slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Is what it comes down to.

You don't get to make choices for me. I, as a sovereign being, get to make my own choices. I don't care what you know or what you think you know or what experience you have. You may be permitted to give me advice if I ask for it, and I may or may not follow it, but the choices to ask or not ask and to follow or not follow belong to me and me alone.

Unless I have explicitly asked your opinion on the matter, you, your friends, the government, the First Lady, the nine out of ten doctors who agree, the "everyone" in "everyone knows", and in fact anyone who is not my chosen health care provider, all have no right to tell me what is and is not healthy for my body, what I should and should not be doing with or to my body, what my body is, is not, should, or should not be capable of, or that and why you disapprove of my choices for and about my body.

My body belongs to me because it is me. (I am not only my body; it is not all of me, but it is me.) If I do not own myself, I have and am nothing. If you infringe upon my right to own and rule my body, you take from me all that I am and have. You make of me less than a person.

Autonomy and consent, the most basic of all human rights. Autonomy and consent, the foundation of who and what we are. The baseline of our ethical understanding, thrumming along through everything; this is all we need, here at the heart of it, all that any of us need to understand. You own you. I own me. If zie's not having fun, you have to stop. If zie doesn't want help, you don't give it. If zie asks you for something, you don't have to say yes. If hir body doesn't look or move or work the way you have been taught that bodies should, it doesn't matter, because it is none of your business. If zie chooses to do or be something that you don't understand and/or that you wouldn't choose for yourself, remember that hir choice belongs to hir; accept that people, like bodies, are different; and go on about your day.

If zie is hurting you, mentally, emotionally or physically, you have the right to tell hir to stop. You are under no obligation to consent to being hurt.

If zie is not hurting you, do not claim that zie is. Someone else being fat does not hurt you. Someone else being queer does not hurt you. Someone else being trans* does not hurt you. It does not matter whether these things are choices, because the choices that they may or may not be are still not yours.
slythwolf: (BULLSHIT)
Dear Jon Stewart,

I fucking told you you were on thin ice. That bullshit with the fatsuit was--well, it was bullshit, obviously, and it was deeply, deeply offensive, and you can fuck yourself for all I care. Ain't watching your goddamn show anymore.

No love,
Wolf A. Woman, Slytherin
slythwolf: (BULLSHIT)
Okay, well--duh, I mean, obviously, it's a diet company, dieting is disordered eating. But it's worse than that.

Their most recent commercial has Valerie Whoever talking about how modern women just don't have any control over our lives and so the only thing we can exert control over is our food/bodies. Jenny Craig will help you control what you eat and how much you weigh so you can feel like at least you're in charge of one thing.

Guess what that is? That's textbook anorexia.

Thumbs down, Jenny Craig. Thumbs way, way down.

WMI Update

Jul. 9th, 2009 06:21 pm
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
The average American woman is 5'3.75" tall and weighs 135 pounds, making the average BMI among American women 23.35. The midpoint of the BMI-defined "healthy" weight range for that height is 125.5; the midpoint of the WMI equivalent range is 133.5.

The average numbers for American men are 5'9" and 162 pounds, with a BMI of 23.92. (It makes sense for men to have a slightly higher average BMI than women, since they tend to build muscle more easily and are missing the fat deposits women need for our breasts and reproductive organs.) The midpoint of the BMI-prescribed range for the average American man's height is 147, and the WMI midpoint is 169.5.

It looks like my scale is off slightly. If the average woman weighs a couple pounds more than the midpoint of her WMI "healthy" range, I would also expect the average man to weigh more than his, and probably by a slightly higher amount. I think the ideal formula would produce ranges whose midpoint is between the average weights for men and women of each height.

If I was going to really do this thing, and do it right, I would need an enormous sample of healthy people (and a good operating definition of "healthy") of various heights and builds and hailing from all over the world. I would need skinny people, fat people, muscular people, wiry people, people with tiny waists and big asses, people with long arms and short legs, people of all shapes and sizes, all of whom met some objective standard of health not including any measure of obesity, and who had not dieted in the last 5 years. And I would need to do a lot of math and find a formula that gave me ranges they all would fit in, but that didn't extend too far beyond the furthest outliers.

But really, the only reason such a formula is needed is to reassure healthy people, who have been told over and over again that they are too fat, that there's nothing wrong with them. Because nothing is wrong with them.

Unless you are gaining or losing weight rapidly (excepting, of course, pregnancy and childhood), there's nothing wrong with your weight. And if you are gaining or losing weight rapidly, and you're an adult and you're not pregnant or losing baby weight, it's not that you're doing something wrong, or that you have a moral failing. It's either a side effect of some medication you're on, or you're sick with something.

But that's not the first thing doctors think of, most of them. Think about that. If you gain weight rapidly, their first thought, most of them, is that you're eating too much. And if you lose weight rapidly, their first thought--unless you're already "underweight" or at the low end of the BMI "healthy" range--is probably that it's good for you.

But what it probably is? What it almost certainly is? Is that you're sick. And because of the cultural attitudes surrounding fat, they won't notice until you're really sick.

It might kill you.

If I could do the actual math, do the actual research and publish my ideal formula, I would do it in the hope that within a couple decades doctors would stop looking at height and weight charts. That they would figure out--that we as a society would figure out--that unless really rapid changes are going on when they're not supposed to, all weights are healthy.

WMI vs. BMI

Jul. 9th, 2009 01:48 pm
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Okay, so, in the comments at a post at Shakesville (I think), a biologist mentioned that weight, both intra- and interspecies, scales with the cube of linear dimensions (length in long animals, I guess, and height in tall ones). BMI uses the square of height. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see what the "healthy" weight ranges would be with a formula using cube instead--so I made one.

It's not perfect, for a lot of reasons. First of all, I started with the "healthy" range delineated by BMI for someone five feet tall; I have no reason to believe that that's actually a healthy weight range because, while I know a few people who are about that height, I don't know what any of them weigh, or how healthy they are, or anything. I figure it's probably problematic because BMI in general tends to be, and because the last I heard it was the "overweight" range of BMI that actually tends to be the healthiest--although the average American is taller than 5' by several inches, and my ranges start to differ pretty significantly from BMI's fairly quickly.

Anyway. It's also not perfect because I only did the calculations for people 5-7' tall; I hesitate to say anything about people shorter than that because I'm fairly sure the majority of them are either children or little people. BMI is notoriously inaccurate for children. I don't know how well it works for little people, but their body proportions tend to be different than taller folks', so I don't want to say anything about it without knowing what the hell I'm talking about.

It's not perfect because I don't think the current BMI numbers are as good as the ones we were using until the mid-90s. Unfortunately, I am too lazy to look for can't find the previous numbers. If someone knows them and wants to throw them at me in the comments, I may very well do this over again.

Also I did a lot of rounding. Rounded the numbers for the original formula to the nearest .25, and the weight ranges to the nearest pound. But this is just meant to be a rough idea anyway.

And finally, it's not perfect because there's simply too much variation in the human species to prescribe a weight range for every height. People are like dogs: we come in all shapes and sizes. An Italian greyhound and a pug might both be the same height, but if they also weigh the same amount, one of them is very sick.

So here is what it is. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in pounds by the square of your height in inches, and multiplying the quotient by 703 (to convert it into manageable numbers, I guess). With my formula, you divide your weight in pounds by the cube of your height in inches, and multiply the quotient by 8000 (for reals to convert it into manageable numbers--otherwise you get scientific notation). I call it Wolfie Mass Index, or WMI.

In BMI, a "healthy" range is 18.5-24.9; in WMI, the equivalent range is 3.5-4.75. If you know your height in centimeters, divide it by 2.54 to get inches. If you know your weight in kilograms, multiply it by 2.2 to get pounds.

Height (Inches) BMI "Healthy" Weight Range (Pounds)WMI Equivalent Range (Pounds)
60
95-128
95-128
61
98-132
99-134
62
101-136
104-142
63
104-141
109-148
64
108-145
115-156
65
111-150
120-163
66
115-154
126-171
67
118-159
132-179
68
122-164
138-187
69
125-169
144-195
70
129-174
150-204
71
133-179
157-213
72
136-184
163-222
73
140-189
171-231
74
144-194
177-241
75
148-199
185-250
76
152-205
192-261
77
156-210
200-271
78
160-216
208-282
79
164-221
216-293
80
168-227
224-304
81
173-232
233-316
82
177-238
241-327
83
181-244
250-340
84
186-250
259-352


Like I said, it's not perfect. It doesn't take into account the Italian greyhounds among us; my healthiest non-medicated weight of 126 pounds is considered quite underweight by this formula. And I'd wager the range needs to be extended in the other direction as well. But it's better than what we've got.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
I'm officially officially fat now, y'all. My BMI has at last crossed the line from "normal" to "overweight": 25.27. The cut-off is 24.9. Five years ago, or thereabouts, when I was working at Meijer and packing boxes and armfuls of clothes and hangers all across the store for 4-8 hours a day, four or five days a week, and before I was on birth control, my BMI was 19.3, the low end of "normal". I wore a size 6 top and bottom and weighed 126 pounds. Now I wear a size 12-14 on the bottom and who knows what on the top (owing to the fact that something that fits my bust measurement doesn't fit across my boobs but has a ton of extra fabric across the back, and something that does fit across my boobs has even more extra fabric in the back).

Six years ago, before I worked at Meijer, I was mostly sedentary; I was in college, and I had a desk job in the cataloging department of a library. My BMI was 18.22--officially underweight. I wore a size 8 on the bottom, 6 on the top, and weighed 119-120 pounds. Oddly enough, when I was underweight, my ass was actually larger than when I gained that little bit of muscle from work. I was skinnier when I was on the low end of normal than when I was underweight. I was healthier, too, because I was moving my body and getting stronger.

And I was healthier then than I am now, but not because I'm fatter.

I was healthier because I was in shape. I had physical activity in my life. I was picking up moderately heavy things, carrying them around, and putting them down again. I was walking several miles at work four or five days a week. And I gained six or seven pounds, and I dropped a pants size.

It stands to reason that if I start going to the gym now, do some cardio, and lift some weights, over the next six months or so I will gain a few pounds and my ass will shrink a little bit. It will take me off the BMI borderline, probably, and I will probably be told at the doctor's office to lose weight. But I wouldn't be able to if I tried, short of going off birth control.1 And again, having gained weight, I will be slightly smaller than I am now at the lower weight. Because it will be muscle weight, and I will have lost some fat.

BMI doesn't take that into account. At all.

BMI posits, basically, that there is an ideal weight range (between 121 and 163 pounds for someone of my height), probably only as broad as it is to allow for differences in build and bone structure, and that anyone in that weight range has "ideal" body composition, and anything above it is added fat. But if I weigh 165 now, and say I have about 20-25% body fat2--and then I gain 10 pounds of muscle and lose 5 pounds of fat--I'm still "overweight", in fact even more so than before, but I now have a slightly lower body fat percentage and am more muscular.

And if I have genes that say "you're going to carry more than the average 'healthy' body fat percentage", then that's my normal, and that's healthy for me.

Or if, for instance, I'm me and my genes want me to carry less than the average "healthy" body fat percentage, then that's my healthy normal. At least when I'm not on birth control.

And you know what? Your body's going to shake out into your normal pretty much regardless of whatever you do. If you work out, you'll have a little bit more muscle and a little bit less fat than if you sit still all the time. But your metabolism will adjust based on the parameters your genes have set for it: "this is the size this body will be". If you eat less, you'll lose weight, but it will be temporary; unless you're starving yourself to an extreme (in which case you'll get very sick and possibly die), your metabolism will adjust eventually, and if you go back to eating normally, you'll shake out back to that normal again.

BMI pathologizes normal, healthy bodies, which in turn causes people to make their bodies unhealthy in pursuit of an "ideal" weight that isn't right for them.

Based on BMI, I'm "overweight"--too heavy. Too heavy for what? Despite what you may have seen in a recent (and extremely offensive) Subway commercial, I'm not too heavy for chairs, hammocks or diving boards. I'm not too heavy for my car, the bus, to go up and down stairs, to carry myself around through the day. I'm not too heavy to dance, laugh, pump iron, hug my loved ones, sing, write, sew. I'm not too heavy to enjoy my life. I'm not too heavy to get or stay healthy. I'm not too heavy for the government to care about my welfare. I'm not too heavy to deserve respect, dignity, love. I'm not too heavy to deserve to exist.

And you might say, but Wolfie, at 5'7¾" and 165 pounds, you're not that much overweight. You're not that fat. And I'm not, that's true. But other people are, and they deserve respect, dignity and love as much as I do. Even if some of them are too heavy to carry themselves around--and some people are. They're human beings, is what I'm saying; fat people are human beings, as human as skinny people, as deserving as skinny people of being treated like human beings.

If you punish fat people for being fat, it won't make them skinny. In fact, nothing will, for long. It's okay. Don't panic. They're supposed to be fat.

If you punish fat people for being fat, it won't make them skinny. It will just make them miserable.

1. The women in my family gain weight on birth control; not everyone does. But we do, and based on the example of my sister, when I go off birth control I will lose all the weight I've gained on it. Even the tits, or most of them at least. I will probably be in a 28D-DD or a 30C-D; it's hard to say, because I never bothered to nail down the right bra size. I just bought 32Bs at Victoria's Secret or 34As at Wal-Mart and hoped for the best, yanking the band down in the back all the time and tightening the straps all the way. Well, I still have to tighten the straps all the way--and shorten them sometimes--but that's because I have a short torso. Anyway it didn't really matter. Gravity hadn't set in yet, and there was no real reason I needed to wear a bra. They were like two halves of an orange on my chest; I had no sag, I needed no support. Those days are behind me now.
2. This is a guess. I calculated my body fat once, when I was in the 126-pound range; it was 16%. Experts say anyone under 18% doesn't have a period anymore. I did, and was fine. Bodies are different!
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
I think we've both seen this coming for a while now.

You know how angry I was when you stopped running Designing Women; you know I need Julia Sugarbaker sometimes just to get through my day. And we both know I've been going outside the relationship to fool around with the Hallmark Channel so I can watch The Golden Girls. Well, we were never exclusive; you've always had a lot of other viewers, and I watch a lot of other stations. But we used to have something special, and I think we both know it's gone now.

I've never been completely comfortable with these movies you're always making. Sometimes they're okay, but let's be honest with each other: most of them are pretty poor quality, with poor writing and antifeminist tropes. But this--this is the last straw.

This new one you've got coming out? Drop Dead Diva? Yeah, no. This is a dealbreaker for me.

I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, and I'm trying to see that it could be possible, in another world, to make a movie about a thin woman who dies and comes back as a fat woman, and have that not be offensive. Maybe if fat hatred was publicly acknowledged as a bad thing, and not generally considered necessary for fat people's own good, it would only be as offensive as that Chris Rock movie where a white dude dies and comes back as a black dude.

But I can tell from the previews that this is just going to be one long string of fat jokes, from one end to the other. Fat people can't get up out of a squat! Fat women don't care about their appearance! And don't forget, size sixteen is absolutely enormous and disgusting to all right-thinking people!

First of all, that woman is not a size sixteen. I mean, okay, I suppose she could be, if she's really short, but my 165-pound self is a 16, so fuck you for perpetuating the misconception of how big that is; it makes women larger than me uncomfortable admitting what size they actually wear (and women my size too), and it makes them picture themselves as larger than they really are, which carries a shitload of cultural baggage that's really hard to shake.

Maybe it's supposed to be ridiculous that the woman is so upset about being a 16? I don't know. Maybe you didn't want to use a more plausible number (if I had to guess--and it doesn't hold a lot of water, because women's clothing sizes are fucked up--I would say she's a 20, 22), knowing that many women in your audience would be similarly appalled at it. But what you fail to realize is that many women in your audience wear a 16, or a 20, or a 30. More of them by far, most likely, than wear a 2 or a 4.

But anyway. Secondly, that woman is not even all that enormous. There are women a lot fatter than she is and guess what? They have the same right to be happy, successful, to feel beautiful, to exist that you, that I, that every human being has. And they certainly have the right not to be informed by a sanctimonious television network that someone a fraction of their size is shocking, disgusting, and fit only to be the butt of jokes.

Now, maybe I'm wrong and this isn't as bad as it could be. Maybe this movie is intended to be a sensitive portrayal of what it's like to be fat, to teach thin people that fat people are people too. But I'm not going out on a limb by saying that I'm fairly sure the character in the movie learns to be happy despite her fat, and that's a fucked up message to be sending. And I'm sick and fucking tired of oppressed classes being represented by members of the oppressor group who are brand new to the experience, whether it's some dude pretending to be a woman online to get the kind of attention women recognize as a threat, Gwyneth Paltrow in a fatsuit talking about how "pretty" girls should have to wear one to learn what it's like to be "ugly", or some white male college grad proving how "easy" it is to get back on your feet when you're homeless by defrauding the government, using resources intended for people who actually need them and doing it all with daddy's credit card in his back pocket the whole time.

So, Lifetime, it's over between us. It was fun while it lasted, but I don't think you and I should see each other anymore.

With no regrets,
Wolf A. Woman (Slytherin)
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Today I purchased three little summer sundresses, to wear alone or over jeans. I tried them on and they are both cute and comfortable.

Two of them are size 16; the third is a junior 15/17.

I cannot consider myself a thin person anymore. I am an in-betweenie. I am, if only slightly, fat.

This is mind-boggling to me, because I spent most of my life underweight and unable to gain weight; but the power of hormonal birth control is mighty.

I mentioned to my dad that the shorts I bought in January don't fit anymore. He immediately asked me how much exercise I get, as if that has anything to do with anything. Screw you, dad, I don't want to lose weight, I'm fine the way I am.

It will probably come off when I eventually get my tubes tied and go off birth control. And when that happens, my body will be fine that way, too. It gets me through the day, which is its sole purpose. My body has no obligation to conform to any standard of how it should look, to decorate the world for others. It's fine as long as I'm happy with the way it looks, and I am; even if I wasn't happy with it, the problem would be the culture, not my body.

Tell you a secret: I don't mind that I'm still steadily gaining a very slight amount of weight. It works out so that I have a perfect excuse to buy new clothes twice a year. My husband can whine about "we can't afford it" all he wants, but if my response is "I can't get my pants on", there's not a lot he can do.

In a related story: We are going out of town for a few days this week. Nigel has a trial period at a plastics recycling plant that wants to pay him $14 an hour; they're putting us up in a hotel for the duration, so we can be sure we like the area, and that he's going to work out for the job and the job for him, before we actually pack up and move.

[livejournal.com profile] aprilmayinjune lives within about half an hour from the town we'll be moving to. I can hang out with her on a much more regular basis and it will be awesome. At some point during the time we're there, the two of us are going to hang out. This is also the town where our favorite Renaissance Faire takes place, so I'll be able to volunteer at it, maybe; and unless the utilities run ridiculously high and/or there are problems with it when we go to look at it, we will probably be renting a trailer, built in 2004, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, which would mean that if some people from this area wanted to come and crash with us to go to Faire, we could probably accomodate them. I am super excited.

For most of the trip I will be left to my own devices while Nigel is at work, and consequently I have to figure out where all the local yarn stores are so I can check them out. There is also a comic book/gaming store nearby which I have to check out, if for no other reason than to find some people to play D&D with, but I hope I can get them to hire me because: A) cute geek girl can get the geek boys to buy things, B) I have three years of retail experience and C) I really really want a nerd!job.

And if I can get a job too, we'll be able to afford to get a puppy, which is totally allowed at the place we want to rent. Score!
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Buy this book--Lessons From the Fat-o-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. (I really hope somebody reading this buys it, mostly because I can't afford to, so: one of you buy it in my place. And then lend it to me.)
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
I cannot find this commercial on YouTube. I can find a commercial referencing it, but not the original commercial.

Picture it: some city, 2008/9.1 A truck with a picture of some snack cakes on the side, bearing the legend "100 Calorie Packs Oreo Cakesters", drives down the street, pursued by hundreds--nay, thousands--of screaming women, like unto the hordes of screaming children no one has ever seen pursuing an ice cream truck.

Women are so hungry. It's really very sad how hungry women are. Women are so hungry we will chase a truck down a city street, forcibly tear open its doors and not even take the time to abscond with the 100-calorie packs of snack cakes within. Tragically, women are only permitted to eat foods that come in 100-calorie packs, because the worst thing a woman can be is fat and because consuming calories in amounts of more than 100 at a time magically makes you fat.

Oh--wait--no it doesn't.

Huh, would you credit it, you can't actually get fat if you're not already supposed to be.2 Kind of like how you can't get thin if you're not already supposed to be, unless you are literally starving to death.3

And hey, now that I think about it, women don't actually chase snack food trucks down the street. On a related note, women wouldn't pile out of their cars in the middle of traffic to gather up high heels raining from the sky, like cartoon squirrels trying to gather too many nuts at once. This is because women are actual, living, adult human beings with common sense, intelligence and real motivations, and not comical animated rodents driven by unthinking instinct to possess more, more, always more shinies even though any real human being (read: man) can see that the woman already has more shinies than she can carry and anyway they're only cheap plastic beads.

For the record, I have eaten the Oreo Cakester. They aren't bad, I wouldn't say. They taste like your regular Oreo, except squishy, and something just seems wrong to me about the Oreo taste without the Oreo crunch, so I'm not into them. But I can tell you--I mean, I enjoy the Oreo, but I wouldn't chase an Oreo truck down the street even if they were Double Stuf. I wouldn't chase a cheesecake truck down the street. Because I know where I can get a cheesecake if I want one, or a package of Oreos. As a sentient being with a concept of time that exceeds "right now" and an understanding of the possibility of more food in the future, I know the advent of a snack food truck is not my only chance ever in the whole world for Oreo Cakesters, much like, as a child, I knew the ice cream truck was not my only chance ever in the whole world for ice cream. I knew there was a chance of ice cream tomorrow. Human beings know that.

Watching this particular stripe of sexist commercial, I am reminded of the fourth-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Beer Bad". In the episode, Buffy and several college boys consume a magically enhanced local microbrew that evolutionarily regresses them into what are most likely supposed to be Neanderthal people4 and are therefore unable to choose not to act immediately on their every whim. The episode--and its humor--works because we know people aren't really like that, and the characters' predicament is treated as a problem to be solved rather than the status quo. The joke in these commercials, on the contrary, is supposed to be that we--the men viewing the commercial5--know that women really are like that and there's nothing you can do about it, so you better just let her have her shoes and chocolate, am I right, heh heh, women, what you gonna do?

1. "Picture it: Sicily, 1922." I always have said I want to be Sophia Patrillo when I grow up.
2. You might be able to get fat in defiance of your genetic set point if you take certain medications, but this usually seems to go away when you stop taking the medication. Both my sister and I gained weight on birth control--not enough to get actually fat, because we come from pretty thin stock--but she lost hers when she went on a different form. I haven't changed forms or gone off birth control, but I bet when I do I wind up down at around 125 pounds again.
3. A common argument for the idea that you "can" get thin if you "really try" is that there were "no fat people in concentration camps". Aside from the breathtaking insensitivity of this statement to actual Holocaust survivors and their loved ones, an interesting point brought up in the comments at Shapely Prose a while ago was that those skeletal people you see in the photographs were the fat people. The thin ones had all starved to death long ago.
4. I find myself annoyed by the common trope that Neanderthal people were somehow less sentient than chimpanzees6, since I am aware of no evidence to believe they would not have been more or less on the same level we are; they were just out-competed, it happens to the best of species and is nothing to be ashamed of.
5. See my last Today in Sexist Commercials post.
6. Chimpanzees plan for the future. I believe it was Stephen Colbert who recently reported on a chimpanzee in some zoo who gets up in the morning and gathers rocks to throw at the zoo patrons he anticipates will annoy him later in the day. What I'd really like to know is--does he generally gather the right number of rocks? It would be interesting to see if chimpanzees have that kind of intuitive grasp on the concept of averages and probability; "Okay, so usually about fifteen people really piss me off by standing around making stupid faces at me while I try to go about my daily life here in my home,7 so that's how many rocks I'll need."
7. I'm guilty of this myself, because I'm an avid zoo-goer when I can manage it, but when I really think about it, it's unconscionable. Chimpanzees are people, to my mind; they can talk,8 they make tools, they have a culture. We don't consider it acceptable to stand around staring in our neighbors' windows. We shouldn't do it to chimpanzees--or the rest of the great apes, probably. And we shouldn't be imprisoning them in cages, either, but that's hard for me to be really sure about because zoos and other human-made habitats seem to be the only really safe place for them anymore. Which is also our fault. Possibly we should be asking them on a chimp-by-chimp basis, would you like to live here? And please let us know if you'd ever like to leave.
8. Sure, okay, we teach them a language we invented so we can communicate with them. Surely they have a language--languages! multiple dialects!--of their own and we just don't know it yet. Possibly we are killing it off by raising more and more generations of them in captivity. Possibly raising generations of chimpanzee children to speak only ASL is similar to what the United States government did by taking all the NDN children they could get their hands on, sticking them in schools, and beating them if they spoke anything but English.
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
A mother and daughter are building a snowman together. The snowman has a red hat and scarf. The mother, much thinner than the average American woman, is wearing a long white puffy coat and a red hat and scarf. The little girl says, "Look, mommy! You're twins!" Horrified, the mother immediately runs inside to begin the Special K diet to lose six pounds in two weeks.

What's wrong with this picture? If you said "Damn near everything", you're absolutely right! Give these people a prize.

"Moms"

Nov. 21st, 2008 08:48 am
slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
Nigel has just turned off CNN, which was reporting on a new McDonald's marketing campaign wherein several "real moms" (as opposed to fake moms?) travel the country volunteering for the corporation and trying to convince other moms that McDonald's food is healthy.

Now, I am not about to try to tell you what to put into your own body, even if it has 500 calories (GASP) and 25 grams of fat (shock! horror!). Something we have lost sight of in this country is the fact that calories and fat are not only okay--permissible for moral, upstanding people to consume; not a sin--you actually need them to survive. So, as I have explained before, it's okay to eat what sounds good to you at the time that you're actually hungry. In fact, it's demonstrably better for you than attempting to restrict yourself to what you think you're "supposed" to eat.1

But one of the "real moms" who works for McDonald's (or, whatever, "volunteers", I am so sure they're not paying her in any way) said something about "McDonald's is giving moms a voice", and it reminded me of something.

That something was Lauredhel (of Hoyden About Town)'s guest post at Shapely Prose the other day, about the phrase "the obese". If you don't want to take the time to click through, the post is basically about how using a word or phrase like "the obese", or "the disabled", or any number of similar words and phrases, to define a group of people without describing them as people first--people of size, people with disabilities--is dehumanizing, because it gives the impression that they are, and are only, that characteristic.

So. "Moms".

As soon as a woman gives birth, she becomes one of the collective of faceless, equivalent female human beings known as "moms", and she stays that way, as near as I can tell, until her child or children all reach adulthood. She is a mom, and to the advertising industry, politicians, and society at large, that's all that she is, or at least the only thing about her that's important.

Unless she's not married, in which case she's a "single mom", or is in a romantic relationship with a woman, in which case she's an "abomination against God whose children should be taken away immediately".3

Why the hell don't we call these women "women with minor children"? They are women first. They are people first. But oh no, we don't, because the first, last and only important thing about any woman is and will always be what she is doing with her uterus now, has done with it in the past, will do with it in the future, or ought to be forced to do with it by the state. And of course as soon as any woman gives birth4, her life and anything she might want to do with it is to be subordinate to the whims of her child, and she is to sacrifice herself in every possible way in order to allow that child the slightest benefit.

I also find it interesting and telling that it's always "moms" and never "dads" who are consulted, about whose opinions the advertising industry and corporations generally worry, with regard to the welfare of children. Of course "moms" make all the decisions about what kids eat, where they play, how they play, what they wear, what they do, how they bathe, whether the kitchen is clean enough for them not to get salmonella without also being poisoned by toxic chemicals, etc. This is related to the above idea, of course; that when a woman has a child, her life revolves around that child, whereas when a man fathers a child, his life remains basically the same, with the minor addition of someone new to play catch with on the weekends if he feels like it.

1. Unless you're my mom, who is allergic to most kinds of shellfish but will always gorge herself on shrimp and lobster anyway whenever the opportunity presents itself, causing two or three days of hives and diarrhea. Oh, Mom. What am I gonna do with you?--But still, I don't judge her for this, because if she feels that those two or three days of misery are a worthwhile price to pay for the purported deliciousness2 of shrimp and lobster, well hell, it's her body, she can do what she likes.
2. I myself am not into seafood. Mostly. Unless it's spicy tuna roll.
3. In case anybody doesn't get the sarcasm, the Wolf does not actually endorse this position.
4. Or, according to some people, gets pregnant.
slythwolf: (BULLSHIT)
So I'm watching TV and, go figure, I keep seeing sexist commercials. You'd think we lived in a patriarchy or something!

Let's talk about the commercials Brooke Shields does for Volkswagen where she blames women for having babies just to get the new VW SUV. Now, it took me a long time to put my finger on what exactly was wrong with these things; I knew they were of the bad, but I couldn't really articulate why. Obviously it's uncool to shame women for their reproductive choices, whatever their reasons are, because each woman owns her body and can do with it what the fuck she likes, even if everyone else thinks her reason for doing it is wrong or stupid. But it took me a while to feel comfortable saying that that's one of the sexist things about the series of commercials, because Volkswagen/Brooke Shields are only joking about that, right?

Trouble is, it only works as a joke under two very specific sets of circumstances. Number one, if you think women really do have stupid reasons for getting pregnant, which is sexist on the face of it; while I think it's fairly obvious that's not how Volkswagen intends the commercial, there are going to be misogynist losers out there who think that's the joke. And number two, and this is the one that gets me, it's funny as a joke if we no longer live in a society where women are shamed for their reproductive choices.

We do not live in a post-patriarchy. These commercials are joking about women's oppression. Ahahaha, isn't it hilarious that some people are misogynist assholes who tell women what to do with their own bodies? No. It isn't hilarious. It sucks, actually.

Anyway the commercials are explicitly sexist because Brooke Shields is always blaming the women for getting pregnant, and not the men for getting the women pregnant or the couples for making the decision to get pregnant in order to buy a van. And in fact, the commercials would still be stupid if that were the case because you...don't have to have a baby to buy a van. Hell, Nigel and I are considering picking one up if he gets this pipe-welding job, so he can sleep in it (in a super hardcore sleeping bag) on out-of-town jobs, and also for SCA purposes because you know our asses can't fit a pavilion, camp bed, garb chest, gear chest, and sundry comestibles in a Ford Escort.

So anyway. The other series of commercials that is currently chapping my hide is the Esurance series (well, I guess it's really a pair of commercials) where they take a customer (probably more an...actor than an actual customer) and turn that customer into a cartoon character in the style of the cartoon characters from all their other stupid commercials (which are all also sexist, as I'm sure you can all figure out, based on the sexbot appearance of the female character).

Now, these two commercials, when looked at together, are sexist in a new and different way (as compared to the previous Esurance commercials). You know how men are culturally "allowed" to be fatter than women, before they start getting shamed for it? Yeah. Okay.

So you've got the first commercial they did this in, where they take a male customer and turn him into a cartoon character. They make him as skinny as the original male character in their commercials--just about as skinny as the female character, even--even though that's not at all how he's built in real life. In real life this dude is built a lot like Nigel, actually, tall and broad and kind of pudgy but not, you know, extremely fat. Just a little fat. So they take him and they turn him into this complete beanpole. When I originally saw the commercial I figured, okay, a little fatphobic, but that's in keeping with the style of the animation, and I actually thought, hey, I guess that means the pink-haired woman would really be a lot bigger if she were live-action, huh?

Then they made the commercial where they turn a female customer into a cartoon character. This female customer is built, I would say, a little slimmer than the average woman in America. She's definitely smaller than the guy from the other commercial. And yet when they transform her into a cartoon, she's almost the same size she was before, and is about twice as wide as the pink-haired woman. I totally expected them to shrink her down the way they did with the dude. But no, of course not, what was I thinking, the woman is fat (not even fat, seriously, she probably wore about a size 10, which is what I wear), they have to make sure we all realize that A) this woman is fat boo hiss and B) their sexbot cartoon secret agent character is skinny. If they were to make it look like she was a similar size to the average American woman, then she wouldn't be hawt anymore. And that would just be wrong, you know.

...and now the episode of South Park about the anti-smoking dude is on. I had forgotten that the whole running gag about this dude is that he's trying to keep the tobacco companies from promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, while himself being fat and actually eating delicious food. Because, you know, being fat is as bad for you as smoking! Not. It isn't. And even if it were, there's a huge difference between doing whatever the fuck you want with your own body and targeting billions of people all over the world with an advertising campaign designed to addict them to poison.

I'm tired of this shit.

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slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
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