about my weight.)

This is just one example of many over the years.

It's the reason I always made my little sister get her own popcorn at the theatre.  She (skinny girl that she is) likes a lot of extra butter. I told her that I just can't deal with the looks (if not the comments) that I get as a fat girl ordering extra butter. It hurts; I'm not going to put myself in that position. Or if I was celebrating a special occasion or was at a restaurant I really liked and wanted a dessert, sometimes I just didn't order (or made someone else order) because I couldn't stand the looks I would get. People didn't know it was something I rarely did. They just assumed that, hey, fat girl orders cake=she must eat cake all day long and that's why she's fat. Even if I just ordered the same thing my skinny friends ordered.

I have struggled with starving myself (which is the worst thing you can do to lose weight; it just made me unhealthy and more fat), with self-injury (taking out my body hatred on my stomach with a knife), with depression, with social anxiety. Some of it can be traced to the terrible things people have said to me during my life. I'm stronger now, I understand that the people who say and do those things are really just ignorant and scared (they don't understand the complexity of weight loss; they are scared of gaining weight themselves). But it took a lot of therapy and education for me to get to this place, and I still struggle with disordered eating and self-injury.

In conclusion: you don't know what someone's lifestyle is by just looking at them, and you don't know what medical conditions might be the cause of their weight. And you don't know how hurtful even your non-verbal actions can be. Get educated, and have some compassion. Pant size is a terrible indicator of a person's value as a human being.

God Saved Me?

This is a repost of something I posted on facebook.

I need to talk about something that is deeply upsetting and problematic to me, but I'm afraid that it's going to offend people that I care about. So let me state up front that offending people is not at all my intention.

A year and a half ago, I nearly died. That's not hyperbole; it's fact. It took three emergency surgeries before the doctor believed I even had a hope of surviving, but for the first couple days, my loved ones were told that there was a good chance I wasn't going to make it. In fact, if I had been older, not in good health otherwise, or were it three years ago (before the technology used to save my life was invented), they wouldn't have even attempted to save me. I would have died.

Almost immediately, I was told in one way or another, "God saved your life."

To which I have to respond: "I don't have the words to convey how offensive that is."

(Let me try to find the words.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why I Don't Belive in God

It wasn’t because of  a tragedy.

It had nothing to do with those who call themselves followers of Christ, and yet do evil.

It’s not youthful rebellion, or a way to get back at my parents. (Note: I mean, it's really, really not.  My biggest regret about losing my faith is the hurt it causes my folks.  I get really fucking tired of this assertion.)

It wasn’t because I wanted carte blanche to run my life as I wanted.

It wasn’t because I wanted to be different.

It wasn’t because I wanted to cause trouble.

It wasn’t something I went looking for.

And when I finally accepted it, it was with deep reluctance, and I still wished there was some way to go back.

Atheism, Agnosticism, and Humanism

Labels, labels, labels. 

I dislike "atheist" as a label because, a) it really doesn't tell you anything other than "I don't believe in God," b) makes god belief the default, which I think is a mistake, and c) the word comes with a lot of baggage. 

But it's because of that baggage that I don't hesitate to tell people I'm an atheist.  People need to realize that atheists aren't immoral, baby-eating pedophiles who want to kill and rape with impunity.  They also should know that many atheists (most atheists that I know, actually) used to be sincere Christians.  In fact, in my experience (all anecdotal, of course, though I'd be interested to see someone study this) often an effort to be a better Christian, studying apologetics and church history, biblical criticism and exegesis, leads people first out of fundamentalism and biblical literalism (which cannot withstand serious, honest scrutiny), and then out of belief all together.

I have come out as an atheist to friends and family (and, more anonymously, online), for much the same reasons that I came out as a lesbian.  First, I dislike being dishonest, and I'm bad at it.  My mom and I are very close, and I can't keep a secret for long.  I couldn't play the game anymore; much like when I was playing at being straight, I knew all the right things to say and do, but it didn't take long before play-acting started making me sick.  Also, as I said, I know that most people who hate atheists (and gay people, for that matter), do so because they don't know (or think they don't know) any.  Just by being honest, I can open people's minds, a little. 

But calling myself an atheist is starting to feel dishonest, too.