AlterNet.org: Lindy West http://www.alternet.org/authors/lindy-west en It's Crazy to Blame Fat People for Ruining Air Travel http://www.alternet.org/culture/its-crazy-blame-fat-people-ruining-air-travel <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The experience of air travel has always been dismal -- yet there are entire blogs devoted to hating overweight people on planes.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/689e214a85749510fa93680296a9b8692acd9afd.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>I don’t want to intimidate anyone here, but I recently flew first class on an aeroplane. Yes, I know. You’re impressed. I know. No, I am neither a venture capitalist nor a sultan. Yes, I paid for the upgrade myself. No, I cannot invest in your start-up. (Yes, I know what a “start-up” is, kind of.) And no, flying first class is not a regular occurrence in my life. In fact, I can think of few things more glamorously, unattainably alien than sitting to the fore of that little curtain – that imperious cotton-poly shroud that separates the serfs from their betters. Yet there I was, up front, next to a businessman in a suit that cost more than my car, and behind a man who kept angrily attempting to sell a boat over the phone even after they told us to stop making phone calls.</p><p>The first rule of first class, apparently, is that there are no rules. (The second rule is “don’t let the poor people use the rich-people bathroom”.)</p><p>I wondered if my fellow first-classers – all virility and spreadsheets – could discern that I was a fraud, that I only paid $50 for my upgrade, that I could only afford that much because my job covered the rest of my ticket. I may have betrayed myself when the flight attendant asked if I’d like a “special drink” before take-off and I yelled, “A SPECIAL DRINK!?” and then ordered three. Why just have coffee like some row-26 peasant when you could have coffee, ginger ale and a mimosa!? This, as I’d been assured by the airline industry, was the life.</p><p>But as the flight progressed, its sheen dulled. At some point, once the initial thrill of being adjacent to a four-figure boat sale had worn off, I realised: these special drinks weren’t remotely special. This free french-dip sandwich was in no way luxurious (also, “sandwich” is a rather generous term for a microwaved wad of airborne grey beef). And my first-class seat wasn’t a plush throne stuffed with Richard Branson’s hair, as air travel’s mythology would have you believe – it was simply a regular-sized chair with a human amount of leg room. The highest praise I can give it is that it was adequate. It had succeeded at being a chair instead of a flying social experiment about the limits of human endurance.</p><p>My experience in first class wasn’t a taste of the high life so much as an infuriating illumination of how inhumanely dismal it is to fly any other way. Oh, I realised. This is the first time in accessible memory that I’ve felt like a human being on a plane. We put up with economy because most of us have no choice – we need to get from here to there and we want cheaper and cheaper tickets. I can’t blame airlines for trying to stay in business by compressing as many travellers as possible into economy class like a Pringles can full of meat glue.</p><p>But it’s confusing, as a fat person, to hear so much about how I, personally, have ruined air travel. There are entire blogs devoted to hating fat people on planes – describing their supposed transgressions and physical particulars in grotesque detail, posting clandestine photos, and crowing about the verbal abuse that posters claim to have heaped on their bigger neighbours. As though there were a time when 1) there were no fat people, and 2) everyone passionately loved flying.</p><p>As a counterpoint, I would like to lodge a gentle reminder that air travel has always been terrible, and it is terrible because of money. It’s terrible because a plane is just a flying bus, trapped in an eternal rush hour, with recycled farts instead of air, seats barely wider than the average human pelvis, and a bonus built-in class hierarchy. And the bus sucks.</p><p>Barring a brief period in the 50s and 60s, when aeroplanes were apparently flying, smoke-choked bacchanals staffed by Bond girls wearing baby onesies, air travel has been a study in discomfort giving way to ever more profitable methods of making people uncomfortable. The first aeroplane was literally just a guy holding on to a kite (note: I am not technically a historian). The second aeroplane was Orville Wright’s moustache. The third aeroplane was an oil drum tied to 400 birds. And they didn’t even have pretzels.</p><p>So while it might be temporarily cathartic, it is ludicrously ineffectual to blame individuals for, say, having a big butt, or needing to go to the bathroom, or being a baby who doesn’t understand how to cope with altitude changes due to having just been born – when the obvious problem with air travel is that airlines don’t care if you’re comfortable as long as you’re paying. It’s not as though the people supposedly “ruining” air travel are having a better time of it than you are, anyway. Yes, I’m sure that old lady can’t wait to climb over you so that she can go urinate in a lurching thimble. I’m sure that fat person is simply over-brimming with joy at being not only physically uncomfortable but also trapped in an enclosed space with the disdain of a few hundred angry tourists. Right. It’s a major win-win for that guy.</p><p>My point is, if you want to fix flying, try critiquing the system, not people who are equally (if not more) inconvenienced by the system. Because, no matter how magnificently you resent them, you cannot turn a fat person into a thin person in time for the final boarding call, nor a full bladder into an empty one, nor a crying baby into a baked potato.</p><p>Trust me. I know things. I’ve flown first class.</p><p> </p> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:34:00 -0700 Lindy West, The Guardian 1021353 at http://www.alternet.org Culture Culture Drugs air travel overweight fat people Everything I Screwed Up While Trying to Eat Like Gwyneth Paltrow for a Week http://www.alternet.org/food/everything-i-screwed-while-trying-eat-gwyneth-paltrow-week <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">I spent only a week eating Gwyneth&#039;s gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, meat-free, ingredient-free food, but I was kind of a disaster. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/786791550393455400.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p class="first-text" data-textannotation-id="dc4a368cab239aadf2bb98644a83f616">If there's one thing I love, it's cheese-covered gluten. And if there are two things I love, they're cheese-covered gluten and making fun of lifestyle guru and noted Veela Gwyneth Paltrow. So when I came across a copy of Gwyneth's 2014 diet book <em>It's All Good</em> ("delicious, easy recipes that will make you look good and feel great"), it seemed like a golden opportunity: What if I spent a week eating only Gwyneth's gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, meat-free, ingredient-free, my-children's-college-fund-free food? Would I look good? <em>Would I feel great</em>?</p><p data-textannotation-id="98ae7e183cf444c98949c5b44b567f58">I might as well put my money where my mouth is (literally, so much money) and experience exactly what I'd been making fun of for so long. Did <del>Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter</del> Gwyneth Paltrow really deserve <a href="http://jezebel.com/5971559/hark-peasants-feast-thine-eyes-upon-gwyneths-new-cookbook">all</a> the <a href="http://jezebel.com/5971671/do-make-be-barf-the-year-in-goop">shit</a> I gave <a href="http://jezebel.com/5991825/gwyneth-paltrows-spring-essentials-wardrobe-picks-total-over-450000">her</a> for <a href="http://jezebel.com/5990212/gwyneth-paltrow-releasing-new-ingredient-free-cookbook">believing</a> that <a href="http://jezebel.com/gwyneth-paltrow-believes-that-water-has-consciousness-a-1586234722">water</a> has <a href="http://jezebel.com/5986374/gwyneth-paltrow-stays-young-by-hanging-upside-down-in-a-cocoon">feelings</a> and that duck bacon is a "pantry staple"? Was eating vegan and gluten-free really the "detoxifying" miracle cure she makes it out to be? Could I even <em>do</em> it? And, most importantly, by the end of the week, WOULD I BE MORE ETHEREAL?</p><p data-textannotation-id="a3b7559ae44eb9f47a67c3cc8153a2a8">The answers to those questions, in order: Yes, not exactly, yes, and [FLOATS AWAY ON GOSSAMER WISP].</p><p data-textannotation-id="837796cb10e1e81366a299fff0cf44fa">Turns out, I <em>could</em> do it, but I was kind of a disaster. Here, in chronological order, is everything I fucked up during my week of Goop.</p><p><strong>I spent $300 on three days of groceries.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="2ba177459357b2e8555faf93fac6daaf">Not my fault, really, but JESUS.</p><p data-textannotation-id="2ba177459357b2e8555faf93fac6daaf"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/784022781532146093.jpg" /></div><p data-textannotation-id="2ba177459357b2e8555faf93fac6daaf"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">I almost barfed up my wet almonds.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="8fb1e186c6a319f67a8a9d64a5f590e2">For my morning snack on the first day, I was supposed to eat "a handful of Soaked Raw Almonds." Soaking the almonds is very important, says Gwyneth:</p><blockquote data-textannotation-id="f8171cb5b1f909f87dbb36a941f8ae69"><p data-textannotation-id="6921bc6497b89e61f1a5129206762dec">"Almonds have an enzyme in their coating that makes them difficult to digest. The harder anything is to digest, the more work your body has to do to get to all the nutrients and the more you miss out. Good news though! If you simply soak raw almonds in plenty of water for at least half a day, the enzyme will break down and you're good to go."</p></blockquote><p data-textannotation-id="6921bc6497b89e61f1a5129206762dec">Something about these almonds was fucking odious to me. You just chew and chew but they never seem to go anywhere—they just circulate around your mouth, breaking into smaller and smaller chunks of nut-flavored eraser. I hated them. I was so hungry. The wet almonds kicked off a faint, latent nausea that would linger for the rest of the week.</p><p data-textannotation-id="f952b23f56aa95088d01861eda04f90e"><strong>I exploded the blender.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="cded42181c758fd33e1fb9c91860e0d6">Lunch that day was "Beet Greens Soup" (or, as it became known in my house during Goop week, Hot Pink Leaf-Water). I didn't read the recipe all the way through, so I didn't realize until the soup was almost done (and I was starving) that this was a <em>blended</em> soup.</p><p data-textannotation-id="3b63cae50f3334bbb92241d824aff847">I know you aren't supposed to blend boiling hot liquids, but it was 2pm and all I'd eaten that day was kale juice and erasers. I had to risk it. I poured half the soup into the blender and started slow. A few pulses. Everything seemed fine. I was emboldened. "Liquefy."</p><p data-textannotation-id="5295a792fc2e333a98d60a9b5da319c4">:(</p><p data-textannotation-id="5295a792fc2e333a98d60a9b5da319c4"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/story_images/784022781695242669.jpg" /><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --><div class="field field-name-field-caption field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">I exploded the blender.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-inline clearfix"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jezebel</div></div></div> </div><p data-textannotation-id="5295a792fc2e333a98d60a9b5da319c4"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">I dumped soup all over the floor.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="2deae8fec5819a3bfe50917d2b38d2bf">"It's okay," I reasoned. "I'll just pour the half-blended soup back into the pot and call it 'Semi-Blended Beet Greens Soup.' It'll be good. It's <em>all good</em>."</p><p data-textannotation-id="9d479b359762ba2c795ba528e4b0bd12">I twisted the blender to disengage it. Instead of coming off intact, the glass pitcher unscrewed from its base, sending soup gooshing out the bottom. I screwed it back tight as fast as I could. There was soup in my shoe. I was so hungry.</p><p data-textannotation-id="5576a12dfa8d2b3f2067b1901b591993"><strong>I dropped the blender on my foot.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="717caec66ad7c7215b4282abec36e924">"FINE. I'll just pick up the whole thing and pour it back into the pot with the base attached."</p><p data-textannotation-id="d52b30071deef00c5bbacb8bded31bb2">The base fell off. On my foot. I cried.</p><p data-textannotation-id="f9a62ef5c6fa7eec58ccdf6cc1106011">The soup was actually pretty good.</p><p data-textannotation-id="1be1d537a33b0c7708e58fe5241cccab"><strong>I set the chicken on fire.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="21d105d6283477930e45a24f02a01226">I was basically delirious by the time dinner ("Barbecued Chicken, Spanish Style") rolled around. The rub smelled so fucking good I could have eaten the chicken raw. A real food! Gwyneth didn't even tell me to take the skin off! I threw it on the grill, closed the lid, and turned the heat "down."</p><p data-textannotation-id="227630cf057861fec97c1e2675c14055">Five minutes later:</p><p data-textannotation-id="9331825f517f258df366d8d165cd6919">Boyfriend: "Baby, the chicken's gone."</p><p data-textannotation-id="d82a96b0dd4a0d4393bce4e370cc3298">Me (tearing up): "What?"</p><p data-textannotation-id="0cfbeae60d2e7b4f09d881b1c866346b">Boyfriend: "You set it on fire. You must have turned the heat up instead of down."</p><p data-textannotation-id="a736d149edb49efc0500ba33a48a6ac1">Me (genuinely sobbing): "Is any of it edible? Is it at least cooked all the way through?"</p><p data-textannotation-id="a736d149edb49efc0500ba33a48a6ac1"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/story_images/784022781845087149.jpg" /><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --><div class="field field-name-field-caption field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">I set the chicken on fire.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-inline clearfix"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jezebel</div></div></div> </div><p data-textannotation-id="63ab4e1ed5e8918253bb317bb70402db">Boyfriend (laughing eternally at my pain): "I have no idea. I don't know how long you're supposed to cook chicken at a million degrees."</p><p data-textannotation-id="d87bcd0d6b2f4a8876346c88f14a6e88">Me: [crumples to floor]</p><p data-textannotation-id="d87bcd0d6b2f4a8876346c88f14a6e88"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/784022781979597997.jpg" /></div><p data-textannotation-id="d87bcd0d6b2f4a8876346c88f14a6e88"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">I never got around to making the asparagus.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="da96303aca91f8896cbdcd607948a5c8">I was going to be late for Aqua-Zumba. I had to shovel some semi-cremated, semi-raw chicken into my mouth with my fingers and run.</p><p data-textannotation-id="f9a0afee6d3301334d9cb0f2681fc152"><strong>I burned about a quarter of the roasted beets/butternut squash/shallots for my quinoa salad, a slight tragedy because this was the best thing I ate all week.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="514cd1c682025de5bb3ac274a624de79">Fuck all other foods. This was so good.</p><p data-textannotation-id="514cd1c682025de5bb3ac274a624de79"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/story_images/784065803833259662.jpg" /><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --><div class="field field-name-field-caption field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">I burned about a quarter of the roasted beets/butternut squash/shallots for my quinoa salad.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-inline clearfix"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jezebel</div></div></div> </div><p data-textannotation-id="6386e2b053f49ddd0056559376aa7984"><strong>I accurately followed Gwyneth's recipe for avocado smoothies.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="5a957553944c8a5ada80aabc93049e24">Avocado, raw cacao powder, ground hemp seeds, almond milk, coconut water, raw honey. I couldn't find ground hemp seeds, so I tried to pulverize them myself using a mortar and pestle. The result was chunky.</p><p data-textannotation-id="5c042d01a97c10b339680f89cc83bd10">This mixture is giving diarrhea an existential crisis. It tastes worse than it looks. Gwyneth describes the flavor as "beautiful."</p><p data-textannotation-id="5c042d01a97c10b339680f89cc83bd10"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/story_images/784065803989971854.jpg" /><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --><div class="field field-name-field-caption field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">I accurately followed Gwyneth's recipe for avocado smoothies.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-inline clearfix"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jezebel</div></div></div> </div><p data-textannotation-id="766429261bf34aa583b3f0202aa7d25a"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">I couldn't find a bass.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="9573fa417f3dcc440b1a24c5fee3f85f">Me: "Excuse me, where's your bass?"</p><p data-textannotation-id="3b116914a21ec83647418e1296c04ab1">Brusque Fishmonger: "NO BASS."</p><p data-textannotation-id="6fd798d04087dda7a8af168f2396816b"><strong>My salt was too big.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="5d1705376788fdacff9346d24a8c70b7">The salt I bought to bake my "[Not a Bass] Roasted in Salt, Thai Style" in turned out to be more like the kind of salt you use to de-ice a driveway. Inevitably, a few <del>grains</del> boulders found their way into each bite of fish, making it more like "Roasted Salt, Fish Style."</p><p data-textannotation-id="5d1705376788fdacff9346d24a8c70b7"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="360"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="480" width="360" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/story_images/784065804090552974.jpg" /><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --><div class="field field-name-field-caption field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">My salt was too big.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-inline clearfix"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jezebel</div></div></div> </div><p data-textannotation-id="5d1705376788fdacff9346d24a8c70b7"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">I hit a fish with a hammer.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="00a2f029f6c653581812b8f7b8a90ddc">Gwyneth told me to break through the salt crust with a mallet. I'm still finding pieces of shrapnel in my bra.</p><p data-textannotation-id="da943992f8f071cbf5560e5edf68d7b6"><strong>I injured my neck from too much chopping.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="1382502964f8de5e25a54a5c2c3ec46d">Here's the thing about this way of eating. With the exception of the wet almonds and the poo-shake, every recipe I tried was fucking great. But in order to cook two full meals from scratch every day, I had to take <em>hours</em> out of the middle of my workday to chop, essentially, <em>one of every vegetable</em>, and then clean my entire kitchen three times a day. If I didn't work from home, have a flexible, non-physically-exhausting job, have the money to afford kitchen gadgets like juicers and blenders, and have a supportive partner willing to run backup, I would have been out of luck. Not to mention the disposable income needed for groceries alone. And with a full house, I couldn't even bank on leftovers. The workload is CONSTANT. This is a meal plan for people with a housekeeper and a chef.</p><p data-textannotation-id="ee0d771ed6b7197b0bd2f015b642a592">That's not to say that some modified version of Goop week isn't possible, if that's your priority, but let's not kid ourselves that this shit is easy.</p><p data-textannotation-id="ee0d771ed6b7197b0bd2f015b642a592"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="d7779eb4406389540832cb6cef872206"><strong>I agreed to host a six hour dance marathon for charity on day four.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="25cc60eba882092b4ef6bd91abe2ef5e">OOPS.</p><p data-textannotation-id="0d8e33c6c559fdfb22679ca618e3b815">Turns out, I can only do two of these three things at once: Cook and eat two complicated Gwyneth meals per day, host a 6-hour dance marathon, and get dressed/bathe myself.</p><p> </p><p data-textannotation-id="099806499c86067c2bbd2b128014642b"><strong>I underestimated millet.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17">Millet is literally birdseed, and half-cooked millet has the flavor of closet and the texture of moth larvae. But, all put together, this "Millet 'Falafel' with Avocado Relish" was fucking bomb.</p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="360" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/story_images/784065804273686926.jpg" /><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --><div class="field field-name-field-caption field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">I underestimated millet.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-inline clearfix"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jezebel</div></div></div> </div><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"><strong>I never made the daikon.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"><strong><strong>I still have the daikon.</strong></strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"><strong><strong><strong>I will never make the daikon.</strong></strong></strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="a6a03cdf2cb52d1a1c81c5f1710d628f"><strong>You deserved better than me, daikon.</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17">And that was that! Now it's now. So I guess it's time to assess: Do I "look good," as Gwyneth promised? AM I MORE ETHEREAL? I think the before and after pics speak for themselves:</p><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="270" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="270" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/story_images/786077153389259332.jpg" /><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --><div class="field field-name-field-caption field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Do I "look good," as Gwyneth promised? </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-inline clearfix"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Jezebel</div></div></div> </div><p data-textannotation-id="a4d35f50a08bd2d2520c2f7c08232a17"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="ffad12d1cc371036d87e76aeff1a96c4">MAGIC.</p><p data-textannotation-id="fc311e7d8cbb7fcf13b9c2cfa42fc467">And what about her other promise—do I "feel great"? Well, that's where it gets a little more complicated.</p><p data-textannotation-id="6f0f160fffe1c3a5ae0f2296e50b751c">I expected this to be a goofy, bumbling experiment—full of nonsense about "toxins" and anecdotes about my utter failure as a domestic goddess—and, to a certain extent, I guess it was. But despite being a complete fuck-up at every possible opportunity, and spending half my week mildly nauseous and zoned out from hunger — something I don't plan on incorporating into my everyday routine — I actually kind of...loved it? (Not the hunger part.)</p><p data-textannotation-id="4824e9b4320c73ae99343b2af128e913">I felt powerful and productive (after lunch, at least). I slept like a bag of rocks. <del>I cleaned the linen closet</del> I seriously considered cleaning the linen closet. I got to shut off the internet and make something beautiful and nutritious for my family every day (thanks, again, to my flexible job and forthcoming hemp seed reimbursement). I regained a sense of control that I hadn't realized I'd lost somewhere in the race to play catch-up with my endlessly over-loaded life. The food tasted good and I did feel "cleaner" (and, maybe, vicariously richer).</p><p data-textannotation-id="2775cadc92b10d8c756bd8f5d4bf8706">But eating food like Gwyneth's, as a fat person, is political. It comes with a subtext that's either abusive or patronizing—either, "Who are you kidding?" or "Good for you, slugger!" And I'm conflicted because I can't tell if my week of Goop made me happy <em>intrinsically</em> or because, subconsciously, I feel like I finally did my fat person duty—finally achieved "<a href="http://www.xojane.com/issues/fat-nutritionist-not-your-good-fatty" target="_blank">good fatty</a>" status and get to collect my gluten-free, hemp-flour "cookie" at the door.</p><p data-textannotation-id="7160e522710d9b8aaf8660acf19afa74">I don't quite know how to explain this to people who haven't been fat for their whole lives, but there's a very subtle (and very profound) sense of exclusion from "clean eating" lifestyle brands like Gwyneth's. Fat people are not allowed to eat "beautiful" foods that make them feel healthy and strong, because taking joy in meals is for thin people. When fat people do it, it's a vulgarity, an indecent exposure, a slow public suicide.</p><p data-textannotation-id="a6c8f990f70b3c0dcb6f20bb8a7c5774">The cultural messaging is strong. It took 30 years for me to stop letting it dictate my behavior (I don't "diet" anymore), and I honestly didn't realize—until I did this experiment—that I'd lost something significant: the ability to just eat food, without <a href="http://jezebel.com/5945955/its-hard-enough-to-be-a-fat-kid-without-the-government-telling-you-youre-an-epidemic">qualifying</a> every choice, and without treating every meal as an opportunity to "fix" myself.</p><p data-textannotation-id="d2a973475be53200e4bfeab6774422b6">I don't believe in any of the magical-thinking malarkey that drives Gwyneth Paltrow's food philosophy. But my week of Goop <em>was</em> a kind of magic trick. Framing it as a silly professional "experiment" afforded me the distance to shrug off all that cultural baggage and actually engage with what I was eating. To try on, for just a week, what it might feel like to not be at war with my body, to not have to pretend to hate the thing that keeps me alive. It was an amazing feeling, and I'll be chasing it. Not with diets or soggy almonds or penitent hunger, but with—as Gwyneth would say—joy and intention and listening to my body. And chopping.</p><p data-textannotation-id="fac2451c928971df628e1f2e3dda3d3e">SO MUCH CHOPPING.</p><p data-textannotation-id="1add4d2269884f0c0b14190438c6c89e">So I guess I owe you a thank you and an apology, Gwyneth. (And you'll get it as soon as you apologize to me for that fucking avocado smoothie.)</p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 12:00:00 -0700 Lindy West, Jezebel 1007530 at http://www.alternet.org Food Food Gwyneth Paltrow cooking food How to Be an Atheist Without Being a Jerk About It http://www.alternet.org/how-be-atheist-without-being-jerk-about-it <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Religion is awful in a lot of ways, yes. But that doesn&#039;t mean you have to be awful too.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2013-07-24_at_10.44.45_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p class="first-text" data-textannotation-id="feb3a0363a24b082c3c047bd733a3a5e"><em>The following article first appeared on <a href="http://jezebel.com/how-to-be-an-atheist-without-being-a-dick-about-it-823225375">Jezebel.com. </a></em></p><p class="first-text" data-textannotation-id="feb3a0363a24b082c3c047bd733a3a5e">I'm an atheist and I'm embarrassed. Not because I'm self-conscious about my convictions (lol, no), but because so many people insist on being such condescending <em>dicks</em> in the name of atheism. I didn't settle on my belief system because it's a great opportunity for me to dunk on church ladies—it's my belief system <em>because I believe in it</em>. Or, don't believe in it. Whatever. And I don't appreciate people turning my worldview into some weird, weaponized intellectual superiority complex. Religion is awful in a lot of ways, yes. But that doesn't mean you have to be awful too.</p><p data-textannotation-id="e71e5b8b9d991061b374c9090bd99399">So, okay, in my heart, I am certain: that shit's not real. Even "certain" isn't quite accurate, because it implies the possibility of choice, of something outside this conviction. I'm not "certain" of this conviction—I <em>am</em> this conviction. At this point, the idea that god would enter my world in any sort of non-academic capacity is as laughable as the notion that I might hire Jenny McCarthy to be my child's pediatrician. Or, I don't know, that I might spend a weekend driving a microscopic school bus around inside the sinuses of a know-it-all child. Only it's even less plausible than that, because at least doing donuts in Arnold's colon is <em>conceivable to the human mind</em>.</p><p data-textannotation-id="450f01875732f62278a36a2fe25aac36">God, on the other hand, is completely foreign to me. No, actually, more than foreign. Alien? What's the word for something that's <em>so alien</em> that we don't even have a word for it because it might as well be an 8-dimensional conceptual fog from space that eats villages and speaks in smells? Whatever that non-word word is, my relationship with god is like that. I grew up with godless parents in a godless home at godless schools with godless friends, so it's not even like god is something I knew and then rejected—we don't even have <em>that</em> level of bitter, resentful closeness. All we have is distance, strangeness, bafflement. But here's the thing: just because something is foreign to me doesn't mean I have to be a xenophobe.</p><p data-textannotation-id="e5fe3ed7578b797e4c7dfd121a4e5564">God's not happening over here. Established. You <em>can</em> knock on my door and smile and give me a pamphlet about Kenny Loggins Jesus and allow me to gently brush you off, but there are more straightforward ways to recycle. Beyond that basic boundary, how do I comport myself as a human being when dealing with people who are super duper pumped about god? Atheism—especially in its incarnation as a <em>movement</em>—can so easily transform into smug hostility and dog-whistle classism. How do you avoid that? How do you find common ground? If you think you know better, how do you keep from feeling like you <em>are</em> better? And why does such a historically destructive force as religion deserve to be treated with kid-glove cordiality? People <em>kill</em> for religion. And I have to be nice?</p><p data-textannotation-id="284da1e0bf26ec56e65f14555203a1d7">Well, yes. If you want to be considered a nice person. I do want to be considered a nice person, so I try. Here's how.</p><p data-textannotation-id="284da1e0bf26ec56e65f14555203a1d7"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="49a5e1f7b0e5b9e0f8749ca78987ac3e"><strong>Yes, Religion Definitely Blows a Lot of the Time</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="49a5e1f7b0e5b9e0f8749ca78987ac3e">You really only have to make it through, like, 4th grade to notice that religious institutions are some of the most destructive, oppressive, authoritarian bodies in our history. So much of the time—especially to an outsider—they seem like tools of control rather than enlightenment. Actually, I'd go as far as to say that many religious factions ARE tools of control rather than enlightenment. And I believe <em>passionately</em> in <a href="http://jezebel.com/5990493/fuck-the-pope" sl-processed="1">calling out that destruction</a> in every one of its fucked-up facets—from tiny internal shames to unspeakable mass horrors.</p><p data-textannotation-id="c99c94fe4ecd56472c2d4e19cf52ff3c">But this article isn't about forgiving or ignoring all of the atrocities—overt and covert—that religion sows. It's about being kind to <em>individual human beings</em>. I get that you, atheist person, think that religion is stupid. Magic sky-baby, fairy-tale theater, the whole thing. That's a seductive framework that simultaneously strokes your ego and doubles as a noble social justice crusade (and it's a self-indulgent trap I've fallen into many times). After all, religion does horrible things to the world! Religion deserves it! Yes, religion deserves it, and many people deserve it. But many other people don't.</p><p data-textannotation-id="d3c7d1d6252fc2723142d776bcf6096d">Whatever your views on Christianity, you have to acknowledge that at least the Bible tells people to be nice. There are a lot of people who really love that book, and they <em>only</em> follow the "nice" parts. Those are the people I'm talking about here. I'm not interested in being part of a movement that actively excises "nice."</p><p data-textannotation-id="3f4fe51aeae897d0d819715040d80ce2">If you take your understanding that god is a fiction and use it to insult and abuse others, you're being exactly the kind of amoral garbage bag that religious bigots say we are. STOP LETTING THE RELIGIOUS BIGOTS WIN, PLEASE.</p><p data-textannotation-id="187362276b1202a5fb4cbfc5883479f7"><strong>Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner, I Guess</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="0c60058e59bc207ed51cfa2009e66a72">To a person of genuine faith, my atheism (my contention that they're incorrect) shouldn't be any more offensive or threatening than their beliefs are to me. If you really believe in something, who cares? What matters—what <em>is</em> potentially offensive and threatening—is how we translate our convictions into real-world actions and attitudes. Believe in god because it makes you—YOU—feel safe and whole and fulfilled and accountable? Great. Tell me—ME—I'm a degenerate who deserves to spend eternity getting poked a red goatboy with a trident because I think consenting adults should be able to lovingly caress each other's bodys? Now we have an issue.</p><p data-textannotation-id="a7ff3ed8d43db217b0b5c1c8e802c0e2">I have no interest in being nice when it comes to actual issues.</p><p data-textannotation-id="b6b4dbeab366121b6e7be335dd52bf0d"><strong>Be a Grownup</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="554dfa8a32e176b81cb939992e6a9218">When right-wing religious assbags come at me spewing bigoted garbage (a.k.a. TUESDAY #isthisthingon), it is extremely difficult for me not to fire something back about their "magic book" or their "special sky friend" or some dismissive, infantilizing shit like that. Sometimes I don't manage to restrain myself, and I feel bad about it because it's a cheap shot about a thing that means a lot to a lot of people. It's not my nice neighbor's fault that some Twitter troll called me a baby-murderer.</p><p data-textannotation-id="344ac93cc39e696e06f98de6867300b5">Now, if people are actively trying to use the Bible to codify homophobia into law and drive up back-alley abortions, I think a "YOUR BOOK OF ANCIENT PARABLES HAS NO BEARING ON MY GOVERNMENT OR UTERUS" is more than justified. It's relevant to the debate. "Ur stupid god is fake dummy" is not.</p><p data-textannotation-id="344ac93cc39e696e06f98de6867300b5"> </p><p data-textannotation-id="593b829a55c56e96da1456d2ad5f3f42">Just like in <a href="http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-rape-joke" sl-processed="1">comedy</a>, it all comes back to punching up instead of down. What are you standing for? Are you attacking the strong for righteous reasons or the weak for petty reasons? Criticizing the pope is punching up. (I mean, <em>his car is a house</em>.) Criticizing institutional belief systems that oppress human beings is punching up. Criticizing an individual's harmless, personal road to solace and peace is about as low as it gets.</p><p data-textannotation-id="3b764ea0b369ec2d6361c8ab5b93b101"><strong>I Don't Want to Join a Religion</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="396d75d62b225f74c1ce4cc0810c4781">This has been said many times before, but I'm going to say it again. Community is fortifying, organization is valuable, but I don't want atheism to function like a religion. Maybe it's because I've always been an atheist—so I don't have the baggage that comes with a nonconsensual religious upbringing—but atheism isn't a <em>cause</em> for me. Evangelism in any form always seems to be partially about convincing oneself, over and over, of one's rightness—and that goes for evangelical atheists too.</p><p data-textannotation-id="567bfb871b0760a245db40885f9a3c05">Having grown up without god in my life, I don't have doubts and I don't have resentment and I don't have guilt and I don't have anything to prove. But I'm sympathetic to those feelings. I get it. And I get the impulse to want to replace one lifelong club with another. What I'm <em>not</em>sympathetic to—what I resent—is using atheism to perpetuate exactly the same negative cultural forces that make me dislike organized religion: Shaming. <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/04/20134210413618256.html" sl-processed="1" target="_blank">White supremacy</a>. <a href="http://manboobz.com/2012/02/08/theamazingatheists-misogynist-meltdown/" sl-processed="1" target="_blank">Unbridled</a>,<a href="http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/629857/the_atheism_movement's_misogyny_problem" sl-processed="1" target="_blank">rabid</a> <a href="http://www.shakesville.com/2013/03/my-advice-to-atheist-men.html" sl-processed="1" target="_blank">misogyny</a>. Yeah, no thanks.</p><p data-textannotation-id="f5bc940de88878b2ad3ab8dbbd66c8e4"><strong>Don't Tell People How to Handle Their Own Shit</strong></p><p data-textannotation-id="2c3c473511bb0fccf72fc53a7ab1d022">This, to me, is the most important one, and the real reason I'm writing this piece. There are so many people in the world—marginalized people, brutalized people—whose experiences I could never understand. Unthinkable violence. <em>Generations</em> of systemic oppression. If faith is what certain people need to feel okay, then who the fuck am I to tell them otherwise? As soon as that faith translates into any action that oppresses others, it's fair game for criticism. But the faith itself? Who the fuck am I? Who the fuck are you?</p><p data-textannotation-id="a572718b548868209b8ba29db84d0ac1">A few months ago I came across <a href="http://gangrey.com/?p=1151" sl-processed="1" target="_blank">an astonishingly brutal article</a> about sex offenders and their potential for rehabilitation—or, more accurately, "relapse prevention." (If you have any sensitivity to triggers of any kind, RUN from this link.) The piece profiles one particular "model" prisoner, a man who raped two teenage sisters in their home while their mother slept downstairs. The attack was unspeakably horrific. In the months since I read the article, there's one passage I've thought about nearly every day. It's from an interview with one of the victims, the younger of the two sisters.</p><blockquote data-textannotation-id="936d697b396fc87fc554cc88a88d8c60"><p>Mitch gave her something? Yes, Angela says, “Mitch brought me to Christ. You see, I thought I was going to die, so I had a white light with me the whole time. I was in and out. I guess it was how I survived the pain, because the pain was unbelievable.” She still can’t feel the pain, she says, and she can’t feel anything else, either, and that’s what Mitch took away, that’s what he stole. “I’m not happy; I’m not sad,” Angela says. “I don’t look forward to anything. If I’m depressed, I eat—that’s how I feel things. I get high on sugar or I get full—and then it’s, ‘Oh boy, I feel something now.’”</p></blockquote><p data-textannotation-id="ce6616785df1ec87c020e7d7b7a7c068">You're going to tell <em>that girl</em> that she's an idiot for believing in god? You're going to laugh in her face and trot out one of your big logical trump cards? You're going to pat yourself on the back for being "smarter" than this person whose humanity was violently stripped from her when she was just a child? Are you also going to tell her that she's a disgusting fatass who should go on a diet because of your insurance premiums? <em>Who the fuck are you to tell her how to survive</em>?</p><p data-textannotation-id="d22a62b66bae8604fda67546724d4e43">There are a lot of people in the world who have nothing. Faith in a higher power gives them <em>one thing</em>. You know what we call people who try to take away other people's <em>one thing</em>?</p><p data-textannotation-id="c552700fd0ef9ba4e8096bc76adba7c1">A fucking dick. Don't be one.</p><p> </p> <p> </p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 07:31:00 -0700 Lindy West, Jezebel 873242 at http://www.alternet.org Belief christianity atheism Why the "Sexually Pure Good Girl" Is a BS Myth That Screws Both Women and Men http://www.alternet.org/gender/why-sexually-pure-good-girl-bs-myth-screws-both-women-and-men <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Why the idea that there are two kinds of women — &quot;good girls&quot; and everyone else?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/purity.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p class="first-text" data-textannotation-id="46e18574a0001a2f15263d3b63d6d984">Everyone else on earth is as annoyed with "purity" as I am, right? The idea that there are two kinds of women—"good girls" and everyone else, and one of them is good for fucking and the other one is good for marriage and never the twain shall meet and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz? How is this fulfilling for anyone? Enough.</p><p data-textannotation-id="d734d36668b99b88afbb2da701854473">I came across two things this week that hurt to read. The first was a dumb collection of dumb shit written by a dummy, entitled "<a href="http://fashxfash.com/why-good-girls-have-become-as-extinct-as-unicorns/" target="_blank">Why Good Girls Have Become As Extinct As Unicorns</a>" (NSFW). In it, the anonymous male author explains that modern women are disgusting sluts who deserve to be taken advantage of, so if you manage to find a "good girl" (ideally by grooming her from kindergarten onward), you should legally cleave to her and imprison her in your bungalow posthaste before some other dude snatches up "your" prize. You can always cheat on her later when she gets "boring," which she definitely will, because she's not a person, she's just a vagina. This is "the mindset of men in the 21st century." <a href="http://media.tumblr.com/17dc6cad3ad047962e9856c7caf8517a/tumblr_inline_mjzy92b4QW1qz4rgp.gif" target="_blank">Deal with it</a>, ladies.</p><p data-textannotation-id="650d19449dcbc8a2fc450dd879126394">The second painful thing I read today—an utterly gutting counterpoint to the first—was a speech by kidnapping and rape survivor Elizabeth Smart. Speaking at a <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0504/Elizabeth-Smart-speaks-on-human-trafficking" target="_blank">Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum</a>, Smart explained why she didn't try to run from her captors, or even cry for help when they took her out in public:</p><blockquote data-textannotation-id="82b743047dc68fe7cbedabcfddccb214"><p>Smart said she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn't run "because of that alone."</p><p>Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.</p><p>"I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value."</p></blockquote><p data-textannotation-id="fbd08bba917f1be902ace7379a7a385c">Smart's reluctance to fight for her freedom isn't the cause of her rape or her harrowing 9-month imprisonment (her captors hold those distinctions entirely), but it's possible that she might have been rescued <em>sooner</em> had she not been socialized to believe dangerous ideas about female virtue and worth. Smart, understandably, internalized the things she had been taught all her life: that her value was inextricable from her "purity," that a woman without value had no reason to live, and, more obliquely, that her life and her body weren't <em>really</em> her own anyway. So what was the point? Why live? Why fight? The myth of female purity—the idea that "good girls have become as extinct as unicorns"—could very easily have contributed to years more sexual slavery for Elizabeth Smart. Or her death.</p><p data-textannotation-id="265aac56d1ee69fae141af3da6135d99">Fuck all of that.</p><p data-textannotation-id="5812975badd1b0d5f5c8b4b532db1f31">Girls and women, if no one has ever told you this before, or if you just have trouble believing it: you are good, you are whole, you are yours. You do not exist to please men, and your value as a human being is not contingent upon your sexual capital. "Purity" is a lie. Do not even worry about any of this garbage, because <em>it's about as real as a fucking unicorn</em>. And like my Nana always used to say, "Never take life advice from a grown man who believes that unicorns are 'extinct.'"</p><p data-textannotation-id="16c3a05db7ca07b54b947015edc63c79">And this "good girl" shit isn't just limited to odious ding-dongs like dude-who-doesn't-know-the-difference-between-extinct-and-fucking-mythological. I know plenty of progressive, liberal, adult men who openly say they're looking for a "good girl"—who prioritize some paternalistic illusion of "self-respect" over personality and chemistry. And to those dudes, I say, HOW DO YOU NOT SEE HOW CREEPY THIS IS. Can you imagine if women went around saying they were just looking for a "good boy" and sometimes they "jokingly" scout kindergartens for promising baby virgins?!?!?! Groooooooooss!!!!!</p><p data-textannotation-id="f71f34d4390dee12a0f1316b626fb9b3">To clear up any confusion, let's take a comprehensive look at female purity and why it is bullshit.</p><h4 data-textannotation-id="dae43c15a76c1d390f698cde6e1ae6c8">You Can Tell Something Is Bullshit If All of the Justifications for It Are Bullshit</h4><p data-textannotation-id="364d01fdf6dc2ae5e4204bab0982d527">Okay, guy, so why <em>do</em> you feel like you want/need/deserve to settle down with a "pure" woman? I'm genuinely listening.</p><p data-textannotation-id="a533b74bd26e11eefb9a8e32dcce02e1">"Oh, it's because sluts are gross."</p><p data-textannotation-id="2af39f80d902da4738984083b88ebf1c">Too vague. Do better.</p><p data-textannotation-id="424976208037bbba2f27a4494fc067f7">"Well, their vaginas are real stretched out and big."</p><p data-textannotation-id="7adbe0f1522d85b9f2dd30c7356d2c20">No.</p><p data-textannotation-id="7c0037b57327e60aa1bf2bcf1caef453">"Ummmmm, they probably have a bunch of diseases?"</p><p data-textannotation-id="680618956a2bce74c8e0b1a964c74ec1">Easy fix! Setting aside the fact that plenty of women contract STIs from monogamous partners or during "safe sex," it sounds like your real problem here is with illness, not sex. So I assume you'd be fine dating a promiscuous woman who practiced safe sex and happened to be STI-free?</p><p data-textannotation-id="a5e594e4d97ee4fe566658a31dca4660">"No, because I want a girl who's traditional and family-oriented."</p><p data-textannotation-id="a54236b908364abf3257b32a4f41b162">Having sex doesn't mean you don't want to have a family. It just means that you want to have sex.</p><p data-textannotation-id="3faadcdef33e3c122f2901f2b2e29805">"Yeah, but a slut is more likely to cheat on me."</p><p data-textannotation-id="c4d4cb3c14e80cebb387ba455e6684d8">Really? Then why do couples in the Bible Belt have <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/08/25/divorce.bible.belt/index.html" target="_blank">such a high divorce rate</a>?</p><p data-textannotation-id="6d74747d5ad153507ac2f82382af5c58">"The devil, I guess?"</p><p data-textannotation-id="818e05d64eedb62137de8aa0efa73b76">NOPE.</p><p data-textannotation-id="2636783abebaf4f7b6e52f9554dc7dbc">"I just can't stand the thought of her getting fucked by all those other guys."</p><p data-textannotation-id="4469486c1c12d7a8f9a064436730992b">So you're about to have sex with a woman you're attracted to, you <em>really</em> want to have sex with her, but all you can think about is her getting pounded by tons and tons of dicks? That sounds like an entirely different issue.</p><p data-textannotation-id="293e4d295fb220b8fdd8ad38d44626fa">"No! I just mean that I struggle with the same powerlessness and insecurity that all human beings do, so as a coping mechanism I take advantage of our culture's patriarchal power structure and exorcize my feelings of worthlessness by perpetuating shame-based proprietary attitudes over women's bodies. Basically I'm obsessed with controlling women's lives because I can't control my own."</p><p data-textannotation-id="6ef6014084bd7c8c2b08748d183f7cbf">Oh, honey. I know.</p><h4 data-textannotation-id="be83eb24f1c8c47de40ea5d1e70b998b">Men Are Lying</h4><p data-textannotation-id="c003139a9dfafb1d4f2fcc309b32e29d">Men can't actually care whether or not women are "pure," because there is no way for "purity" to be verified. It's just <em>not a real thing</em>, and chasing some phantom virtue for your entire life is a great way to ensure that you waste your goddamn life. By Professor Unicorn's own admission, above, even if you claim to be "pure" he will probably just assume you're lying, and even if you can somehow <em>prove</em> your purity he will get bored with you eventually anyway, because boner. This entire "conversation" is just an effort to rig a system in which men get to determine female worthlessness no matter the input. There is nothing you can do to be pure. Meanwhile, they get to do literally whatever they want with anyone, to anyone, at any time. The double standard is so blatant it's almost too boring to point out.</p><p data-textannotation-id="4a729f1619683cc6449da4dfb5ba3ec2">If you spend any time at all browsing body-positive Tumblrs, you'll notice that they're constantly invaded by men determined to insert their big, throbbing, veiny opinions into women's personal spaces. Queer women, fat women, women in pain, women trying to practice very basic self-care and sexual reclamation—they're all subject to unsolicited male assessment and exploited for male arousal. Women can't even escape sexualization in the context of attempting to make a statement about their own sexualization. It's relentless.</p><p data-textannotation-id="2f33b89b9c9de30ac6d02c0975231a75">I got catcalled outside the coffee shop in the middle of writing this article—my brain mired in thoughts about purity and sexualization and objectification. A dude drove by in a car, leaned out the window, and yelled "EXCELLEEEEEENT!" (I will concede that it's possible he just mistook me for <a href="http://www.miserableretailslave.com/Bill-And-Teds_l.jpg" target="_blank">Rufus</a>.) So what is it—am I supposed to be modest and pure, or do I become a sexual commodity as soon as I step outside in a belted muumuu and janky flip-flops? Well, the two aren't nearly as incongruous as they appear. A catcall is entirely about reminding you that you are not yours. The purity myth is entirely about reminding you that you are not yours. The fetishization of female purity in a world where catcalls are an acceptable form of communication telegraphs one thing very clearly:</p><p data-textannotation-id="53b114d53fd4f234415be78c36bac5ad">"Women, stop sexualizing yourselves—that's <em>our</em> job, and you're taking all the fun out of it."</p><p data-textannotation-id="05ed70c39039d1817336acd4d245a826">The sexualization of women is only appealing if it's nonconsensual. Otherwise it's "sluttiness," and sluttiness is agency and agency is threatening and so, therefore, sluttiness <em>must</em> equal disposability.</p><h4 data-textannotation-id="26c7bd506f6bfbcd42a5036edc584f81">Women's Unhealthy Choices Are Nobody's Fucking Business</h4><p data-textannotation-id="a799fe49fc6faf735d7edd234a1ab9b7">Everyone makes unhealthy choices sometimes. Life is long and complex. Everyone has sex with partners they regret, and strays out of their comfort zone for the wrong reasons, and enters into self-destructive relationships with the best intentions. But those choices are unhealthy for <em>the person making them</em>, not for anyone else. And those choices have no bearing whatsoever on anyone's worth as a human being. Sometimes perspective, born out of pain, can actually make life richer. Your good choices are yours and your bad choices are yours too.</p><p data-textannotation-id="603ec0f0b0677eeff7c1a7d4867ea13f">Would it be <em>better</em> for you in the long run not to send naked pictures of yourself to a manipulative sociopath? Probably. But that's not because sending naked pictures of yourself is an inherently "bad" thing to do. Nudity isn't bad. Sex isn't bad. Nipples aren't bad. Even chastity isn't bad. Literally all of this shit is arbitrary. The only "mistake" is placing your trust in the wrong person, and the culpable one in that scenario is <em>the person who chooses to be untrustworthy</em>—not the victim taken in by it.</p><p data-textannotation-id="f31be69bfc1f88019474c00349b6eaf5">Our culture deliberately socializes women to be taken in. We condition girls (explicitly! Not even covertly!) to believe that if they're not sexually attractive, they're nothing. They're garbage. They might as well not exist. We reinforce, over and over, that their attractiveness has an expiration date, so the only thing they can do is desperately leverage that attractiveness while they can. If they resist that conditioning, we sexualize them against their will, and if they give in to that conditioning—or worse, if they are raped by a predator—we reveal the trap: Now you're a slut, and it's your fault. Now you're tainted. Now you're worse than nothing. Now you might as well not even cry out when your rapist takes you to the gas station in a wig and sunglasses.</p><h4 data-textannotation-id="a2ab63ea388fa4bd6c26c5cf920efb19">So, Girls, Fuck All of It</h4><p data-textannotation-id="f2da0b2960f4a80835bc958fdd372fa1">If you want to. Or don't fuck any of it, if you don't want to. Fuck women. Fuck men. Fuck no one. Point is, you get to fuck what you like, when you like, and your worth is not determined by some golden ratio of extreme boner tantalization vs. minimal boner touching. BONERS ARE NOT THE BOSS OF YOU. You are the boss of you.</p> Wed, 08 May 2013 10:30:00 -0700 Lindy West, Jezebel 837070 at http://www.alternet.org Gender Culture Gender News & Politics Sex & Relationships purity Sexism Fatigue: When Seth MacFarlane Is a Complete Ass and You Don’t Even Notice http://www.alternet.org/gender/sexism-fatigue-when-seth-macfarlane-complete-ass-and-you-dont-even-notice <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">My struggle as a feminist and a critic isn&#039;t to contain my outrage—it&#039;s to remind myself to feel anything at all. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2013-02-28_at_4.58.14_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> </p><p>A strange thing happened on Sunday night when I watched Seth MacFarlane joke that Zero Dark Thirty is a movie about how bitches be naggin', and listened to him croon about how lovely Jodie Foster's naked boobs looked mid-simulated-gang-rape. I felt...nothing. Just nothing. Nothing beyond exhaustion and an extreme desire for wine, anyway. I wasn't happy about it, but compared to what I was expecting from MacFarlane, it was a yawn. Compared to the sheer volume of hate and misogyny I filter every day for my job, it was a sneeze.</p><p>So I <a href="http://jezebel.com/5986638/celebrities-at-the-oscars-ranked-from-most-to-least-charming">wrote happy jokes about other stuff instead</a>. I bowed out, essentially. And I was thrilled to read and disseminate smart takedowns of MacFarlane's primetime misogyny on Monday morning, letting other people do the heavy lifting that I was too fatigued to engage with. Because this fatigue—it's really something.</p><p>My struggle as a feminist and a critic isn't to contain my outrage—it's to remind myself to feel anything at all.</p><p>Because it's important, here's <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2013/02/why-seth-macfarlanes-misogyny-matters.html">Vulture</a>:</p><blockquote><p>Seth MacFarlane made a whole bunch of sexist, reductive jokes at the Oscars last night. It's frustrating enough to know that 77 percent of Academy voters are male. Or to watch 30 men and 9 women collect awards last night. But MacFarlane's boob song, the needless sexualization of a little girl, and the relentless commentary about how women look reinforced, over and over, that women somehow don't belong. They matter only insofar as they are beautiful or naked, or preferably both. This wasn't an awards ceremony so much as a black-tie celebration of the straight white male gaze.</p></blockquote><p>And the <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/02/seth-macfarlane-and-the-oscars-hostile-ugly-sexist-night.html">New Yorker</a>:</p><blockquote><p>But since so much of MacFarlane's humor was rote and derivative, it's more likely that he just stopped at the idea that "Zero Dark Thirty" was about "every woman's innate ability to never ever let anything go." That's what it means when a woman in the office believes in something, and presses for it? There was a joke, too, about Jennifer Aniston not admitting having worked as an "exotic dancer"-and at that point MacFarlane had already more or less called Meryl Streep one. It's possible that the line about not caring that he couldn't understand a word that Penelope Cruz or Salma Hayek said because they were good to look at was directed as much at Latinos as at women, since he also mentioned Javier Bardem-but that doesn't make it any better. What are women in Hollywood for? To judge from a few other MacFarlane jokes, they're for dating men in Hollywood, until the men decide that they're too old.</p></blockquote><p>And the <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/02/the-banality-of-seth-macfarlanes-sexism-and-racism-at-the-oscars/273460/">Atlantic</a>:</p><blockquote><p>What the jokes were, really, was stupid, boring, and empty: humor that relied less on its own patently sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. content than on admiration for or disgust with the host's willingness to deliver it. So much of comedy is about the shock of recognition, of seeing some previously unacknowledged truth suddenly acknowledged, but the only recognition MacFarlane offered was that some people say dumb things about other peoples' gender/racial/sexual identities. Which, of course, should not be shocking at all.</p></blockquote><p>And <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/02/26/we_saw_your_boobs_is_a_celebration_of_rape_on_film/">Salon</a>:</p><blockquote><p>Johansson isn't even on MacFarlane's list for a film she made. Instead, she made her way into the song because of a real-life invasion of privacy, where her nude photos were stolen from her phone and leaked to the Internet. That is an actual, not fictional violation, and MacFarlane played it for laughs.</p></blockquote><p>Up top, y'all. Thanks for that. I really couldn't do it. I could barely care that he's said <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/awardcentral/2013/02/26/seth-macfarlane-oscars-host/1949073/">he won't be doing it again next year</a>.</p><p>To put it simply, I AM TIRED OF TRYING TO EXPLAIN THIS SHIT TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT. Especially "jokes" like MacFarlane's, which, to the layperson's ear, barely register above microaggressions (if the kind of people who see no problem whatsoever with "We Saw Your Boobs" were the kind of people who used the term "microaggressions"). I am tired of trying to have an intellectual discussion about dog-whistle sexism in a culture where prominent politicians are still trying to grasp what rape is, and in a world where little girls are shot in the head because they want to go to school. Asking people to think critically about some hacky jokes from a dancing cartoonist? You might as well wear a sandwich board that says, "Yell at Me With Bad Grammar."</p><p>I am tired of being called a shrieking harridan for pointing out inequalities so tangible and blatant that they are regularly codified into law. I am tired of being told to provide documentation of inequality in the comments sections of a website where a staff of smart women documents inequality as fast as our fingers can move. Like, you might as well write me a note on a banana peel demanding that I prove to you that bananas exist. I am tired of being asked to "cite sources" proving that sexism is real (that RAPE is real, even!), because there is no way to concisely cite decades and decades of rigorous academia. Allow me to point at the fucking library. We can't cite "everything," and our challengers know that. It's an insulting diversionary tactic, it's an attempt to drag us all backwards, and fuck it. Do your own research like the rest of the grown-ups.</p><p>What are you supposed to do when someone asks you to "prove" that feminism isn't a massive conspiracy theory in a country where we've only had 39 female senators in the nation's entire history, and 20 of them are serving right now? What kind of a stupid fucking question is that? What are you supposed to say when the 8,000th faux-incredulous jackass throws you the same argument about the wage gap or the draft or bumbling dads in Tide commercials—as though holding each of their hands individually through the empirical facts of the world around us is a worthwhile use of my time. As though feminist academics haven't filled books (decades of books) with answers to that shit already. As though they believe that if they can keep you occupied refuting their flimsy trump cards over and over forever, they can stave off any changes to the culture that keeps them on top. I am so fucking fatigued by this anti-intellectual repetitive shell game that all I could do on Sunday night was write jokes about Barbra Streisand's hella goth choker.</p><p>But. I couldn't quit doing this any more than my cells could "quit" processing oxygen (or whatever cells do! Us girls aren't so good in the sciences!). I'm not a feminist by choice, I'm a feminist because this is the world. And if my fatigue sounds defeatist, it isn't. It's the opposite. It's an internal rallying cry that reminds me how bad things are. If you pay attention to and comment on everyday inequalities—immense and tiny—if you let all of it filter through you and you hop around and eyeroll and groan and drive your boyfriend crazy because he just wants to watch the IT Crowd but you NEED to talk about what Pat Robertson said today, this is what happens. Seth MacFarlane will go on the television and make a joke about George Clooney having sex with a 9-year-old girl who is sitting right there, and your first reaction will be, "Well. At least he didn't literally say she should <a href="http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-rape-joke">get raped</a>. Pass the cheese."</p><p>That's bad. A famous man making sexist jokes on a primetime awards show watched by millions of people is so banal and status-quo in our culture, that to me—a woman professionally committed to detecting and calling bullshit on sexism—it just feels like a drop in the bucket. Luckily, there's nothing better than a depressing dose of apathy to remind you to FUCK THE BUCKET. If I'm not fatigued, I'm not caring enough. So fuck that stupid bucket.</p> Thu, 28 Feb 2013 13:55:00 -0800 Lindy West, Jezebel 802287 at http://www.alternet.org Gender Culture Gender Media Sex & Relationships sexism oscars Seth MacFarlane Boobs Are Great -- Now, Can We All Stop Freaking Out Any Time They're Exposed? http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/boobs-are-great-now-can-we-all-stop-freaking-out-any-time-theyre-exposed <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Why do we continue to stigmatize the female body?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2012-10-15_at_5.51.54_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The following story firs appeared on <a href="http://jezebel.com/5951916/everyone-stop-giving-a-shit-about-naked-boobs-already">Jezebel.com.</a></p><p>I assume, if you're reading this, that you are most likely a human being with eyeballs in a head on top of a torso with nipples on it sitting on a butt attached to some genitals and legs and feet. Or some approximation thereof, give or take a few limbs/eyeballs/genitals as needed. In that case, congratulations! You have a body. And your body is—truth!—naked under your clothes <em>right now</em>. Look to your left. Look to your right. Literally 100% of the people within your line of sight are also naked under their clothes! And if, for some reason, some of those clothes happened to come off, or go invisible, or get burned off by acid rain or the erotic ray-gun of a lecherous sex-doctor, you might accidentally behold your neighbors' nakedness. And do you know what would happen then? <em>Literally nothing</em>. Nothing would happen to anyone. (Except for that sex-doctor. We gotta get that dude off the streets.)</p><p>And that's why our culture's nudity taboo is STUPID. And it's not stupid because I'm some latent nudist who wants to go out and run around flapping my bunz all over town. I<em>profoundly</em> don't. Nor do I particularly want to drink in the sight of grampa's freshly buffed testes while standing in line at Starbucks or whatever. I'm fine with people keeping their clothes on in public 99% of the time. But the issue here is twofold: 1) When people's clothes come off—in public or private, whether by accident (Janet Jackson) or on purpose (Kate Middleton)—we react like fucking maniacs; and 2) This taboo is gendered and unfair, and women bear the brunt of it.</p><p>In the wake of Amanda Todd's suicide (after schoolmates distributed photos of her naked chest), Conor Friedersdorf has <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/10/pointless-shame-the-english-speaking-worlds-issue-with-womens-breasts/263585/">a super-smart take-down</a> of the English-speaking world's nudity taboo over at the <em>Atlantic</em> today.</p><blockquote><p>The stigma against female nudity is nevertheless something that costs women the world over very dearly. And it benefits none of the places where it prevails. Think of earth as a great natural experiment, where certain parts of Scandinavia think nothing of co-ed naked saunas, and certain parts of the Middle East require women to cover themselves in head-to-toe burkas on the street. How many Americans, Canadians, or Brits believe societies that enforce female modesty are better off? Or that countries where immodesty is most stigmatized are more moral or functional?</p><p>Yet we stigmatize the human body.</p></blockquote><p>The idea that free speech—abstract notions that we create <em>with our bodies</em>, our brains and mouths and fingers— is protected, but accidentally letting people see <em>those same bodies</em> is stigmatized and criminalized, is so counterintuitive it's a joke. Our bodies exist. You can tell, just by looking at almost any human being, what they probably look like under their clothes. But when our suspicions are confirmed (there ARE boobz under there!) we lose our shit.</p><p>The boobs taboo is completely insane. You can tell it's insane because it's <em>insane</em>. You can show 90% of a breast and everyone's fine—I could go on <em>Fox &amp; Friends</em> right now with just band-aids over the middle part (AND MAYBE I WILL) and the FCC would be all, "No big! Now show me some more surprising household chores I can do with lemons, Gretchen Carlson!!" It's cool. Put <em>Ice Loves Coco</em> on in primetime. But if you reveal the remaining 10% of your breast (or 5% or 20%, depending on aereola-size—another perfectly sensical distinction, obv), you transform, suddenly, into some sort of creeping cultural blight who must be shamed 4 life and fined a one-million-billion-dollar Scarlet Woman Tax. This fact <em>is unacceptable</em>. And it hurts women in the following ways:</p><p>1. The topless taboo <em>only applies to women</em>. Downstairs-genitals, fine. Whatever. Cover 'em up. I mean, it's not the most logical thing in the world (kids also have genitals! NOT THAT I'VE CHECKED), but at least penises are just as stigmatized as crimson lady-orchids, so there's no double-standard. But when it comes to chests, this is a woman's burden. Women's chests are so stigmatized that <a href="http://jezebel.com/5919998/parks-department-wont-let-breastless-cancer-survivor-swim-topless">even women without breasts have to cover up in the pool</a>. A dude, meanwhile, could probably get fucking breast implants and still go swimming topless (as long as he otherwise presented as masculine). As the great Caitlin Moran says:</p><blockquote><p>"You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?' If they aren't, chances are you're dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit'."</p></blockquote><p>Yes. Some total fucking bullshit. Because a naked woman = porn. <a href="http://soundcloud.com/caitlinuyd4l/david-cross-on-john-ashcroft">Clothe those things! Put cloth on them!</a></p><p>2. Since this taboo is a woman's burden, <a href="http://jezebel.com/5951241/will-this-15+year+old-suicide-victims-psa-actually-convince-bullies-to-knock-it-off">women are the ones punished for it</a>. Taboos around nudity are deeply tied to problematic objectification and exploitation. If a woman shows her breasts to an intimate partner in a consensual encounter, and that partner non-consensually photographs and distributes that woman's breasts to the public, <em>the woman is still blamed and shamed</em>. Sure, she might be pitied too, but the implication still echoes around more conservative circles: Well, she shouldn't have been doing <em>that</em> if she didn't want to face the consequences. Women shouldn't go around having bodies all willy-nilly if they don't want those bodies to be exploited!</p><p>3. By associating women's bodies inordinately with lewdness, sexuality, and shame, we associate women themselves with lewdness, sexuality, and shame. Here's Friedersdorf again, on Janet Jackson's Super Bowl nip-slip:</p><blockquote><p>What boggles my mind is that most people never would've been upset if it weren't for the nipple slip. They were perfectly content sitting through five minutes of sexually suggestive content with their kids, only to freak out at a nipple, as if the exposed body part itself was the problem.</p></blockquote><p>Bodies are not inherently sexual. Women's chests are just chests—like men's chests but floppier! If anything, lady-chests should be more familiar and less shocking than dude-chests, seeing as most of us spent our first year or so with our mouths literally latched on to one. In fact, that makes the determination to sexualize and stigmatize boobs at all cost<em>extremely creepy</em>. You're basically calling your own baby-self a pervert. Stop it, weirdo.</p><p>4. All of this trickles down to the kids. Attention, stupid people who are outraged at the sight of a nipple: You have nipples. "But but but what about my children? My children shouldn't have to <em>see nipples</em>!!!" Yes, they should and they do and they have. Because last time I checked, YOUR CHILDREN HAVE NIPPLES. (Not that I've checked <em>your</em> children's nipples, specifically. That would be inappropriate.) This whole system raises girl-children to believe their bodies are shameful, and boy-children to think that girl-children are sluts for showing their shameful bodies. Children cannot, objectively, be scandalized by naked bodies, because<em>children are naked bodies</em>.</p><p>I don't have any puritanical notions about censorship—I don't particularly care about sexual content on TV (and I certainly don't think it's worse than violent content), as long as kids have access to open, honest information about what they're seeing. (Sex education in school would be a good place for that! Or...no? Just abstinence? 'Kay.) But conflating nudity with shame and dirtiness makes no sense and <em>helps no one</em>.</p><p>Friedersdorf lays out a beautiful fantasy for how Kate Middleton <em>might</em> have responded to her topless photo "nightmare," if we lived in a sane and civilized utopia:</p><blockquote><p>What I couldn't help but imagine is how awesome it would've been had Middleton called a press conference on a nude beach, arrived topless with a thousand women, and told the assembled press, "The photographer who invaded my privacy had no right to capture those images, but I face that nightmare on a daily basis. And no one gives a damn until one of them photographs me topless? Grow up. I am unashamed of my body. In fact, I rather love it, as all these woman love their bodies. That makes some immature people uncomfortable. And it is their problem, not mine. If you're sitting at home obsessing over photos of me topless, or giggling and pointing on the streets, it's you who should feel embarrassment and shame, not me. I refuse to do it anymore."</p></blockquote><p>Well said, Imaginary Kate Middleton. Well said.</p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:48:00 -0700 Lindy West, Jezebel 727518 at http://www.alternet.org Sex & Relationships Sex & Relationships breasts bare kate middleton