Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Men in Fat Acceptance

Recently it seems like the few men who show up as FA bloggers on my particular Google feeds might be getting the idea from other blogs and certain commenters that their life experiences as men aren't really welcome in Fat Acceptance.

I don't understand how anyone can think issues of hate and discrimination only affect women, or that it can be solved by only engaging the females in the world. These male voices are equally valid and valuable, even if they don't adhere strictly to your definition of a feminist. FA as a social movement would be a very different place if it weren't for Paul Campos, or Paul McAleer, for example.

I want to let them know that their personal investment in FA, and their perspectives as fat men and/or fathers, sons, or lovers of people affected by fat hate are all welcome contributions to my own daily reading.

Shannon Russell
http://www.atchka.com/

Is the current popular target of a lot of hostility, but I really haven't yet managed to ferret out anything he says that outright offends me (and I consider myself a feminist). I hope he rides out the wave until people get used to his communication style, because I think he offers a positive challenge to the insulated paradigms of FA. I don't agree with everything he has to say, but it's at least refreshing to see something I disagree with on the Fatosphere feeds beyond the "diet vs. no diet" debate. Especially when it's articulate, funny, and threaded with good pop culture references. Especially when I feel like I can post a differing opinion on his blog without getting my ass chewed. I highly recommend that anyone who feels hostile towards his posts first read his Who, What, Why posts that explain who he is and why he's blogging. Also, if you can't easily recognize sarcasm or irony, or can't laugh at a little deliberate sophistry, then this might not be the blog for you.

The Men in Full livejournal
http://men-in-full.livejournal.com/

Is low-drama, high-impact. Their photographs, paintings, postcards, cartoons, statuary, etc. celebrate the physical beauty of large men in art and culture. The portrayals are almost exclusively positive; portraying large men as powerful, strong, beautiful, glad, and desirable. For those who've missed the last ten years or so, men are quickly arriving at pressure to obtain impossible physicalities right there along with women. These pictures may be more subversive than you think, and therefore more valuable.

Nick, from Axis of Fat
http://www.axisoffat.com/

All of the bloggers on the Australian Axis of Fat talks about fashion, body acceptance, and struggles with FA issues. Nick is one of the few men who venture into fashion in the FA feeds, which makes him very much welcome. For all the complaints about womens' clothing, I hear just as much from men in my life who feel they have to choose between pants that cut them in half or sag to their knees. I understand it only gets worse when you venture outside the U.S. (for all the bitching we do here!).

Bill, from Fatties United
http://fattiesunited.wordpress.com/

Bill is one of the bloggers on a relatively new site, "Fatties United" out of the west coast/Bay area of the US. He's been there (well, here actually) and has seen a lot of the trends and transformations within the FA movement. He also puts out the NAAFA newsletter, including the news and research roundup put out quarterly with links of interest to FA.

JD, from right here.
http://unapologeticallyfat.blogspot.com/

I may have only talked him into one guest post so far, but I hope to convince him to speak out with much more. He's a man with experience as a thin person, a fat person, a person in love with a fat person, a person who has observed loved ones become victims of the pressures of social beauty standards, etc. His range of personal experience (and his brilliant mind) gives him a lot of valuable insight into FA.


Please, if you're a man and I've left you off this list, post your info in the comments. I'm not as widely read as some of the other fatosphere blogs, but I want to give you what credit I can for adding your voice to something that affects everyone in our culture regardless of sex or gender.

14 comments:

Shannon Russell said...

Aaaaaaaaaaw, thanks JoGeek. :) What an absolutely flattering endorsement. I will definitely ride out the storm and you will always have a place to call me an asshat. :)

Peace,
Shannon

William said...

Hi Thanks

We Fat Guys have some catching up to do in regards to dealing with body issues. We guys have a lot higher capacity of the ability to ignore, avoid and deny our issues, but the average fat guy would benefit from sharing and learning in Fat Acceptance.

William

Bri said...

There is another man on the feed, Ivan from New York. He last posted about his difficult relationship with his sister... I can't recall the name of his blog right now but he writes with a great deal of openess and sensitivity and isn't scared of sharing some powerful emotions and experiences.

lifeonfats said...

Ivan's blog is called Fat in NYC.

richie79 said...

Thanks for the link to Fatties United (not sure how I managed to miss that - I'm assuming it's not on any of the feeds?)

In fact a recent post there links quite nicely back into the issue of the lack of men in the movement. It discusses the issue of Fat Admiration (terrible term, but reassuring to know even the guy who coined it dislikes it!) and its place in an increasingly feminist Fatosphere. I think it's generally agreed that for most men, the experience of being fat differs from the way it is lived by women, who experience fat hatred more acutely because it is seen as a particularly unforgivable deviation from the modern femininity ideal.

That's certainly changing, especially with the topic's move from the beauty section to the health page, and as men are increasingly targeted as potential consumers using similar methods of exploiting the desire to conform, I suspect we'll see more men coming to FA as a response to injustices against themselves. However even as a fat man in 2009 I'm nevertheless aware that my wife has to deal with double the weight-related crap that I do despite weighing pretty much the same. I suspect mainly for this reason, most of the men currently in FA are here as a result of being Fat Admirers. Brian of Red No.3, Paul McAleer, myself, and now Shannon of Atchka, all (and forgive me if I misrepresent anyone here) were initially drawn to political FA by experiencing second-hand the daily mistreatment of the fat people in our lives by society.

Unfortunately, as is self-evident from some of the goings on at (whisper it) Dimensions Magazine, BBW/BHM dating sites, not to mention the vast quantities of fat porn currently flooding the Net, not all Fat Admirers are as respectful as some of us might like them to be. Now this could be (as highlighted by Atchka on the Fatties United page) because the complexities of sex and dating in a fatphobic world mean we're less likely to have had the opportunities to develop a normal / healthy sexual identity. On the other hand it might simply be because, like it or not there are 'predators' out there who are determined to exploit the real or perceived power imbalance between fat women and thin men and the stereotypical 'desperation' of the former for their own advantage. And of course it could be a combination.

(continues...)

richie79 said...

...It's inevitable perhaps that with most fat women having at some point come into contact with some pretty creepy, lecherous behaviour (on and offline) from those purporting to be 'Fat Admirers' we're all going to end up being tarred with the same brush (it's that generalisation thing again, rearing its ugly head!) However (and as I've pointed out before) it strikes me that the latter group in particular are unlikely to want to involve themselves with a political movement that seeks to rectify the very situation from which they're seeking to benefit. The predators and fetishists are (to someone who's been around a few years now) fairly easy to identify and in my experiance are more likely to troll FA boards than engage with the debates thereon. The 'social inadequates' are less so, in that they may find themselves lumped in with the first group when with the opportunity to develop their self-confidence they may not only become allies but help some female newbie to the movement learn to better accept her own fat identity.

This is why I'm ambivalent about the existence of Dimensions and its brand of Fat Admiration - I must confess it was a relief to discover, in my late teens, that not only were there others like myself, but lots of them - and I must admit it's superficially a lot more welcoming to fat admirers than the political fat acceptance movement post-Kate Harding. On the other hand, that's also why it's dangerous, because the type of single-minded fetishisation of fat it encourages, along with its links to the feederism agenda, is not only potentially harmful to those still discovering and coming to terms with their fat / Fat Admirer identities but immensely disrespectful toward those it purports to idolise. There are a lot of very confused young men out there, and it would make me feel better if it were us getting to them before Mr. Blickenstorfer and his evil empire, and reminding them that clumsy flirting in chat rooms and pool parties do not change the world.

(Apologies for the long post, it's all stuff that's been in my head during the debates of the last week or so and which due to illness I've only just gotten around to turning into a coherent comment!)

nycivan said...

I am relatively new to Fat Acceptance and still learning about the politics and inter relationships between the different factions of FA. I am certain that FA is right for me, although my family is alarmed about it. Tough nudges for them… they have to deal. I will say that other than nick in australia, I have not seen any male voices on the net. Even at the recent Naafa convention, I only saw two other fat guys that were there for themselves. ( there were a few other fat guys being dragged around the convention by their spouses, but when I spoke with them it was clear they were there to support their wives and seemed to not have any connection to FA other than that.

IWhen I started asking around about other fat guys no one could point to anyone.…. dead air. nothing. So I will look at the guys you mentioned. I don't think that the male perspective is unwelcome, I just think that Fat Guys… Guys in general, don't wanna talk about feelings and Fat Hate, especially when new to this because a lot of it is self hate… at least it was when I started looking around the blogs and considering Fat Acceptance.

I like the academics. I admire the activists. I didn't really know what feminism was before I got to the fatosphere. I do now after a few stumbles on Kate Harding's blog. I have not had the chance to interact with the male fat admirers other than one very nice guy at the convention. I am not sure where I stand as far as activism goes. I am just trying to find my own way here, although I did fire off a letter to the editor when some ignorant fashion reported made fat hate comments in a review of a new store here in nyc. The Fat Hate is everywhere I turn. I can face it whenever it finds me… however, I am not sure if I want to go the activist path which would put me right in the path of the hate. Maybe someday, not ready for that kind of fight yet.

If there are fat guys out there, I believe that there could be benefit from community. I think the shame is a big barrier that keeps guys from putting themselves out there on the net.

Well I am going to a "bash" this weekend and having never been to one before, I am not sure what to expect. Some have expressed contempt about these events. Others have said there is no better time to be had for a fat person. I am keeping an open mind and going there to see for myself.

Thanks for writing about this topic.

Cheers


Ivan

men_in_full said...

Hi - thank you so much for listing men_in_full in your article. Just so everyone knows, I am a woman writing that site. Your kind words are most appreciated.

Paul said...

And. . . Late again. As usual my, throughly randomized, life gets in the way when the interesting things start happening. Things have been more upside down than they usually are this month.

Thanks for recognizing a segment of the fat population that, for all intensive purposes, is pretty much invisible. A large part of that is probably due to our own lack of participation in forums of any kind, much less the on-going Fatosphere conversation. But, as you say, we do exist. We have experienced many of the things that are spoken about widely in the community and those experiences matter.

That more men haven't stepped up to share those experiences or have proven unwilling to discuss what they think in reference to living life as a fat person, is not a sign that we don't care about these issues or that they don't effect us.
I think it's more of an indication of mens unwillingness to discuss anything having to do with body issues. One would think that encouraging discussion with the few voices that DO exist would be a better encouragement for adding new voices, more diversity, and the strength that often comes with both.

As richie79 points out (one of these days we'll convince him to Blog his own ; >), overlooking the male perspective ignores other potential allies as well. Peruse Lindsey's Museum of Fat Love or the Fat Brides Flickr pool and you'll find them. They would be the men who love the women in their lives enough to marry them. Despite their fat / because they're fat, and every shade between. When the women these men have committed their lives and love too are being undermined, undercut, or flat-out abused by EpiPanic rhetoric or the philosophy of the Thin Ideal, they should. . . . What? Step back and hold their tongues? Not say or do anything because their help isn't necessary, their perspectives aren't considered relevant? This is all to say nothing of the fact that many of the men in those pictures are, themselves, fat.

In general, men don't find talking easy but more of us are. For a lot of reasons, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

William said...

Hi Paul

I think that Men do not want to share anything that may be perceived as weakness. I remember when the term BHM was created a lot of talk of Football Players or the Sasquatch/Wookie type of Fat Man. I remember saying "hey this is not your average average Fat Guy!!"

I have witness Fat Women delving into the most intimate of issues in their lives and it has taken all this time for Fat Men to even deal with fat roll and jiggling.

William

William said...

Hi

I should share that I work in a drug rehab for men and getting them to share what really bothers them is a chore, unless they are at the point where they can not hole it in anymore.

I was like that and that is why I love this quote:

"….and then the day
came when the risk to
remain tight in a bud
was more painful than
the risk it took to
blossom…….." --Anais Nin

That is the hump many Fat Men have to get over and I would say a few Fat Women also.

William

Danny said...

While over a month late I'm glad to see there are other fat men talking about this and making their own voice hear. So far the only discussion I've ever heard about fat men is usually a bit of lip service during a discussion about fat women. Personally I'm a bit fed up with the issues of fat men being treated as a footnote in the discussion of Fat Hatred. I must bookmark these sites and read further.

William said...

Hi

As a Fat Man I would love not to so often have to fight to defend experiences that I have shared in the Fat Acceptance Community about being a Fat Man.

Curtis said...

I'm trying to find images of fat, and happy people to plaster my walls. Nudes especially. To help with my own acceptance of my body. Anyone have any suggestion of websites that have artist images of fat men and trans people? adipositive.com is great for fat women, but I haven't found anything similar with fat nudes of other genders.

Thanks,
Curtis (fat and genderqueer)