Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Civil rights

I just wrote this in a comment on another post, and thought it was worth repeating in a post all its own.

We need a civil rights movement for fat people.

Fat acceptance is great, but we need to go a step further. We need our own Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. We need civil disobedience. We need to picket outside the offices of for-profit bariatric surgery clinics. We need to Act Up, not shut up.

We need to teach our own culture an essential lesson once more: That each and every person is a valuable human being, regardless of the color of his/her skin, intelligence, country of origin, gender, sexual attractiveness, or weight. Hell, we need our own song.

We're talking basic civil rights here. Who's on the bus?

13 comments:

Paul (BFB) said...

COFRA is fledgling and trying!

We're having a second Think Tank in Chicago next month to discuss and plan things further, and anyone is welcome to sign up at the COFRA site and share their expertise towards the cause.

We've got a number of projects that need owners, and we're always in need of fresh and new ideas.

withoutscene said...

Right the eff on! Sometimes I wonder what it's going to take to make that happen with a vengeance.

Right now MAFRAD is also finishing up the first version of our Media Reference Guide...so we're definitely moving forward, but I know what you mean. We need to make a ruckus.

littlem said...

First, brilliant, commonsense, and compassionate in principle.

If I'm not mistaken, San Francisco, parts of Michigan, and D.C. have applicable municipal anti-discrimination laws in place.

However, because I am sometimes cynical and sulky, I must ask:

If it's a public, sort of "codified," stance you want to take, how fully have you already staffed your "Handle the Blowback" Department?

Harriet said...

Good question, littlem!

I am heartened to find out more about COFRA and MAFRAD, and glad to know I'm way behind the curve on this one!

Emily said...

Why on earth would we want to be hassling people at bariatric surgery clinics? That kind of pro-life harassment may be the preferred tactic of radicals like Marilyn Wann and her thugs, but can't we have a movement that recognizes that all people have a right to body autonomy?

The anti-dieter hate mongering has held fat acceptance back for decades. Its foul weather activism that does nothing but hurt people for feeling desperate and wanting to something to improve their life. I'd hope that this community would have gotten past attacking people for getting WLS.

We need reject the radicals and argue for rational change that respects the fact that being fat harms a lot of people and we need to find answers for them. We can all work together for those answers instead of shouting at people who just want help.

I'd hope that COFRA can take a stand against the fat radicals who want to dictate body autonomy for others. I'm glad that some of the ring-leaders of the diet-hatred movement aren't a part of COFRA in name, but I hope they aren't represented in spirit by repackaging their intolerance as something new. Those thugs are the ones keeping fat acceptance back and I trust any fat rights movement will clean up their own house before trying to clean up society.

Harriet said...

Um, I wasn't suggesting we hassle clients of these clinics, just the profit-seeking docs themselves.

Emily said...

I'm sure some Project Rescue types say the same thing, but I can promise you that the clients wouldn't take it that way. I mean, why is it wrong for doctors to provide the service if it isn't wrong for people to seek it out? That's how people will respond, and honestly they'd have a point.

The hard truth is that respecting body autonomy means respecting the companies that provide people with the products and services necessary to reclaim their lives. We cannot defend the demand and attack the supply. Intimidating people for seeking help may be the old-school fat acceptance mindset, but I hope we can do better than the thug mentality of the Fatso lunies.

- m said...

I don't completely agree, Emily. Many times people seek things out due to societal pressures, not due to medical necessity (though they may have been misguided to believe it's a medical necessity). Then some drs offer it to make a profit, not because it's really needed.
That makes the drs wrong, not the patients.

My opinion at least.


- M

Meowser said...

Emily, WLS kills 1 out of every 6 people within 8 years postop, between 1 and 2 in 100 in the first month. Women do not die from legal abortions, nor from any other surgery, at this rate. That fact is being completely whitewashed by the surgeons and the mass media.

People are being railroaded into having this surgery, being told erroneously that their fat is some kind of bodywide malignant tumor, so that hospitals can turn cash-cow profits, with little regard for patients' quality of life or long-term survival. It's absolutely sickening. And if more people had the facts, we could put these butchers out of business, as they deserve to be.

Nobody can be said to be making an independent decision about what to do with their bodies if they don't know exactly what they are doing and how they are being lied to, over and over and over again, and that the sequelae of going under the knife can be far more deadly than simply remaining fat, and may well be permanently irreversible. I don't blame the patients, I blame the culture which regards fat as some kind of toxic substance, and the doctors and hospital administrators who care only about money, money, money.

Harriet said...

You tell it, Meowser.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine the civil rights movement following Emily's logic? We'd still be back in the 1960s. Embracing skin whiteners, plastic surgery for noses, and hair straighteners does nothing for acceptance of diversity.

In many ways the fat acceptance movement must be even stronger -- diets and bariatrics KILL. This is eugenics pure and simple. Any fat acceptance movement that gets behind that is not an advocate for fat people. It is tragic that any discriminated person would even believe that such things should be an option in order to fit in.

Sarah said...

Emily, the only "thug" here is you. Fat people don't have a right to "body autonomy" because of constant harassment by people like you - oh, but it's for "our health!" Well, the concept of autonomy has been thrown out the window with that line. If you TRULY believed in "body autonomy," you would have left out your snide remark about fat people who are hurting themselves. Please, spare us the hypocrisy.

We SHOULD show harm toward those who peddle WLS and diets as a "good" solution, because it's a flat out LIE. The information against "solutions" that actually harm and kill has been documented and ignored for years, and I'm glad there are other people here pointing that out.

Newsflash - doctors and diet peddlers lie. They are NOT in business to "help" others and make them healthy, and you are a fool if you think otherwise. They prey on the weak self-esteem fat people have been beaten over the head with for years in order to make a quick buck. It's sickening, and NOBODY with a right conscious should stand for it!

Harriet said...

I think the term "reclaim their lives" is the smoking gun here. It speaks to the notion that fat people don't have lives, or lives worth living, anyway, until they get thin. Even if it takes mutilation.

I would never judge someone who makes the decision to have WLS, just as I would never judge anyone who decided to have an abortion. You can't know what someone's life is like from the inside. But I also don't believe that WLS is about reclaiming lives. And you'd have to be blind not to see the appalling rates of postoperative complications from these surgeries, even among those for whom the surgeries are a "success."

I support individual people in making the decisions that are right for them. I don't support marketing and profit-seeking entities in exploiting people's deepest fears and insecurities.