Sunday, August 21, 2016

Isn't

I have not been shy, in this blog or on my Facebook page, as identifying as a fat man. For the most part I feel fairly safe doing so. The people who read here, and the people who I am 'Friends' with on Facebook are by and large people who understand issues regarding difference and prejudice. Even so, there are moments when I realize that even these spaces are not particularly safe for me.

Everyone has seen, I imagine, the news reports of the 5 statues of a nude Donald Trump that showed up in very public places in 5 American cities. The statues aren't at all accurate, I know this not because Mr. Trump have been intimate, but because I've seen him clothed and know that he does not have the body that has been created for the statue. He is not a particularly fat man.

But, we live in days where racism and sexism and homophobia and ableism and disphobia are no where near as damning to a person's reputation or character than simply calling them, in any form possible, fat. Further the statues show Mr. Trump having a very small penis, it being embedded behind folds of fat.

When you see pictures of the statues you also see pictures of people around the statues. People desperate to get a picture of them. Pictures of women screwing up their faces in disgust as they touch the statues penis. People laughing at the image, not of Trump, because other than the hair and face, nothing about this is Trump, but at fat men with fat bodies, at men with penises which nestle rather than hang because of the body type they are attached to.

Worse are the comments.

I can't ever unsee that again.

This is so disgusting I can't even look.

I'm going to stop there, because they get worse, much worse and they betray what I know to be true, being fat is the ultimate in ugliness, in failure, in criticism.

Mr. Trump and his rhetoric appalls me. But it's what he says, it's how he represents himself that causes me to react to him the way I do. It has nothing to do with his hair, his body or the size of his penis.

Nothing.

Yet I see people, people who I thought were pretty cool people, cool with difference, cool with me as a person, posting pictures of these statues with horrible fat phobic remarks. Remarks made acceptable because they think they are commenting on Trump. Of course they're not. They are commenting on men who look like me, fat men.

And it startles me.

You say, in all your other posts that you honour difference.

You say, in all your other posts that people should love themselves as they are.

You say, in all your other posts that body shaming is wrong.

And now I know.

You lied.

And I don't know what to do about it. Except to realize that the space I thought was safe.

Isn't.

8 comments:

Jenni said...

I'm sorry Dave. I want to be able to say something to make you feel better, but I can't think of anything that would be both comforting and true. I hope that people move on to the next 'thing'soon, so at least you aren't assailed by this cognitive dissonance for much longer.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

What's wrong with Mr. Trump is what he says, the way he incites violence, the attitudes he has.

All these are choices he makes - and that's what I judge him on: I don't want him representing me or this country.

But his candidacy has brought out the very worst in Americans, some of whom have legitimate complaints but are not going to get any of them fixed if this man is our president - because he stirs things up, not fixes them.

His body size, sexual orientation, and other details are NOT relevant - unless it could be proved directly that they affect his attitudes - which isn't going to happen.

We all have problems. How we choose to live despite those problems is what's important. I don't care for his choices.

Yours I applaud.

Kit Luce said...

I agree Dave. I abhor Trump's politics and rhetoric but we don't stoop to a new low, we continue to raise our standards higher.

Just needed this one thing said...

I'm sorry it is there and this way, Dave. I saw it, too. I haven't challenged people on it. You just reminded me that I should.

Unknown said...

I'm feeling like I missed what you are seeing. I saw a poor attempt at public art as a political statement - a riff on 'the emperor has no clothes' with a title piece that was superfluous and removed any claim the piece might have had to humor by explaining the purported "joke' about the size of his genitals. Caricature in political commentary has a long history, it uses exaggeration
with the intention to shock, as a way of provoking response/thought/critique. In the US you have the right to do this, even when it is offensive to others. Others have the right to disagree, publicly, and to form a lower opinion of your values and behaviors.

Two wrongs don't make a right, as Granny used to say. While the artist might defend the piece as demonstrating the same type of ridicule that Trump has used to humiliate others, I don't believe that makes it 'fair' or 'acceptable' to focus on his body as a legitimate target...in my best most rational mind. The part of me that is human and has been shamed for being female, and fat, and clumsy does feel a bit of satisfaction at seeing such a mean bully receive a bit of the same treatment. i can't say I am especially proud of that part of me, but I do not give it public voice by attacking back to bullies. And it is part of being human, so I just try not to dwell on it or shame myself for those thought/bits of satisfaction, and move on.

I've read your piece over a few times, and I can see where you are coming from and I respect your point of view. Thanks for encouraging me to reflect on my own reaction to the piece, and to your words. Clairesmum

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I hadn't seen the content you describe here, and it doesn't sound like something I would want to have to see. Although I abhor Trump and his politics, his weight and body shape and genitals have nothing to do with it. It's sad that people keep wanting to throw entire classes of people who already experience so much marginalization under the bus as their means of criticizing Trump and others. In addition to throwing fat people under the bus, I've also seen a lot of people throw people with psychiatric labels under the bus in calling for some armchair psychiatrist to give Trump a diagnostic label as a way of insulting Trump. I wish people would stop doing this. There is plenty to be said in criticism of Trump that can be said without further marginalizing people who need less marginalization, not more.

Unknown said...

I have been saying this too many times lately - I am embarrassed to be from the US. This election has brought out the worst in my country.

Ron Arnold said...

Sometimes - all folks want a pretense to justify their behavior.

I mean - it's OK because it's Trump - right? They wouldn't dream of doing that to someone they actually cared about - right? (Dave! It's Trump. I'm mocking Trump!) It's like using the N word and then back pedaling because of their black friend who happens to be there - "Yeah, but not you dude!" It's OK not to have empathy for someone or a group of someones you hate as long as it doesn't offend someone in your immediate presence - right? I mean - a group is even BETTER because it's even more impersonal! (Both the anonymity of being in one or in lobbing pot-shots at a crowd - )

Folks that profess tolerance yet display intolerance are simply hypocrites. I'm not a fan. Not a fan of outright bigots either, but at least with them - you KNOW where you really stand. I'd rather the devil I know than the one one lurking beneath a friendly face.