Safe Spaces and Intersectionality
In the social justice sphere, probably the two most talked about issues are safe spaces and intersectionality; it is ironic because safe spaces don’t exist and intersectionality is something we pay lip service to. Even if a blogger does their absolute best to set a tone that respects differences between people, some jackass will decide in the comment section that this is simply unacceptable, and then proceed to spew their shite all over the comment section. To some degree, the blogger will have some control, because zie will have the option to ban, delete or simply not publish said comment, but regardless, someone has to wade through this muck.
Intersectionality is supposedly about eradicating the concept of competing oppressions and the end of the idea that there is any such thing as a good oppression. Since none of us are born outside of discourse, this means that we still at the very least subconsciously repeat patterns of behaviour and modes of thought that we claim to be against. How often have you seen a single issue blog that is determined to fight, sexism, racism, homophobia etc., turn around and oppress another group in the project of securing rights for themselves? Because these blogs are largely insular, they don’t get called out regularly on their failures, or those that do protest, are quickly overwhelmed with the onslaught of denial.
All of this of course leads to an unsafe space. Do you see how this creates a circle of oppression? I think what bothers me the most, is that in the act of calling out privilege, far too many forget that they still exist with privilege. If someone is marginalized, they are oppressed, and they should not have to justify this by producing a pound of flesh, as evidence of the way that they have been harmed, when we know that homophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia, disableism, ageism etc., (yes there are more) are institutionalized. The very fact that we demand this evidence, is proof of unacknowledged privilege. Imagine for one moment the need to relate the most painful events of your life to prove that you are oppressed. What kind of sense does this make? To me it feels like revictimizing someone who has already been dreadfully hurt.
Every community, no matter what form of oppression that they have faced, has actively oppressed another group. It is a very easy thing to do, because we are all taught from birth to respect and enforce hierarchy. This of course becomes complicated when one’s body becomes representative of several oppressions. I was born a Black woman, but I became disabled, and when this happened, I finally had a true understanding of the need for intersectionality, because my body became a reflection of it. I learned that having privilege in one area, does not negate the oppression someone faces in another.
Even with all that I have learned, I still make mistakes. Sometimes, as in the case of the trans community, I have gotten on my pedestal claiming to fight transphobia and cissexism, and then promptly engaged in it myself. Most recently, I think that I have been guilty of erasure. If you look through this blog, you will find many articles written by me specifically arguing against the suggestion that the Black community is specifically homophobic, but what I neglected to mention was the other side of the coin, the GLBT community is not uniquely racist either. While I have written articles against homophobia, and even have several BLGT contributors, I trusted my previous actions to speak for my feelings and by so doing, I ignored the way that when race enters the picture, suddenly the effects of homophobia or transphobia, seem to disappear in conversations in the social justice blogosphere. I am as guilty as anyone else and I apologize.
A White TLBG person will always have racial privilege. Nothing that they say or do will ever erase this, but this does not mean that the attacks that they face based specifically in cissexism and heterosexism should ever be minimized, no matter what the intersection is. Just as I decry racism, I must work to ensure that it is not over shadowed by cissexism and heterosexism, because they are harmful and wrong. I think for me, it was easy to let this slide, because I am a person of colour, and I know first hand the effects of racism. To take this idea one step further, the elements of the GLBT that are racist are no more respective of the entire community than the elements of the Black community that are homophobic. What we need to do is to have conversations about the isms rather than attacking each other because when we do this the project of acquiring equality is stalled. As oppressed people, we have far more in common than we recognize, and this pursuit to ensure that hierarchy is enforced in our various communities, is harmful and parroting the oppressor.
- Renee at Womanist Musings
This is an amazing post by Renee that relates to a lot of arguing that happens between social activism communities. She breaks it down like the amazing person she is, once again.
If you haven’t visited her blog, Womanist Musings yet, I highly recommend you do so immediately.
view the original post and comments here
[After Kim Selling]
By: Julianne Potter
Photo used by: Neal Breton
We are headed for a day
when census workers
bring a box
door to door
and you must fit inside
like airplane carry-ons
I am only allowed so much room
Well, I’ll be damned
if you can fit me in that box
in an arm chair
in the desk in the classroom
through the doorway
while you’re standing there
watching me fit into jeans
tucking my fat below waistbands
who says I ought to spend my nights on
and eat celery until my flesh
hangs limp off my frame
so my eyes can sink
into my cheeks
and I can worry about keeping my shirt on in bed?
‘I don’t know a single person who is fat and can look in the mirror and be happy”
but I am
soft and smooth
it will hold children
brown in the sun
fold lovingly when I sit
my hips are rounded
they carry books, babies, laundry baskets
they will be cuddled
my double chin
appears only when I am relaxed
I don’t look like you
but you don’t look like me either
and you would drown in my pants
so I ask that you don’t force me into yours
don’t stare when I eat
don’t laugh when I dance
don’t point when I run up the stairs, late to class
don’t whisper when I choose the elevator
or the ice cream
don’t tell me I’ll be alone
or that I shouldn’t wear this skirt
just let it go.
Know that I won’t put restrictions
on the space you occupy
I won’t hold up a box
or a dress form
and place inside
because we move and change
shrink and stretch
wrinkle and bloat
grow and decompose
we are grown-old children
in the concrete playgrounds
skinned knees and elbows
some of us taller, shorter, fatter, smaller
grasping for a gold star
Tell them to fuck their numbers
and you can take a walk with me
down this graveled path
we will thrive
in our other-ness
this is SO great!!! I’m honored to have my likeness attached to this <3 <3 xoxoxoxoxo
This made me cry but then everything’s making me cry today.
<3 <3 <3
So cal tumblrerers!
Does anybody know of any fat/plus size thrift/ used clothing stores in the general LA area. I’m in the area on a whim for the weekend and me and my fat friend want to shop! Thanks! Please send me an “ask” if you know of any, I am without the internet besides my phone. Thanks again!
I’ve been out of this trying to come up with a follow up post, but my original point was that counteracting the “I shouldn’t have to pay for fat people with my health insurance money” with “but some of us are healthy” is a dangerous tactic to take.
People like this are looking for excuses to separate who they feel are the deserving from the undeserving. Coming back with “but, but, but, I’m healthy, I worked hard, I deserve health care” really does send the message that those of us who don’t work hard, aren’t healthy, or don’t practice HAES are less deserving. Even if that’s not what you meant at all, because people have thirty second soundbite minds, especially people who want to hold on to bigoted views. If you say “health at every size” to them, they don’t usually go look that up, research it, or even hear the “at every size” part. They’re not hearing “based on personal goals and metrics, working within what you’re capable of doing, and understanding that it’s not a moral imperative” they hear “health”. Full stop.
I fully believe in HAES, in weight neutral approaches to personal health care, in joyful movement and eating intuitively. I just don’t think we should be talking about it with people who have determined that SOME people are deserving of health care and SOME people aren’t, because it doesn’t truly challenge their bigotry.
Someone else responded to this thread (there’s hundreds of reblogs, I’m still reading everything) that they didn’t think that we should be saying “it’s OK to be unhealthy” and I have to ask you, why?
Why do rights and dignity only apply to the people who make choices you personally approve of? Either you believe in bodily autonomy, or you don’t. Either people own their bodies and get to make their own private choices, or they don’t. Yes, it really is ableism to start encroaching on autonomy. These exact arguments are used to deny disabled people autonomy and agency every single day. People are still, yes still, forcibly sterilized, forcibly incarcerated, abused and neglected in institutions and nursing homes because they were not trusted to make their own health care and reproductive decisions. If you do not believe that health is a private matter, you help to foster a culture that perpetuates the worst kind of abuses in the name of “concern”. You have no place, no right, to concern yourself with the health of a complete stranger.
Yes, a mandate to be healthy or to try to be healthy is inherently and inescapably ableist. I highly recommend reading every article at FWD, reading through the archives at this ain’t livin’ (especially the health and disability tags), and reading the articles about health written by meowser at Fat Fu. Listen to the voices at the intersection of fat, health, and disability. Think about what has been said the next time someone brings up who is deserving and who is undeserving of health care. Don’t come back to them with how you are personally deserving, instead challenge them about the very roots of their bigotry. Remember that these people are trying to determine who is and who is not deserving of life itself. The American discussion over health care and health insurance is literally a discussion over who deserves to live and die, please think about who gets left out if we only focus on those who are lucky enough to be healthy.
And I do mean lucky. Health is still largely a factor of access, economic factors, environmental factors, and genetics. Narratives about “personal responsibility” are quite popular because they allow individuals with privilege to ignore systemic oppressions that create disease and ill health. Food deserts, unsafe and unwalkable cities, environmental toxins, rural isolation, lack of access to preventative health care, lack of appropriate health care due to provider incompetence and bias, lack of funding for disease research, pharmaceutical companies prioritizing profits over people… That’s not even getting into the enormous effects that racism and classism have on individuals and communities or the stigmatization of mental and physical disabilities that serves to keep disabled people ostracized and impoverished. I’d go so far as to say a mandate for health is not only ableist, it ties into every other oppression. The problem, as always, is systemic. Individual solutions never do anything to erase systemic oppressions.
This space was created because a couple of fatties wanted more people of color to start talking about the politics behind Fat Acceptance.
We are slowly but surely building this space. We promise to bring you some quality discussions, photos, articles, videos, perspectives and whatever else you…
Please follow! This is a tumblr I co-mod that is just trying to get going.
CNN finally publishes a mostly-excellent article that addresses the fact that genetic and environmental factors are the primary causes of both types of diabetes. References to weight loss are fairly minimal and the author, a doctor and the chief scientific and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association, acknowledges that managing risk factors can be incredibly difficult. More people need to read this and understand what he’s saying.
But don’t read the comments. Apparently random people think they understand diabetes, particularly type 2, better than a doctor who has spent much of his career studying it.
I am so in love with you for posting this!!! thanks a vagillion! <3
I wrote a song to answer the below anon.
Here are the lyrics:
If I took no vitamins
would you feel the need to lecture me?
Would a vitamin D deficiency
make you scream “she’s so unhealthy!”?
only if it made me purple in the face
or caused my head to inflate and take up space
because you really hate the body
you hate that i don’t hate it
you’re not attracted to it
so you hate that i don’t change it
if my health weren’t visible at all
you wouldn’t give a damn
but it’s gotta be your business if i eat too much ham
you’re conflating morality
all the time with health
you’re under this impression
like everybody else
that my value as a person
has some inherent ties
to what my body can or cannot do
or its current size
too much tacos
you also don’t know the difference
between correlation and causality
obesity doesn’t cause diabetes
they’re just often caused by the same things
calling people “airbrushed twigs”
is also people-hating (it says “women-hating” in the video but i don’t like that and i apologize)
no one’s body is your business
so you’re being frustrating
too many jellybeans
i am no one’s role model
and my health’s not your concern
to improve my appearance
would be impossible
i’m so hot i fucking burn
I am tired of fat blogging and community hierarchies. Like, “I’ve been blogging on Livejournal for 10 years, so what I am saying or have said in my exclusive online/real life communities is much more important and valid than what these girls on Tumblr are doing now.”