Fat, And?

BigYoga

Let me confess. I am a bit of fatster these days. It feels like confessing to being a heroin addict or a dogger or a Trump supporter… but the funny thing is I genuinely don’t actually give much of a shitehorse about it. My anxieties and my feeling the need to ‘confess to fatness’ has a great deal more to do with the importance that other people place on ‘the fact’, rather than my own values or feelings. Like, having to ‘warn’ people about it before I meet them, or make jokes to relax their tensions when I eat a biscuit or watch television in my pajamas, or go swimming without my moo-moo.

Lets make no mistake, women’s cultural anxieties about being Fat relate hugely to our obsession with aggressively manipulating our bodies into suitable eye candy for masculinist voyeurs. Some people pretend it has to do with health, but I shall believe that when such people are as interested in insomnia, stress, work and financial pressures, air toxicity, povertous mental health provisions and the ramifications of abuse… as they are with the contents of women’s draws.

Being a woman makes you – or at least your exterior – public property. Being a fat woman, makes you public property that nobody wants or likes.

No, scratch that, many people love the existence of large women, because we provide a socially acceptable sounding board for other people’s anxieties or insecurities. A worthy object upon which they feel justified in dumping their pathological thirst for passive aggression. People actually  believe that they have the inalienable right to stand around and deliberate on your structural and aesthetic ‘flaws’, as though you were the living, female manifestation of The House That Jack Built.

And even if you have not even ventured an open dialogue about your waist band, and the ‘convo’ has been thrust upon you like a soggy nappy, there is still a pressure to be gracious about people’s ‘concerns’ or criticisms, lest you seem defensive or persnickety. As though your being unhappy with someone’s dissection of your form is some insight in to your own desperate unhappiness with it, rather than your fed-up-ness with being taken to be a problematic speck on other people’s otherwise fruity landscape.

Even people ‘trying to be kind’ fall foul, because they still are participating in a discourse that promotes the idea that women’s bodies are some kind of problem if something ‘beautiful’ or ‘admirable’ cannot be found about them. Such as those people who tell me I have a pretty face or nice coloured eyes or a good ‘rack’.

To these people I say, Stop. It. You are being about as subtle  as a set of novelty underpants… par exemple…

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Or those people who ‘helpfully’ recommend diet books or Fat Clubs. To them, I say, flat no. They don’t work, they make people miserable, they are naughty, naughty  fascistic bollocks by another name. Oh and they usually involve spending money and making someone else rich. If you want to spend your life weighted to the scales in a effort to stay slimmer than is common for a female over the age of 12 to be, that is your look out. Don’t drag me into it. Oh, and while we are at it, don’t recommend holdy in pants, corsets, growing my hair long to compensate or proffer the fallacy that Marilyn Monroe was a dress size 16. She wasn’t, OK? She was one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen, with her fine comedic talent, and guess what, being commercially beautiful? it did not make her any less unhappy.

Also, if it is all the same with you, don’t peddle the idea that I was super brave to leave the house or to eat a muffin in public without a sign on my forehead saying ‘yes I am fat, but I am working on it!’. I don’t want to be dis-empowered or treated like shit for being fat, but I also don’t really want a medal for it either.

Do you know what I want? I want it to not be a thing. Or at the least not your thing. But it is right? My body, someone else’s thing. Like Katie Hopkins!

Indeed, when crud cultivators like Katie Hopkins make a big, fat issue out of big, fat people, you know why she does it? Many aspects of the human person — how we judge each other, how we make preferences or create ideals — are very subjective. Intelligence, creativity, decency, morality, even charm and beauty are very ephemeral and shifting. People like Hopkins hate subjectivity, nuance or personal preferences because they are authoritarian in their bent. They like things to be simplistically demarcated, and one of the primary reasons that is so, is because then they know how to ‘win’ at being an elite person. Or, as important, how to ascertain where someone else is placed in the social hierarchy. Who to kiss up to and who to piss down on.

Katie Hopkins may not know how to be (or how to be seen to be) intelligent, creative, decent, moral or even charming and beautiful — but she has worked out quite easily how to be thin. And in being thin – in a culture that prioritizes this as a commodifiable goal in women particularly – she wins.

Compounded… the sexism of men like Trump or MRAs arrives out of their ability to delineate on the worth of women, as it relates to their body size. Their power is in holding jurisdiction over this authoritarian, simplistic and rigid value in women. You can see who probably wins in all this.

So women, often those who are not especially overweight in any case(by medical standards) trundle on to the hamster wheel of weight loss, fornicate with false and extreme remedies to the mythological disease that is ‘them’.

Not caring, despite everything, about what I look like and my scaled ‘fuck-ability’ (who wants to be fucked anyway?) — genuinely not caring — is probably the most radical thing I can do, vis-à-vis my own womanhood. I don’t wish to have myself decided upon by the metrics of those philistine, misogynistic authoritarians, whose love for ripping asunder the bodies of women derives from the political and social power they feel it gives them.

And for those who mean well — but who are utterly rigged in to the zeitgeist of beauty fascism that this promotes (and thus seek to help me out of my corrosive ugliness) — for them I wear an invisible sign. It says ‘just because you’re giving a fuck about Fat, please don’t ask me to’. Because I have other things I prefer to do, and other things I prefer to think about, than the fatness of my own arse. Or anyone else’s for that matter.

Sex and Social Media

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Sensuality is not easily reproducible.

You cannot take a sensual experience – in all its ready, unready, bluster and breach – and copy and paste it over and over again, ad infinitude.  Oh people try, in long drawn out couplings they slog through the motions of repeated patterns of coitus. Patterns they have  come to the conclusions of, not together, but individually, privately, working around each other like a pair of fishes swimming about a small pool. Their intimacy is based on the fact of their proximity in body, but their heads are half witted, and wandering elsewhere.

Sex is just another in a list of things to get done. In the evening, they flounce in from their grey labours, shoulder down in front of a wide screen, and hand grab their small screens, ready for a long old twiddle. It contains the endless entertainment needed for all the sitting down they are about to do. Sitting down with acid cheap wine, bought because of their acquaintance with the brand. The brand so often used to slice, in advert, between those buddycoms they are so fond of. Because you don’t need actual friends! You have Sit Friends! And industrial grade gut rot.  You can ride right up Jacob’s Bunch of Shit Creek, and you don’t ever have to feel alone.

They, literally of absent mind, flick their fingers along the cracked rim of each glass and glaze over the screen(s). They could sit there for hours, couldn’t they? Watching back runs of that buddycom or that panel show – programs designed to instigate a feeling of familiarity  that they don’t experience with each other. Or anyone else. Depictions of jovial and easy friendship and society repeated day in and out, week and month too, on some channel or media outpost, somewhere, always. These are our simulated fraternities. They half watch, half fiddle, always sit.

Ah but work calls them in the morro. This ‘living’ has to stop.

They trunk up the staircase to their bed (or across the room; its a studio, its all they could afford, we made houses an investment, remember?) and fall in to it and go about their fuck or rub or frottage routine, with all the build up of a tired corporate soldier stepping in to a lift. And they ‘do it’ to completion, wandering their fractured thinkings over whatever slice of pornography or predictable ‘bend over, fuck and cum’ fantasy they can muster, just to reach something like a peak. Enough to get them to sleep without a thwack over the head by an absconded boxer or a stick shoved up the back entrance by a sexual cynic, dressed in cheap PVC.

Oh how I go on. Sauced up? Your goings got? Boots filled? I can barely bang out a question mark, let alone an exclamation.

But I am asking a question, all the same. The question is, where is our sex?

The sanitary, work to just-but live, nature of our daily lives interspersed with an endless array of small-fry digital actions (flipping between screen and screen and screen and screen), lead us inexorably to experience being in entirely fragmented and, ultimately bland cognizance, a set of mind that does not have the scope for sensual exaltation.

No wonder we experience lust as wandering our eyes over pretty pictures of lentil pies. Not lust, we note the prettiness of the spectacle and  sink notionally into “Why are my own pies not as thus?” It is the width, breadth and stretch of our sensuality.

Besides the dearth of sensuality, our cognizance, even, is not raw, let alone analytic. It is not an enthusiastic  and curious engagement with our world, our lives, our bodies, and more importantly, with their world, their lives, their bodies. But for their pretty lentil pies. Yes we live in our heads, heads attached to our digital systems, heads not up to much. Bodies up to nothing. Yes we ‘do it’. And that is about it.

Back to another night, and our lovers, wedged into a sofa like a pair of stationary bikes tied to the roof of a stationary car. Back to those pretty pictures of lentil pies. All stacked up and herb trickled; cute nosh she can’t eat, she won’t make, she probably doesn’t even want. And while she zips through them – chastising herself for your own bland plates of re-hydrated pasta drenched in  heavily sugared sauce  –  the fella sat next to her is scanning through  synthetic depictions of oblate women, greased and buffed by front on lighting, until they score an uncanny resemblance to bratwursts. Not the rich oozing sausages of October Fests even! But the orange tinged pickled dogs of the American jar. Tinged, hard and just, just squidgy. Why do men insist upon gaining their sex from images of women designed to look like projections of their own, very much imagined, hard, throbbing cocks? Why do I even ask.

And he looks up from his small screen, only, to see some hard shouldered masculinite on his big screen. Blowing to smither some sucky, sucky mouthed lizard, with green scales and a pink gob, ripping up from the Deep. You will not be forgiven for that being lost on you. And yes, she is still looking at the pretty pictures of lentil pies.”We’ll make that one day…” she yawns. He isn’t listening. He’s mentally eating his own bratwurst and watching that wet mouthed lizard get blown to a thousand, sticky bits.

This is our sex. This is our foreplay. This is the run up. Are you not entertained?

Yes screens, digitization, provides us with hallucinated-form projections of our own fantasies, extracted from us and sold back to us, so we don’t even have to leave our seats.

Once, at a conference, a male academic rejoiced! in the very fact of the amount – the sheer amount (never has a cliched phrase been so appropriate) of what he called  the availability of free pornography. An academic be hell! I said to him…I said to myself, awkward and tired, in my plastic chair, listening to endless papers of sociological ‘interest’ without analysis…you are not getting it for free! You are participating in a process by which, for every thing you consume you permit yourself to be advertised to! Advertised to along the lines of your own consumption, solidifying you, forever in the process of being catered at, usually shuffled – slightly, slightly – in the direction of your crudest of oils. And when your cock stops working because it is in a lethargic state of over reaction, your free pornography will helpfully point you in the direction of a pharmacological cocktail, that can get it going again. And then you can see to your inter-acted sex rituals with your tired lentil pie obsessing girlfriend, whilst you stew your frazzled dreamscape around images of bent over bratwursts going through the motions of fucking labour.

You haven’t bought pornography with your money. You’ve bought it with your consciousness, your dependency, your obsession, your willingness to consume. Porn. Social Media. Advertisement Television. Billboards in the street.

And the academic, who should be a wit capable of abstracting himself, to some degree, is just another consumer, sucking on his litre box pop of porn. And the activist, the feminist, who should, with thinking bayonet, sharp stick in to the flanks of these consumptive demons, clap their fins like fish breathed seals putting on a  show. Suck, suck, suck, yup, yup, yup.

Warms your fragile heart, don’t it?

And why? Why are we so easily ridden?

Because the structure of payment – which is payment via our attachments and obsessions – render us in a constant state of processing repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated, messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, you get it? you get it? you get it? You do? Like.Like.Like.Like. Dislike!

All platforms work using boxes of messages or images or clips, which we have scanned over like crude algorithmicals, searching for the right ideas (diluted) to which our social, personal, political and sexual ‘identities’ have decided most appeal. Within these same same platforms that spit out an abundance of 140 character messages or clippings of grey eyed bratwursts withstanding vaginal tears, we persist in our search for the new, only in the details, the micro moments, the slight shifts in our digital mise-en-scene.  Gazillions of these shifts wandering like spots of water amalgamated into a thundering along-ness. We capitulate because bantam novelties are easier and more saccharine to swallow than the risks of heavy change. We are willing to sell our everythings for little bursts of novelty.

There Is No Such Thing as Conversation. It Is an Illusion. There Are Intersecting Monologues, That Is All.

Rebecca West

Is it no wonder such a dense political philosophy  as feminism – which ought to be out to flay the monsters of ‘extract from us and sell back to us’ –   can be so thoroughly eviscerated from the internals? Like a cadaver lost at sea – it is being chewed up by micro monsters and in the watery tumult, bloated beyond immediate recognition. Ready for the sharks to jettison it in to the watery nether. Oh it still bobs away, just. From our boats – those of us who are trying to escape – we point, we say, ‘There is Feminism! There it goes!” Its salted and thin skin you can just-but hear implore us to save ourselves. And all those other revolutionary political philosophies that seem to have been trammeled into students hive-minding language policing methods. The age of digital repetitions does not encourage us to think up or out, but in, in, in. Give vindication to ourselves, in our ever increasing shrinkage, in our pokey self obsessions.

The so-called sexual liberation of our time seemed to me then, and seems to me still, to be the intensification of the  focus on self -pleasuring, and is fundamentally masturbatory, hence its reliance on external stimuli which work on sexual fantasy. The appeal of self-gratification as the key to self-realization was and is its adaptability to marketing.

Germaine Greer, The Mad Woman’s Underclothes

Sensuality and critical engagement share a need for scope, patience, dedication (as opposed to obsession) in our choices about how we live as individuals (as much as we can) and as a society. Porn and social media require no such long term commitment to feeling and thinking good. Just as porn can take a tired, angst ridden person and flip them, like a switch, straight to orgasm, so too can social media ignite our political and personal danders in a beat.  Just as you can, in a Pavlovian fashion, become erect (whatever your genitals) – without any previous seduction or participation – when gawking at video of a  just eighteen year old being ripped to shreds by – not one – but several cocks of gargantuan proportions, so too can your frisson be got by the news of a celebrity of some distinction (or otherwise) saying something, like, the wrong words. Developing hunger and working towards the process of being filled, is not the same as salivating the minute someone or something rings a bell.

It really should not come as any surprise that pornography and social media are our most jealously guarded of enterprises. And, particularly in the case of pornography, we talk about it as though it has ever been thus. Just as a child guarding their packet of the same same sweets, tinged with chemicals to give them  saucily different colours, we guard the tedious repetitions of our sexual and thinking lives. Because what good is ecstasy and eureka, when you could have easy?


 

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Female’s Leading Doesn’t Make Up For Feminism Losing

 

So we, the British, such as we are, are to have our second female Prime Minister. As a woman who will, for the sake of brevity, refer to herself as a ‘person of the left’, the second inauguration of a female premier being a Conservative (by all accounts, with a capital C) leaves one, at best, rather ambivalent.

The most coherent form of political feminism has it that, it is not so much the cause of feminism to provide a shinning walk way for a female leader, so much as it is to arrive at a governance that takes issues that affect women seriously, point one. Point two, is that the most sensible way of doing this is to enable a critical mass of women to work in government, that at the very least equals, or slightly surpasses, the presence of men. One could argue, for the sake here of simplicity, that the Nordic countries do so comparatively well for women because they have such decent levels of representation, in the European context in any case. Indeed the Nordic countries have an average of 41% representation, compared with the rest of Europe’s measly average of 24%.

Britain doesn’t do well out of that. It seems to me rather suspect to be throwing garlands up in the air on account of the new leader’s vagina, when overall political power is but sand in women’s hands. Of course, just as those far right men with stubbly shaved heads and beady, forensic eyes (here’s looking at you Paul Nuttall) will become Dworkins when it comes to the malfunctioning of women’s liberty in the hands of their Muslim enemies, so too will conservatives dance on the podium of feminism when its stripped vernacular serves their cause. Here comes Theresa, girls, our work here is done!

But I have nothing, really, against Theresa May, especially when considered next to the rag bag bunch of Tory Etonian toffs that have being whipping the reins of power for the last ten years. Indeed, Andrea Leadsom aside, women conservatives seem to be the Tories best bet, if only because they are overall, slightly less annoying then their tripod counterparts.

Nonetheless, Theresa May’s appointment to power is no great success for feminism, but how much of an affront it will be will rather depend on what she does next to support women. And therein lies the kernel of my ambivalence: probably not a great deal.

If we shoot over to the Labour Party, in all its glistening disarray, it is equally hard to feel enthused by the potential for Angela Eagle to become leader of the opposition. Yes Labour has never had a female leader (other than the interim Harriet Harman) and yes there is a real conversation to be had about why a left wing (well, you know) party has been so inept in this regard . The Conservatives, of course, bought in the euphemistically termed Welfare Reforms which disproportionately affected women and now, despite our conviviality about having two women top dogs, Britain finds itself far down the list of the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, at number 26, lower than most other European countries despite us being one of the richest. I’ve never been much of a patriot, but what little patriotism I do have is looking more and more like a sweaty ball of old socks.

Those feminist Labour supporters who want to run head first into Angela Eagle’s pink suits and willingness to play the political game, need to remind themselves that she abstained on voting for the aforementioned Welfare Reform Act. I never quite understood why so many Labour MPs did; did they imagine that if they simply voted it down Tories, Middle England and The Daily Mail would creep into their second expense homes at night and apply cling film to their toilet seats, shave their dogs and put several dozen mackerels down the sides of their sofas? Is Labour so fearful of having political clout, decisiveness or initiative? These Blairites tell us they want power, but one gets the distinct impression that if they ever got it, they’d not have a bloody clue what to do with it, so wholesome and distended is their political, existential crisis.

Added to which, Eagle also voted for the Iraq war, Syrian airstrikes and the hike in University fees. Given that the latter happening, more or less obliterated the Liberal Democrats, it seems quite a stretch to imagine that her leadership would galvanize and unify the party in the way that is being proposed.

Look, I don’t have any real ‘loyalty’ to Jeremy Corbyn, but one feels that the perpetuating failure of the Labour Party has little to nothing to do with him, and indeed, will not be solved by her. Labour lost a massive chunk of its historical support when Scotland went for the more politically cohesive and very ably led SNP, and there is more hemorrhaging of support to the far right party, UKIP. The fact is that, those areas that have voted enthusiastically for Brexit in England and Wales, are just more socially conservative than what any side of the Labour movement can speak too, Eagle or Corbyn.

The only glimmer of hope would arrive if they stopped peeing their pants over being showered with denigrating generalities such You Urban Metropolitan Elites! you Rabid Multiculturalists!, you Bull Dyke Feminists and Haters of the Queen!, and actually curated some willing compromises and tried to colonize us namby pamby liberals, socialists and jaded centrists as best possible. Corbyn has tried to reach a compromise, but the compromise on the other side is predicated on him leaving and taking his bloody mandate with him. Which, for those taking a nap at the back, isn’t really a compromise at all.

The simple fact of having female leaders of either the right or the left won’t be enough to bring feminism and socialism back from the brink of their swansongs. Women have received dramatic cuts to their social security,  women’s refuges are closing, and a government panel seems long term hellbent on enacting policies to enable the industrialization of prostitution.

We are in a crisis, one from which no politician alone, male or female, can currently save us, irrespective of the colour of their jackets or the strength of their steel.


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Germaine Greer:Old Women & Young Feminism

It is difficult to know how to be a feminist. Just saying you believe in equality for women is all well and good, but it doesn’t really help you or anyone when you have to get down to the details of what that means. When it comes to deciding on what kinds of actions and discourses will contribute most fully  to the betterment of womanity. And that is even before you…get to more tricky, philosophical concepts such as liberation and emancipation.

Germaine Greer is a perfect example of why we need to move with the times as feminists and keep on learning. Embarrassing and dangerous.

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One thing you can do to implement your feminist credentials successfully, however, is to not be an Old Woman. You can be any number of things as a feminist, woman, man or mineral, but if you are going to be an Old Woman feminist, you’d better do it in a chronically kowtowing, know your place, kind of way. Despite your years on this cragged sphere, your many books penned, your many battles fought, and your countless death threats received, your feminism is now a draughty hump of nothing and the best you can do to remain of use is to quietly avoid impeding upon the current agenda. And if you are asked a direct question about something inflammatory or controversial, rather than take the feather-ruffling bate, it is probably best to just have a play at tweaking your invisible hearing aid, theatrically squinting your eyes before going off on one about how ‘meekly people speak these days’.

Germaine Greer is entitled to her opinion. Just like I’m entitled to my opinion, that she’s a heartless old bat.

Tweeter

Ageism is a curious form inferiority enforcement, because it is the one condition that most of us will one day share. The young women who have grasped the feminist mantle and have re-imagined it into something that Old Women like Fay Weldon and Germaine Greer do not recognise, seem to be lacking in a basic form of humility. Even apart from the bile inducing idea that political and philosophical ideas should come in nifty trends and fashions, there seems to be a wilful ignorance about the fact that the very same fate awaits them. That one day they too, will be considered irrelevant. In fact, with the garrulous and thrifty pace of social media discourse these days, it might happen quicker than they think.
Now, clearly, younger feminists feel a sense of baggage about the second wave; they feel that these earlier feminists had a narrow agenda that didn’t account for the various different experiences of womanhood available. Now without doing a Feminist History 101 here, one wonders to what extent this is actually a fair representation of the many voices speaking and books penned during that 1960s and 70s period. One wonders if some contemporary feminism has actually took its history lessons from oversimplified media parodies. Take Greer, for example; as her unauthorized biography demonstrates – what these younger feminists fail to understand – is that Greer was often out of step with other,  what we could call, more ‘to the agenda’ feminists. She has always feather ruffled. What adds extra hump to the butt of the joke, is the fact that is she not saying anything vastly different to anything she has said before. It shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise. Similarly is the case for author Fay Weldon, who has been of the habit of telling porkie pies about her feminist views to credulous journalists for most of her career.

At this point we just have to assume everything Germaine Greer says is for attention. Sit down and shut up, dear.

Tweeter

Gloria Steinem once made the case that women actually become more radical as they age. Her argument was partly rested on the fact that patriarchal society offers young women shallow and fickle forms of power. By lionizing the particular kind of scopophilic sexuality that young women are capable of pursuing, they are given respite from feminine irrelevance. As they age, however, this mirage of empowerment begins to dissolve. The feeling of validation they might receive from being perceived of as beautiful does not result in a long term structural acquisition of personal power. It saddens me to see Old Women, who have given their lives more often that not in the service of others, to be made to feel like they should shrink themselves down to accommodate further still in their dotage. The way a grandmother will offer to sit in the most uncomfortable seat in the room, will defer to almost all of the voices in the room and will literally find herself apologising for her very ‘inconvenient’ existence.

In fact, when Old Women don’t do this – be kindly martyred grannies – they are seen of as repulsive bringers of discomfort. The Hags, the Witches, The Mother in Laws. The Germaine Greers.
Look, making a case for bigotry can in no way be sensibly coloured by other forms of bigotry. You don’t get to ‘call out’ Greer’s views on transgendered culture  by telling her she is an Old Woman who should sit down and shut the fuck up. You don’t get to tell someone to ‘check their privilege’ by expostulating on their ‘baggy old fanny’ or their ‘wrinkly old chops’. Especially if you are a feminist. And especially if you would hope that when the day comes for your own views to become unfashionable, that you airing them would not be considered equivalent to flapping about a set of crusty old underpants. It would be the very least our grandchildren could do.