I love Lindy West. Of the staff writers for Jezebel, she’s the one whose stuff I routinely read all the way through and like the best.
Some of the others have left me either feeling “meh” or horrified. (Like the story about breast feeding. Another DON’T GOOGLE alert: DON’T JOIN JEZEBEL AND BREASTFEEDING in a search. I suspect you won’t like what you find if what you find is what I came across O.o).
West, however, is pretty awesome. Not because I am interested or agree with everything she has to say (I’m a negative atheist, not a positive atheist, which is what she is. I am not absolutely convinced there is no God [positive atheist = there is no God] … I just don’t see proof or a supreme being actually worthy of worship within the dogmatic texts of our big religions [negative atheist = your organized religion is such crap]).
This article in particular is exactly the point that I try to put across to those who go WAY too far (IFLS far, see earlier posts, which goes so far as to broadly mock and hold all spirituality and religious belief in disdain… more than likely, those who scream foul the most among the science set don’t realize their own inherent stupidity: They picked up their moral code from an environment that is rooted in religion. Which isn’t to say that the Bible should dictate law… it is to say that most of what atheists think is right and wrong matches up with what religious folks believe is right and wrong: taking care of others is right, murder and stealing is wrong. The particulars get muddy but the bigger picture reveals that different moral fibers still can produce similar looking clothes).
So, here’s some food for thought, because I think I’m like her. I’m not always good at being true to this, but I agree. There is a big MORAL REASON why it is no more justified to dismiss religion than it is justified to call every gay guy or lesbian irredeemable sinners… People are people. And we all suffer the same. For some, religion isn’t an intellectual choice, it is an extension of faith, which, because it is present, is helping that person not only survive, but live. Nobody should be stripped of faith when it can act as a shield to protect a person from their own cruel reality.
“A few months ago I came across an astonishingly brutal article about sex offenders and their potential for rehabilitation—or, more accurately, “relapse prevention.” (If you have any sensitivity to triggers of any kind, RUN from this link.) The piece profiles one particular “model” prisoner, a man who raped two teenage sisters in their home while their mother slept downstairs. The attack was unspeakably horrific. In the months since I read the article, there’s one passage I’ve thought about nearly every day. It’s from an interview with one of the victims, the younger of the two sisters.
Mitch gave her something? Yes, Angela says, “Mitch brought me to Christ. You see, I thought I was going to die, so I had a white light with me the whole time. I was in and out. I guess it was how I survived the pain, because the pain was unbelievable.” She still can’t feel the pain, she says, and she can’t feel anything else, either, and that’s what Mitch took away, that’s what he stole. “I’m not happy; I’m not sad,” Angela says. “I don’t look forward to anything. If I’m depressed, I eat—that’s how I feel things. I get high on sugar or I get full—and then it’s, ‘Oh boy, I feel something now.’”
You’re going to tell that girl that she’s an idiot for believing in god? You’re going to laugh in her face and trot out one of your big logical trump cards? You’re going to pat yourself on the back for being “smarter” than this person whose humanity was violently stripped from her when she was just a child? Are you also going to tell her that she’s a disgusting fatass who should go on a diet because of your insurance premiums? Who the fuck are you to tell her how to survive?”
Actually… this quote does double whammy. This is exactly the sort of thing I think of every time I come across a fat hater and their “stigmatizing fat people is A-Okay… actually, it is TOTALLY APPROPRIATE, EVERYONE SHOULD DO IT, BECAUSE THEY ARE LAZY DISGUSTING FILTH THAT SHOULD CHANGE” sort of arguments. If food has become a coping mechanism, like faith, then who is anyone else to label that as bad?
I’ve lived with some abusive treatment. I was emotionally/verbally abused growing up by my peers, and by my dad. I know what it can do to a person because I feel it. I also know that it can apparently do the exact opposite. A guy I know who was a fat kid was physically abused for being fat. Instead of externalizing the blame, he has internalized it, and uses that as an excuse to stigmatize other fat people. He says that obesity is a massive problem and kids all have to lose weight, not because it really is a problem or because all kids have to lose weight… but because he’s one of those victims that has become an abuser in his own right.
That’s his way of coping, by spreading the misery on to the next person. And yet, a fat girl that eats too much after being raped is the bad one because her coping mechanism is food.
At the end of the day, the thing I hate about organized religion the most is the exact same thing I hate about any narrow-minded, dogmatic world view. Whether God is involved or not, there are too many self-righteous people walking around in an absolute world, trying to tell others how to live.
I saw it Tuesday night here in my home town of Porterville as members of the LGBT community who are good citizens, good neighbors, and good people will continuously condemned as filthy sinners not worth recognition.
Probably one of the biggest things that every Fat Activist has to learn and deal with is figuring out their own biases, their own personal hates, their own dark sides. It’s necessary… unless you want to come off like the moderator of a FB page I used to follow.
The page is called A White Witch’s Book of Shadows and she is big on preaching religious tolerance for witches, pagans, and other magic-practicing peeps.
But then she thinks its okay to put up a racist joke, and instead of taking the criticism from those of us who have the sense to recognize racism when we see it, she blocked us all.
So much for tolerance.
And at the end of the day, that’s the point. I was somewhat ashamed of some of the people who were at Tuesday night’s meeting defending the LGBT Pride Month proclamation as I was ashamed of the Christians. I’ve been angry over it, but the anger I heard behind me was more hateful and judgmental than I believe is right.
It’s all fine lines, very fine lines. People say they are sick of political correctness because they hate trying to walk with big bigoted feet on fine lines. I think Mindy West and I have figured it out. The balancing act is easy if you remember the Golden Rule. Stupid, but true.
No one is so righteous to justify treating others with the disdainful, rudeness, anger or judgment that is so sickening when it is turned on us by others.
More than likely, we’ll never be able to make peace with ourselves and the demons in our heads, until we recognize the way we have harmed other. Those are the demons that must be exorcised first, if we are to get those who would shame and stigmatize us to respect us.