Posted by Pattie on 5/04/2010 10:48:00 AM

I wrote in Taking Up Space that I am a reluctant warrior in the War on Obesity.

I don't like the idea of being a professional fat person.

I don't like the idea of being a fat activist.

I don't like the idea of defining myself as "that fat woman."

There are a thousand things I'd rather being doing, thinking about, playing with.

So I took a break for a while. I stopped writing about it. I stopped hanging out in forums. I stopped interacting with the fat activist community on a daily basis.

Then last summer I found Face Book and there was all this beautiful fat positive, fat activism going on and I was back in touch.

Also, last year The Fat Studies Reader was published. I co-authored the final article in the book. Actually, I authored an article that got combined with three other articles into one article. The book is getting a lot of attention. I sense a change and that change is actually interesting for me personally because it is opening up academic spaces that I might could wonder into. I have re-discovered a love for teaching at CSN over the past two years and I am feeling positive about the future as a fat woman and as a writer and as a teacher and maybe even as an academic.

But two incidences over the past few days have got me thinking about this and reminding me why I really dreaded.

First, there was a misunderstanding on one of the FB groups I post to and I felt like once again I was being treated like the angry one. Then later an FB friend posted about how great community is for addressing fat hatred and then as several people (including me) responded with anger about hateful comments we were scolded for not being more tolerant. Tolerant of hate? Being careful to not make a bully or a bigot feel shame. Wow. I'm very confused.

There seems to be a fear among activists regarding anger that I frankly don't understand. It is like many of them are waiting for permission from the powers that be to critique the powers that be. I'm reminded of Audre Lorde's article about the master's tools cannot be used to dismantle the master's house.

My anger is part of the deal. And I have lots of anger. Anger at being pushed into corners I don't want. Anger at being told that it is my responsibility to break out of those corners without holding the people who pushed me there responsible. Anger that the people I turn to to help me push back are too busy criticizing me to be of any help.

Someone said that they are happy to be a fat activist. I'm happy that I've met some incredible people and that I've found some incredible support. But I have to tell you that even with all the good stuff going on, I'm still getting this lack of true community and lack of anything effective being done. Okay, I've written that and I don't like saying that. It isn't exactly true. But the sad part is that it is closer to the truth than the opposite.

I don't want there to be a fat community, per se. I want the need for that community to end.

I want there to be freedom. I want people to be able to be themselves without fear. I want people to have a healthy intolerance for injustice, for hatred, for wrong. I want being right to be respected. I want human rights to be respected. Mostly I want to travel and make art and write and play with animals and take great photographs and move freely in the world without fear. And I want that and more for you too.

The key for me is how to do that and once again I'm faced with the question as to whether activism is the answer.

I cannot escape my fat body. I cannot escape the hatred and stigma that is placed upon that body. I am a reluctant warrior in the war on that body. I have to defend. I cannot have what I want otherwise.

So, here's my answer for now (and I am really just coming to this conclusion as I write):

We have to find some new tools. There is no other way to do it. Failure is not an option. I cannot forget all this. So I got to find someone, somewhere who want to forge these new tools with me. It's an adventure. It's new territory (something I love to explore). I cannot go back to this without something new and I cannot NOT go back to it because I cannot live silently. Something, somewhere has to give and right soon.


Tish said...

I think I understand. Since I don't know the details I can't be sure but I can relate to the desire for community and feelings of frustration with the "community" that exists. My own retreat from the community came in part from being swallowed by my job but also came from not feeling deeply connected.
And now I feel too far gone.
But you've always had a strong, informed analysis. Your voice is essential.

Pattie said...

Thank you and I believe your voice is essential too. There is no easy answer, I know. We've been at this a long time and it is discouraging because, well, its been a long time and little seems to have changed.

When I get into these funks, Carl likes to quote Morpheus from the second Matrix movie, when he is addressing the crowd regarding the impending battle. After outlining all the ways in the machines have tried to destroy the city, he says that he has confidence of victory, not because of the future but because of the past. He says in spite of everything he knows the way will end because,