Why fat men need feminism

Amp’s amazing comic about the ambivalence and difficulty of trying to keep your head above the flood of fatphobia got me thinking about the experience of fat men. I’ve been wanting to write about fat men for a while, not only because I married one (the best one) recently, but because men have an experience of fatness that is simultaneously distinct from and, in many ways, entirely intertwined with women’s experience. The feminist tenor of this blog might at first blush feel alienating for some men, and I think it would be a real pity if men clicked on by because they didn’t feel spoken to. I’d argue that fat men actually need feminism just as much as fat women.

Amp’s comic starts to get at why. Feminism doesn’t allow you to avoid brain colonization (and god, is that a PERFECT way of putting it or what?), but it allows you to be aware of it — an important first step — and it gives you some tools for coping. One effect of intersectionality, when it works, is that the language and concepts of one social justice movement can be enlightening and liberating even for those who are facing a different challenge. A fat man encountering feminist ideas for the first time will be privy to a new rhetoric of body autonomy and rejection of beauty ideals. Yeah, it’s a rhetoric that was developed for and about women, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the ladder he needs to start climbing out of the depths Amp’s comic describes.

But why feminism particularly, and not another social justice movement? Feminists are hardly the only ones resisting the thin white able-bodied ideal and the othering of bodies that don’t fit. But fatphobia directed towards men is heavily steeped in misogyny. Because female fatness is considered to be such an affront, fat men are feminized, or at least unmanned, before being attacked or dismissed. Think about the insults you see directed at fat men: they have breasts, they are soft, they can’t see their penises or their penises are small, they can’t fight (except by sitting on someone), women won’t have sex with them. These aren’t the only ways that fat guys are picked on — I asked my husband what insults he thought were directed at fat men in particular, and the first thing he said was “you smell bad even if you don’t.” Then of course there are the stereotypes about being lazy and eating everything that we all know so well; fat dudes get that too. And fat men as portrayed in the media can sometimes be exaggerated examples of masculinity (also as portrayed in the media) — meat-eating, sports-watching farting machines. But if somebody wants to be truly nasty or threatening to a fat man, they tend to start by equating them with women.

Women and fat men have a commonality of experience, and it’s not the need for chest support. It’s the psychological, and sometimes physical, violence directed against them simply for being perceived as exiles from the dominant masculine culture. This is true of gay men too, of course, and I imagine lots of other groups would say “hey, that’s me too” — I’m certainly not saying here that fat men can benefit from feminism to the exclusion of other movements! (After all, I’m the one who thinks fatphobia primarily exists as a sort of hideous progeny of misogyny, classism, racism, homophobia, and ablism — to really understand fatphobic attitudes, you have to venture into every one of those morasses.) But I do think that feminism has something to say to fat men in particular. They get insulted by being compared to women, and we espouse the still-radical idea that being feminine (or being called feminine) isn’t inherently insulting.

So… where’s the men at? I know there are a few of you. Does this idea resonate? (If not, set me straight.) Have you found feminism to be personally useful in combating your own internalized fat hatred? And, because I know there are only a few of you: how can we get the word out to other fat men?

88 thoughts on “Why fat men need feminism

  1. exaggerated examples of masculinity … meat-eating, sports-watching farting machines.

    I know I’m a girl, so you weren’t looking for one of the first comments on this post to be from me, but I just had to say — as the terror and insanity swirl about us daily in the media and it feels more and more like the end of days — how very very much I love you and this blog for the above, and all the fountain of genius here like it.

  2. Very good post about something I thought about myself a while ago, though I’m also female.

    And also good examples on how patriarchal perceptions can also turn against men who differ from “the norm” in one way or the other.

  3. There are a couple of things I wonder about, though. Consumerism has really ramped up as far as men are concerned; companies want to sell hair & skin products, fashion, etc. to men as they do to women. In order to market these products, men have to become more “feminized” (and I don’t mean in a sense of being female-like in body type.) Their “feminization” comes about when they cultivate the same insecurities about their body which we normally associate with women.

    IOW, you can’t sell a man face cream if he’s not worrying about what his face looks like. And in the ads, the “ideal” man shown is going to be tall, thin, buffed, and “handsome” or “pretty” in the face. This becomes *the ideal* to which men are led, by the force of marketing.

    So a fat man automatically is going to be considered an “invalid” customer for the product (just as fat women are not “supposed to” be customers for fashionable clothes, makeup etc.)

    However, the “ideal” male consumer *is* expected to follow a certain “feminine” ideal (a desirable one.) The fat man isn’t made by cultural prejudice into just *any* woman – he’s made analogous to a certain kind of lower-class, older, unattractive woman who is basically seen as completely “unwanted” by just about everyone in the dominant culture.

    I think we have to be careful that our use of the term “feminized” isn’t bound by our own cultural assumptions, either. For instance, a lot of Japanese sumo wrestlers are soft of body, at least on top of the muscle, and have quite large breasts (certainly larger than many Japanese women’s!) – yet they are considered the quintessence of Japanese masculinity. *We* happen to define a “hard” body or flat male chest as “masculine,” but not everyone does.

  4. It’s not like I mind hearing from female-identified readers here! I am one too, after all, and there’s a lot more of you.

  5. I recently did a project on men and masculinity, and one thing that surprised me (a woman) but that many men said “Of course, yeah” was the idea that homophobia is the “policing force” of masculinity, for all men. It’s not just fat men who worry about being feminized; it’s basically a fear that patriarchal culture encourages and enforces in all men.

    Gay-bashing (and woman-bashing) therefore becomes a way not only to terrorize gays and lesbians, but a way to terrorize straight men into conforming to traditional masculinity.

    In one of the articles I read, a case study of the executive officers of a Men Against Violence (MAV) group at Louisiana State University, the author (Hong) said:

    “The testimony of the MAV officers in this study indicated that their fathers, mothers, and peers had socialized all of them into stereotypical norms of masculinity; many indicated that homophobia ensured that they adhered to this stereotypical code. Almost all of the officers reported that their involvement in an organization like MAV aroused suspicion about their sexual orientation among their peers on campus, as if only feminine men would care about violence—which historically has been framed as a ‘women’s issue.’…As a result, each of the officers underwent a personal struggle to reject or reformulate hegemonic masculinity to accommodate his involvement in MAV.”

    I don’t mean to go way off the subject of fat men in particular, because I believe that these pressures do play out in unique ways for fat men, but I think the idea that only fat men deal with any of this pressure is off.

    Because I think, really, that when someone wants to be nasty to any man, they tend to start by equating them with women.

  6. I think the idea that only fat men deal with any of this pressure is off.

    I didn’t say that, and wouldn’t have! And you do an excellent job of expressing why.

  7. In order to market these products, men have to become more “feminized” (and I don’t mean in a sense of being female-like in body type.) Their “feminization” comes about when they cultivate the same insecurities about their body which we normally associate with women.

    Amen. From growing more chest hair, to getting a deeper voice, to being found fuckable by insane amounts of bikini-clad women. Although as of now, the marketing seems to be geared more towards the “you will get sex,” unlike the marketing geared towards women, in which using the product will simply make you reach that minimal baseline of being recognized as female (“you will be found somewhat acceptable”). We’ll see how long it takes before they can start honing in deeper on male insecurity.

    Also, all the male marketing seems to be very campy, comedic, because to sell it straight I guess would make the guys feel concerned that they’re obsessing about their looks too much. The female marketing, of course, can play it straight, because as we all know the ladiez are supposed to obsess about their looks. Of course.

    As an aside, I remember when they started marketing the “feminized” deodorants, shaving creams, etc. years ago, and so many men I knew were like, “God, women are so stupid! It’s just the same stuff, but they put it in a pink bottle and give it a baby powder scent, and now they think it’s made for women!” Now they’ve taken traditionally female products, putting them in black or red bottles, and giving them “manly” scents like “cedar forest” or “arctic glacier”, and suddenly they’re made for men. *sigh* The deceit goes both ways. And further codifies into our society that men and women are mysteriously so fundimentally different that we can’t even be cleaned by the same kinds of soaps!!

  8. FJ,

    Your post actually kept me awake last night thinking. I’m a fat guy and I’ve always had an aversion to feminism. Not in concept, and certainly not in the workplace, but something more visceral. I think I figured out why last night.

    While the goals of fat people and feminists are certainly intertwined and obviously there is a significant spillover between the two camps, it’s almost impossible to read a feminist posting on weight and not read something along the lines of, “It’s so much easier for men in this society.” And comments such as these make me feel like throwing up – the same way most comments after a fat positive piece in a mainstream newspaper make me feel.

    I’ve been abused because of my weight in so many ways, from parents, classmates, friends, enemies, and even as part of business meetings. I’ve been dieting my entire life. I’ve been to the Duke Diet and Fitness Center 4 times. I’ve had weight loss surgery and then had it undone. Learning to date was hell. I’ve been suicidal because of my weight. And certainly never comfortable with it.

    So when I read a comment about women having it worse, it shakes me a bit. These comparisons are certainly not inclusive or understanding of what the situation may be. Certainly men are allowed 20 extra lbs whereas women aren’t, but beyond that, fat is fat. And fat is its own thing, separate from male or female. I don’t feel feminized because I’m fat, just hurt.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that while Shapely Prose has actually done a lot for me and many of the posts have truly great, it rarely feels as if its a community I could be a part of.

    Wow, this post reads kind of as a downer. I didn’t start writing it that way. Since I hit 30 years old and got that goddamn lap-band out of me, things have been on a bit of an upswing.

  9. Feminism is crucial for men, for this reason and many others. I’m not very fat, but I’m fat enough that I get to regularly worry about it — especially because I’m in the performing arts world, where “good acting” and “hot body” are so often confused…

    I wish there was a word for the thing that men do when we encounter feminism and struggle with it and begin to “reformulate hegemonic masculinity” (as occhiblu said). Looking for new models of what manhood and masculinity could possibly mean.

    At a certain point, the question of “what does it mean that I am male?” seems to travel outside the bounds of what can really be called feminism. It’s deeply *inspired* by feminism and owes a great debt to feminism, but at the same time, to call what I’m looking for a “feminist masculinity” feels limiting and problematic.

    Obviously the words from the “Men’s Movement” are no good. The best I can come up with is something having to do with queerness — i.e. a queer (but not necessarily gay) masculinity. But there again is possibly the same issue of mixing up struggles.

    Any thoughts on this? Or am I too off-topic? This is my first post here! You rock!

  10. (((MikeR)))

    There’s not much I can say to this, and probably Fillyjonk will give a better answer. All I can offer is that since this is a blog written by females, and the audience is made up of primarily females, it will tend to center on the female point of view. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it can seem exclusionary when we don’t mean it to be.

    “It’s so much easier for men in this society.”

    In so many ways it also comes down to how we view things differently based on filters that have been shaped by our own experiences. For example, a fat woman might react to a movie like Knocked Up as “Wow, a fat man is still allowed to be viewed as a sympathetic character as well as get the fabulously beautiful woman. You will never see a fat woman portrayed in a film like this.” Which is true.

    Looking deeper though, even though Seth Rogan’s character is sympathetic, he is still supposed to be a giant loser (and yes, his fat is a part of that), and the improbability of him getting the girl is a central point in plot (pretty much to where he needs excessive alcohol to get with her in the first place, and then the child between them to “tie her down”). In no uncertain terms is it stated that if she had not gotten pregnant, they would never have ended up together.

    Plus, the marketing for that film is significant. It was a poster of Seth Rogan’s chubby face with a vaguely vacant look, asking, “What if this guy got you pregnant?” Yeah, in the movie he’s a pothead with no job and few social skills, but none of that is portrayed on the poster. The message is: oh noez! Not only did you sleep with a FAT GUY, but he got you PREGNANT! And the response is supposed to be: Ew.

    So yeah, villainizing of fat men at the same time it is dismissive of fat women. Shitty message all around, although it can sometimes be hard to sift through it all. And the fact is, even if fat men do have it a little bit easier in this society as compared to fat women, that doesn’t really change your experience living as a fat man, being hurt and villainized and dismissed. You’re being subjected to the same fat-hatred as the rest of us, if expressed in a different form. Which, I think, is kind of what FJ was getting at.

    Rambling, but I wanted to throw something out that at least vaguely implies that I know where you’re coming from. But I’m not sure how to make it better. Hopefully someone else will have a better answer for you than I do.

  11. Mike, I keep wanting to post something in response to your comment, but I’m not sure where to start. So I think I’ll leave most of it to the more articulate people here.

    But I do want to say that I think, when feminists talk about how different (and how much harder) their lives are because of the differences between how men and women are treated in our society, that has to be a generalization and they know that. How would you react if a very thin man found your descriptions of how much harder life is for fat people to be unfair, because his life had been crazy hard for a lot of other reasons (e.g. a lot of tragedy, or enormous health problems)? Because I don’t think that his particularly tough experiences, however awful, would change the fact that in general, fat men have to deal with shit that thin men never have to think about.

    And it goes way beyond men being “allowed 20 extra lbs whereas women aren’t.” The intersectionality of being fat *and* female makes it a lot more complicated than that.

  12. Just wanted to chime in and say, I think that any kind of fully formed feminist belief is going to support the idea that the system which we live under is bad for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, whether you do not meet the beauty standard or conform perfectly, the “patriarchy” is asking you to fit into a box that doesn’t have anything to do with your wants or needs as an individual.

    This is only called feminism because feminists found it first and named it; if people feel like it is a sentiment that they need to reject because it is filed under feminism, then that is a testament to the work which is still needed to be done. imho.

  13. I’m going to try to get my husband (a wonderful, handsome, charming, fat man) to come and answer this. But in the meantime, let me say that he’s verbalized to me at least some of what Mike has mentioned above. He describes some awful experiences with growing up a fat boy/guy/man, and he internalized that in a big way. He became a football player – to a great degree (I think) because it allowed him to be the person he was and still be accepted in the societal feeding frenzy that is high school.

    I mentioned a while ago that as I’m coming to grips with my fatness, I think he’s slowly coming around as well. I think because I’m trying to live the feminist views, that’s having an effect on our home. If it means that he goes out into the world a stronger person… jeez, I can’t tell you what that would mean to me.

  14. Mike, I think you did a careful, thoughtful job of articulating an awkward feeling.

    Last fall I took a womens’ studies course in which two men were enrolled. One was a very thoughtful listener; the other was somewhat more bellicose, but his resistance to some ideas sparked some really important conversations. Among other things, he had trouble with the concepts of male privilege and white privilege; as a queer person, he argued, doesn’t his oppression cancel that out?

    I can hear an echo of that in your comment: “privilege” doesn’t seem to accurately describe the experience you’ve had as a man, so you feel at odds with the aspects of feminist theory that insist that men “have it easier”*, and (a major point of FJ’s post) there isn’t a whole lot out there to bridge the gap for you.

    Returning to the story: the answer to his question is a resounding NO. That man did experience homophobia as a real and threatening thing. But even though homophobia (like fatphobia) often manifests itself by imagining men as not-men, he also had access to and sometimes benefited from male privilege. Those things do not cancel each other out; they layer.

    I think you will have a lot to add to the ongoing discussion of fat activism and feminism (or simply gender theory, if you prefer) as you keep on examining where the privilege and the oppression intersect for you as a fat man.

    *”having it easier” isn’t really a good synonym for privilege, though, so anyplace you’re reading that needs to work on their own theory.

  15. Mike, this is a common frustration when coming to terms with your own privilege — people think that “privilege” is equivalent to “having it easy,” and that’s not true. When feminists talk about male privilege, they talk about very real benefits that are accorded to most men, or indignities that they escape, simply by virtue of being men. Those privileges don’t change the fact that plenty of men don’t have it easy (especially those who are dealing with NOT having thin privilege, white privilege, etc.) — but at the same time, the fact that many men don’t have it easy doesn’t change the existence of male privilege.

    I am not great at keeping the best, most illuminating links at my fingertips, but here’s an overview with a lot of links in it. (I apologize if privilege is a totally familiar concept to you, but I find it’s THE major stumbling block in fully getting behind a social justice movement that is indirectly working for you but directly working for an oppressed group you’re not a part of.)

    The point is: Feminists know that men don’t have it easy. Matter of fact, I talked about it a lot in this post! And if you google “patriarchy hurts men too” you’ll find plenty of discussion on the subject of how feminism seeks to liberate men from patriarchy even as it acknowledges that they benefit from patriarchy in many ways. Some people are going to make comments that seem dismissive (because they talk about privilege), and other people are going to make comments that ARE dismissive, just like some people in fat communities are going to say “real women have curves, no man likes a bony ass” and hopefully someone will tell them it’s really uncool but maybe they won’t and either way that won’t make the fat movement stand for thin-hatred.

  16. Well said responses! When one group is considered as having it better, it is indeed a generalization. And saying that a group generally has it easier doesn’t mean that each individual has an easy life. I don’t think anyone is implying that. But any group that is considered a minority is a minority. Women are still considered a minority because we have yet to attain equal rights (equal pay, equal favor in school, equal promotion, etc.) And uh, has the U.S. had a female president yet? And do we not remember all the sexist remarks that were so commonplace and socially acceptable when Clinton was running?

    A black person can say that whites have it easier and sure, many white people may have many struggles due to various reasons, but generally yes, the majority group has advantages, hence the use of the terms “minority” and “majority”. It’s important to try and see *why* these sentiments are expressed instead of being dismissive.

    And I completely agree that feminism does, and should, include everyone.

  17. Man, not fat, colonized. Absolutely, if I look at a guy that’s bigger than me, then I think: hey, at least I’m thinner than he is. I even live with a guy that’s bigger than me and know that I shouldn’t think that. I know it’s all a part of my own image problems; I weigh myself daily and fret over how close I am to the magical number on the BMI charts that divides me from overweight. And in a real way, I don’t want to be okay with my weight; I just want to be thin, to fit in the pants I wore five years ago, to always feel good when I look in the mirror. So part of shoring up that image is comparing myself to others, and that includes the guilty pleasure of the fat joke. I don’t think I’ve told one in ten years, but I’ll catch myself saying something that delights in the limitations another person might have because of their weight (or something that might be seen in that way, or comes close to maybe sort of… ugh).

    So maybe feminism could help someone like myself, because now that I think about it, I bet there are a lot of women in the same position with regard to their sex, trying to fit a certain mold while intellectually distancing themselves from the necessity to do so, all the while still subconsciously comparing themselves to other women. They’ve probably put a lot more thought into it than I have. But then I’ve probably just trivialized the point of this article, since I’m putting my own thoughts in someone else’s head to understand them, rather than listening first. Ugh…

  18. “men have an experience of fatness that is simultaneously distinct from and, in many ways, entirely intertwined with women’s experience”

    Not to mention that even amongst fat men, there will be varying experiences of what it means to be fat. I don’t post very often about issues that affect me personally, preferring to rant from a political perspective about the terrible things being done to fat kids or fat hate in the media or whatever stupid laws are being debated by the powers-that be. And that’s partly because, in common with most guys I think, I’m a fairly private person, besides, I don’t want to come across as whiny or self-pitying. And so my sense of injustice at the world manifests itself in other ways. But I’m going to risk breaking that rule here, because I think they’re useful in illustrating the internal conflicts of this one, particular fat guy.

    I certainly differ from MikeR and Shoutz’ husband above (and I think for that matter most of the Fatosphere) in being fat as kids, because I wasn’t. I ‘got fat’ later in life. I didn’t really start packing it on until my early twenties, probably as a result of a combination of leaving home / lots of junk food and nights out at Uni, my ex’s taste in heavy, home-cooked traditional food, a more sedentary lifestyle and plain old genetics. That last part said, I do sometimes tend, even with everything I’ve learned from these blogs, to ‘blame’ myself. If only I’d laid off the beer and pizza, I’d still be able to shop in normal stores now. The fact that I’m almost the spitting image of my father, who gained in his mid-20s despite being fairly active, is lost on me when I’m on ‘that’ sort of downer.

    No, although I was always the odd-one-out at school, and went through long periods of having no friends at all, it never had anything to do with my size. My problems stemmed from being a bookish, introverted, generally socially inept daydreamer. There were fat kids at my high school, including several girls, who were popular and funny and cool in that geeky, individual way that everyone tries to ‘fake’ nowadays, and I envied them, because in common with the rest of the student body most of them wouldn’t give me the time of day. The fat thing just came later and added one more thing with which folk could harass me (and as an adult, I can certainly identify with having sizeist abuse spat at me in the street, a fat-phobic e-mail bullying campaign against me within a couple of months of starting my first full-time job, etc). And so whilst I’m a fierce advocate for anti-bullying movements in schools and society, for diversity education for children, for the reprogramming of some of the hateful things with which the powerful in society ‘colonise our brains’, I sometimes even feel fraudulent for pontificating about the bullying of fat children, or the indoctrination of thin ones with skewed messages, because it’s something I never personally experienced until comparatively recently, by which point my sense of self had been given the chance to develop and mature that many others were denied.

    And that’s before you even throw in the ‘fat admirer’ thing. Yes, that’s right, I said it, and for want of a better term, I am one. Not the creepy, Dimensions-esque, pestering women in chatrooms to ask how big their asses are type feeder, (I’m happily engaged to a fat chick, in fact) but nevertheless someone who if asked to state a preference between two otherwise identical women would probably choose the larger. Aesthetically, I appreciate abundance, albeit as one element of a whole package of attributes which would attract me to a person. I’ve never been disgusted by fat people, male or female – quite the opposite, in fact. And again this does have its advantages. It’s what got me into fat acceptance in the first place, seeing the way my (extremely fat) ex was treated and my deep sense of injustice at that. And I can see myself in a mirror and not loathe the rolls and overhangs; occasionally, if I can find clothes that I think I look good and feel comfortable in, even consider myself vaguely cute. My fat issues have instead tended to stem from the way others have reacted to me – the giggling schoolgirls, the supermarket ‘trolley inspectors’, the office gossips, rather than the way I perceive myself. On the other hand, I get the feeling that some women in fat acceptance do tend to regard me with deep suspicion, particularly those of a more radical bent who argue that any aesthetic appreciation of a person’s physical appearance is objectifying and that sexual attraction, even as a tiny part of a relationship, is a construct which should be rejected along with those relationships. What am I doing here? What are my motives? What would *I*, a man, know about fatphobia? And even as I type this I know there will be those waiting to crucify me for even attempting to defend it.

    As for Shapely Prose being a welcoming community for fat men, I would agree with MikeR that I don’t necessarily think it is, though I’d qualify that by pointing out that in no way do I believe that’s due to being deliberately exclusive. For one, it’s run by three fat women; two, 99.9% of the readership seems to be female; and three, it’s evolved, maybe as a result of the first two points, from being a pure fat activist site to more of a general feminist one. As such it’s inevitably going to reflect a predominantly female perspective. There ARE still a couple of places within the fatosphere where fat men seem to feel more comfortable posting (Big Fat Blog for one, as it is run by a fat guy and has a number of male ‘regulars’ besides myself) and given that such alternatives are available I certainly wouldn’t come marching into a generally female-oriented space such as this and start expecting to be accommodated and made to feel more comfortable. I know it’s not that kind of place. That said, and given that I largely agree with the assertion that as patriarchy oppresses everyone, so feminism has a universal appeal, it is more that the level of discussion here tends to be on a very high intellectual plane (and is hence difficult to follow / avoid making an idiot of oneself without an advanced experience of / familiarity with other social justice movements and intersectionality issues) that dissuades me from participating more frequently.

    OK, apologies to anyone who’s still reading that that turned into such a ramble; scarily, I could probably write the same again and still leave more unsaid. Brevity of prose has never been my strongest suit :o(

  19. some women in fat acceptance do tend to regard me with deep suspicion, particularly those of a more radical bent who argue that any aesthetic appreciation of a person’s physical appearance is objectifying and that sexual attraction, even as a tiny part of a relationship, is a construct which should be rejected along with those relationships.

    Really?? I have to say that this doesn’t sound politically radical to me so much as just unhealthy, maybe masquerading as politics. That you pluralize this as “those” concerns me!

  20. OMG, FJ, I want to borrow your brain and articulate-ness the next time this conversation comes up with someone I know, because I can never think of the right way to say that at the right time.

  21. Wow… Richie, that was wonderful.

    Maybe what we need here is a new -ism… not feminism or fatism… but something that describes what we’re really after, acceptance… respect… the freedom to be the people we are, fat, thin, man or woman, gay or straight, old or young, white, black or purple.

    There’s egalitarianism, but that’s not precisely “it” though fairly near.

    I don’t know… I got all deep into thought about it and then the train got derailed in a dark tunnel somewhere. It’s terrible to get old!

  22. Hi Everyone.
    Okay, first of all I want to apologize in advance for possibly lowering the tone of the conversation by being.. well, a little simplistic. It’s not that I’ve never come in contact with feminist theory, it’s just a muscle I haven’t exercised much lately, and I feel like I’m – oh, lacking vocabulary or a thorough grounding in relevant concepts, or something.

    That having been said… here’s one thing that comes to mind when I think of the position of fat men v. fat women and how they are regarded. I think there is an aesthetic that tends to dictate that it’s okay, or even desireable, for men to be “big”, and for women to be “small”, “teeny”, etc. A disturbing product of fat-phobia as it relates to women is that it is translated into a desire to “shrink “…to ‘shrink away’ pounds.. to shrink away or diminish ourselves… which is something that gives me chills. Basically, as fat women, we are being asked to disappear, and there is no easy way for me to separate that from broader societal demand that we, well, disappear.. diminish parts of ourselves.

    I am not taking this to mean that fat men are better off than fat women. (For one thing, I would never presume to say that, having never been a fat man) But I do perceive that maybe that part or that dimension of the experience is different. It may also be (and this is speculation) easier for slightly or moderately fat men to ‘pass’ for .. well, someone fitting the mold of what society deems desireable? Of course, that might just be analogous to fat women being perceived as or passing for ‘voluptuous’. No better, no worse… no more limiting or empowering. Hmm. Yes, but… the notion of ‘shrinking’ still sticks in my head as something that…well, that as women we are asked to do. I don’t think that particular … demand…is as strong or pervasive for men.

    But does that matter? Does it make them better off? Ultimately, no, because… oh, I have always said this… men are pushed into narrow roles and modes of being just as much as women are. Actually, in this particular time and place.. well, I think patriarchy is more punishing to men than it is to women. Just a personal opinion/observation, and not one that I’m sure I’d be prepared to defend, but, at this moment, it is what I think.

    Okay, but.. are fat men feminized? I’ve never thought of it that way, but maybe they are. See, for me, the size thing gets in the way again. I don’t think there’s any way for me to think of someone who is a “big guy” as feminine rather than masculine. The large size ‘feels’ like a specifically masculine thing. Am I just… out of step? Well, probably so. For that matter, I’ve certainly been attracted to my share of ‘big guys’ (as well as ‘voluptuous girls’). Here’s a question (but probably off-topic): are fat women masculinized? Hmm… I know I do it to myself when I refer to my large calves as “man calves”. And that is how I see them.. they are large, and probably the only part of my body that’s quite heavily muscled, but .. well, it’s also a euphemism, maybe. I could just say that I have ‘big calves’. Or I could say nothing at all..

    Okay, but… size/sex issues notwithstanding… yes, of course, societal ideals do of course tend to force men, as well as women, into specific shapes that are deemed desireable, and then those of us who are not those shapes are punished. And feminism does offer a tool to allow us to look past that. But is feminism the best or most accessible or most comprehensive or even the most compassionate such tool? I don’t know. I think it might be a challenging one for many men, and because I have never thought of fat men (unlike, for example, exceptionally small or slender men) as having anything like a femininized shape or appearance, man boobs notwithstanding.

    I fully agree with the idea of ‘privelege’ not necessarily having anything to do with ‘having it easier’. Yes, the male voice is priveleged, but no, a thousand times no, I do not think men have it easier. In fact, if what is mutually oppressing all of us is patriarchy, how could men have it easier? Having to fight something that (society dictates) is an expression of oneself is infinitely harder, I would think, than having to fight something external.

    I’m just not sure that feminism in general is sufficiently benevolent to all men… to the fullness of the male experience… although I would like to think that it could be.

  23. I’m swamped with work today and don’t have time to formulate the reply that I want to. But I did just read through all of the posts written in reply to my post. Thank you all for being so thoughtful and understanding.

    FJ, I’ve saved your privilege link and hope to read it carefully over the weekend. I think you may have nailed a misunderstanding of mine about the movement, but I need time to digest.

    I can’t promise I’ll agree, only that I want to give the ideas a drive around the block.

  24. It’s interesting to think about. I married, as a “fat” woman a fat man. Both of us have gotten bigger in the following years. He has always held very physical jobs that have required, to a certain extent, physical strength and stamina. But has he chosen these jobs because he is ADD and they best fit his brain? Or did he choose these jobs because growing up working class made him set his sights on trucking and security, not lawyer or doctor? Or did he choose them because they are “manly” jobs? I don’t know. HE probably doesn’t know.

    I do know that in both trucking and security work it’s very homophobic. But in both fields, a certain amount of size gives you the sheer heft to do certain parts of your job well, and it shows up as a problem for the small woman who wants to be a cop or wants to drive a truck. I don’t see, among these sorts, a size phobia towards other men, but some grumbling on the order of “Goddamn it, after six months we had to replace the mattress in the sleeper, he broke it down!” does happen.

    I think there is a profound pressure on fat men not to fall into the “slob” category. To “rise above” the fat, so to speak. I presume the pressure is greater the farther you go up the class scale. And, of course, finding clothes when you are not shaped like everyone else is an othering experience that my husband has often felt.

    His dating problems have been more ones connected with shyness and a profound problem with self-esteem than with his fat. As it is, he gets hit on all the time at work. (grin)

  25. it’s almost impossible to read a feminist posting on weight and not read something along the lines of, “It’s so much easier for men in this society.”

    Mike R, I think you might want to think about why you have an antagonistic reaction to feminist writing about fatness. Why do you think that analyzing something from a gendered perspective means that feminists are denying your lived experience? Feminists aim to (among other things) eradicate the oppressive, stereotyped gender roles that (as several commenters point out) affect men just as strongly as they affect women. The reason that a lot of people don’t “read” men as affected by gender is that they assume “affected” means “negatively affected.” Men are, in many ways, positively affected by gender expectations — that’s what we mean by male privilege. Men are also, however, required to inhabit an idealized version of masculinity in exchange for that privilege.

    This is all sounding very theoretical and dry, but that’s for a reason — “common sense” in our culture is heavily sexist, and it takes a different, deliberate kind of language to pick apart what underlies the ideas we’ve all been trained to have.

    I strongly recommend that you read this post at the Feminism 101 blog; it talks about the defensive reaction that even feminist-friendly men can get when they enter a feminist space. I also think tanglethis has it right above:

    But even though homophobia (like fatphobia) often manifests itself by imagining men as not-men, he also had access to and sometimes benefited from male privilege. Those things do not cancel each other out; they layer.

    Layering is the key concept here (also referred to as intersection): all of us have a cultural identity that is a long-ass list of descriptors, including body type, age, race, language, sexuality, gender, class, ability, and so on. Each of those things has the ability to affect how we experience another; when we talk about how these aspects “intersect” on feminist blogs, we’re not talking about how someone who has 5 “minority” traits automatically has it so much worse than someone who only has 3; we’re talking about how those people have it different from each other in significant ways. (Julia’s post about fat and racial uplift on Fatshionista is a terrific example of an intersectional analysis that points out aspects of growing up fat and black that are NOT news to many people of color, but are eye-opening to many white readers.)

    In the end, you don’t have to find feminism useful for you (though we at SP still think it is); but I think you should ask yourself why you have such a hostile “visceral” reaction to feminist writing, and why you think women writing about their experience as fat women somehow negates or dismisses your own experience as a fat man.

  26. @occhiblu If you haven’t read them, I think you would like Michael Kimmel’s “Masculinity as Homophobia,” Patrick Hopkin’s “Gender Treachery” (at least the theoretical part of it), and Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculinity.

    Oh Fillyjonk, I love this. I recently did a lecture on fat and gender where I had students look at fat suits (mostly Halloween costumes because they are abundant and also timely) and analyze them…and well, I helped analyze them too. I talked about how fat costumes were marketed primarily to men, even “fat women” costumes. I talked about how the costumes often sexualize fat women and make them a spectacle—the costumes say “haha, look how hilarious it is that a fat woman would think she’s sexy.” It’s very interesting that men wear/are marketed these costumes rather than women…and in part, I think it’s about men’s right to define/defile women’s bodies (as well as women’s fear of being seen as fat). However, my point is that this post made me think about how men wearing fat women costumes is even more than that…that it perhaps is also a signal to men about their bodies and their masculinity.

    Of course, there are also fat men costumes, “hicks” or “add fat = funny” costumes, often heroes…because it’s HILARIOUS that a fat guy could be a hero or would think he could be. I asked the class what Fat Bastard’s powers were. Someone said “he can eat a lot.” Yes, but also his power/skill/defense is to be disgusting…to be the most incredible fat stereotype because understood that that’s all a fat person could be, that’s all we have to draw upon. I think the exercise was one of the most illustrative I’ve done for students.

    Anyway, the real revelation I had was about how fat women costumes are also about fat men. I think about this all the time…but this just hadn’t occurred to me.

  27. I think there is an aesthetic that tends to dictate that it’s okay, or even desireable, for men to be “big”, and for women to be “small”, “teeny”, etc.

    That is true. As a woman I know I do still have a hard time being surrounded by people smaller than me and most of that is because I feel completely unfeminine when I’m the largest person. For the longest time I always said I would NEVER date a man who was smaller than me. It made me feel unfeminine. I want to be the smaller person. And I know a lot fo women who say similar things about never dating a smaller guy. And especially the more traditional gender roles that are expecting from the relationship. In hetero relationships men are supposed to be the protector and all that, and so how can he be the strong protector if he is tinnier (seen as weaker) than the woman herself?
    Of course that’s not an idealizing of fat for men, but rather just a larger body size and a muscular body type. But I bet that you will find a lot more women who have large bone structures and lots of muscle who identify as “fat” compared to men, for that reason. Just as I would bet there are a lot more women at the smaller end of things who indentify as fat than men. I know I considered myself fat way back at 135lbs and a size 9. And there was no way at that size I was going to see myself as not fat. And I always point out here, this was not an identification that was all in my head. There where plenty of people out there at that time who also did not see me as not fat (I know, cause they were always telling me so!)
    I think there is definitely a difference in definition for what “fat” is for men and women. Though I know many people here would argue a large body size and very muscular large body does not make a woman “fat” while I know from a physical standpoint obviously that isn’t a body that has a lot of “fat” on it, since for woman an acceptable body isn’t just about a lower amount of body fat, but actually a smaller body all around, in almost every way, it’s hard for me to not see that as also “fat” from a more social perspective.

  28. Well said responses! When one group is considered as having it better, it is indeed a generalization. And saying that a group generally has it easier doesn’t mean that each individual has an easy life.
    That is definitely worth repeating. Often times when it comes to discussion of privilege (and those nice little lists) the people pushing those lists will often dismiss the hard lives people live and act as if the privileges on that list magically cancel out their hard lives. As many have already pointed out advantages and disadvantages don’t cancel each other out. They are all there interacting at the same time.

    One item in particular that is on almost every male privilege list is an item that basically says, “If I’m overweight there is little consequence to it. And in many cases being overweight is a good thing.” I’ve concluded that anyone who believes that MUST have had a different experience with being overweight than I have.

    I’m just not sure that feminism in general is sufficiently benevolent to all men… to the fullness of the male experience… although I would like to think that it could be.
    I get that feeling too. But when I think about it just about any movement is not sufficiently benevolent to the experiences of people outside those that the movement are centered around.

    In the end, you don’t have to find feminism useful for you (though we at SP still think it is); but I think you should ask yourself why you have such a hostile “visceral” reaction to feminist writing, and why you think women writing about their experience as fat women somehow negates or dismisses your own experience as a fat man.
    I know I’m not the original target of this but I think I have an answer for it but it applies to more that just fat men and fat women. To me the hostile reaction to feminist writing has nothing to do with women writing about their experiences because I don’t think one person telling their own story negates someone else’s story. I don’t feel the “hostility” until it comes down to generalizations I see being made about me. Its a matter of being told that my story must have played out a certain way because I’m this or that (in this case male).

    Having been overweight for the majority of my life I can that things have not been a cake walk. But in regards to what fat men can gain from feminism I’m sure there is something to be gained but given that fact that women have been much harsher on me than men I’m just a little skittish about the subject. While there is plenty of truth to this line from the main post, “But fatphobia directed towards men is heavily steeped in misogyny.” there is plenty of straight up man hatred (misandry if you will) in fatphobia.

    Please excuse the rambling (I have a lot of thoughts in my head on this subject and while I want to mention them all something that long would end up as a post, which I may do). Its late and I have to get up early. I’ll have to keep an eye on this thread.

  29. So many interesting points in the comments, I almost forgot what I was going to say at first – which would be, OMG THANK YOU. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this ever since I discovered Fat Acceptance and I could never figure it out, I kept thinking, “Why is it a feminist issue? I dun get it!” Well, now at least I think I get it, who knows for how long.

    One thing that I’ve been wondering is whether the male “ideal” being portrayed by the media hasn’t changed from “strong, rough, hairy and sweaty” to “strong but soft at the same time, gentle, hairless and educated” lately. Many guys are embarrassed by their chest hair and use just as many beauty products as some women these days (albeit different ones). How does this tie in with the fear of coming off as feminine or gay?

    Some quotes that stuck out to me:

    I don’t feel feminized because I’m fat, just hurt.

    I don’t think there’s any way for me to think of someone who is a “big guy” as feminine rather than masculine. The large size ‘feels’ like a specifically masculine thing. [...] Here’s a question (but probably off-topic): are fat women masculinized?

    Well, that’s another interesting perspective. Now that I think about it, I suspect I have always more or less felt the same way. Yes, absolutely! Consider the typical “portly dyke” stereotype: Fat, muscular, masculine. What comes to mind if you are asked to imagine a stereotypical gay man? Thin, possibly short, weak, hairless, feminine. I seriously don’t know where people get the impression that it’s the other way around.

    I get the feeling that some women in fat acceptance do tend to regard me with deep suspicion, particularly those of a more radical bent who argue that any aesthetic appreciation of a person’s physical appearance is objectifying and that sexual attraction, even as a tiny part of a relationship, is a construct which should be rejected along with those relationships.

    Wow, thank you for putting that out there. Excluding the suspicion part because few people actually know me, that’s exactly how I feel. It’s one of the main reasons why I hardly ever visit feminist blogs – half the time I feel left out and misunderstood there, even though I agree with the general message.

  30. One thing that I’ve been wondering is whether the male “ideal” being portrayed by the media hasn’t changed from “strong, rough, hairy and sweaty” to “strong but soft at the same time, gentle, hairless and educated” lately. Many guys are embarrassed by their chest hair and use just as many beauty products as some women these days (albeit different ones). How does this tie in with the fear of coming off as feminine or gay?

    Another couple of cents on media portrayals of masculinity:
    In my composition class, I teach a unit on advertising and include an essay by Steve Craig called “Men’s Men and Women’s Women.” It oversimplifies a bit, but makes the argument that male “characters” (in ads) marketed to men and male characters marketed to women are pretty different, and vice versa. So, like, the men in car ads might just be dudes, they’re hanging out, they don’t even need women; the men in female deodorant ads, though, are some version of female fantasy, and fit your “strong but soft, hairless” description a little better. In film, too: compare the male leads in, like, Righteous Kill vs. Nights in Rodanthe. It gets really interesting when you start noticing what those different versions of men have in common – they still tend to take the role of seducer in relationships, for example.

    So I do think that the media has had to make room for a male that is more concerned with his appearance because that’s just good marketing: you want to show women images of men that they can fantasize about, too, and you want to convince men that they have to live up to those images. But they haven’t replaced the images of Rugged Man; they coexist. (Hey, women have been existing between improbable dichotomies for centuries. virgin/whore anyone?) And then, too, it’s important to notice which “masculine” qualities remain masculine, maybe even get reinforced as “masculine” at this time – when was the last time you saw a woman in a commercial for a big-screen TV? When do you ever see men modeling housecleaning products?

    Last few cents for now, promise, but: as I understand it, privilege has a lot to do with power and mobility. (Consider: how many car commercials are marketed to just men v. just women?) Potency, if you will. So changing cultural conceptions of masculinity are often still marked with changing perceptions of power. When you look at an image of a male character, think: whose got the control here? In the fatman costume thing described by another commenter: not the fat man being parodied. In Knocked Up: Not the fat character, although he still gets to demonstrate potency by getting the pretty girl in the end. And so forth.

  31. Well, that’s another interesting perspective. Now that I think about it, I suspect I have always more or less felt the same way. Yes, absolutely! Consider the typical “portly dyke” stereotype: Fat, muscular, masculine. What comes to mind if you are asked to imagine a stereotypical gay man? Thin, possibly short, weak, hairless, feminine. I seriously don’t know where people get the impression that it’s the other way around.

    I agree. I don’t think of fat men as feminine and I don’t understand the media’s determination to portray them as stupid, weak, joking spineless fools, when most of the fat men I know are anything but. And many fat lesbians I’ve seen are not the stereotypical portly dyke. They are just like many other women, wearing skirts and high heels and makeup. Now, we don’t know what any of them are like when they’re not in public, but clearly, they are not the representation of the campy, OTT caricatures you see in movies and TV.

    Of course, when it comes to today’s media, 95% of the time more is less, and some think you can’t get any mileage (or ratings) when your fat man is educated and serious, or your gay person is not flaming all over the place, making wild hand gestures, and shouting “YOU GO GIRL!” every five seconds.

  32. I get the feeling that some women in fat acceptance do tend to regard me with deep suspicion, particularly those of a more radical bent who argue that any aesthetic appreciation of a person’s physical appearance is objectifying and that sexual attraction, even as a tiny part of a relationship, is a construct which should be rejected along with those relationships.

    richie79, I call StrawFeminist on this. Have you seen people explicitly claim that sexual attraction is to be rejected, or is this just the impression you get from reading feminist writing on objectification?

  33. To me the hostile reaction to feminist writing has nothing to do with women writing about their experiences because I don’t think one person telling their own story negates someone else’s story. I don’t feel the “hostility” until it comes down to generalizations I see being made about me. Its a matter of being told that my story must have played out a certain way because I’m this or that (in this case male).

    So… you feel hostile not because women are telling their stories, but because they’re not telling your story?

  34. By the way, I think there may be a serious disconnect here… you guys understand the difference between “tell us about how to let men, particularly fat men, know that feminism has something to say to them even though it is not specifically about men and their problems” and “tell us how to change feminism so it’s more about men and their problems,” right?

  35. Okay, since this thread invited men to talk about their experiences with feminism, I’m trying to bite my tongue a bit about some serious mischaracterizations of feminism that I’m seeing here. Instead of speaking my piece (since I get to do that a lot), for now I’m going to drop some links to the Feminism 101 blog that I think will be useful to some of the issues raised here. I ask you to please read these as part of participation in this conversation.

    I don’t feel the “hostility” until it comes down to generalizations I see being made about me. Its a matter of being told that my story must have played out a certain way because I’m this or that (in this case male).

    Related post: Feminism Friday: Occasionally Conversations with my Man Are Instructive (I dropped this link above but I’m betting it didn’t stand out.)

    particularly those of a more radical bent who argue that any aesthetic appreciation of a person’s physical appearance is objectifying and that sexual attraction, even as a tiny part of a relationship, is a construct which should be rejected along with those relationships.

    Related post: FAQ: What is sexual objectification?

    I’m just not sure that feminism in general is sufficiently benevolent to all men… to the fullness of the male experience… although I would like to think that it could be.

    Related post: FAQ: What’s wrong with saying that things happen to men, too? on why you don’t hear as much about male experience in feminist spaces.

  36. Yay! I’m glad I caught it, because it’s got to be one of the best FAQs I’ve read there yet. Go read it, guys!

  37. I can’t really get an intelligent response out right now (no surprise) I will say that when I worked at a crisis line and later a DV shelter I dealt with a lot of “WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ” and my general response was something along the lines of “we’re dealing with the problems of women, that doesn’t mean men don’t have problems, they’re just not ones we are equipped to handle”

    It’s hard as somebody trying to provide a necessary service to deal with comments like these without getting defensive myself, I tend to run on the sarcastic bitch end of the spectrum so treating people politely when they’re asking me why men who are DV victims can’t stay at a women’s DV shelter kind of made me want to smack them in the head more than be kind and thoughtful.

    Anyways… I empathize with the feeling of hurt that you get when speaking about your own privilege, I hope the men here who feel that way will examine *why* they have that response and come back to discuss it, it could be a very interesting discussion.

  38. hmmm… I hope that wasn’t too much of a derail with my comment about the DV shelters, it’s just how I realte to the discussion at hand. Feel free to delete if it’s not germane.

  39. So… you feel hostile not because women are telling their stories, but because they’re not telling your story?
    No I feel hostility because women are trying to tell me what my story is. The fact that I lived my life and therefore have my own collection of experiences means nothing apparently, they can just decide what my life has been like by just using generalizations and assumptions. In short putting words in my mouth.

    I’m not going to presume to tell a woman what her story is because even if I were a woman I still don’t have that exact collection of memories, experiences, and knowledge. At the same time that woman has no business trying to tell me what my story is because even if she were a man she would not have that exact collection of memories, experiences, and knowledge.

    If you want my story ask for it and I’ll tell (at least the parts I’m comfortable telling). But don’t stand on a pedastal and tell what my story is then get mad when I correct you. (not that anyone here is doing this.)

    I appreciate the link Sweet Machine. Pretty sure I’ve read it before and its good stuff. However it does not entirely address what I’m talking about. The fact that I am not the center of attention is fine and in fact I read the stories ofther people to at least try to get an idea of what THEY are about and where THEY are coming from. In telling those stories of course they will mention specific people or specific subsets of groups. What I’m talking about is when someone makes a general statement (usually to the tune of “all ____ ….” “the only reason you disagree with…” ) and they act like they crapped a brick when their generalization gets challenged.

    I’m so dreadfully sorry about derailing this thread but Sweet Machine is giving advice and I’m just responding to it.

    I agree. I don’t think of fat men as feminine and I don’t understand the media’s determination to portray them as stupid, weak, joking spineless fools, when most of the fat men I know are anything but.
    That is because the media thinks it must have a safe target to attack in order to get approval (i.e. ratings, funding, etc…) from other groups. This safe target is declared safe because they don’t think the targetted groups will say anything about it. That’s why calling a fat person “Professor Klump” became popular when that Eddie Murphy movie came out in 1996 (I was in high school at the time).

  40. Pretty sure I’ve read it before and its good stuff. However it does not entirely address what I’m talking about.

    You should read it again. In fact, I’ll pull out the relevant parts for you:

    “It’s not ABOUT me, always. And even if it is about me, so what? I’m not perfect. Why shouldn’t I have to take some shit once in awhile? Heaven knows I dish enough out in a day. Would it kill me to get an attitude adjustment? Would it kill me to listen to someone unlike me for five minutes?”

    “What we aren’t doing is taking care of them. Nurturing them. Putting their feelings first. Looking out for them, making things safe for them. We aren’t making them the center.”

    “Everything else IS centered around y’all. Everything else–you guys got the talk radio to take care of you, the ESPN, the CNN, the New York Times, the advertising industry–you can’t bask in all that adoration day in and day out and then pitch a fit because a handful of blogs on the internet don’t recognize your awesomeness.”

    I understand that it takes you out of your comfort zone to hear women talk candidly about men and know that they’re not talking about you specifically, nor have they asked for your specific story. But what I said was that feminism has something to offer men. That doesn’t mean it’s a place where individual men’s beliefs, histories, or feelings take precedence over the deep need for equal rights and the defeat of misogyny. Feminism has something for you, if you’re willing to accept it, but that doesn’t make it ABOUT you. It’s fundamentally the one thing that’s NOT about you.

  41. To add to what FJ said, Danny, it sounds like you really missed this part of that post:

    “A lot of the guys written about on feminist blogs do things I would never do.”

    “Then don’t identify with them. It’s not about you! You stand to pee, they stand to pee, beyond that, what’s the commonality?”

    The generalizing statements you hate so much are either a) not about you at all, because you are a happy exception to the generality (but that doesn’t make the generality untrue), or b) about you and you’re not getting it. In either case defensiveness that people aren’t taking you seriously enough is not a fair response, especially in a discussion that was patently not about you in the first place.

  42. Thanks, FJ and volcanista, for highlighting those portions. I really find that whole post so clarifying, personally — so much so that when I feel myself having privilege-defense-mechanism reactions to reading something, I sometimes make myself reread it.

  43. You know, I don’t know if I’m about to make people uncomfy, here… but I don’t think I care, either. This is perhaps indelicate but it needs to be said (the fact that I am even mentioning that, or the slightest bit hesitant, is probably an indication of the difference between how women and men are expected to handle this subject, now that I come to think on it).

    Whenever I bring up feminism, or see it brought up elsewhere, in a context where men are involved, I’m confronted with some manifestation of the same reaction: oh noes, feminism! that means women who think everything we do objectifies them, and that we can’t think about them in a sexual context at all, because they’re prudes and they don’t like pr0nz n stuff!

    May I please be the first to stand up and say, loud and proud, as loud and proud as any man that ever walked– I AM A YOUNG, HEALTHY, NORMAL WOMAN, AND I AM AS RANDY AS ANY OF THE DUDES I HUNG WITH IN COLLEGE (HA HA, I SAID “HUNG”), AND GODDAMMIT, I ENJOY A GOOD FUCK AS MUCH AS THE NEXT GUY!!!!!! AND IT DOESN’T MAKE ME A NYMPHO OR A SLUT, JUST A NORMAL PERSON WITH A NORMAL SEX DRIVE. KTHANX.

    Being a feminist doesn’t mean I want to take away a man’s right to look at a photo of a naked woman. In fact, I think pornography can be a healthy form of sexual expression or experimentation. Let’s put it this way: if I ever have children, I think it would be healthier for them to get some videos and have some hands-on self-sex when they start getting curious, than to, say, pick a classmate and start having babysex because they’ve not got other outlets and they want to try and figure out how their respective parts work.

    I will now come out with the revelation that shouldn’t, but may, shock the world. I am a feminist, and I have been known to enjoy a good pornographic image or film. The two things are not mutually exclusive. The idea that the *only* form of porn a feminist is ever involved with is a nice smutty dime-store romance novel is ludicrous. I must say that there is certainly pornography that IS objectifying or problematic, but that does not mean that ALL porn is so by definition. I have even watched and enjoyed certain hentai. I mean, unless we’re talking about something like snuff films, even some of the “weirder” or less mainstream stuff is, honestly and truly, NOT just automatically abusive and bad.

    So, do I care if men are getting flashed a little omg bewbs or even omg vag by a consenting adult woman on the other end of a camera, getting paid for her nudity and the quality of her sultry pout? Psssht, not as long as I have just as much opportunity to see the bare chest and raging hard-on of a consenting adult male with an equally sultry pout. We masturbate too. Get over it.

  44. <>

    Okay, I just read through the related FAQ. First of all, I just wanted to clarify something about my earlier comment (first part of the quote above). I wasn’t questioning whether feminism was ‘benevolent’ to men and the male experience based on time and space dedicated to men’s issues within feminist writing/forums. No.. I understand that feminism is primarily about the female experience. I was refering specifically to benevolence v. hostility in the reaction to an expression of something that is specifically male. But I realize that might be irrelevant if the construct we’re talking about is primarily rational rather than emotional. But then, there are emotional reactions that it engenders. Okay, maybe what I mean specifically is… how do we ‘feel’ and respond to, say, Hemingway.. Henry Miller.. Eminem… and does the feminist ‘frame’, or exposure to it, blind us to any possible empathic or compassionate reaction we might have to the human (though specifically male) experiences expressed? Can we still view even that sort of muscular-maleness as just another part of the spectrum of the human experience, no less good/bad/acceptable/unacceptable than any other? That is not to say that Eminem & co speak for all men, or the majority of men, but they do sometimes express one part of the spectrum. Can we as feminists (I am including myself just for the moment, perhaps inappropriately) feel anything good toward them?

    I know I’m constantly bringing it to the level of ‘feeling’, which is perhaps not where the question should be addressed. But ‘feeling’ is where benevolence and inclusion DO rest… bolstered by ..decisions, I guess, and policies, and conventions, but if we think that any of those can be far removed from ‘feeling’, we’re kidding ourselves. imo.

    As far as the ‘PHMT’ (patriarchy hurts men too) argument being more or less irrelevant in a feminist forum… on one level, yes, I can see that. I can see the initial relevance and value of setting those ground rules, at least while the discourse is being established.

    Ultimately, though, I think we’re losing out if we refuse to respond to the ‘hurt’ part of that statement. We’re losing out because … if patriarchy hurts men, hurts women, hurts children, hurts people, how could anybody’s hurt be irrelevant to any discussion of patriarchy? We do we need to separate people from people? Wouldn’t it be better to try and separate people from hurtful institutions?

    Refusing the human response to the simple fact of ‘hurt’ in favour of one which reinforces boundaries that are, essentially, boundaries between people.. I can’t see how that wouldn’t diminish understanding, experience, compassion, and, ultimately, strength.

    I mean absolutely no offense to anyone here, and I believe the contributions of feminism have been invaluable. It’s interesting, though, because I just recently asked myself, because of something completely unrelated to this board, whether I actually am a feminist… I didn’t feel sure that I was, and I have friends who for some reason seem to assume that I am… maybe because I’m female and kind of independent…so, I was asking myself that question. And I suppose I have my answer now.

  45. SugarLeigh, THANK YOU! For both asserting your healthy sex drive (HOLY FSM have I got one too) and for the term “babysex”. Without going too far into either TMI or tl;dr territory, I’ll say that I had some experiences on the cusp of puberty that made me think I was a broken adult, and I feel much better knowing that those experiences were not weird or freakish or limited only to me.

    /derail

  46. more random thoughts, because this questions seems to have gotten the litle hamster wheels turning in my brain today..

    One of my favourite local slam poets, Shane Koyczan (who is also, I think, internationally known in some circles), is a fat man. A significantly fat man. He calls attention to that fact all the time in his commentary and his spoken word poems.. to his size, and his lack of conventional ‘beauty’ – he calls it ‘beauty’, always, but somehow there’s nothing feminizing about it. And he is, well, deeply sexy, in a completely original way. It’s because he is just staggeringly talented, and aware, and self-aware, and I wonder – I wonder if he didn’t make reference to his size and appearance – I wonder if it would actually be more of a barrier. I wonder if… by addressing it, by making it okay for people to officially ‘notice’, he is integrating it into his persona, and transforming it and making it his own. I wonder, also, if his persona would be more or less powerful, or, just, different, if if wasn’t for his size and his open awareness of it.

    In one poem, where he talks about his struggles with the conventional perception of ‘beauty’, he says… and I may be misquoting very slightly, because I can’t find a written version of this, but I’ve listened to it a million times.. he says:

    “And as for what is beautiful and what is not
    I’ve got your answer
    I am your basis for all comparison
    I am the garrison that holds up the terrible weight of beauty”

    And then it goes on from there to say something about how “but I’m not a soldier so it is not my duty” to do so … to be responsible for ‘weight of beauty’ that some impose and some get crushed by.

    Oh. It is just gorgeous. I love that line: “I am the garrison that holds up the terrible weight of beauty”.

    But do fat men need feminism? I think, if the rational for the need is that fat men are feminized and therefore excluded.. no, personally, I think there’s some sort of disconnect there. Or.. maybe there is a commonality of experience, but that’s not exactly it.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now. My brain is just buzzing, and it’s partly just work-avoidance.

    Before I go, I just wanted to add a ‘thank you’ to SugarLeigh, too. I agree and I like the way you spoke out.

  47. David, dunno if you’ll be back, but … wow. You know what’s weird? The way you framed that, just a truly honest experiential reckoning, really opened something up for me – something about competition that I knew but didn’t really see as it related to me most personally. I can’t even try to articulate it more, but just wanted to say thanks.

  48. Danny, I’ve been thinking about your statement above:
    Often times when it comes to discussion of privilege (and those nice little lists) the people pushing those lists will often dismiss the hard lives people live and act as if the privileges on that list magically cancel out their hard lives.

    And again I wonder if this is StrawActivist territory. I have participated in a lot of discussions about privilege, online and offline, and what I’ve seen time and again is the privileged person responding as if the less privileged person is “dismissing the hard lives people live and act” — but the less privileged person is rarely actually doing that. It just feels that way for the privileged person, because that’s what being called out on privilege feels like for just about everybody. Everyone feels defensive and picked on at first, and like the other person is saying “your life is so easy” — but if you actually listen to that that other person is saying, it’s almost never the case.

  49. mara, in response to your musing about beauty I quote the great Leonard Cohen:

    I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
    You were famous, your heart was a legend.
    You told me again you preferred handsome men
    But for me you would make an exception.
    And clenching your fist for the ones like us
    Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
    You fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind,
    We are ugly but we have the music.”

  50. What I’m talking about is when someone makes a general statement (usually to the tune of “all ____ ….” “the only reason you disagree with…” ) and they act like they crapped a brick when their generalization gets challenged.

    Emphasis mine.

    I’ve been hanging around feminists for a long damned time, and I have yet to hear one say, “All men…” If you’re hearing, “All men are like X,” then as everyone else has said, your reaction is the problem — not what’s being said.

  51. Ben, I have a notion that the usual concept of masculine actually has rather little to do with being a man in general. Rather, the idea of masculine has been defined by a small number of unusually aggressive men from one particular culture, so there’s a tremendous amount of nonsense and abusiveness mixed into the concept.

    Unfortunately, if there’s a sound idea of masculine (I don’t know whether men and women are different enough that it makes sense to try to develop such an idea), either no one has figured it out, or if anyone has, it hasn’t gotten into the public mind.

    This is only a guess from outside the situation, so please let me know if it looks plausible.

  52. Kate:

    I have seen some pretty extreme feminists utter such things as ‘all men are pigs’, though I haven’t seen that here or on the other FA blogs I’ve read. I’ve only seen/heard it uttered from very extreme feminists, so there are feminists who do come with such things. It doesn’t mean, however, that all feminists say and/or mean such things, and those who do are very few (I hope…).

    I do understand why many men will react to things like ‘men have it much easier’, since in their own experience this probably won’t seem right to them. I would react if someone said the same thing about women (on some alternative issue). It is important, I think, to remember that the problem is on group level and does not *always* apply to the individual. I’m sure there are some few fat women who never experience any sort of fat stigma and therefore won’t recognise the importance of the FA movement because they just don’t see the problem.

  53. I just let myself get sucked in again…

    And again I wonder if this is StrawActivist territory. I have participated in a lot of discussions about privilege, online and offline, and what I’ve seen time and again is the privileged person responding as if the less privileged person is “dismissing the hard lives people live and act”
    I don’t blame you for thinking that but I have been in conversations in which I’ve been told “just because it doesn’t apply to you doesn’t mean you don’t have the privilege.” If a specific privilege doesn’t apply to me doesn’t that mean I don’t have said privilege?

    If you’re hearing, “All men are like X,” then as everyone else has said, your reaction is the problem — not what’s being said.
    It is true that I’ve rarely gotten the “All men are…”, but I used “All ___”. The emphasis was on the “All” not the “men”. I’ve seen this used about many walks of life from feminists, to MRAs, specific races, genders, etc…

    It is important, I think, to remember that the problem is on group level and does not *always* apply to the individual.
    Good to know.

  54. Danny, think about it this way: You are upset when feminists treat you as a member of a group instead of asking after your personal experience. You get to feel this way, because as a man you get to consider your personal experience to be paramount and you are allowed to become accustomed to being treated as an individual and not a representative of your sex. It feels unusual and uncomfortable for people to ignore your personal experiences because of your gender, or consider your gender more important than your personal experiences. Male privilege is not being used to that. Male privilege is not growing up thinking that’s your birthright.

  55. don’t blame you for thinking that but I have been in conversations in which I’ve been told “just because it doesn’t apply to you doesn’t mean you don’t have the privilege.” If a specific privilege doesn’t apply to me doesn’t that mean I don’t have said privilege?

    This isn’t really clear to me without seeing what you’re referring to, because to me this sounds like a paraphrase of a couple of different arguments bunched together. In the first part of the quoted bit, I’m hearing that “if it’s not about you, don’t make it be about you” that came from that post that FJ and SM linked to. That’s like, if you’re not a catcaller, no need to feel offended when we complain about catcallers. In your question, though, I think you’re addressing a separate argument that all men have access to male privilege. That’s different, that’s more like: if you did choose to catcall it sadly wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary, and you have a pretty good chance of walking around on the street without receiving that harassment yourself.

    Look, admitting you have male privilege is not, is never the same thing as admitting guilt or saying you’re a bad person. It’s just saying the odds are stacked in your favor in certain circumstances, and trying to understand what that’s all about.

    Did that clarify the contradiction?

    I feel kind of weird, because I keep jumping in here talking about privilege and whatnot because it’s important to me that people really, really think about what that means… but at this point, the thread is no longer about men talking about their experience of fat, and I’m not ameliorating that.

  56. Hi

    I have always had a resentment against Fat Acceptance because of how much it focuses on the weight experiences of Men in general and then applies them to the lives of Fat Men. Having been Fat all my life the fact that weight bias for men starts at a higher weight is 100% meaningless to what I have experienced.

    Oddly I have found Fat Feminist Bloggers to be more open minded about this than NAAFA orientated Activists. I contribute it to the fact that more Feminist Fat Bloggers do not have a foundation built on Fat Admiration and Fetishes as well as Fat Acceptance.

    I also do not think that the fact that Fat Men face less public confrontations than Fat Women is because they are more acceptance, rather it is just because they are Men.

    William

  57. Have you seen people explicitly claim that sexual attraction is to be rejected, or is this just the impression you get from reading feminist writing on objectification?

    I’m sort of sad that Richie hasn’t come back to answer the question, but what with being the one who quoted him in the first place, I would like to say that I thought he wasn’t talking about feminism at all, but rather about the way FA activists address the “fat admirer” thing. It was me, not him, who brought up feminist blogs, and in my case it really is “just the impression” I get from reading them. I never feel welcome there and I have been frantically reading every FAQ I could find to figure out why, but I haven’t made any progress because I certainly do not disagree with the FAQs themselves.

    Sorry, I suspect I’m not contributing anything useful to the conversation. My mind is about as disorganized as it can get. So I’ll just talk about something I actually understand instead …

    If a specific privilege doesn’t apply to me doesn’t that mean I don’t have said privilege?

    It would be easier to explain this if you had given an example, but what has helped me when I was reading up on white privilege for the first time was adding “due to my skin colour” to every sentence. As in, while it is untrue that I have X advantage (as they apparently claim), the reason why I don’t have it is NOT my skin colour, but some other unfortunate circumstance. You could do the same thing with gender, too, and I’m pretty sure that you would realize that adding “due to my gender” to every item on a privilege list would suddenly make them apply to you after all. Does that make sense? As for your other points, I’ll wander over to that post of yours that you linked to.

  58. Hi Ben

    I think that the instances of Men in General that liking Feminism and Fat Men that dislike Feminism because so much of its history is about down playing the experiences of Fat Men are too separate issues.

    I feel that Feminism does help Men, but its historic stance on Fat Men directly harms Fat Men.

    William

  59. Hi Danny

    I agree with you about Fat Men wanting and needing to control what is being said about/for them, especially in the press. I hate when a Fat Acceptance Activist’s statements are picked up by a News Provider and the only thing they have to say about Fat Men is how much easier they have it in life. If the person is not a Fat Male does not reporter even bother to gather supporting statements from Fat Men?

    William

  60. As in, while it is untrue that I have X advantage (as they apparently claim), the reason why I don’t have it is NOT my skin colour, but some other unfortunate circumstance. You could do the same thing with gender, too, and I’m pretty sure that you would realize that adding “due to my gender” to every item on a privilege list would suddenly make them apply to you after all. Does that make sense?

    It makes sense to me, and I think it’s spot on.

  61. My message to Ben should have said

    Hi Ben

    I think the issue of Men in General who dislike Feminism and Fat Men that dislike parts of Feminism/FA because so much of its history and current statements is about down playing the experiences of Fat Men are two different issues. I do not think that Fat Men are attacking Feminism when they are protecting their own identity.

    I feel that Feminism does help Men, but its historic stance on Fat Men directly harms Fat Men. There is a vacuum in regards to Fat Men sharing their experiences, so what is said about them should be supportive, not dismissive.

    William

  62. William, what do you feel is feminism’s historic stance on fat men? I’m really just ignorant in this case – I get most of my feminist knowledge from the internets ;-) and don’t have a strong background in its history.

  63. I think a few things need to be articulated here. 1) Isms and privilege are SYTEMATIC. Just because someone may not themself as sexist or privileged doesn’t mean they aren’t part of a sexist system that does give them privilege. No one is separate from the system and everyone is implicated in it. 2) All of us embody the intersections of life–that’s the purpose of an intersectional perspective. We are affected by more than our sex, it’s true. This means there is not one “man” experience. For instance, a black man experiences both privilege and oppression. Having experienced oppression (systematic racism) doesn’t mean he never experiences the privilege of being a man. Ask Jewel Woods, who created a Black Male Privileges list: http://jewelwoods.com/node/9

    What I’m trying to articulate is that fat men’s experience (generally*) differs in many ways from thin men’s (generally), but that doesn’t mean privilege isn’t shared. Oppression and privilege isn’t just about our individual experience; they are necessarily systematic things that intersect and do not necessarily cancel one another out.

    *Generally because we CAN speak generally about things that are pervasive to social experience. This DOES ignore variation (micro level understanding) and privileges general trends (macro level understanding) And that’s what theories do–draw your attention to a few things and ignore others to illuminate understanding. But talking about something on a macro (society-wide) level doesn’t mean the micro (individual) level doesn’t exist.

  64. Hi volcanista

    Well from the start published Feminist writers were 100% apathetic towards Fat Men, when they said Fat is a Feminist Issue they meant that Fat is only a Feminist Issue. Susie Orbach was direct enough to say that Fat is not an Issue, only Female Fat.

    These Foundations of Feminism molded the Feminist branch of Fat Acceptance just much as the rest of Fat Acceptance was molded early into a movement which was apathetic to Fat Males. For the rest of Fat Acceptance instead becoming a Feminist Issue Fat became a Admirer of Female Fat Issue

    If you read the Fat Underground which was largely Feminist their writings was much more gender inclusive than writers like Susie Orbach (1978, 1986); Marcia Millman (1980); Kim Chernin (1981, 1986); Marilyn Lawrence (1984); Carole Spitzack (1990); Naomi Wolf (1990); Morag MacSween (1993); and Susan Bordo (1993).
    **(Bell & McNaughton, 2007)

    I really liked this paper that is published on Sage Journals

    Feminism and the Invisible Fat Man
    Kirsten Bell and Darlene McNaughton
    Body & Society 2007
    The TCS Centre, Nottingham Trent University

    The online version of this article can be found at:
    http://bod.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/13/1/107

    William

  65. William

    There is a great deal of tension and disagreement inside feminism regarding what feminism means and the role of both feminists and their allies, this is to be expected because no movement is monolithic. But more than that, ideas and movements grow and change in their direction and scope. In the past, feminists were mainly concerned with the needs of women, and a certain type, white upper-middle class women. Perhaps it was needful, I don’t know, I wasn’t born yet. But over the next couple of generations we became aware of who was being left out and who did not have a voice in the movement, and began talking about intersectionality and layers of oppression.

    Letting men in to the conversation has proven very difficult, i think. Not just because of the backlash, and MRA’s, but because of the ways we have been socialized to communicate differently. Men in our society are used to speaking and women are used to being spoken at, so what happens when one party says Now there are different rules of communication?

    It seems to me that this is what is happening here.

  66. Hi bellacoker

    I know that Feminism is a reactionary movement and I am not really criticizing it outside of its activity in the Fat Community. Maybe I should use the term Feminist FA to differentiate my comments from Feminism and from FA in general.

    I above mentioned the vacuum where input from Fat Men should be and that lack of male input did allow practices in Fat Acceptance and Feminism to ignore them. I share my experiences more than most Fat Men online and I can say that I still do not share on how I feel as much as the average Fat Woman online does. I think that input from Fat Men will be slow in growing.

    William

  67. “One of my favourite local slam poets, Shane Koyczan (who is also, I think, internationally known in some circles), is a fat man.”

    Mara- I used to be a slam poet and Shane was always one of my favorites. His poems about his body and sex blew my little nineteen year old mind.

  68. “Mara- I used to be a slam poet and Shane was always one of my favorites. His poems about his body and sex blew my little nineteen year old mind.”

    Ohh, I wish I had heard him when I was 19. As it is, he blew my little 34 year old mind, when I first discovered him about five years ago.

    Sweet Machine, I’m a great admirer the Great Leonard Cohen too. I like those lyrics, and another one that has always resonated for me was “where I have to go begging in beauty’s disguise” (from the point of view of a woman). Oh boy, I have felt like that, too.

  69. Have you found feminism to be personally useful in combating your own internalized fat hatred?

    Yes. Specifically, radical feminism has enriched my life and allowed me to begin healthily deconstructing the influences in my life that condition me to be a certain way, and help to allow me to begin to understand why people unintentionally force these ideas on me.

    Within contemporary society, I sort of fit into this accepted area of fatness – I’m 175 lbs., 5’6 (so I’m rather round), but I’m also of West Indian (specifically Guyanese) decent. Within a racist context, it’s expected for me to be fatter than my white contemporaries because of my being brown (because my being brown automatically equating me to eating lots of FATTY FATYY korma and paneer because it’s my ‘ethnic food’, despite the fact that being West Indian means our main cultural food is Hakka Chinese cuisine).

    What’s also a factor is the heterosexist gender-coding that exists within the LGBTQI community at times (I’m gay). Many of the gay men I encounter are almost obsessive about their thinness, and it’s sad and heartbreaking that a community I wish to find like-mindedness in terms of treating one’s self with dignity is so effected by fat-phobia.

    The feminist movement as I’ve encountered it has been inclusive and sensitive to my own inquiries and development as a radical feminist.

    Feminism is critical in my removal of fat-hatred because feminism has allowed me to develop the skill of loving critical thought. Without the writings of people like Kate, Fillyjonk, Sweetmachine, Melissa from Shakesville, Karen Healey, and specifically bell hooks, I doubt I’d have been able to function healthily in a world that decrees that I should shame myself because of who I honestly am. I know this comment isn’t necessarily, but from the bottom of my heart – thank you to ShapelyProse and all of the Shapelings; who allow me (and many other peopple) to recognize that the movement to promote dignity and respect for fat people and all people is still going strong.

    In turn, I sort of run a few threads on less politically-charged forum sites (GaiaOnline.Com, specifically) and through interacting with those, I’ve managed to allow people to begin critically thinking about their own life and insitutionalized -isms.

  70. Ryan, what a beautiful post. I’d never thought about it before you mentioned it, but now that I am thinking about it, I do know gay men who are very skinny and punish themselves as vigorously as any woman to get that way. How sad that no one is safe from these arbitrary standards. I’m so happy for you that you choose to respect and care for yourself.

    Also, I hang out on Gaia all the time! It was actually an FA/HAES thread on Gaia that brought me here in the first place and started my interest in FA, HAES, and sparked my re-interest in feminism! I don’t meet a lot of other people who are on that site. D’you care if I friend you? If you don’t want to share your Gaia handle here, you could look me up, my name here on SP and my Gaia name are the same. ^_^

    It’s funny because this whole thing has helped my self-esteem and my growth as a person so very much. So, indirectly, Gaia Online is responsible for some of my most profound personal growth and change. Considering I started hanging out there so I could talk about anime and puppies and maybe roleplay that I’m some kind of magic animal now and again, that’s pretty cool.

  71. Parts of this thread remind me of a class I had in college. Sociology. The professor was reading aloud greeting cards meant to be given to people being divorced. The prof made it a point to say that the main consumer of greeting cards is female, and that the only cards he found were aimed at women going through divorce. His overall point was the cultural shift in attitudes toward divorce. He read a card aloud that said: My sypathies on your legal separation. But don’t you wish you could separate his head from his shoulders?

    The guy behind me snorted “feminist card.” I turned to the guy and said the card had no reference to feminism.

    When someone who identifies as being feminist says something like “all men are pigs,” that’s not a feminist statement. That’s an inflamatory remark based on pain and betrayal.

    I know it isn’t fun to hear remarks like that, but isn’t possible to separate baseless inflamatory remarks from the political philosophy of feminism?

    And sisters, is it possible to remember we’re all human when we’re hurt and venting?

  72. Oh, good lord.

    I just realized I made it look like if feminist said “all men are X” they were speaking from a place of pain, and in doing that, I kinda made it sound like the feminist is the eternal victim.

    What I meant to say was that assigning a negative behavior to one group of people is divisive and unacceptable.

    And really, justice-seeking people shouldn’t be publicly inflamatory. Save that tripe for your therapist.

    If I lie down, will someone kick a pencil through my head?

  73. Hi, I just started reading the blog today, and am not be aware of older posts.

    That being said, I’m male, 6’4″ and about 250lbs. To be honest, I never considered myself fat, though I readily admit being large in both height and dept.

    It’s my honest belief that everybody needs feminism, regardless of gender, sexual preference, height or weight.

    Though as a tall northwestern-European male I don’t doubt that I “benefit from patriarchy in many ways”.
    I’m also acutely aware that even if I were to ignore the ways that it hurts me by either forcing me into a template, or having other people see me through this distorted lens, it directly hurts the people around me, including those I hold dear. I don’t think that’s an acceptable situation.

    So yes, I agree: fat men need feminism.

    Robbert

  74. @SuperLeigh – Thank you! That’s very sweet. Your responses here have been very inspiring.

    My username on Gaia is T.e.n. Feel free to add! LOL And I totally joined Gaia for the same reason… funny how that works out, hmmm?

  75. From personal experience I’ll say it can be just as hard to be a fat guy as a fat woman, especially a young fat guy. Because women are supposed to be soft and curvy and plump, while (young) men are supposed to be hard and lean and mean. I guess feminism helps us fat guys to articulate this, but I’m not sure it helps us to reclaim our manhoods. Because we’re men, we’re not supposed to be this flabby and soft! But perhaps femninism can be a handy tool when it comes to show how the more dominating males physically or psychologically ostracize us fatties from the sports fields, so that we don’t get the exercize we needed to loose wight.

  76. Hi

    I agree with Fred a little, I think that Men have Fat Issues on a different level than Women. Fat Men usually hide their Fat more than Fat Women. I am far less surprised when seeing a Fat Woman in a swimsuit or even a bikini than a Fat Man in swimming trunks.

    Fat Women routinely wear tops and bottoms in tight clingy material, but Fat Men wear baggier clothes. Fat Women do short sleeve shirts less than Fat Men because of arm fat.

    Yet almost any where else on the body Fat Women are more often willing to display a curve or fat roll in public. A Fat Guy will let his belly bulge a shirt, but there will be extra room in the rest of the shirt.

    It is just hard to make general statements about these issues.

    William

  77. Hi Kate

    It is impossible to explain why one general statement is wrong without using other general statements.

    I tried not use absolute statements saying something like one group only only experiences one reaction and the other group does not. I also did not try to say for certain what is the mindset of other groups or people.

    I can say that I have heard few Fat Men that agree with statements that claim Fat Men are far more accepted than Fat Women. I also have heard very few Fat Men who do not support Fat Women need for Fat Acceptance.

    William

  78. Men commit 3-5 times more suicide than women in most societies (and seek help for depression much less, and don’t commit suicides as a cry for help), about 85-90 percent of homeless people in the US are men (forgot where I saw the statistics), about 95 percent of people in prison are men, boys are subjected to enormous neglect, drop-out rates etc. in schools, men are much more often the victims of physical attacks and homicides, men are far more often the objects of violence and aggression on TV and in popular culture generally, they are exoected to be slaves of the state in most countries (i.e. through conscription – they must spend several years in the military during their youth), they get longer prison sentences than women for the same offences (see Farrell), male sexual deprivation is considered irrelevant (unless they have the resources – material or not – to make it relevant), men are not supposed to cry and are punished severely by both other men and (more painfully) women if they transgress gender stereotypes, and yet female sexists lightly generalise that men are more privileged, while in fact “patriarchy” is a system which hurts people in different ways. Women are far more discriminated in certain areas such as politics, public life, domestic housework etc., but men bear the brunt of discrimination in certain areas of psychological pressure and violence I feel.

    To those who imply it might be acceptable if a woman was “venting out” about men in general, try to reverse the gender roles. Gender liberation must be based on the respect for all kinds of different voices of oppression and pain.

    I have been abused by my peers since daycare all through school and highschool. I always defended girls when I noticed they were being discriminated against (e.g. harassed, forbidden to play soccer with the guys)., but I’ve never been defended by girls when I was being harassed, humiliated and abused (daily). Instead, those who did it were the most popular boys in daycare/school highschool, attractive to girls who often participated in my abuse (I was abused for being chubby, clumsy, for wearing glasses, for being too smart and knowing too much, for playing different, more solitary kinds of games etc.)

    By the way, I am a vegan, pacifist and anti-capitalist who devotes most of his time to activism.

  79. This subject will always be a unfinished one in Fat Acceptance and Feminism. I think that the fact that Fat Acceptance and Feminism focuses on the “Femininzation” of Fat Men more than Society at large does is part of the problem. I have found that Society does not view fat/obesity to be feminine or masculine, just disgusting.

    The fact that Fat Acceptance rarely discusses the unfeminine aspects of fat or the masculine aspects of size/bulk is another problem. By the time Fat Men started coming into Fat Acceptance the ideology of Fat Acceptance was already too customized for Fat Women to be much of a benefit Fat Men.

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