Smart people saying smart things

Joan Chittister: “Job’s Daughters: Women and Power”

Job is a story of power gone awry; the Accuser, the friends, the society all claim that Job is Job’s problem, that Job is inherently inadequate and deserving of his state, that in Job’s nature itself lies the fault of his own suffering, that Job is deficient, morally deformed, spiritually inadequate, that Job deserves what Job is getting, that God has ordained it so and that salvation for Job depends on humble acquiescence.

Job’s story is, indeed, the story of any woman in the world today who suffers the arbitrary judgment of femaleness, who bears oppression in her own body, who is faithful to God and is told that God is the reason for her suffering, who has known what it is to have people blame the victim, who asks questions and is called heretic for the asking and whose future is in her daughters as well as in her sons.

Sarah Moon: “The privilege of purity”

The purity movement helps maintain multiple hierarchies — white women under white men. People of color under white people.

According to the primarily white leaders of the Evangelical purity movement, purity is a “privilege” reserved for white woman. This “privilege” is used to dehumanize and control us, just as the absence of this “privilege” is used to dehumanize and oppress women of color in other ways.

Purity is not about sex. It’s really about how human a woman gets to be, what rights she gets to have, how she gets to be treated by men and by churches and by society. It’s about limiting white women and oppressing women of color.

Dani Kelley: “The body I have”

It didn’t matter that I hated my body. It didn’t matter why I hated my body. And sometimes, I was encouraged to hate my body, because fat people absolutely cannot have a relationship with their body that doesn’t involve self-loathing and the perpetual impetus to hide as much of their body as possible.

Meg Munoz: “The Sex Industry, the Abolitionist Movement, and Things That Need To Change: It’s Not Them, It’s Us”

In the past few years, I have noticed a growing abolitionist movement within the Christian Community. While our pursuit of justice is noble, necessary, and exciting to see, my experience has led me to unearth some concerns that I feel need to be addressed by those committed to (and serving within) this movement. If we are truly interested in seeing those we serve heal and find freedom, we are going to have to rethink a few things. As an industry veteran, survivor and service provider, I believe there are things that must be discussed.

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  • Kiba

    It didn’t matter that I hated my body. It didn’t matter why I hated my body. And sometimes, I was encouraged to hate my body, because fat people absolutely cannot have a relationship with their body that doesn’t involve self-loathing and the perpetual impetus to hide as much of their body as possible.

    Ouch. That hits rather close to home. Growing up I was an overweight child and was teased and ridiculed at home (mother, brother), and at school (students, nurse). I hated myself and I hated them and even though I’m no longer overweight somethings still linger. I still can’t look at myself in the mirror and like what I see there.

  • Wingedwyrm

    The thing about the other people in the story of Job is look at their choice.  They can either blame Job or they can blame God.  “God is making you suffer in ways that you do not deserve.  Therefore, God is doing something immoral.”

    Imagine that you honestly believe that statement.  Imagine what you then immediately have to do in response to that statement.  If you want to live in the face of such a monstrous deity is… blame someone else.

    Similarly, we get this big response to the whole “society should change” issue.  “You’re blaming society?  Well, I can blame society, but society is big, is powerful, and is made up of people who share my cowardace.  So, no, don’t blame society.  Blame you for suffering in it!”

    Changing society is a lot less trouble than enduring it.  This is why we spend so much time telling children that they *can* change society if they try hard, in the hopes that enough of them will try so that the emergent hatred of society will have less cowardace to build from.

  • I was never overweight as a child, and I was lucky to be rather trim before and throughout puberty.  

    However, once I passed out of college, aged off my family’s health plan (and thus the insurance money that covered certain medication) my metabolism slowed down and my weight went up.  I am not bad, and not unfit, but I am at a “normal” instead of “thin” level of weight.  

    The unfortunate part is when my mother tells me that it breaks her heart how big I have gotten.  Hearing it every time kept making me feel like taking a knife to my own flesh and just slice off the offensive bits, partly out of an illogical desire for expedient resolution and partly for self-loathing for failing my parents.  After putting up with it for years, I recently told her that her judgement of my body were part of the reason why I tend to dread coming home and I would appreciate it if she would stop.  

    She said she never knew I felt that way and she was sorry.  

  • P J Evans

    my metabolism slowed down and my weight went up

    That’s actually pretty common. It isn’t just you, and it isn’t something that’s easily avoided.

  • The Guest Who Posts

    Looking at those photos of Dani Kelley on her blog… I wouldn’t call her fat. “Pudgy”, maybe, though it’s a bit too cutesy-sounding. “Heavier than average.” She doesn’t look unhealthy, nor like she has any trouble moving around in her daily life.

    I don’t mean for this to sound like I’m imposing my own definition on her body, or invalidating her right to identify herself as fat. My point is, instead, *what the hell is wrong with people who’ll judge a person just because she looks like that*?

  • Fusina

     I don’t know.I used to be skinny. I had kids, my metabolism slowed down, and I finally got on SSRIs for my clinical depression, and my former ability to lose weight went away. And I now understand that sometimes, you are just the shape you are. I had a friend in high school who was overweight, but her brain was the part of her I loved best. And I didn’t notice her size when we were talking about things.

    I finally accepted that I was not going to lose the weight without going off the SSRIs (not an option) and got rid of my former wardrobe that I’d been hanging onto in case, and got a new wardrobe that fit and was pretty. I’ve also gotten into yoga, the best exercise ever for people with fibromyalgia–doesn’t hurt, and no jumping!, and am getting fit physically, even though I haven’t lost weight and am still the same size. I have used, as a mantra, the words of Yoda, “Size matters not. Judge me by my size will you?”

  • picklefactory

    > I was encouraged to hate my body, because fat people absolutely cannot have a relationship with their body that doesn’t involve self-loathing and the perpetual impetus to hide as much of their body as possible.
    Fuck the police. Specifically the body police.

  • The_L1985

     I weigh 125 lb or so, and I still get this nonsense–from my own mother.  Why?  Because I have a belly.  It’s not a very big belly.  I’m a healthy size, I feel good about myself, and my boyfriend insists that I am absolutely perfect.

    But my stomach goes out a little instead of in, and you just can’t have that.

  • alfgifu

    I’ve got a first hand case study on how little body shape has to do with health and fitness.

    About four years ago, I started taking martial arts classes at about the same time as several other women. A group of us became close friends, and have progressed at about the same speed – we’re all fairly proficient (I’m slightly behind because of some major life events, but the others are all around or approaching their black belts).

    When we started, I was tall and lanky with underedeveloped muscles. One of my friends, a keen rugby player, was short and in pretty good shape already. Another was of medium height and build. And a third was tall and built on a larger scale – comfortably fatter than average (the same height as me but perhaps half again as heavy).

    You know what? After four years of training, I’m tall and lanky with slightly more developed muscles. The rugby player is unchanged. The medium height/medium weight friend is a bit heavier as her muscles have also filled out. And my third friend looks exactly as she did at the outset. Yes, she’s far stronger and nimbler on her feet than she was. We all are. But it turns out that getting healthier hasn’t changed her build an iota. In her case, big is healthy.

    That observation really brought home to me how weird the way we’re taught to think about size and health is.

    (And when we dress up and hit the town together we are *all* stunning. Just so you know ;).)

  • P J Evans

     Someone is having a wonderful time fantasizing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What in the fuck are you on about?

  • Every white woman in this country is taught to hate her body. Way back in the mid-90s, in a Women’s Studies class I took, the black women in the class thought this was totally weird and felt sorry for us — they were not taught to hate their bodies. It was a hidden perk of being mostly-invisible in media, among other things. I can only hope this is still the case.

    Skinny? You don’t have enough boobs, you’re worthless. Fat? You’re worse than worthless, you are somehow causing other people harm by breathing their air. In-between? You’re too fat, and is that a zit? Gods help a woman who is large and stout, whose belly is big but whose breasts are not. You’re fat (i.e. over a size 6, and that size is shrinking all the time) and you have a sex drive? Pfft, ridiculous fat slut, women with sex drives are just silly anyway, and fat ones even sillier. And of course, you have to eat to have a sex drive — if you don’t eat, you are very unlikely to feel sexual, and so there is a certain safety in the eating disorders which are growing more prevalent all the time.

    This is something that men can help with on an individual basis. No, you cannot undo a lifetime of conditioning on the women you care about. But you can learn: learn that fitness and fatness have very little to do with one another. Learn the signs of eating disorders. If you’re married, encourage your wife NOT to diet, not ever. Look up the facts about how harmful — and worse than useless — dieting is yourself, and be a filter for her, because wading into discussions about weight is terrifying for so many women. Cook yummy food for her. Go exercising with her. Tell her how much you love her belly and thighs and whatever other body parts she’s particularly worried about. 

    If you are a father of girls, do not ever notice your daughters’ weight unless it is on the extremely thin side, and then team with your daughters’ mother to discuss it if at all possible. Every woman I know who is on a diet (which… is most of them) has their fathers judging their bodies and judging their weight. It gives me the serious creeps — my father can be a control freak about a lot of things, but never, not once, has he mentioned my body shape to me, or suggested I should be eating differently or exercising differently or anything of the sort. Fathers can trample all over their daughters’ boundaries so easily. You must take immense care here.

  • Please take your porn elsewhere.

  • The_L1985


    1.  I am a woman, and I assure you I find nothing “crass” or “debased” in the fact that sometimes I like to have sex.

    2.  I am also not about to go with the sort of man who “swaps [women] like baseball cards,” or to do anything in bar restrooms (I don’t even use restrooms in seedy places at all, unless it’s a Bladder Emergency).

    3.  Sex at work?  This is a joke, right?

    Beta males never see this world because it doesn’t exist, and no self-respecting woman (of which I assure you there are MILLIONS) would settle for sex that is debasing in nature.  Affirming and mutually-respectable sex is much more fun. ;)

  • Carstonio

    Translation: “Women won’t sleep with me, and the obvious explanation is that I’m not dominant. The idea that it could be because I’m an asshole never crossed my mind.”

    If there were a Nice Guy Syndrome drinking game, we’d all be blotto halfway through reading this. If only Heartiste used his/her/its power of language for good instead of evil…

  • Decent human beings with humiliation fetishes do not rope unwilling participants into them. I’ve never seen anything like this in the BDSM community, btw, though of course I don’t know all corners by a long shot; my corners are ones that would boot Eric out pronto. Straight sub males want to know what they can do for dominant women, they do not pretend all women are “really” like something, as if we were die-cast from the same lot. Well… actually, the only straight sub males I know are successful ones, who are able to find women to dominate them. I think it’s likely that Eric hasn’t been able to interest a domme, and is attempting to force us into the role. Seriously gross.

    (Btw, I’m a self-respecting woman who is a sub in a monogamous marriage with a dominant man. We have sex that others might consider “debasing” — nothing like Eric’s gross imaginings, holy shit — and that I consider affirming. But, as with every human being in the world, I know that my sex life and sexual desires are not the same as anyone else’s. And I would never let a man who claimed all women wanted X touch me, let alone a man like Eric who apparently thinks his fantasies are reality. That’s some scary stuff.)

  • The_L1985

    Quite frankly, I don’t consider fetishes engaged in by consenting adults to be debasing at all.

    To me, sex is only debasing if:

    a) You’re endangering yourself or others;

    b) You’ve chosen to identify all sex acts as debasing, because you’re really not comfortable with sex at all, yet you still have sex;

    c) You engage in casual sex that you don’t even want, in hopes that it will finally make you feel loved, attractive, or needed; or

    d) You are in a genuinely abusive relationship and use sex as a means of keeping the peace.

    Emphasizing, btw, that c) only refers to unwanted sexual activity.

  • Carstonio

    I think it’s a mistake to analyze Eric’s repugnant post on a fetish level. If there are any fetishes expressed, this may be unintentional. He’s saying that all women are unfaithful sluts.

  • The_L1985

     I know what he’s saying.  And frankly, the way some of these scumbags go on about it, I begin to suspect they really do get aroused by the fantasy of all those alleged Alpha Males and cruel, unfaithful women making life harder for people like himself.

    It’s like the IndigNation meets 50 Shades.

  • 50 Shades would have been so much better if the heroine were not so ridiculously monogamous. Anyway, 50 Shades is merely a traditional late-1970s romance novel: “good” girl has sex with asshole, reforms asshole with her magical aura of “good”ness. 

  • This likely wasn’t intentional, but your comment holds the implication that a woman who has sex with lots of different men is a “slut”. Like, that some women are this thing called a slut. No such person exists, unless we go back to the original meaning of “poor housekeeper”. 

  • Carstonio

    Excellent point. I had that in the back of my mind when I wrote my post, but had difficulty thinking of another way of expressing my point. Yes, our friend is shaming female sexuality in general, where having many partners means negative status for women but positive status for men, and doesn’t even bother to offer a defense of the double standard.

  • Carstonio

    I thought they were simply getting emotionally aroused by feeling like righteous victims.

  •  Snrk. Someone using the term “beta male” unironically? Outside of cuckold fetish pornography? Oh you are precious.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You haven’t read any a/b/o fic, have you?

    This is not a recommendation, or an antirecommendation, just an observation.

  • Blood type is a fetish? I am… Unsurprised.

  • vsm

    It’s not about blood types:

    This is one of those things I will never understand, like wrapping Roy Orbison in shrinkwrap. Not that I need to understand everything.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, no, sorry, different thing entirely. Alpha/beta/omega. Which I do not think I am capable of explaining but there’s a primer around here somewhere…aha.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I bow to your superior googlefu.

  • I’ve heard that blood types are treated in Japan a lot like sun signs in the US. Type Os act one way, ABs another, and so on. It’s pretty common for anime characters to have a blood type listed in addition to or instead of  a sign, though birthdays pretty much reveal the sign.

    And vampires. Characters with especially tasty blood are a common device in vampire stories and I probably wouldn’t have to look too hard to find one where blood type plays into it.

  • Eminnith

    It’s a troll. That’s what the fuck it’s on about.

    In the comments to a French Revolution (anti-gay blog on Patheos’ evangelical channel) entry from June 2012, Eric the Red said:

    “Enjoy being ostracized from polite society, bigots. Pretty soon you’ll be sitting in caves banging rock together, which is just where you troglodytes belong.”

    “Eric the Red” has no fixed opinions. It is only a troll.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, okay.

  • Man. Sarcasm just does not carry in comment thread form. Yeah, I actually figured that out and thought pretending it was a blood type thing would be a good gag.

  • Yeah. Apparently the Canadian Red Cross made a huge ass of themselves a couple of years back by trying to get people to donate blood by pushing how fun it was to predict your behavior and favorite foods based on blood type. Took a lot of flack for mixing hardcore woo in with medicine.

    I once read a fairly amusing story about a vampire who had to get fitted for dentures after losing a fang from tooth decay due to his having a sweet tooth for uncontrolled diabetics.

  • The_L1985

    That sounds like a great vampire story. :)  I don’t suppose you have a link?

  • The story is called ‘Sweet Tooth’ by Tonya Brown. It’s included in at least one print anthology, but there’s a reading of it by the author available about 43 minutes into this podcast:

  • Andrew Barrett

    You REALLY misunderstand the book of Job…