Thursday, May 5, 2011

Good News for Fat Chicks!

Don't you just love it when people condescend to us, poor, miserable women who have the misfortune of not being stick-thin? The most well-meaning of them will go to huge lengths trying to persuade us that there might be somebody out there who will be noble enough to put up with our fatness and find us attractive.

Hugo Scvhwyzer, an otherwise progressive blogger, loves consoling the fat chicks (who never really asked him to do it) that not all is lost to them romantically. If a larger-sized woman tries to tell him that neither his pity nor his reassurance are needed since her size never had any adverse effect on her personal life, he gets testy and starts persuading her that she is wrong and men ridicule those losers who agreed to date her fat ass. A couple of days ago, Hugo returned to this favorite topic of his:
Men who are sexually attracted to heavy women are more numerous than we’re led to believe, Camile Dodero writes, and that has important implications both for our understanding of male sexuality and for our ongoing conversation about weight and desire.
Actually, the only source that ever tried to suggest to me that my size 14 is anything other than extremely desirable is Hugo's blog. Hugo needs to believe that
Many heavy women do have painful stories of men who were quite happy to fuck them in private but refuse to date them in public.
In order to convince himself and everybody else around that a woman's weight actually influences her personal life (and what a silly idea that is!), this progressive blogger keeps coming up with weird stories from his own dating life to prove that, since he used to try to gain acceptance from other men through his dating choices, the rest of men on this planet share this unhealthy way of dealing with their own sexuality.

There is good news, though. If we, the God-forsaken and lonely fat women, manage to demonstrate that we are "charming, funny, great in bed, and whip-smart" we can hope to have the great fortune of getting someone like Hugo to condescend to date us for a short while. Yippee!


Lindsay said...

I only read Hugo occasionally, so I must've missed the whole "No, you're wrong, men cannot possibly be attracted to you!!" thing. That's not cool. (I mean it's not cool that he said that; it *is* cool that I managed to miss it).

I do think that maybe his words are more accurate in his social circle than in yours or mine --- he lives in California and is a vegan exercise fiend. California (well, big cities on both coasts in general, but especially California) has a reputation for being especially looks-(and thinness-)obsessed. So maybe he does know lots of men who recoil at the thought of being seen in public with a woman larger than size six ... I've never met such a man, but if they exist they are likelier to be in California than in Kansas.

Anonymous said...

He didn't seem condescending to me at all. He seemed to be reflecting on his own behavior more than on anything else.


Clarissa said...

I once engaged in a dialogue with Hugo trying to tell him that my personal life is fantastic, weight or no weight. He kept trying to convince me otherwise. For some reason, he really needs to believe that weight hampers women's personal lives. Mind you, it never hampers men's personal lives in his worldview.

Anonymous said...

On a side note, your size 14 means that you are average if U.S. women.

Z said...

I find Hugo to be condescending generally and something of a control freak, and he seems to like to instruct women.

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Z!! Finally, somebody who feels the same as I do. For most people, Hugo practically walks on water. While I appreciate his earnest desire to be a feminist ally, he often takes his desire to be a kindly older mentor to women way too far.

One can be an older male and a feminist ally without condescending. Take, for example, Pagan Topologist or Jonathan (sorry for talking about you in absentia). They manage to do it perfectly well.

Jonathan said...

The guy is not progressive at all. He has a post on another site about how to stare at women without being caught.

Jonathan said...

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Jonathan! I didn't expect any support on this subject because "Everybody Loves Hugo."

I'd rather people just stared rather than seeing them try to be all surreptitious about it.

Off-topic: I'm terrified you'll make fun of my most recent "creative genius" post.

Clarissa said...

I just read the "How to Stare at Women" article and wow, I have no words. I have many male colleagues and friends who manage to be around me all the time without sticking to a "3-second rule" or needing any "practical advice" on how to be around me without treating me like a total object.

But maybe that's just because I'm so grossly fat.

Jonathan said...

I never heard of Hugo before today, so I don't think everyone loves him. The guy seems like a total phony to me. I think I feel a post coming on about how not to be a male feminist.

Clarissa said...

I will really look forward to that post!

It often feels like people are so happy to find an authoritative male academic who can say the word "feminism" without cringing, that anything gets accepted from this person from then on.

Hugo is really massively popular because after many many marriages and a lot of sleeping with students, he saw the error of his ways and repented publicly about it. People seem to love that kind of thing.

I'm not trying to be mean. He said all that in public many times.

I'm really happy that I have now found two people who agree with me on this.

Hugo Schwyzer said...

Clarissa, I've had it with your misrepresentation of my writing. You completely ignore the Village Voice piece I'm commenting on which touches on the very issue you pretend is all in my head.

Far more people read the Voice piece than will ever read me. But then again, what do the Kate Hardings of the world really know when they write about the struggles of heaviness and sexuality? No, I'm making it all up. Sheesh.

Do please read Harding and tell me where you disagree with her, as he views and mine are in synch on this.

Hugo Schwyzer said...

Start here maybe:

Or is Harding not representative when she writes:

And truthfully, some of us need a little more luck than others. We fatties can’t wait for just any attractive interested prospect; we need an attractive, interested prospect who’s confident enough to see beyond societal ideals and shrug off potential judgment.

Anonymous said...

He is a youth minister and he has three ex wives.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone doubts that lots of people have body image problems, or that many have been conditioned to feel fat is unlovable, or not socially acceptable and so on.

Anyway, I'm reading a great book, Working it Out, about women and work and I recommend it.

Clarissa said...

I have no idea who Kate Harding is but I fully recognize her right to interpret her own personal experiences. What I don't recognize, however, is the right of people to appropriate the struggles of others to get a badge of honor as "true progressives." Harding feels this way. I feel differently. we might both be women, but we can still have widely divergent opinions and experiences.

To give an example, I read Renee at Womanist Musings about her perceptions of racism on a regular basis. However, I haven't written a single post about how we should all recognize how life is so hard for poor, miserable people of color and help them as much as we can. I don't want to condescend to people of color by pitying them publicly and obnoxiously. They haven't asked me to do so, and I have an inkling they would resent my attempts to condescend to them in this way in order to get points as a putative progressive ally.

I understand that you've "had it with my misinterpretations of your writing." It is always so lovely to hear the voice of the macho establishment breaking through the quasi-feminist rhetoric. I still, however, reserve my right to say whatever I please on my own blog.

I find your writings about weight to be offensive and chauvinistic. We, the fat chicks, don't need your help, support, pity or defense. Please reserve them for a more deserving cause.

Sexual attraction has nothing to do with weight or appearance.

Hugo Schwyzer said...

Your thoughts on the Village Voice piece? Are these women making up their pain?

I know you find my writing chauvinistic. But you ignore that I'm citing feminist women and their lived experience. And perhaps the positive feedback my piece gets from sites like Feministing is just ignorant fawning.

I teach body history for a living. I write about bodies for a living. So I'm afraid I'm not giving it a rest. And while I share with you the hope we'll build a world where size 20 women face the exact same dating field as those who are size 2, you're in a decided minority in claiming we're there yet. And I'm writing for the well-documented majority.

Clarissa said...

The dating field has nothing to do with size. A 24 size woman can be a lot more successful in dating that a woman who wears size 0. That's something I've seen more times that I can describe.

I understand the desire to attribute a lack of success in one's personal life to easily quantifiable categories such as weight or appearance. Both men and women do that equally. It's a lot more difficult to accept (especially in a Puritanical culture like this one) that sexuality has nothing to do with either weight or looks.

The world where size 20 is just as likely (or more likely) to be super successful sexually and emotionally as size 2 is already here and always has been. I'd think it would be good news to you as a feminist ally but, apparently, you really need to believe that this isn't the case. You really need to dismiss all those women who are model-thin and haven't had a date in a decade. And, of course, they don't talk much about their loneliness and their struggles because the reigning discourse dismisses them as people who are supposed to have crowds of admirers just because of their weight. Who will talk for all the size 0-4 women who can't find a date as hard as they try?

I'm glad you are appreciated at Feministing. I'm even more glad that I'm not due to my consistent critique of their truly medieval attitudes to female sexuality:

Hugo, I wouldn't maintain this discussion so actively if I didn't have a very feminist father who still thinks (honestly and profoundly) that being big will damage a woman's chances at happiness. This is very damaging to a woman. You have a daughter whom you adore and to whom you are a fantastic father. I honestly believe that getting rid of this belief that bigger women will be looked down on romantically will be good for this growing woman. She can be size 32 and still have crowds of admirers that a size 2 will never have. Really. That's the world we live in.

Clarissa said...

I have now read in detail Auntie fat's advice on " your experiences of romantic patience" and on how fat women should "wait patiently for prospective partners with whom to be patient". All I can say is that this patriarchal garbage makes me want to vomit.

Why was I ever directed to waste my time on this idiotic load of crap that keeps blabbering about "faith" and "values" that, apparently, should make women wait patiently for the "right" guy?

Surely, Sarah Palin and George Bush would totally appreciated this idiotic website that you, Hugo, adore so much.

Tim said...

Hey Clarissa,

How about you write a post about how to write a partner ?

I mean this is a tricky and difficult topic, but you seem to know exactly how it works, so why don't you give it a shot ?

Clarissa said...

To write a partner? I'm not sure what this means.

Hugo Schwyzer said...

Clarissa, can you name one other feminist writer on fat whose views are similar to your own? A bit stunned that Kate Harding is patriarchal in your eyes (and a bit surprised you don't know the leading feminist "fat theorist" out there.)

If you really believe size 20s and size 2s enjoy regular and equal success on the attractiveness market, then indeed, this dialogue is over. It makes the problems of fat women their personal issues rather than cultural ones -- and that's as far as you can get from justice, IMO. We've hit a gulf of evidence and epistemology so vast we'll never cross it.

All the best.

Clarissa said...

I don't really care whether anybody agrees with me. I don't need to receive validation from anybody, be they "leading" or not.

Sexual attraction has nothing to do with weight, appearance, or "personal issues." As much as you try to massage the terrifying human sexuality into these tame categories, it will resist all such attempts.

Tim said...

I meant find, not write.

This happens when you write comments in class and with a handheld device.

I am sorry.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a white thing. And Hugo's from the very white Carmel, CA, and he's big in the very white Episcopalian church, and he went to UCLA which, like UCI and so on, has a whole Barbie thing going on with women and body image. So part of it is, this is his experience. And even in Lat Am, you have more anorexic Argentines than Brazilians, etc.

Clarissa said...

What is it with California and the thin obsession? Is it because of the movie industry, or something like that?

Clarissa said...

Tim: I actually wrote about it a short time ago:

Of course, if people want to know more details of this approach, I'm always wiling to expand. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think in LA it's the movie industry and modeling, yes. Also the surfer image. Remember a lot of those who immigrated to LA in the 30s are of northern European stock, too, so the skinny tall long blond hair look is natural for them -- cranks up competition though. In my family's case (being from SF in the old days) it was part of trying to appear to be a Boston Brahmin type, not to look Jewish, etc.

Pagan Topologist said...

If I recall correctly, Marilyn Monroe was a size 14. She was certainly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

That's the other point of confusion in this thread, I guess: size 14 is one of the "normal" sizes. Larger than 4, obviously, but it's not a size invented for the overweight.

There are whole other sizing charts for clothes for the actually fat.