August 22, 2003 03:31 PM

I love love love love love what Tish says in her Big Fat Blog introduction.

A radical fat liberation movement does not accept. We assert. We assert the right to make our own choices about how to experience our bodies. Some of us like being fat. Some of us celebrate our bodies. And some of us still struggle but we know that our bodies are not inherently wrong.


And yet there's more. I want more.

I'm looking for a revolution that covers all bodies. It isn't enough to have a revolution of fat bodies queer bodies women's bodies trans bodies. It isn't the revolution we need.

Because the revolution we need is about liberation from the duality of bodies entirely. We think that to have beautiful must also mean to have non-beautiful, just as to have woman is to have man, fat thin black white queer straight rich poor.

We like pairs, don't we?

I'm coming around a corner on the intersection of all the movements I belong in. This is the intersection, the body. The lines drawn upon it to mark acceptable and not. To differentiate.

The pairs assume the existence of A and B where key parts of the definition of each is the opposite. To be A is to be A, but most importantly, to be A is to be not-B. It makes sense psychologically, that there's this desire to define oneself as something and not something else, but I think there's also a cultural component to that psychology.

It's like survey methodologies. People respond to the choices put before them. If I'm two and I'm wondering what I am [Is that when you're two, or later? I'm not sure.], it makes sense to define myself as girl, as not-boy, because no other alternative is present.

I must be A or not-A. I cannot be AB, or BA or ABBA. Why not?

Perhaps it would lead to too many options. There are so many possible combinations already that it would be virtually impossible to define people as anything but themselves if every individual had some uniquely AB sexual preference, some uniquely BA gender, color, size, perspective. The usefulness of definition is that it creates a certain predictability, through the implications of the behaviors associated with each binary body. Simply, a woman is and looks certain ways, does certain things.

An element of predictability seems essential to societal interaction. But what if it weren't?

I've read two books lately that have given me the push more and more to the fringe, farther from binary. Genderqueer (which Ms. 9 generously leant me). And The End of Gay. While one is playing very much in the transgender space and the other very much in the queer one, they're both playing with me in the space where definitions are and should be blurring.

We are. I believe. About to be - if we aren't already - in the midst of the great fucking radical body liberation.

The great fucking radical body liberation will widen the definitions of A and B so much that ultimately, they'll just be one big bubble of difference. In the meantime, though, I'm glad of the fat and queer and gender and race activists who keep their individual revolutions growing and growing and growing. Until, eventually, they jut right up against each other.

And pop.

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your wicked thoughts

Yeah. Bifurcation sucks.
We do seem to need to build boxes.
I like your revolution.

these are the thoughts of Tish on August 22, 2003 05:42 PM

Where do straight people exist in this revolution? (It sounds like forcing everyone to be some gradation of bi, even though that's not our truth.) Isn't revolution about freedom for everybody?

these are the thoughts of Kell on August 22, 2003 06:39 PM

kell, it's not that everyone needs to BE an A or a B, but that those identities aren't necessary. why do we need to say a person is straight or gay? why not allow any variation to be fine, with no "identity" or politics about it?

these are the thoughts of april on August 23, 2003 03:32 PM

Well, practically speaking, it makes finding someone harder. How do you set a friend up if you don't know their orientation? And, the daily, consistent truth is that if I have an opportunity to attend an event, for example, where there may be non-jerk single straight men and one where I know they won't, I'm going where the straight guys are. (To borrow from Fat Life, going to a party where only bi/gay people are present is a bit like going shopping with thin friends. It might be worth it once and a great while for the sake of the company, but on a regular basis, it's abusive.)

And, I'm getting the message from Archer et al. that being bi is, in their opinions, somehow more "evolved" or "mature" or other superior to being straight (or a solid-gay Kinsey 6). I absolutely do not believe this, and also have a hard time finding any difference between this argument and the theory that heterosexuality is the only "natural" orientation. With "tolerance" like Archer's, who needs Fundies?

And, being straight is a major part of my identity. It impacts the entirety of my existence, impacts every day of my life, how I move and feel in the world, where my metaphors come from, my dreams and goals and obstacles, how I dress, how I interact with others. And that's true for anyone else's sexuality, even if they're running in "no identity" mode (which is also an identity.)

And, try being a fat women with an education and a small talent for sports, and see how the politics fly. I've been told I'm not "allowed" to be straight all my life, by sexist jerks, by people who think straight isn't cool enough, by media, etc. etc. The politics are already there, in spades, and denying them won't help me find my bliss, i.e. husband. (Eek. I said the "h" word.)

I keep coming back to the idea that we each need to respect and believe each other when we identify ourselves in any way, but especially something as crucial as sexuality. But that courtesy needs to be consistently and universally extended.

these are the thoughts of Kell on August 23, 2003 04:28 PM

And BTW, I really like this site.

these are the thoughts of Kell on August 25, 2003 11:56 PM

Ah! Kell, I'm seeing your issue now after reading your more elaborated comments.

So, from the outside, Archer sounds like he's saying bisexuality is the next step. But he's not. He actually quite pointedly says he's not at one point in the book and goes on to somewhat disparage the concept of bisexuality and the notion of need for that concept.

His theory is also very Aristotelian - at least, in being more descriptive than proscriptive. What I get from his book (and I admit, I am undoubtedly seeing his predictions through the lens of my own politics) is that ultimately we will come not to need the labels of gay-straight-bi, not because no one will have the experience of being attracted to & getting down with only one gender, but because that whole deal will become much less politicized. Making the labels unnecessary. I don't think that equates to a judgement of "queer" (behaviorally) as the way to be and straight as, well - queer.

Given that, I don't see Archer as preaching a specific brand of tolerance or intolerance. Rather, he strings together his experience and his understanding of history into an idea of what will come in the future. What might be already coming.

As for the question of fat being excluded from proper heterosex (aka "sexy") - My take on things is very much an extension of Archer and the Genderqueer gang to the things I care about and know most - namely gender from outside the trans perspective and bodies from the size politics perspective. If you take the gender-proscribed labels away from sexuality, might you not also take the other proscriptions of what could/could not be attractive out of it (gender, size, other aspects)? And if you take the A and B labels out of gender, doesn't that make it easier to distance ourselves from politicized notions of what the "feminine" or "masculine" body/mind is?

Of course, this is high-flying idealistic theory. But it might turn out to be right.

these are the thoughts of april on August 26, 2003 09:20 AM

Yes, but...

Courtship is impossible right now. Other than high school (and college, sort of, depending upon one's age and schedule, and whether or not they're working full time, too), we have absolutely no way for people to meet each other in safe, mutually respectful circumstances (i.e. accommodating various religions, degrees of monogamy/polygamy).

Bars and dances are far to sexually explicit, hostile, alcohol-dominated, or just plain noisy for many of us, and include a lot of cultural pressure against monogamy or the pursuit of marriage. Most more accessible events are also filled with families and people not looking for anyone, and if one does meet someone new and eligible in the middle of the fair or whatever, chances are their orientation or goals don't match up, or one just isn't their "type".

I am looking for quite possibly the rarest man on the planet -- not a fatphobe and not an FA/feeder, either; monogamous; loyal; straight; heavy on the masculinity (or whatever you want to call it -- I'm not into people who could be either or both); a guy looking for someone actually his own age; etc. etc.

Without "labels" to help cut through the mess, I don't see how this can be managed, for me or anybody. Perhaps that tiny percentage of people who are unusually gregarious, and who have lives that bring them into contact with many people may find someone, but the rest of us are busy, and cut off, and there are no support structures anywhere (i.e. a good yente) helping us hook up. (Personal ads are a failure because they're spread far, far too thinly among too many providers, and loaded with liars and people who can't read, and generally lack social support and moral accountability.)

There's already enough chaos. Without some sort of shorthand for sexual orientations, the wasted-time factor goes up. I'm actually hoping for many *more* labels, especially for obvious, on the lapel/t-shirt distinctions between people who are monogamous and polygamous. The gulf between people looking for "serial monogamy", or to hook up, or other forms of polygamy, and monogamous people looking for life-long marriage is massive, but never discussed as an important social factor.

I'm trying to find hope in the "Marriage Movement", but they're so tied up with conservative politics, homophobia and sexism that the very real problem of isolated monogamous people who aren't Fundie Nuts (to put it bluntly) gets lost in the shouting match. If you're not a Falwell groupie, you don't fit in there, either.

I'm not willing to return to the turn of the Century, where marriage happened because society dictated it. However, we've had nothing to replace that meeting/courtship/commitment support structure other than ads and bars, which only work for the temporariliy-inclined, under 40, or drunk/noise-tolerant. (I'm not including Christian and Jewish places of worship, here, because if you're not Christian or Jewish, you're still out of luck.)

I guess I just don't see anything in Archer's little black bag that could make my life better, and, because the lack of "labels" could make us all even more anonymous to each other, I think for many of us it might even make life worse.

these are the thoughts of Kell on August 26, 2003 02:07 PM

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