Friday, August 26, 2016
A new/old "privilege": Thin privilege
Kelsey Miller, who writes below, is fat (see above) and she envies the better treatment that thin women get. And the everlasting Leftist grumble about "inequality" provides her with a peg to hang her envy on. What she says below is that liking for thin bodies is unjust in that it offends against the equality doctrine and that we as individuals might not be able to change social values but we can be equally nice to fatties and slenders. And it would be REALLY good if slender people could be made to feel guilty about being slender. Let fatties rule!
Like all fat grumblers, she makes no enquiry about WHY slim is seen as better. It's just something "society" does for inscrutable reasons. As with Leftists generally, the fact that their dreams of a different world never come about, seems to escape her attention. The world SHOULD be different and that is that!
But let us take a quick glance at why her dream will never come about. Let us ask why this world is as it is.
It's old hat to go back to the cavemen but they probably do have a role here. Slim people can run, jump and climb faster so are the ones most likely to catch a tasty animal for dinner. And evolution is a slow burn so much of our behaviour and values reflect our caveman past. It seems highly probable that natural selection has built into our genes a preference for slimness. Fat-lovers are fighting a million years of human evolution.
Aha! Someone will say: How come fat women are ADMIRED in the poorer parts of the Arab world and China? Where did their genes go?
Human being are very flexible. Witness the fact that fat ladies do normally acquire a husband. The husband will mostly be short or a smoking, drinking, gambling type but he is male and does help to bring forth children. In other words, there are circumstances in which the genetic influence can be overridden. In the absence of better alternatives the fatty may take on a man who is rejected by women with better alterantives.
I once ran a large boarding house in a poor area and it was amusing to see the couples walking down the street in that area. It was common to see short, spherical women trotting alongside a short, thin and very scrubby man puffing on a fag (cigarette). Both had wisely compromised and gotten what they could: A useless man and a lady prepared to tolerate a lot. At least they were not alone.
And such flexibility is observable in poor countries too. In poor countries, the problem is food. It seems strange to most of us in the modern world but, until quite recently, there were a lot of people everywhere who had to struggle to put bread on the table for their families. And in some countries only a tiny elite escaped that position. In those circumstances, food abundance was greatly admired. Someone who had plenty of food was envied.
And what is sure evidence that the pesron is one of those who are blessed with lots of food? Fat! Fat was the mark of a prosperous and successful family. So a fat lady was socially desirable. She could open the door to FOOD! A poor society is the fat woman's nirvana.
And I have seen it in operation. I was walking along a street in Australia with a number of benches beside it. And on one bench I came across a very amusing sight. There was a rather good looking man of Arab appearance who was clearly expressing great admiration and affection to the Caucasian woman he was sitting beside. And the woman was very FAT! And the look of utter confusion on her face was a treat. Here was this handsome man being very nice to HER! Why? Why was she being treated as a great beauty? She basically did not know what to do. I walked on so saw no more of them so I will never know if she figured out that she really WAS beautiful to Arab eyes.
But in our bountiful societies none of that applies. Other values, including caveman values, come into play. And caveman values are only part of it. Another really important value is YOUTH. And those of us with creaky bones will emphatically assure you that youth is better. But what is associated with youth? Slimness. In our teens, the great majority of us are slim. But that does not usually last. Even those of us who started out skinny do expand over time. So admiration for slimness is largely an admiration for a youthful appearance and no amount of Leftist equality-mongering will change that
Fatties go to the back of the bus! Actually, they are there already. It is easy to say that fat is a choice. We can always diet to lose it. But, as Kelsey Miller knows, that is easier said than done. Separating a fatty from their food is almost impossible long term.
So what can a fatty do? One thing guaranteed to do no good at all is to write angry articles condemning “thin privilege”. So the really vital thing to do is to accept how the cookie crumbles. Accept how the world about us works and adapt yourself to it as best you can. So for fat ladies, I would suggest that they re-evaluate that pesky short guy who seems to be the only one interested in you. He may be the best you can get -- and half a loaf is better than none. Perhaps you can concentrate on his pretty eyes, or how well he plays the spoons, or something
If we claim to care about equality, then we must acknowledge this inequality, too: thin privilege.
What’s your gut reaction to that term? Defensiveness, anger, hope, curiosity? Before stepping further into this subject, I think it’s important to recognize where we’re all coming from.
When I hear the term “thin privilege,” my first response is anxiety. I feel anger and interest and hope as well, but first and foremost, I feel nervous when the subject comes up, because I am not a thin person.
Illogical as it may sound, naming another group’s privilege feels almost like picking on them. The thing to remember is that privilege isn’t about us as individuals. It’s about the system we all live inside. It’s no one’s fault, yet it is everyone’s responsibility.
“Acknowledging that you have privilege is not saying that your life hasn’t been difficult,” says Melissa Fabello, renowned body-acceptance activist, academic, and managing editor of Everyday Feminism. “It's simply acknowledging which obstacles you have not faced.”
As a thin person working in the realm of body activism, Fabello frequently affirms the obstacles she herself hasn’t faced.
For example, “when I walk onto a plane, I don’t have any thoughts about whether or not I'm going to be able to sit in the seat,” she says. Going to the doctor, she doesn’t deal with automatic assumptions about her health.
“It's always, ‘Okay, let's treat whatever issue you came in here for.’”
Fabello offers these examples with no caveat or defense. That’s a rare attitude when it comes to any topic about our bodies — particularly women’s bodies.
Because, for one thing, thin privilege doesn’t protect her from other harmful experiences and damaging beliefs. We live in a world that scrutinizes and judges women’s bodies, period. Furthermore, “our current cultural beauty ideal for women is this weird skinny-but-curvy thing,” she says.
The beauty standard has evolved in the past few decades (“in the latter half of the 20th century [it] was very stick-thin,” Fabello notes), but it hasn’t become any more flexible or generous. It used to require visible hip bones, and now it demands curves — but only in the “right places.” By its very nature, a beauty standard is exclusionary, and women of all sizes are vulnerable to it.
“That’s an issue of women's bodies being seen as public property. That’s an issue of women's bodies being seen through the lens of the male gaze,” says Fabello.
“It is not about size discrimination, which is a separate issue.”
In fact, this new twist in the beauty standard may be feeding the ever-growing elephant in this room: skinny shaming. While it is an entirely different topic, we cannot have a conversation about thin privilege or size bias without contending with skinny shaming. And that’s a problem.
While things like privilege and bias are systemic, shaming happens on an interpersonal level. It may be within your family, your peer group, or even your broader community. It’s simply a different form of harm.
“Oppression isn't one, two, five, or one hundred people saying something bad about your body or making you feel bad about your body.
That’s not oppression,” says Fabello, “Oppression is something that is woven into society so that it is inescapable.” That doesn’t make body shaming of any kind invalid or harmless — and no one is arguing that.
Yet, many thin people still present skinny shaming as a counterpoint in an argument that isn’t happening.
“I would say nine out of 10 times, thin people only complain about or bring up the concept of skinny shaming as a way to derail a conversation about fat shaming,” says Fabello.
They’ll offer evidence as if to say that their experience is exactly the same as a fat person’s. “You know, ‘Well, I'm so thin that when I go to the doctor they tell me I just have to gain weight.’
Or, ‘I can't shop in the average clothing store either. I have to buy kid's clothes, because they don’t make clothes in my size.’ They come up with these counter-examples, which then makes it a difficult conversation.”
Of course, anecdotes like this just don’t add up against the basic, big-picture facts: The world does not hold thinness and fatness as equal. “We are all socialized not to want a fat body,” says Fabello.
But stating the obvious is a fruitless tactic when faced with someone like this. If you can’t acknowledge these basic truths, “you’re not actually trying to learn or understand. You’re just on the defensive.”
We are all prone to that defensiveness. It’s a knee-jerk response when someone checks our privilege for us (see: #AllLivesMatter).
This is why the system hurts us all so deeply: It perverts our empathy into something fearful and selfish and utterly nonsensical.
When thin people argue like this, Fabello points out, they’re saying, “‘Well, what about me? I'm also shamed for my body, so therefore thin privilege can’t exist and fat oppression can’t exist because I have this experience.’”
That is why body positivity isn’t just about accepting your own body. It’s about actively acknowledging others’ — particularly those who don’t benefit from your own privilege.
Absolutely, it begins with self-acceptance. “We all need body acceptance,” Fabello reaffirms. “Everybody wants to have their own pain acknowledged and everybody should have their own pain acknowledged in whatever appropriate way there is.”
For her, that means being mindful of the room she’s in. “If people are hurt, then I think people need to have that conversation to heal.
But I think that it should be had within one privileged group and also with context.” Imagine an able-bodied person walking into a room full of quadriplegics, complaining about her broken arm.
Even better, imagine a straight, cis, white woman walking into a room full of queer, trans quadriplegics of color — and complaining about her broken arm.
When in doubt, remember to look for and note all the privileges we cannot see — or which we’ve been conditioned not to see.
It’s not an overt maliciousness, this blind spot in our vision. Shaming is overt. Privilege, like prejudice, is something so old and so ordinary; it’s the mottled lens through which we see everything.
It’s our idea of average. “And whenever we have an idea of an ‘average person,’ it's always someone who is the most privileged.”
The world is built around this idea of a person, and everyone else is an exception to be accommodated. Some accommodations are more easily made than others; the left-handed kid needs a lefty desk, so the teacher runs around looking for one, apologizing to the student because, of course, that’s only fair.
When it comes to something like size, it’s different. “You go to a restaurant and the table is nailed down to the ground,” says Fabello.
“There's this assumption that the blank-slate person who things are created for is a certain size.” It’s a bias you might not notice unless you’re pressed right up against it.
When you’re sitting comfortably, it takes effort to notice — and even more effort to question.
But really, it’s not that hard. The problem is that we take the word “privilege” so personally, when it’s not so much about you as it is us.
Actively acknowledging your own privilege isn’t saying, “I’m the bad guy.” It’s saying the system is bad. It does not invalidate your own pain, but validates the pain of others — which is just as real, though not as recognized.
In voicing that injustice, you are not giving up your seat at the table, but demanding a table at which all of us can sit with comfort and be heard.
Obama’s LGBT Agenda Suffers Loss in Case of Transgender Funeral Director
When families lose loved ones, they often seek out funeral homes for solace and comfort and, for people of faith, spiritual consolation as well. At such a delicate time, the last thing grieving families expect is a debate over whether male funeral home employees should be allowed to dress like women at their loved one’s funeral.
But that is exactly the conflict President Barack Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission set in motion when it sued Thomas Rost.
As a matter of faith, Rost, the owner of three funeral homes in Michigan, required his male and female employees to dress in keeping with the solemnity and sensitivity of funerals and burials.
Thankfully, a federal district court has vindicated Rost’s religious liberty in a well-reasoned decision under the nation’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The conflict started when one of Rost’s male funeral directors stated in writing that he needed to be treated like a woman by others and informed Rost that from now on he would wear skirts while representing the funeral home, which included attendance at funerals.
Rost respectfully dismissed the funeral director, not because of who the employee was or anything he did outside work, but because Rost’s religious beliefs did not allow him to actively affirm a false sexual identity, or to have his business be the cause of distress and offense to mourners at their most vulnerable moments.
Rost, however, did not count on the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender agenda pushed by LGBT advocates and the Obama administration.
After the employee complained to the EEOC, the Obama administration sued Rost’s family funeral business, demanding that his employees be allowed to dress like the opposite sex whenever and wherever they wanted to, including at memorial services, or face damage awards and penalties.
Judge Sean F. Cox noted in his opinion that unless Rost violated his faith, the funeral home owner “would feel significant pressure to sell [the] business and give up [his] life’s calling of ministering to grieving people as a funeral home director and owner.”
No one should be put to such a choice.
Funeral homes seem like odd places for the Obama administration to take a stand against religious liberty. But similarly bad optics did not stop the administration from fighting the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns, all the way to the Supreme Court over Obamacare’s mandate that the order’s health plans cover abortion-inducing drugs.
It seems that when it comes to issues of sexual morality and identity—be it same-sex marriage, contraceptives, abortion, and now gender identity—the administration’s rule is that sexual autonomy must always win over religious liberty, even at church funerals and gravesites.
As my colleague Ryan T. Anderson and I have explained, the Obama administration has systematically misinterpreted bans on “sex discrimination” (both old and new) to mean “gender identity.”
From requiring male access to women’s and girls’ showers, dorms, and bathrooms in schools and universities, to regulating pronoun use in employment, to mandating sex reassignment surgeries under Obamacare, the administration has imposed a new gender ideology across the land with no basis in law and without the backing of the American people.
Obama’s policies insert the federal government into matters that are properly the domain of state and local authorities. They impose one-size-fits-all policies on the nation, they endanger privacy and safety, and they ignore the equality of all.
Parents, teachers, principals, hospitals, professionals, businesses and other employers, and local officials have been working out nuanced solutions that are respectful to all affected parties in this sensitive area. They should be allowed to continue to reach reasonable solutions without threats of lawsuits and funding cuts by the federal government.
The Obama administration should not force Americans to conform or be taken to court, fined, or stripped of funding.
Twenty-four states wisely have sued the administration over its threats, and a court in Texas has just ordered a halt to the administration’s ideologically driven attempt to rewrite the law unilaterally to include gender identity without congressional approval. The administration almost certainly will appeal and there is no guarantee as to the outcome, especially given a liberal-dominated judiciary.
This is why Congress can and should pass legislation to undo the confusion and harm unleashed by an overreaching executive branch and activist courts (stacked with liberal Obama appointees). That would be a major step toward restoring respect for the rule of law, federalism, and state, local, and private decision-making.
The Civil Rights Uniformity Act, recently introduced by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, would do precisely that by assuring three simple things:
The word “sex” in antidiscrimination laws is not interpreted to mean “gender identity” or its equivalents.
The words “man” and “woman” in antidiscrimination laws refer to a person’s sex.
Gender identity and transgender status won’t be elevated to a special, protected class under civil rights laws without express congressional approval.
If passed, such a law would undo the Obama administration’s high-handedness and prevent future abuses of power by subsequent presidents and the courts.
Thomas Rost’s faith led him to dedicate his life to comforting and serving those who grieve. Because the Obama administration is likely to contest his victory on appeal, Rost and his life’s calling once again will be put in jeopardy by a steamrolling gender ideology that did not start, and will not stop, with funeral homes.
A law such as the Civil Rights Uniformity Act is needed now more than ever.
Boycotters Say New Target Transgender Policy Still Allows Predators ‘Easier Access to Their Victims’
Target plans to spend $20 million adding single-stall, lockable bathrooms to all store locations after a controversy over a new policy that allows transgender people to use the restroom and fitting room that correspond with the gender they self-identify with.
“Across the board, our goal is to make sure that everyone feels welcome at Target,” Katie Boylan, Target’s vice president of communications, told The Daily Signal.
In April, Target announced the new transgender policy. Boylan said Target has openly listened to guest feedback since then.
“The feedback has been mixed,” Boylan said. Some guests have been very supportive of the bathroom policy, while others “less so,” she said.
In response to the bathroom policy, over 1.4 million people signed a pledge to boycott Target.
“We committed in the spring to making sure that every store across the country has a single-stall, lockable restroom for those who would like to use it,” Boylan said. The remodels in Target’s 1,800 store locations across the country have been under way since then, she said, and will cost $20 million.
The American Family Association, a nonprofit that supports Christian values, started the pledge in April to boycott Target.
“Target’s announcement that it is installing unisex bathrooms does nothing to address the objections of more than 1.4 million customers who are boycotting the retail giant,” Ed Vitagliano, executive vice president of the American Family Association, said in a statement to The Daily Signal. He added:
While AFA did suggest single-occupancy, unisex bathrooms as a way to help the retailer’s transgender customers, our major concern was that Target’s policy would grant voyeurs and sexual predators easier access to their victims by allowing men in women’s restrooms and changing areas, which puts women and girls in danger.
“Target must maintain the gender-specific bathrooms as well—if the company is interested in guaranteeing the safety and privacy of women and girls who patronize the retailer’s stores.” —@AmericanFamAssc
In July, a man who identifies as a woman videotaped an 18-year-old girl in an Idaho Target dressing room. Authorities arrested and charged the man, age 43, who told police that he previously made other videos of women undressing, Time reported.
“Unisex bathrooms are fine, but Target must maintain the gender-specific bathrooms as well—if the company is interested in guaranteeing the safety and privacy of women and girls who patronize the retailer’s stores,” Vitagliano said.
The $20 million investment does not change Target’s fitting room policy and accommodations.
“This partial backtracking proves what everyone already knew, that Target lost customers in droves after it announced that men would be allowed full access to women’s intimate facilities at its stores,” Roger Severino, director of the Devos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.
In the immediate two weeks following Target’s announcement of the policy, Target’s stock declined by 4.2 percent.
Target announced its second quarter earnings on Wednesday. Sales decreased by 7.2 percent from last year.
“We have no evidence that says the bathroom policy has had a material impact on our business at this time,” Boylan said.
The policy has had no impact on business in both the last financial quarter and this quarter, Boylan added.
“For too long big businesses like Target have put the interests of loud gender identity activists over the legitimate safety and privacy concerns of its everyday customers,” Heritage’s Severino said. “Target is of course free to do what it wants, but so are its customers, and it is an open question as to whether they will return given that men are still allowed into women’s spaces at Target even under the new policies.”
Federal judge temporarily blocks Obama’s transgender rules
A federal judge has blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in a 38-page ruling Sunday that the government had not complied with federal law when it issued “directives which contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.”
O’Connor, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the federal bench, said the order should apply nationwide but analysts said its impact might be limited.
O’Connor said not granting an injunction would put states “in the position of either maintaining their current policies in the face of the federal government’s view that they are violating the law, or changing them to comply with the guidelines and cede their authority over this issue.”
The judge’s order, in a case brought by officials from more than a dozen states, is a victory for social conservatives in the continuing legal battles over the restroom guidelines, which the federal government issued this year.
The fight over the rights of transgender people, and especially their right to use public bathrooms consistent with their gender identities, has emerged as an emotional cause among social conservatives.
The Obama administration’s assertion that the rights of transgender people in public schools and workplaces are protected under existing laws against sex discrimination has been condemned by social conservatives, who said the administration was illegally intruding into local affairs and promoting a policy that would jeopardize the privacy and safety of schoolchildren.
The ruling could deter the administration from bringing new legal action against school districts that do not allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
“We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama administration’s latest illegal federal overreach,” Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas said in a statement on Monday. “This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform.”
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Dena W. Iverson, said the department was disappointed with the decision and was reviewing its options.
In a statement, several civil rights organizations that had submitted a brief opposing the injunction called the ruling unfortunate and premature.
“A ruling by a single judge in one circuit cannot and does not undo the years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination,” the groups — Lambda Legal; the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; the Transgender Law Center; and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders — said in their statement.
The ultimate impact of the Texas decision is unclear and likely to be limited, legal analysts said. More senior courts in other regions have agreed with the administration that transgender students and workers are protected by existing laws against sex discrimination, and their decisions will not be altered by the Texas ruling.
Also, the decision will not necessarily affect the outcome of other current cases.
In the most prominent one, a federal court in North Carolina is weighing almost identical issues in suits brought by civil rights groups and the Department of Justice that seek to block a state law requiring people in government buildings, including public schools, to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates.
Adding another major note of uncertainty, the US Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that required a school district in Virginia to allow a transgender boy to use the boys’ bathrooms. The Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction until it decides, probably this fall, whether to hear the case.
If the Supreme Court does take the case and reaches a majority decision one way or another, then existing rulings by district and appeals courts could be superseded. If the Supreme Court takes the Virginia case but then is divided, 4 to 4, on the issues, the Fourth Circuit’s existing decision in favor of transgender rights would take effect, although it would not be a nationally binding precedent.
The Texas lawsuit, filed by Paxton on behalf of officials in 13 states, argued that the Obama administration had overstepped its authority in a series of pronouncements in recent years, holding that discrimination against transgender people is a violation of existing laws against sex discrimination, including Title IX in federal education laws and Title VII in federal civil rights laws governing the workplace.
In May, in the latest such statement, the federal departments of Justice and Education issued a joint letter to public schools stating that transgender people should be free to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities and that schools which refuse could lose federal funds.
The letter was quickly condemned by social conservatives, leading numerous state governments and school districts around the country to file lawsuits seeking to prevent the administration from taking action.
The Obama administration, seeking to deflect the Texas lawsuit and another brought by 10 other states, argued that the directive was not a regulation or mandate but rather an explanation of how the administration interpreted existing sex-discrimination protections. But it carried a threat that the administration might sue noncompliant school districts and seek to cut off vital federal education aid.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.