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the worst article ever written
link : thoughts (2) (user/password is 'redpolka') : track it (3) : in fat & health stuff
If you're on any size acceptance lists or boards (on a side note, it's remarkable how all these sites focus their discussion on more or less the same things, and just have different approaches to the same issues), you've probably seen the worst article ever written.
The author says a lot of unfounded, rather mean things about fat people. And poor people. And southerners. It would be funny if it weren't clear she thought these things were true.
I think the point she started out wanting to make was this: poorer folk really are getting fatter and possibly less healthy, and we fail to recognize the class issues in this; also, the people who are most concerned with dieting these days seem to be wealthier people who have been duped into believing they're fat when they're not. I think she's actually wrong on the latter point, but if she'd actually written an article about these two competing trends instead of trying to be as clever as possible in her "editorializing", it might have been an interesting read.
And yet, what is the point she actually makes? That poor people are icky and slaggardly, and fat people don't read.
I find this interesting, because the source is a Charleston, WVA resident. Charleston is a coal town, a town with an overwhelming feeling of industry and poverty and at least one giant Wal-Mart. Experientially, it seems like the people of Charleston are fatter than average. It also feels like they're a lot poorer than average, and that the rest of the world ought to be paying attention to this.
Maybe we should be doing some more research.
Like, what are the statistics on people in industrial towns getting on weight loss drugs like Metabolife and such? It seems like my midwestern fat relatives have done that, and weightloss surgery and fad diets a hundred times. The influx of the South Beach and Atkins diets into my "higher class" professional workplace is relatively recent, but my aunts were on Scarsdale decades ago. Is it possible that diet marketing has a class consciousness? I don't know, because I tend to tune it out. But I wouldn't be surprised.
Like, how much do wages affect health or weight gain? I don't know how many of the fat folk in Charleston work more than one job, or weird hours, or whatever. I don't know how changes in the energy market around America impact their coal and manufacturing jobs and pensions and the care they get to give their kids. And I don't know if they're just fat, or if they're also unhealthy.
I don't know if it even matters that poor people are getting fat and rich people are getting more diet-obsessed (if that's even true). But if you're going to talk about it, you ought to present some information or at least ask some questions.
Cause otherwise, you're just rewriting the worst article ever written.
what marriage is.
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I was given Jon Rauch's Gay Marriage: Why it's good for gays, good for straights, and good for America by a pal who apparently wanted to make my head fold in upon itself.
We'll leave aside Jon's apparent distaste for all the things I think fondly of where gay culture is concerned, because there are many different queer cultures, and that's a nice thing. We'll leave aside his Log Cabin Republicanness, because the very fact of gay republicans is a testament to how far we've come - that gayness can be a personal identity and not a political one.
We'll just accept Jon for himself, and attack his ideas. Or rather, his ideas as I see them.
See, Jon has a very interesting concept about what marriage is for. His theory is two part. First, marriage is a social structure designed to make young people become "adult" - where "adult" is settled into a normal pattern of working and raising kids and building a little nuclear family. Second, marriage is a guarantee of caretaking for the aged and infirm. To expand Jon's definition, a family is a two-person structure, one that is fixed except for the addition or subtraction (in later life) of children should there be kids involved (kids are, I think rightly, not part of his definition). Only by having that family are people, especially men, officially part of normal, adult society. And only that family will commit to caring for you should you become broken in some way.
I have two problems with that.
No, I have three problems.
First, Jon's concept of adulthood. While he talks about monogamy as his key point about "settling down", there's a strong undercurrent of "be like me" in his notion of adult. Things I think Jon thinks are not adult include: not focusing on providing for a family, being non-monogamous, partying, participation in the wrong political organizations, living with someone, not having a "career", being single, wearing a neon pink muscle tee, voting Green, and having too much fun. Admittedly, I'm reading into things here, but Jon seems to buy into a relatively boring idea of what it means to be a grown up. Well, lots of people do that, and he is a Republican. I can hardly fault him for it.
Second, his assumptions about how family works. A marriage, given the failure rate of marriages these days, hardly looks like a guarantee for your future family. To go into marriage today starry-eyed and certain of growing old together is sweetly optimistic. To look with those starry eyes at marriage as a social institution is just silly.
But - siblings, close friends, roomates, parents, and the network of "urban family" that so many people have today are just as permanent as a spouse might be. The members of my urban family - my best friends, my partner's best friends, our parents, various other relationships - can be counted on to be there for either of us. And if we split up, my half of the family will always be there. They're part of the picture, no matter what. And if anything happens to them, we know we're responsible for helping out. This isn't a modern invention, either - whether family is biologically or legally related or not, extended family is the network people count on. A spouse or partner broadens that family but doesn't eliminate their responsibility for you.
There is a conceit that parents "give up" a child, particularly a daughter, to a new family, but that idea doesn't foot with the reality of urban family life. The things that have changed is biology - we used to have close proximity to our biological extended families, and now we choose family based on proximity (emotional and physical) - and legality - now the subunits of that family may be single, pairs, married folk and unmarried.
Wait, there are four. Four issues!
The third is his general bias against unmarried families ("marriage lite" he calls them) coupled with his insistence on reserving officially sanctioned unions for gay and straight couples. Polyamory he excludes on the grounds that, essentially, they're a very tiny minority of freaks. Why are they scary enough to exclude from marriage rights, if they're so tiny a minority? I felt pretty defensive of the polyamorous folk I know in reading his ready dismissal of the lifestyles they choose and the families they're painstakingly created. He returns to the old argument against polygamy as generally about some men taking up too many of the women, thereby creating a bunch of angry young men - and, oh yeah, polygamy too often occurs in weird religious orders where women are subjugated. The economic danger of men without potential for marriage seems much scarier to Jon (it certainly gets more space in the book) than the possibility that women might get beaten up, but then, I was pretty annoyed before I got to this part of the book. It's quite possible he's not the misogynist I found him to be.
It is entirely possible that the poly families I've encountered are by far the rarity, and that there's a larger group of cultists who would use the legalization of multi-partner marriage to accumulate harems, but I'd like to think that think that people are more sane than that. I think it's highly unlikely that, given as much as feminism and other equality movements have achieved, we're going to see a dramatic swing towards harem-accumulation as a status symbol for anyone other than Trump and Hefner. There's a whole other discussion about polyamory vs. our traditional view of polygamy in this, but suffice to say that I don't think we need to avoid legalizing one thing just because it's sometimes associated with something else that's bad and - by the way - also illegal.
"Marriage lite" he dismisses because... well, just because it's not marriage. It's not. It's also nicely divorced from all the weight that marriage carries - that weight including not only whatever personal meaning you attach to marriage itself, but the traditions of a wife "belonging" to a husband, of obedience, of relatively narrow gender roles that have relatively recently begun to change. As a feminist, marriage's history makes me uncomfortable entering into it. I don't think you can completely disengage marriage from the history of women's oppression, which is precisely why my longstanding cohabitation has remained just that.
To someone denied marriage, it doubtless looks like a more compelling social contract. But in many ways, marriage has been a burden to women for centuries. Other options aren't necessarily "marriage lite" so much as they're simply not marriage.
Which brings me to what bothers me most about Jon's theories - the way he reduces marriage itself.
The reasons people get married and their expectations of marriage are personal, and as numerous as married couples themselves. A thoughtful marriage is a unique contract between people for the way they plan to live their lives. For many people, there's a very specific religious reason. For others, it's about parenting. For others, it's about love (twue wove). Establishing marriage as the "gold standard" of normal adult family, as Jon would have it, reduces it to just a thing you're supposed to do after you grow up.
I know some people think that way today, but I find that really sad. I certainly don't want to be married, if that's what it means.
I think that modern marriage, apart from its history, is about formalizing your family creation, whatever that means to you (and whatever additionally you may think marriage is). I do think that it should be open to any family who wants to do that. And honestly, I'd rather see civil marriage (or civil contracts, unions, whatever) separated entirely from "marriage", with its various religious meanings and history of gender inequity, than see Jon's vision of marriage be a reality.
link : thoughts (2) (user/password is 'redpolka') : track it (0) : in vaguely personal stuff
I wrote a little bit in my livejournal about Hawaii when we first got back. Then I got sleepy and busy and sick (not all at once) before I had a chance to post everything else I wanted to write.
So, the log of my Hawaii trip, for those of you who are interested.
but wait! there's more »
Day one. I really really really hate airplanes. The only watch I have is my cell phone, which adjusts to whatever time it is on the ground at each airport. This is very confusing.
I'd like to always fly during the day. I can't sleep on a plane anyhow, and I might as well be able to watch mountains and fields and cities as we pass them.
Even the airport smells fresh and floral and fruity. How do they do that?
When we get to O`ahu, there's a woman waiting with leis for us. More importantly, she points us to our luggage and the place to catch the rental car shuttle; we are really tired and might not have found these things on our own. Then the rental car place is a mess. I nearly cry, and curse my travel agent's name. But we get in a car and on the road. It's now like 9PM local time (six hours behind us) and we're really punchy, but even the drive up to the North Shore [to give you a sense of perspective, the drive from the southern coast to the north takes maybe 45 minutes] in the dark is beautiful and foreign. And being Hawaii, it rains off and on.
The resort we stay at for the first part of our trip [Turtle Bay] is lovely. The little bungalows on the beach manage to combine a military housing style with a sort of "grown out of the sand" quality that would make Howard Roark proud; inside it's gorgeous and comfy and outside it's like summer camp. They give us more leis. We watch a Korean soap opera set in some feudal era and fall asleep.
Day two. Despite having gone to bed around midnight local time, we wake up before six. We exercise on our little lawn, then attempt to walk in our little surf. Slade gets a weird little lava pebble stuck in his foot. We decide we need reef shoes.
There are mongoose and bird species I've never seen all over the place. Many "Riki Tiki Tavi" jokes are made.
Hours after we get up, but still early (I love travelling east), we go up to the main hotel for The Yummiest Breakfast Ever. They have seaweed salad and salted fish and fruit as good as tomatoes picked off the vine at dinnertime in August. The whole get up early, exercise, go have delicious food thing is basically our morning routine the days we're on the North Shore.
Then we hang out at the pool for hours and get sunburned and eat fish tacos and more fruit, wander around the resort, and generally vegetate. We run out and check out the local area on a little bitty road trip, and pick up a li hing mui (salted pickled plum) shaved ice, which begins our fascination with all things li hing mui. We order room service for dinner and watch the sunset. I love Hawaii.
We watch a Korean soap opera that spends a lot of time talking about cookie production. It's gripping. I end up watching the show ("Kuk Hee") every night.
Day three. So, yesterday was fun, but really a bit boring - we never left the resort. Today we're off to Mormon Polynesia Busch Gardens (aka the Polynesian Cultural Center). The place is a series of "islands" - that is, people who are local to several island groups and have come to school at BYU Hawaii work here (I think it's like a workstudy thing) demonstrating different crafts and arts and such. No rides, despite my allusion to theme parks - it's just very manicured and clean and deliberate.
The place is set up with scheduled presentations so you can't actually see everything in one day, which is disappointing - but then, it gives us something to do next year. We start off seeing a Samoan guy who seems to be the star of the center set things on fire and husk coconuts while telling jokes about "the happy people" (apparently what Samoans are known for). We also learn about Maori tatooing and watch some guys do a haka. The Maori scary face (bulging eyes and sticking your tongue out, basically) is in fact very frightening in person, not at all comical as it seems in pictures. And then we watch dancers from Tahiti and Marquesas, who are absolutely wonderful. We miss the stuff from Tonga, Hawaii and Fiji.
Part of the kinda expensive package at the center is a luau dinner, where I do my level best not to freak out at the crowd and lines and stuff. Food's good. Of the usual Hawaiian foods, poi is basically taro glue (nasty), poke (salty sashimi) is pretty tasty, lomi lomi salmon (basically tabouli with different spice and salmon instead of bulgar) is deeelicious, and haupia (crazy coconut custard) is a gift from the gods. But. We're seated at a table with people who are Not Having Fun. This is all followed by an evening show. Despite its resemblance to the usual amusement park "trip through rock and roll" sorts of shows, it's beautiful and moving in a "wow, look at the talent" way. The lead Tahitian dancer is astounding. I want to dance that well.
Oh, and Slade bought himself a manskirt. It's very cute, actually, but he doesn't have the right shirt for it.
Day four. We leave the North Shore and head for Waikiki. The ride takes us through a whole landscape of Hawaiian variation, including the ever-present rain and rainbows. Waikiki itself is rather frightening - it's cheesy and tourist-oriented, not in the way I'm imagining. I had imagined bumper boats and all-night minigolf, but taken to new extremes. What they actually have is five Chanel boutiques per block and all-night fine jewelry shopping. Boooooring.
But they do have a pretty nifty mall, including a Japanese department store and the aforementioned (on livejournal) astounding variety of food courty goodness.
The first day in Waikiki, we mostly wandered around looking at shops and restaurants. The much-vaunted-by-our-guidebook International Marketplace was actually a dense collection of stores selling cheap jewelry, aloha shirts, and other cheesy stuff. It was more oppressive than fascinating, but I imagine it's what you'd see in an area of Hong Kong or something aimed at American tourists. Though I had some brilliant pancit at a dive Filipino restaurant there.
At the end of each day in Waikiki, a couple of guys run down the street lighting the torches. And you can sit on your hotel lanai and watch hula and Tahitian dance from more than one hotel at a time.
We went to the beach for a very little while and then swam in the hotel pool. Waikiki/Kuhio Beach is fun for the crowds - which are really truly international (it's fun to hear different languages being spoken by beet-red families all around you), but kinda dirty.
Day five. We're very sad to be parted from our resort breakfasts and our exercise lawn.
We pack off in the car for the center of the island, where we take a gorgeous drive through the mountains to the Byodo-In (Buddhist) temple. It's in a place called the Valley of the Temples, which as far as I can tell is a vast multi-denominational cemetery.
On the way back, we attempted to hike Judd Trail, which is theoretically a rainforesty path with a waterfall at the end. We couldn't even find the trail, which we took as a sure sign it was tougher than our hiking abilities. But we did see some nice rainforesty residential area in the process, and drove up to the Pali Lookout, where you could see half of eastern O`ahu, I swear.
All of this takes us maybe half a day. I think we went back to the mall, or to Hilo Hattie (or both) after the hike-that-wasn't. At some point, we ended up buying a whole bunch of crazy dried fruit and teas. And we went gift shopping for various folks. And swam some more.
Day six, seven and eight. All the road trips blur together. We get up early (as usual) and head to Hanauma Bay, a nature preserve/beach/carved out crater, to snorkel and frolic. There's a little video you have to watch before you head to the beach with accompanying songs about how you shouldn't feed the fish; I think the "please don't feed me" song was in "The Little Mermaid".
It's ridiculously windy and surfy and rocky, and I get scraped and bruised all over the place, but we do get in some fun snorkeling finally. I love snorkeling. The beach is otherwise much too windy for sitting or anything, but the fishes were well worth driving up there at 6:30AM. Plus, we drive around Hawaii Kai and Koko Head, which is very pretty and residential. This and the North Shore are the areas I'd stay in next time I visit (next time, we'll rent a house I think).
We also go to the Dole Plantation, where they have a billion kinds of crazy pineapple growing, a maze that tried my patience, and the world's tastiest dessert: pineapple sorbetish stuff on top of pineapple chunks and covered with pineapple bits.
Slade makes me go, in the very hot sun, to the very tucked in the depths of campus bookstore at UHI Manoa. It isn't actually that cool for him - they don't have the exciting theatre books he'd hoped for - but I score a couple of graphically compelling chapbooks about random stuff and pidgin/HCE/Hawaiian Creole. So, yay - points for me, no points for him.
We buy a boatload of Portugese donuts (malasadas) from a bakery called Leonardo's, which seems to be a big local deal. We later eat many of them on the plan home to Richmond. And in the Atlanta airport at godawfulearly in the morning.
Slade goes on a surfing lesson and becomes very keen on surfing in general. I acquire my own snorkeling gear (minus flippers, which I hate) and read Jon Rauch's irksome book on the beach. Is it okay to loathe log cabin republicans? I mean, I did get a little sunburnt.
Another high point of the trip is the Bishop Museum, where we spend hours in the historical part of the museum watching dance and storytelling and learning all sorts of stuff about the various -nesias (Micro-, Poly- and Mela-)represented. They also have good books in their gift shop.
We also check out the North Shore beaches, which are nice but very rocky. I try to snorkel at Pupu`kea, but most end up just walking on a bunch of lava and peering at urchins. We do the sushi counter thing where you pick your food off a conveyor belt; hardly new, and I'm a little surprised we don't have one of those here, as we have so many other sushi places. We drive around Hale`iwa, but are really tired, so we add it to our "things to do [again] next year" list; it looks like a relaxing good time.
We eat at the mall a lot. I have better Thai food than I could ever get on the east coast, Hawaiian regional food, tropical-infused Mexican, and ramen, none of which are remotely like things you could find anywhere near a food court on this side of the country. In addition to the ramen place and requisite sushi bar, the place has Japanese curry, a donburyi restaurant, and a Japanese/Korean BBQ place. Even the mall food is better than eating in New York.
The only part of the island we don't see is Pearl Harbor and the southwest coast. Things to do next year.
« get it out of my sight!
fun is good for you
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I wrote a little in my LJ about watching other bellydance/raqs sharqi/whatever students perform and how much the experience of dance training has distanced me from external body projects. That is, I do not think of my body as fat, or at least not of fat as problematic, in the context of training.
It's not an experience of being totally divorced from appearance [it's not that noble], but of recognizing exactly what you are as attractive in movement. Most belly dancers are beautiful. Except that they're not, as far as predominant cultural norms are concerned.
When you think about it, though, how much of your personal feelings about what is and isn't attractive matches perfectly to what you've been told? Not much in my case; I don't know about you. It's no big shock that people can be beautiful and not meet whatever the norm or ideal of your culture may be.
Most of the belly dancers I know are at least in their thirties, and many of them are quite a bit older. And size-wise, they're all over the place. The only common physical characteristic I can see is that even us beginners pretty quickly develop more prominent bellies than other folk. One of my friends has a particular fondness for belly dancers, a fondness that verges on pervy, really. Whatever.
As I thought about the belly dance thing, I assumed that the supportive, all-female environment was a key component of this "yay! my body!" thing. I don't doubt that the environment helps, but I realize that I also have this attitude in the context of all my other physical training, and in play or art - which constitutes the vast majority of the "exercise" I get.
[A total side note, but I've noticed recently that I use "the ______ thing" a lot. Sorry about that, lovely reader. Think of it as an homage to the use of "the ______ question" freaking everywhere in early 20th century political writing, and not in fact a sign of my own sloppy articulation.]
I remember, dimly, times in the past when I treated exercise as a punishment and kinda sought out the worst, most suffering-inducing, ways to exercise (not intentionally). And those are the times when my thinking most aligned to "ew, I'm fat and gross and bad" where things bodily were concerned. Which makes me wonder if the gym isn't hazardous to your mental health. Movement is undoubtedly good, but if you're moving and hating it, maybe you end up hating your body. And conversely, if movement is pleasing, maybe your body seems more attractive for its physical talent.
Not to mention all the other cool stuff that fun movement does for you.
You should read Go Animal, which is all about being healthy by having more fun.
link : thoughts (6) (user/password is 'redpolka') : track it (0) : in feministy stuff
A woman who has dropped out isn’t even a slacker or a loser or a beat poet or a romantic or a drifter. She is hardly worthy of mention at all... (from lilyrepublic)
I've been meaning to respond for awhile to this, and the entry behind it. It sparked a lot of thinking for me.
It seems that the path of legend for women is blank. Not blank, but relatively so. Lily talks about failure as her specific example, but there are missing legends for women's success, too. There isn't a female Jack Kerouac, but there isn't a female Horatio Alger, either. There just aren't that many legendary ideas of women.
There are, of course, iconic literary figures. But most of them seem defined in cohesion or counterpoint to men, to marriage, to being a "proper" woman. And entirely too many of them are Jane Austen characters (literally or in essential similarity). The companion of the drop-out, the failure, the artist who just needs to discover himself, the savantish baseball league inventor, the rogue, is I just just the loose woman. Or the reformed loose woman. Some woman defined by her sexuality or lack thereof.
Yeah. That's weird.
There are sources other than popular legend for better icons. There are some good religious/mythological archetypes for women to look to. There's a whole subset of Jungian feminists focused on just that sort of thing. There are wandering women in myth; you could think of Demeter as a sort of righteously angry beat poet, par example.
What the television tells us, though, is another thing.
The popular sitcom format is a formula. It's a formula for holding your attention well enough to sell you things while creating a feeling of entertainment. It's designed not to provoke thought (there is television designed for that, it's just not sitcoms) but to be consistent. You get relaxation out of it. Advertisers get a semi-captive audience.
So, in order to be consistent, this type of tv has to present the simplest image possible. Men are stupid at household stuff and don't remember their kids' names. Women entertain notions of elaborate projects and end up dependent on men. Kids, most of the time, are the least stupid people on your tv. It makes you feel better about yourself, not just with the Schadenfreude, but (as I mentioned in reference to chick lit some time ago) because people being stupid and surviving and continuing to be loved means that you can survive and stay lovable. [I should really get a job professionally reading things into things. I'm very good at it.]
So, sitcoms are the worst and silliest we are (assuming, of course, that the sitcom even remotely represents your social and economic situation). But advertising is aspirational. In between scenes of people failing at everything and making the worst choices possible, you watch ads that target what you'd like to be. Ads geared at women tend to show them perfectly thin and perfectly balancing every aspect of their lives cause we're kinda obsessed with that as a culture - women as jugglers, the body as a project. And probably women in focus groups knowingly chuckle at these ads... don't I wish? they might think.
Advertising is odd. It enforces these ideas of what we're supposed to be by showing us what people in focus groups say they want or wish they could be. It makes sense. Products associated with our "best" selves seem more desirable.
Who is the "best" woman from a pop culture perspective? Is it a beautiful one? One attached to someone successful? If so, maybe the romantically failed and redeemed woman is found in the Cinderella story. Maybe she's the girl who takes off her glasses over the summer to become a cheerleader in the fall. Maybe she's defined in relation to someone else. It seems sad to think of women as defined not as successful or failing but as with someone failed or successful.