Feminism, disability and fat acceptance

There’s very little going on right now, so I don’t have much to say. I was going to go to a lecture at the Reykjavík University today at noon. My thesis instructor sent me this announcement of the lecture a few weeks ago. It says:

David Sanders, Professor and founding Director of the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape, (U.W.C.), South Africa, is a specialist paediatrician with postgraduate qualifications in Public Health. He has almost 30 years experience of health policy and program development in Zimbabwe and South Africa, having advised both governments as well as OXFAM,WHO,UNICEF and FAO in the areas of primary health care, child health and nutrition, and health human resources as part of health systems development. He has published extensively in these fields as well as on the political economy of health, including on structural adjustment and development aid, having authored or co-authored three books: “The Struggle for Health: Medicine and the Politics of Underdevelopment,” “Questioning the Solution: the Politics of Primary Health Care and Child Survival” and “Fatal Indifference: the G8, Africa and Global Health”, as well as over 30 chapters and monographs and approximately 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. In 2004/5 he was Heath Clark visiting lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where he was also an Honorary Professor. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen, and was a Visiting Fellow at the Globalization/Management Department, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Canada in 2005.

Dr. Sanders was on the Steering Committee of the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition from 2002 – 2006. He is on the editorial boards of and is a reviewer for several international journals. He was a member of the Knowledge Network of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. He is on the Global Steering Council of the Peoples Health Movement and was a managing editor of the recently published Global Health Watch 2. He is recipient of the Nutrition Society of South Africa award in 2002.

I didn’t go because for some reason I couldn’t fall asleep until 4 or 5 am and then I could wake up early enough to catch the bus and mom went out so I could get the car. The universe was clearly conspiring against me. I guess I’ll just have to find something dr. David Sanders has written and read it.

A friend of mine has been sharing a lot of interesting links of Facebook/Livejournal lately and I thought I should pass them on.

Five Geek Social Fallacies

Within the constellation of allied hobbies and subcultures collectively known as geekdom, one finds many social groups bent under a crushing burden of dysfunction, social drama, and general interpersonal wack-ness. It is my opinion that many of these never-ending crises are sparked off by an assortment of pernicious social fallacies — ideas about human interaction which spur their holders to do terrible and stupid things to themselves and to each other.

This is so very interesting and so very true and probably plays a large role in making geekdom a really difficult place to navigate.

“I’m not like the others”: nice guys, self-flattery and the myth of uniqueness by Hugo Schwyzer.

Because “boy talk” in American culture so rarely focuses on romantic love, a large percentage of teenage guys who are romantically as well as sexually inclined may begin to flatter themselves with the notion that they are “unlike all the rest.” They do what all teenagers do: they compare how they feel on the inside to how others look and behave on the outside.

I had a conversation with my dad about feminism and how he feels men are being left behind in this battle. While women are fighting the idea that they all have to be so feminine, men are still in many ways stuck with always having to be so “masculine”. I told him that feminism and the fight for equality is supposed to be about all of us, the ubiquitous gender binary hurts us all and if men want change then they have to join the fight. He said something like “but in this era of political correctness men aren’t allowed to say anything, it’s so difficult to get started”. I pointed out that when women started fighting for their rights, it was difficult too.

To many men I think it seems like women have gained more because they are allowed to dress pretty much however they see fit, while men’s choice in clothing is much more limited. We can be strong, weak, “masculine”, “feminine”…but if men show any weakness they are “girly” and “sissies”. What they don’t realize is that this is an issue that touches us all, just the fact that men are sissies when they show “feminine” traits reflects the general attitude that society has toward women. If this is going to change we need to work together, not against one another.

Besides, women aren’t really allowed to dress how they see fit. A woman who is too “masculine” is often rejected as a “dyke” and ridiculed.

No, we don’t have equality, and if we want to get there we need men to help. We need them not just to help us, but to help themselves.

Fantasy of Being Thin

Because, you see, the Fantasy of Being Thin is not just about becoming small enough to be perceived as more acceptable. It is about becoming anentirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has. It’s not just, “When I’m thin, I’ll look good in a bathing suit”; it’s “When I’m thin, I will be the kind of person who struts down the beach in a bikini, making men weep.”

My goodness, yes. I am terribly guilty of this way of thinking. I’ve told myself: “Once I’m thin I’ll have lots of friends”, “once I’m thin I’ll be more successful”, “once I’m thin I’ll be beautiful and everyone will want me”, “once I’m thin I can totally go to Hollywood and date Zachary Quinto/Chris Pine/whoever”, “once I’m thin I’ll be more comfortable with my sexuality”, etc. I’ve even worried that I’m too fat to work in developing countries because the heat would make me sweat a lot and I’d be so gross…yeah, fucked up.

Fat acceptance is about letting people be who they are and not hate themselves if they aren’t able to lose weight. There are fat people out there who are perfectly healthy and live a perfectly healthy lifestyle! We’re not all completely out of control pigs. I’m tired of hating my body and always feeling like my weight will stop me from being someone important.

Disability terminology: a starter kit for nondisabled people and the media

This problem is not limited to the media; a lot of people struggle with disability terminology. People want to use the right word, but they’re not really sure what the right word is, and sometimes some very intriguing circumlocutions and euphemisms are employed in the service of trying to be respectful.

Very useful!

Putting Gender on the Agenda

Biomedical research continues to use many more male subjects than females in both animal studies and human clinical trials. The unintended effect is to short-change women’s health care.

This is very interesting. I had no idea that there was such a big difference in the number of women and men (and female/male animals) in medical trials. It means that while a drug can be safe for a man, it’s not guaranteed that it’s as safe for a woman and that’s quite alarming. I also found the point about pregnant women really good.

I think I’ll let this do for now.