Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Fatty/Bad Fatty

Well, y'all, I covered that particular topic over a month ago, but it seems to be all the rage now. So let's do this thing.

Dividing people in acceptable and unacceptable examples of their oppressed demographic is a time-honored tactic by oppressors. If you can get at least part of the group to turn its back on the rest, by way of convincing them that the oppression is somehow their own fault, and that it can be relieved by behaving in a particular way and alienating those who do not, well, doesn't that seem a perfect strategy for not just getting as many of them to behave the way you want them to, but also to assist you in oppressing their own demographic?

This is a well-beaten path, and we need to look to the experiences of those who have gone before us in pursuit of human rights to guide us. Civil rights activists have long known that when oppressed persons engage in behaviors (such as "acting white") to please their oppressors and mitigate their circumstances, the only thing that changes is the form of oppression. You are not truly free if you must behave in particular ways in order to avoid being abused.

We must also not fall into the trap of believing that those who abuse us have our best interests in mind, no matter what they claim. The abuse is easier to accept when we believe we deserve it, and abusers frequently try to convince their victims that the abuse is the victim's fault, and they wouldn't be abused, if only they would have done certain things. The truth is, abusers have no right to abuse, and they do so because it satisfies some desire or need in them--NOT because their victims deserve it. If the victims did not have a certain behavior or quality that the abuser focuses upon, there would be some other behavior or quality that the abuser would use an excuse.

None of us deserves the poor treatment we get for being fat. Every single one of us deserves basic human rights and dignity. What we eat, how much we exercise, our vital stats? Those aren't even a factor. Being a living, feeling being should be enough to warrant dignity. Don't stand for any less.

4 comments:

fatadelic said...

Dividing people in acceptable and unacceptable examples of their oppressed demographic is a time-honored tactic by oppressors.

Exactly. I've been trying to find the words to say this, but have been far less articulate.

None of us deserves the poor treatment we get for being fat. Every single one of us deserves basic human rights and dignity. What we eat, how much we exercise, our vital stats? Those aren't even a factor. Being a living, feeling being should be enough to warrant dignity. Don't stand for any less.

Exactly.

peggynature said...

I'm glad you're referencing history in all this. I know we go in cycles, and have repeat conversations around the same subject, and it can all be very confusing -- so I think we need to refer to history more often when that happens. FA is relatively young, and sometimes I feel I'm at sea with knowing what to do. Especially since I haven't been heavily involved with other social justice movements, so I don't have the experience to apply. But yeah, I checked out Pattie Thomas's blog and she linked to an older version of this same conversation:

http://www.largesse.net/Archives/healthism.html

Brian said...

While I understand the concerns of "healthism" as a theoretical problem, I've never seen them actually advocated by fat activists. The whole notion of being "good" or "bad" is entirely a construct of fat hatred, but its also been one fat activists are constantly told to take responsibility for. "Acting white" is a mistake in that it allows the oppressor to take ownership of whatever qualities it deems good. Part of resisting oppression is resisting the structures used to perpetuate that oppression. Talking about "good" fatties isn't meant as aspirational, but as a way of showing the structures of oppression to be false. That's something FA will need to do. Avoiding that message because not everyone feels "good" by the oppressive standards of fat hatred won't be constructive. Its just letting fat hatred define our limitations.

hal said...

a-fucking-men, sister. well said - very well said.