“My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was. I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
~ Angelina Jolie, “My Medical Choice”
I just wrote a fairly substantial response to this, but my browser crashed and I lost everything. In lieu of re-writing, I’ll link to this. And just add that youth suicide is disproportionately higher amongst LGBT communities because of issues like social exclusion. Do you know a novel way of making gay relationships legitimate and accepted, and thus reducing social exclusion? Giving them the same legal standing as heterosexual relationships! Pro-tip: marriage equality doesn’t just happen in a vacuum; It actively helps to dismantle other manifestations of oppression mentioned above.
It’s not the fact that marriage equality shouldn’t happen. I think it’s stupid that we don’t allow people of the same sex to marry. I for one would love to be able to get married. But it’s the fact that once that happens a lot of stuff just… get ignored. People think, ‘hey we won. let’s move on.’ I guess I’m just a bit cynical about this sort of thing… but it’s like with ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ they got rid of that. Everyone celebrated. Hardly anyone mentioned that trans* people are STILL banned from service. Because the battle was ‘won’ to the majority of people. It’s not about just letting the issue of marriage drop, it’s about making sure people don’t just suddenly go ‘we won’ when that happens, and forget about equality for a while.
Yeah I get that aspect, I just don’t think people have given up on activism. Where are all these people that have decided society is now equal and who have moved on? And if they left after DADT was repealed, then who is here still campaigning for marriage equality? It’s an explanation that doesn’t make a lot of sense with what I’ve seen in activist communities.
The side-lining of trans issues is definitely a problem. It’s is something that happens throughout LGBT activism; people ignore the T for the most part. But I don’t think that’s because people are complacent or because anyone thinks ‘we won’. I think it’s because of entrenched transphobia, and because trans erasure is deemed acceptable by many white cis gays and lesbians. That attitude is what needs to be challenged, not people celebrating hard-fought political victories.
I guess what bothered me about the cartoon is it paints marriage equality as some frivolous and stupid issue when it isn’t. It’s life-changing and life-saving for a lot of people. What’s more, when the state recognises gay marriage it helps break down other aspects of structural oppression.
Ultimately, I think there’s a way to counteract complacency, get people to keep caring, and convince people to invest their energy into other goals without undermining causes those people have fought for.
Praying for an end to abortion.
You do understand the difference between consent and non-consent, correct? Planned Parenthood offers abortions to those who want them, they don’t secretly switch their girlfriend’s Amoxicillin with Cytotec and take away their choice to carry a pregnancy.
Do you really not understand the differences in circumstances here?
Proof that pro-lifers don’t give a fuck about consent.
I’m getting pretty sick of seeing people with “justifiable” reasons for being fat invading the fat acceptance movement.
‘I have PCOS, that’s why I’m fat’, ‘I have mobility issues, that’s why I’m fat’.
Like, so the fuck what?
Every time I see this shit, it makes me think that these people are only involved in FA because they used to be thin and now they’re not and they don’t think they deserve to be shitted on because of the way they became fat. They are the first ones telling you their long sad story about how they became fat due to medications or illness or whatever, and they are the first goddamn ones spouting that ‘you don’t know why someone is fat, so you shouldn’t treat all fat people like crap’ bullshit.
Like it matters why or how someone is fat.
In the meantime, the rest of us — the fat people who are fat because we eat a lot of “junk” and high-fat foods, or live sedentary lifestyles, or have slow metabolisms, or have bodies that are comfortable at being bigger, or whatever the fucking reason — those of us who GOT fat, we deserve to be discriminated against and harassed, because our fatness was within our control.
STOP QUALIFYING YOUR FATNESS WITH YOUR DISEASE/AFFLICTION. NOBODY FUCKING CARES WHY YOU ARE FAT, STOP ACTING LIKE SOCIETY OWES YOU A SPECIAL ‘PASS’ FOR YOUR FATNESS BECAUSE ITS CAUSE IS BEYOND YOUR CONTROL.
And then just shut the fuck up. People are fat for a multitude of reasons. Fat and size and body acceptance are about the elimination of size discrimination within our culture. It is not about being upset that your high school friends on facebook are giving you diet tips and you are embarrassed because you didn’t GET FAT, you started taking a medication that made you gain weight and become fat and OMG IT’S SO UNFAIR THAT THEY ASSUME!!
Seriously. Just shut the fuck up.
Here’s a test:
I’m holding a baby in one hand and a petri dish holding a fetus in the other.
I’m going to drop one. You chose which.
If you really truly believe a fetus is the same thing as a baby, it should be impossible for you to decide. You should have to flip a coin, that’s how impossible the decision should be.
Shot in the dark, you saved the baby.
Because you’re aware there’s a difference.
Now admit it.
Whilst there is a slight flaw* in this analogy, I like it so much I’m going to reblog anyway.
*A baby has a much higher chance of survival compared with a foetus, and people are more likely to invest energy saving something that has a better outcome associated with it. For example, imagine a teenager and an elderly person are trapped in a burning building and you can only save one. Most people will save the teenager. But that isn’t because it’s okay to kill elderly people.
Despite this, I do enjoy the fact this post forces pro-lifers to acknowledge degrees of viability.
Tashirojima (田代島) is a small island in Japan known as “Cat Island” due to the large stray cat population. The cat population is now larger than the human population on the island, and thrives as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune.
That is a very good question! I hope you don’t mind me publishing it (let me know if you do), it’s just the kinda thing best answered by a range of people. Besides, I don’t get nearly enough time to read for pleasure these days, so there’s probably a lot of good books I miss out on. In light of that I appeal to the wisdom of my followers.
My personal journey to dismantle internalised “girl hate” (for want of a better term) has mostly come through embracing and immersing myself in the HAES/FA movement. I guess it depends on what the origin of the girl hate is (in my case it is/was mainly of food and body issues, with a dash of internalised misogyny). Once you know that, it becomes easier to find more useful books.
What I have noticed is this topic tends to get mixed in with very general or broad-scope feminist texts, so it can be hard to isolate one book or author. So I can suggest a few starting points (in no particular order and with some disclaimers):
- “Feminism is for Everybody” by bell hooks
- “Ain’t I A Woman?” by bell hooks
- “Full Frontal Feminism” by Jessica Valenti
- “How to Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran
- “FAT?SO!” by Marilyn Wann
- “Cunt” by Inga Muscio
- “Whipping Girl” by Julia Serano
Other awesome people to check out:
- Margaret Cho
- Carol Ann Duffy
- Melissa Harris-Perry
- Audre Lorde
- Kath of Fat Heffalump
I am, of course, loathe to recommend authors like Moran and Valenti because they are very white-centric and have quite a few problematic views. But they do provide a good theoretical introduction to some of the issues you ask about. And I guess most writers are problematic to a greater or lesser extent…Either way, please don’t forget the most important thing: always read critically and question everything!
I mean, presumably that’s true for some people, sure, but the reason I won’t ever go for psychiatric help is a combination of PTSD from when that was inflicted on me as a teen and terror that I’d end up permanently or semi-permanently institutionalized.
And that’s not just irrational fear, on my part; the medical system is absolutely dangerous, sometimes to the point of lethality, to people who aren’t particularly close to neurotypical.
This message that it’s just about social stigma and there’s no problems with the medical system other than that is gaslighty and dangerous. I don’t give a fuck about social stigma, except insofar as doing stigmatized things makes it more likely that people will be horrible to me. I do care about my actual health, which includes such things as physical freedom and retaining the ability to decline to take drugs that are harmful to me; that means avoiding the medical system for these issues.
I’m sorry for upsetting you by posting that quote.
I don’t know if the context makes a difference, but if you click through the link it’s a comment from Maria Bamford’s stand up gig. She does a lot of routines that focus on depression and anxiety, and she speaks quite publicly about having bipolar.
Given that, I understood her words to be a personal comment on one aspect of the (many!) barriers to mental health treatment. (Certainly stigma is massive issue for a lot of people, myself included.) There’s no implication there that other issues aren’t important too. As you say, there are inherently harmful aspects to the medical profession and the way mentally ill patients are treated. Neither one of these supersedes the other.
I guess the context matters because if she were making an academic critique of mental health care then I would expect it to be much more nuanced (i.e. to preface her comments by saying “this is one of the many reasons” or something like that). I interpreted her comment as simply highlighting the absurdity of how society treats mental illness — and I think that point is definitely valid. And I don’t think its validity exists at the expense of other points.
Possibly I’m being more nitpicky than is generally considered acceptable (which, well, fuck ‘generally considered acceptable’ just on general principles), but the original quote does say “the reason” rather than “a reason”, and given how common it is for mental health consumers to be gaslighted by professionals by having other peoples’ ideas of their motives be considered more valid than their own reports (as was a major factor in my own abuse, for example, and I’m also aware of it having happened to several other people), that’s really not okay - and I don’t see how context could possibly change that; even if this is directed in a casual kind of way at friends and family of potential mental health consumers, it’s still setting them up to think that they know enough to safely dictate what people should be doing when they really don’t and the people they’d be doing that to are especially likely to be vulnerable to that kind of pressure.
It might be useful to think of it as a bit like rape culture and the broader issue of outdated ideas about sex. Yes, there’s an issue where having ‘too much’ sex (or the wrong kind, or with the wrong people) is stigmatized, but there’s also an issue where people are getting pressured, coerced, and sometimes outright assaulted into situations that are harmful to them. Both of those are issues and both of them are harmful, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that the latter issue is the more important one. And, in both cases, that latter issue isn’t going to be solved by just stopping the assaults - the pressure and coercion are part of the same pattern, causing the same kind of harm. And in both cases, there being a narrative about how things are supposed to happen is a big part of the problem, because people get the idea that it’s okay to push people to stick to the script, because, hey, it’s not my idea, it’s just how things are supposed to be, what’s wrong with you that you’re not going along with it?
[A two-image set of The Joker saying “You know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go ‘according to plan’. Even if the plan is horrifying.”]
(Not angry; not upset, though I was. Passionate, now. Yes, the difference is hard to see sometimes. Also, I wish I knew why I’m only ever this eloquent when I’m responding to a thing, rather than writing something from scratch.)
I agree, she definitely should have said “a reason” rather than “the reason”.
I guess what I meant about context is that these words are coming from a mental health consumer not a professional. For me that’s a crucial difference.
I think I understand more about what you are saying now, but I’m still a bit confused how the quote implies anyone has the right to dictate how someone should or shouldn’t experience mental illness. If you could explain that a bit more I would appreciate it.
I get what you’re saying about rape culture, but I’m not sure I agree you can categorically or safely say that slut shaming is more or less harmful (or more or less important) than harassment.
Perhaps we’re coming at this from fundamentally different understandings; I believe the importance of one thing over another is entirely subjective. In other words, you talk about experiencing abuse from the entire model of medicalisation and medicine. For you that is the most important aspect of the mental health system as it has been the most harmful. However, that’s not an objective truth for everyone else.
Ultimately I think it’s really harmful to start measuring and comparing “units” of abuse, especially when those measurements are used to erase other people’s experiences. The odd thing is I actually think we’re in agreement about that point, just differing on where the emphasis should be.
And I am glad you’re not upset anymore. Thanks for taking the time to discuss with me.