Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dieting, guilt and the church of feminism

Isn’t a religion’s success based on how guilty you feel? In which case, I am leaving the church of feminism; I am tearing up my card, handing in my toaster before I get booted out. Why? Because I am on a diet.

You see, according to Feh-muh-nist, “Feminism requires WORK - intellectual work, emotional work, physical work, and spiritual work…If you're not up for it, that's okay, but then you're NOT A FEMINIST.” All that working out however can’t include doing so because you (whisper) “want to be thinner”. On Feh-muh-nist’s list of things “real” feminists oppose, right after rape and prostitution, comes “weight-loss diets and fatphobia” at number 4.

From I blame the patriarchy (and linked endlessly elsewhere) I find that by dieting, I am letting not just myself, but ALL women down, that “certain of your so-called choices are making the whole group look bad.” And thus I have institutionalized the oppression of the patriarchy and their standard of beauty which she links in a list that starts with “dieting” and ends with “rape”.

My diet consists, not of anything particularly organized but rather simply exercising more, eating less, and eating (slightly) better stuff than normal. Yes, I want to feel fit, and yes I want have more endurance for epee, but also, a major if not THE major reason I am going on a diet is: to lose weight. And the reason I want to lose weight (excluding the financial consideration of going up a clothing size when everything you buy is a specialty item and even a t-shirt cost over $30) is because I think I would look better 10-15 pounds lighter. And maybe that means I have absorbed the beauty myth and maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I don’t feel as comfortable greeting the mail delivery person naked anymore. Maybe I have deep rooted body image issues. SO WHAT!

Honestly, I would like to be part of a movement of women (heck, even men) that supports women, that looks like a big family instead of a pack of hyenas ripping a wounded member apart. Remember the 90’s when there was the call the boycott establishments that sold diet drinks as oppressors and enforcers of body image? I do. And I drink diet coke, and it’s not because I like the taste. It’s because I want to drink coke, and not have calories. Even the “pro-feminist” male Hugo Schwyzer is a better feminist than me. In yesterday’s blog he displayed the correct way a feminist should get healthier: only healthy food, no diet coke, no looking in the mirror or weighing yourself to determine your standards, finishing with his pledge not to wiegh himself for the rest of 2006. Let’s see, yesterday I had my diet coke, weighed myself twice (losing 4 pounds in an afternoon and deciding the scale is wonky), stared at myself naked in the mirror, found a top to hide my pot and went out for chicken wings then I followed up by going on a run as soon as I got up this morning. I felt good about myself after the run so I wore a fairly skimpy top to do some errands. These actions I now find are my empowering the patriarchy to rape women because I don’t have enough mental discipline to accept myself as I am, but also not eat junk food (which separates me from the inner woman and the nurturing organic food of mother earth). Eh? What? But chicken wings taste so good!

Let’s not go into my other lists of feminist sins: push-up bras, make-up, hair styling, being a femme, shopping at walmart, and actually smiling sometimes when a guy tells me I look good instead of kicking him in the balls and screaming “Female exploiter!” over his writhing body. I fail to see the point of being so wonderfully empowered if I am no longer allowed to be who I am, neurotic warts and all. So, I am now calling for another movement – not sure what to call it – about helping and empowering people where THEY ARE, instead of deciding where they should be and how they should feel. Or how about just caring about other people and trying to make them feel good? On that plan, today, I smiled and said “hi” to 14 people….so far. If you see me running, smile and say hi. Once I notice a majority of people noticing and caring about others, then I’ll start to worry about whether they are noticing and caring the RIGHT way. Till then, I am on a diet – 15 pounds or feminist!

10 comments:

Wendryn said...

I want to join your movement.

I consider myself a feminist in the sense that I believe men and women are equals. I have a really hard time with people who say you should or shouldn't be something or you won't be considered a feminist. I've been told I'm not a good feminist because I sleep with men, like cleaning house and washing dishes, and can live with the idea of staying home with a kid (although I probably won't end up doing that, for various reasons).

I'm working out to become stronger. I'll probably lose weight, but I've obsessed about it for enough of my life that I decided I could let that part go. I want to be able to swim a mile and a half in an hour again, though, so that's my goal. That doesn't mean that other people aren't supposed to want to lose weight reasonably. (I have issues with people who want to be unreasonably thin, but you sound like you are being rational about it.)

Enjoy your workouts. Enjoy the weight loss. Enjoy yourself, in whatever way makes you happiest. Being declared "Not a Feminist"...eh. I've been called worse names. I'm sure you have, too. Doesn't matter.

EL said...

I'm on a diet too. So fucking what. I'm not on a diet because I think all women should shrink into nothing to please the patriarchy. I'm on a diet because I don't have the money to buy a new wardrobe to accomodate my extra pounds. So there.

And all that doesn't even begin to address the reasons for which I can be called "unfeminist".

Don't sweat it - if you think you're a feminist, I'm glad to call you one!

Yoga Korunta said...

Thin is healthful.

belledame222 said...

Oh lordie. Feminists can diet. Feminists can NOT diet. What ISN'T feminist IN MY BOOK is constantly policing other womens' personal choices, no matter what sort of drag you're dressing it up in.

the radical feminist version of "Go Fug Yourself" is -not- what i had in mind, thanks.

actually come to think of it, i think in some ways GFY is more forgiving.

but yeah, well, THOSE sites, well. yeah. i've said m'piece on both the former, and Hugo...well, Hugo. I dunno. I just, well, don't relate to much of that at all, I'm afraid.

but i think he would have been right at home at the turn of the century, you know, when a certain kind of Christianity and womens' rights and abstinence of various sorts were all linked together in a kind of super-virtuousness. i mean, not that that's all -bad,- y'understand, just...yeah. don't relate. sorry. i swear and look at dirty books and pictures and eat cheeseburgers and mock people and kind of pretty much wear whatever the hell i feel like wearing.

i like to think Molly Ivins at least would understand, who is as "good" a feminist as any i can think of. more important: good person. or so it seems at least.

kathz said...

There are problems around women and dieting. I've seen enough anorexic teenagers and guilt-ridden women to know that. Dieting can give women control or give them the illusion of control. I lost weight when I started fencing by both fencing and eating more sensibly. I'm much healthier and fitter as a result. But I have also seen the damage dieting can do, not just to women's bodies but to their self-esteem - women who grow to hate their bodies or even to hate themselves for eating things they like.

I think feminism is - in part - about making your own choices, and having as wide a range of undamaging choices for men and women as is possible. I have no problem with couples where one partner (man or woman) stays at home to take care of the house and look after a child or children. I don't think I could do it myself but it's hard, important and responsible work which should be widely respected. I think feminism is about more pleasure for women and men and about more political responsibility. (But it doesn't solve all the world's problems - not on its own.)

Oh, and it's about solidarity and sisterhood. Very old slogan - SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL!

GayProf said...

I think that there is a difference between, “Oh My God, I must look like Kate Moss to be loved” and “I would really like to be in better physical shape so that I am not dead by age 38.” Only the foolish would not be able to distinguish between these two things, IMHO. If not, you need to hang with cooler brand of femnist.

As for diet soda, try TaB. It's more in your face than diet coke.

I do, though, have to chide you for shopping at Wal Mart. There are so many, many, many ethical reasons why that is wrong (atrocious environmental practices, crippling independent stories, supporting U.S. imperialism, horrific labor practices, and on and on). Doesn’t Canada have Target yet?

Elizabeth McClung said...

Well, the diet continues! And no one has come to reclaim the toaster.

As for dieting unheathily, yes, women may have esteem issues, or body issues, but I fail to understand how telling them they are "bad people" is going to help that. In my experience, the only people who have the right to confront someone negatively with an eating disorder is someone who is willing to hang on through up and down to ensure that person comes out the other side of thier eating disorder. It is not like the person is unaware they are obsessed with dieting. What they may be unaware of is that there are people out there who are willing to love and stand with them no matter what. But most people aren't into that and would rather fire thier shame missle and forget. But again, that's just my experience.

belledame222 said...

>yes, women may have esteem issues, or body issues, but I fail to understand how telling them they are "bad people" is going to help that. In my experience, the only people who have the right to confront someone negatively with an eating disorder is someone who is willing to hang on through up and down to ensure that person comes out the other side of thier eating disorder. It is not like the person is unaware they are obsessed with dieting. What they may be unaware of is that there are people out there who are willing to love and stand with them no matter what. >

WORD

Wiccachicky said...

If dieting means I can't be feminist, then I'm in trouble! ;)

Jae said...

I don't understand why you are painting such an extreme and unrealistic picture of feminism but I have to say that I think it misses the mark. I don't know a single feminist, and I know some hardcore ones, who thinks it is un-feminist to eat healthy or exercise or wear makeup. "The church of feminism" as you call it does not preach that dieting leads to rape or that men are exploiting women when they give them a mild compliment. Feminism is a much richer, complex, and nuanced school of thought than you portray here.