FA in the news

Daniel Engber of Slate has an interesting article up today about fat politics. Engber has written previously about anti-fat discrimination in our institutions and culture, so I know he’s pretty well-read on the topic. His question is whether bigotry will cost Chris Christie votes in the NJ gubernatorial election, and his answer is, well, most likely. That’s not really a big surprise and I don’t disagree with him.

There are some issues with how he gets there. For one thing, he cites Nate Silver’s ridiculous article as though it represented actual data on the body shapes and sizes of our nation’s governors, even though Silver evaluated their sizes by eyeballing photographs. (All that great statistical analyses he was known for leading up to the 2008 election seems to go out the window when it comes to certain subjects.) He also speaks authoritatively about what makes people fat — either overconsumption if you’re rich, or eating the wrong foods if you’re poor — even though the statistical differences in body size between those groups is poor, and even though any real correlation would still say nothing about causation.

Also, Engber, major fail on the oppression olympics front with this:

As a fat man, he’d get none of the deference afforded to women, homosexuals, blacks, Latinos, or any other marginalized group with its own identity politics. Never mind all the evidence of body-size discrimination in employment, education, and health care. Weight bias may be just as prevalent as racial bias, yet we’re reluctant to assign any political status to obesity.

Yeah, dude, no. Don’t even go there.

The interesting part for me was that he presents some aspects of the fat acceptance movement with some reasonably fair analysis. I think he could stand to be even harsher in his condemnation of people whose response to FA is to fling angry insults, and the internet really deserves a much bigger plug — places like Shapely Prose and Fatshionista are much more the face of fat acceptance than anything related to NAAFA (and thank god). But overall I like reading things like this in my news feed:

Thin people tend to think they’ve controlled their weight through hard work and strength of character…That makes the idea of size acceptance seem like a personal affront to anyone who’s not severely obese. If we’re all OK with being fat, then there’s no pride in being thin….Most of the country is overweight or obese, according to government standards, yet there’s no constituency for a fat politician. Conservatives see excess weight as a sign of moral failing or a breach of personal responsibility. Liberals sneer at the bloated American lifestyle, even while imagining the war on obesity as a fight for social justice.

Grad school and mental health

There is news going around that an ASU grad student shot himself in a professor’s office, and the campus was on lockdown in response. We don’t know any details of the story. It’s likely that there was something other than the standard stresses of grad school in play here. But I’m reminded of the studies from last spring that found that more than half of graduate students are clinically depressed, and I have to wonder what role that plays in extreme cases like this one.

!!!!!

Oh my fucking god, you have got to me kidding me. No really, what? Seriously?

Well, at least he lets them use his bathroom. Totes not a bigot.

Okay okay.

Right, the internet, that thing that I read and where I actually have a blog of my very own. It’s still out there! I’m thinking I might almost be ready to make a comeback, because after 2 days of fall break I’m starting to feel like I might be treading water again. For what it’s worth, I’ve been enjoying my semester a lot, but the amount of work it’s requiring has not made me want to go online and give myself more writing assignments in my moments of rest. I can still talk to a wall with the best of them, but lately I just haven’t wanted to use a keyboard for it. Actually usually it’s the kitties.

To continue my avoidance of any extra responsibilities, I’m not posting anything of particular substance right now, but I’ll link to the things I’ve been reading and that have been on my mind lately. First, Kate Harding had a series of brilliant posts about Roman Polanski on Jezebel and Salon, which have now made her a minor celebrity. Then Sweet Machine, also of Shapely Prose, posted a critical analysis of an xkcd cartoon, and the internet exploded because that’s like insulting your best friend. In a great follow-up to that discussion, Starling guest-posted the most heavily commented-on post at SP to date, about Schrödinger’s Rapist, and the internet exploded some more. Overall it led to some great discussions of rape culture, public harrassment, and drawing and respecting personal boundaries. And also some guys got super angry when they were told that when they approach a woman cold on public transportation, she’s assessing the risks. Those crazy feminists!

So it’s been cheerful here in volcanistaland, thinking about rape culture and all that. Oh also, fatties are ruining the mitten industry and Barbie is too fat. hahahahahahaha. No, we don’t use fat people as scapegoats, what are you talking about? lol.

wow

The list of people for whom I no longer have any respect is just getting longer and longer.

Interview

Just posting to keep my fans informed that I did a short interview about the fact that I like volcanoes over at the Reef Tank, a blog about marine interests and marine science.

Internet burn-out

Okay, you guys, who knows what is going to happen with this blog in the long run, but in the short run I have total internet burn-out. I’m barely even reading my feed, and never clicking through to read complete posts on even my favorite blogs. It’s been a solid month of this now with no end in sight.

Do the rest of you find that getting back into the fall term has this kind of effect on you? I mean, for one thing, I’m super busy with work, and usually feel like i’m barely staying afloat with my classes. My proposal certainly hasn’t gotten itself started, and my manuscripts haven’t been touched since the summer. I’m also struggling to feel out my place here, and I don’t mean at my job itself — I mean here, in this town and in my life. Being single and alone in your 30s is weirdly socially isolating, and I don’t usually talk about it around these parts, but trying to use the dating scene to meet new friends and possibly change that general social situation is challenging and exhausting. Which is why I only sometimes attempt it. But I have been exploring it on and off, and dealing with all of the emotional repercussions (positive and negative) of meeting new people and seeing how things work out in new potential romantic relationships and new friendships makes me even less interested in looking at the internet.

And yup, that’s about all of the internet I have energy for this morning. But I think you’ll see me back here in a more substantive fashion sooner or later. In the meantime I promise to keep at least skimming and half-reading your posts, and working on my life in academia and otherwise. Hang in there, kiddos.

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