Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's good to know that women at *either* extreme can expect shaming...

Well, now... this thread is really interesting. Lauren, over at feministe, posted about a series of photos of female body builders, and how she found them interesting because, in her words:
It’s interesting to me that many female body builders who work on attaining what are considered masculine traits play up their feminine characteristics, perhaps to counteract the kind of physique that is usually culturally marked male, sometimes to an extreme that appears to be a conscious genderfuck. Whatever the case, the human body is so, so cool.

Which, hell yes! The human body is really cool. I'm constantly fascinated by the ways that our bodies move and grow, by the infinite variety of shapes and sizes of our parts and wholes, by the uncountable variations that all of our parts come in. It's really amazing to me.

But, that's not the bit that rocked my brain this morning. The bit that blew my mind was the comments that Lauren's post prompted from a lot of people. The very first comment in response to her post was about how "disgusting" the women look, and how the commenter simply doesn't "find that type of body attractive at all". I'm not going to do a count, but a surprisingly high number out of the 53 responses are echoing that basic sentiment--that each of these women is a "representation of grotesquerie".

There were, thankfully, a number of people who stepped up to point out that criticisms of these women as unattractive misses the point, and that those kinds of comments were, to say the least, not cool. But, that being said, it still seems like one of those times where an awful lot of people engaged in some pretty shitty behavior without really taking the time to analyze it or learn from it.

I don't know why I'm surprised that these sorts of blow-ups still happen. Honestly, I guess I'm not surprised at all. I've written about it too many times and seen it come up too many times for it to really be surprisng.

So, get out your broken records: It doesn't matter if you find those women attractive or not. They're very likely not doing it for you. That you find body building "grotesque" is completely beside, behind, or even miles away from the point. Nobody gives a shit that you find it disgusting. If you find it disgusting? Don't do it. Nobody is trying to make you become or date a body builder--certainly, nobody writing at Feministe is.

When you start talking about women's bodies with terms like "disgusting" "grotesquerie" "disfiguring" or disturbing", you're engaging in exactly the kind of body shaming that a lot of us have been fighting against. So, thanks for that. A woman who can bench 450 lbs without breaking a sweat is no less deserving of respect than a woman who weighs 450 lbs. It's one thing to question the social forces that lead us to view our bodies in various ways. It's quite another to look at pictures of particular women and proclaim them gross.

And the conversation is almost exactly like the typical fat shaming thread. If we remove the specific references, it's practically a MadLib:

"Hey, look at these pictures of women X who break the typical beauty mold. This is interesting."
"Oh my God. Those women are gross. I don't find them attractive."
"Yeah, they're nasty. And also, they're damaging their health because Y."
"You'd have to be dumb to think that these women are attractive or healthy, because Z"

It's the same pattern over and over and over.

And it's completely bunk.

So, here's my advice: If you find yourself on a feminist thread--or, hell, anywhere else, for that matter--about women's bodies, and you're thinking of posting a response that consists of or is related to "Wow, that's gross/ugly/nasty/disgusting", take a moment and
Stop.

Don't do it. Just don't. Because the odds are really good that what you're about to do is make some ignorant, superficial insult about another woman's body. A woman that you probably don't know, will probably never know, and about whom you're probably woefully uneducated about. You're thinking about posting how unhealthy she probably is? And about how your disgust is justified because you're really concerned about the health implications? Yeah, that's bullshit. You're more than likely not her doctor, so you're really not in a position to give her health advice.

Maybe you're actually interested in and concerned about a larger social issue? Maybe you're concerned about ways that the commercial cosmetics market and the entertainment industry push a certain beauty ideal? Maybe you're worried about systemic problems that involve body dismorphic disorders? Maybe you're genuinely concerned about the ways that we view our bodies? That's great! Channel that interest and make a difference. But, remember that slamming and insulting and mocking a particular woman or a group of them is not the way to do that. That's not helping--that's adding to the problem. You want to talk about the larger issues, do that. But don't throw those women under the bus in the process.

If you can't talk about about the ways that our society idealizes unrealistic body types without calling another woman "gross" or "disgusting", then you're doing it wrong, and you should take a minute to figure out why.

49 comments:

Crystal/Spencer said...

Thank you Roy.

tykke said...

I blatantly stole some paragraphs from this post and translated them on my own blog, with a link back to you. I agree with everything you said, so it's in a positive way I abused you :)

This: It doesn't matter if you find those women attractive or not. They're very likely not doing it for you. That you find body building "grotesque" is completely beside, behind, or even miles away from the point. Nobody gives a shit that you find it disgusting. If you find it disgusting? Don't do it. Nobody is trying to make you become or date a body builder

And this: When you start talking about women's bodies with terms like "disgusting" "grotesquerie" "disfiguring" or disturbing", you're engaging in exactly the kind of body shaming that a lot of us have been fighting against. So, thanks for that. A woman who can bench 450 lbs without breaking a sweat is no less deserving of respect than a woman who weighs 450 lbs. It's one thing to question the social forces that lead us to view our bodies in various ways. It's quite another to look at pictures of particular women and proclaim them gross.

http://tykke.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/kvinder-skylder-verden-at-v%C3%A6re-smukke/

Princess Pointful said...

Cheers and thank you for this one. I am always a little blown away that people assume everyone's primary goal is to look conventionally attractive, and that they ought to be critiqued fiercely if they are perceived to have failed at it (despite being arguably amazing at another goal that is valued highly in other contexts)

sinead said...

you rock. and you're dead on. thanks.

Lymphopo said...

When a guy announces that he finds these women's bodies "hot" or that "muscular women turn him on," it's every bit as irrelevant, idiotic, entitled, and downright annoying as declaring them unattractive. Dudes: nobody gives a flying frog whether your little wingding is turgid or limp. Keep personal information about your bodily functions to yourself.

Signed,

A Female Bodybuilder

Autumn said...

I found you via feministing, and your blog is pretty much entirely made of awesome. I'm always surprised when I find someone I agree so thoroughly with!

Bri said...

Thanks for "getting it". Really.

sthenno said...

huh...I have to pinch myself to believe there are real men who say these things...I am so jaded.

Hershele Ostropoler said...

What Lymphopo says, though I can't seem to phrase it in a way that doesn't piss off (other) progressive straight dudes.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Near the bottom of this post, I wrtote about a similar situation in real-life (and the dilemma I felt in how to deal with it). I just don't get why someone else's body shape matters to others. The "lesbians" comment by the young woman referenced in that post of mine was also pretty icky.

Nadiya said...

You're so right on your take re perceptions of beauty. It's always subjective - the concept of what is or isn't attractive can be culture specific, age specific, race specific and even class specific.

But the "norm" is always fixed by the group in power. Why should we allow that to restrict our perception and appreciation of beauty? And why should we wham our strictures on others?

It's a mindfuck in a way...I grew up knowing I was ugly/in my tiny South Asian country, a land of brown people, fairness is revered. It took me 30 years and a shitload of heartache to realize I was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

One of the most beautiful women I have ever been friends with was a body builder. She was a Swedish girl and very feminine. She got a lot of comments when we went out, but she was in great shape and looked amazing.

Transcendancing said...

Well said!

Rebecca said...

I live in Canada where we have socialized health care. Many of these fat=unhealth arguments are framed by Canadians not as "I'm concerned for your health" but as "I'm concerned that my tax dollars will eventually go to treating your fat-caused illnesses." Of course I have to assume that none of the people making these arguments smoke...or do extreme sports...or...yeah.

Eric said...

Bodybuilding competitions are all about showing off one's body and being JUDGED by others. To say that commenting on the attractiveness of the bodies "misses" the point" is the real case of missing the point.

You could say these participants are not aiming for sexual attractiveness. But then again I think many people's negative reaction against these images, on a conscious level, are not a matter of sexual attraction anyway. These bodies are ugly, period, whether male or female (and do we not have the right to pronounce things or people ugly? if not, do we not also lose the right to find beauty in life?).

You dismiss the health concerns. But I think this is yet again missing the deeper point. What is the most basic standard of beauty? Above all it must be health. A diseased, sick, twisted, grotesque body is a sign of unhealthiness (too thin, too fat, abnormal level of hormones, etc.). Which is bad for the selfish genes inside all of us, which want healthy offspring. It's natural selection, which is why the negative reactions are completely natural and expected and, indeed, good.

Roy said...

Bodybuilding competitions are all about showing off one's body and being JUDGED by others. To say that commenting on the attractiveness of the bodies "misses" the point" is the real case of missing the point.

Actually, no. Bodybuilders are judged in a certain context. They're judged on a set of criteria specific to the sport. Nobody is saying that the judges of a bodybuilding competition shouldn't judge these women within the context of the sport. To pretend that a bunch of people on the internet saying "they're gross" is somehow the same as the judging that takes place during a competition, though, is very intellectually dishonest.

But then again I think many people's negative reaction against these images, on a conscious level, are not a matter of sexual attraction anyway. These bodies are ugly, period, whether male or female (and do we not have the right to pronounce things or people ugly? if not, do we not also lose the right to find beauty in life?).

That's your opinion, period. The original post that inspired this, over at feministe, made it pretty clear that Lauren found it interesting, and did not, in fact, find them gross or what-ever. And you're conflating "finding" with "pronouncing". That you find them attractive or not is beyond your control, but the choice to proclaim them ugly or grotesque? That's something you're in total control of.

A diseased, sick, twisted, grotesque body is a sign of unhealthiness (too thin, too fat, abnormal level of hormones, etc.). Which is bad for the selfish genes inside all of us, which want healthy offspring.

Spare me. The reality of the complexity of human sexual and reproductive habits gives lie to that evo-psych garbage. That's such an oversimplification and misrepresentation of our mating habits as to be laughable. Besides, unless one of these women is trying to produce healthy offspring with you, what the fuck business is it of yours whether they're healthy or not? You don't find them attractive? You don't like the choices they're making in their personal life? Fine. Move on, and don't get involved. I fail to see why that should make it acceptable for you to condemn them or to proclaim them "ugly, period".

It's natural selection, which is why the negative reactions are completely natural and expected and, indeed, good.

You're using an appeal to natural selection and instinct--two things that human beings consistently work against--as an excuse for shitty behavior?

Really?

Eric said...

Besides, unless one of these women is trying to produce healthy offspring with you, what the fuck business is it of yours whether they're healthy or not? You don't find them attractive? You don't like the choices they're making in their personal life? Fine. Move on, and don't get involved.

I'm saying they are, in my and many others' opinions, ugly. And I'm trying to explain why I find them ugly. Why shouldn't I be able to say that?

You're using an appeal to natural selection and instinct--two things that human beings consistently work against--as an excuse for shitty behavior?

As far as I can see no excuse is needed. It's a fact: most people are not attracted to the sick and the diseased and otherwise obviously unhealthy. That's why they find them ugly. The underlying reason is clearly evolutionary.

Also, to quote William F Buckley, I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said: "consistently work against" natural selection? This is just too preposterous to deserve a response.

Roy said...

I'm saying they are, in my and many others' opinions, ugly. And I'm trying to explain why I find them ugly. Why shouldn't I be able to say that?

Because you're talking about people? Because you're being a hurtful, narrow minded jerk?

Why is it necessary to make sure that everyone knows that you think these women are gross or ugly or what-not? Why should anyone buy you give two shits about why you do or do not find these women attractive?

As far as I can see no excuse is needed.

That's obvious. I tend to think that it's in poor taste to act like a jerk to people for no particularly good reason. I think that acting like an asshole requires some reason or excuse other than "I can". You, apparently, do not.

The rest strikes me as the typical evolution psych nonsense that we could go around and around and around about. A casual glance around our society makes it very clear that people routinely engage in recreational and reproductive sex with people who have far from the best genes for passing on. If creating the best possible offspring were important, our selection in mates would be far different than it is. At any rate, others are far more interested in debunking and discussing evo-psych nonsense than I am. Even if it were true that we're genetically or evolutionarily predisposed to find certain types of people less attractive than others, it doesn't excuse being an asshole. You're entitled to find whomever you want attractive, but that's not an excuse to insult them.

annalise said...

Possibly irrelevant, but I found you via feministing and I have to say that if I believed in marriage I would want to marry you.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Eric. I don't care for the censorship which states that if your opinion is not politically correct or currently fashionable then you are not allowed to say anything.

Yes, people can do whatever they want with their bodies. But we also have freedom of speech. I'm allowed to say I don't like it, just as they're allowed to do it. Neither Eric nor I have said these people should not be allowed to do what they're doing, you'll notice. I don't like being told that I'm not allowed to speak because my opinion is not approved.

And now I'm sure people are going to come tell me how much I suck because I said this. Go ahead...if I let that kind of thing bother me, I wouldn't still be goth after all these years.

Regards,
Creepy Doll

Sophia said...

You know, comment threads like the one on feministe are one of the reasons why so many women feel unwelcome in feminism. The whole point of feminism is about valuing women and men as equal individuals, capable of wonderful things and making their own choices, instead of judging them on the basis of superficial characteristics. Talking shit about a woman who you don't find attractive, on a FEMINIST website, is completely inappropriate. Thank you so much for pointing out how fucked up this is.

t525881 said...

Eric, we can all play the silly EvoPsych game of pretending our preferences are natural selection at work and therefore somehow more "correct." Watch:

I find these women appealing. They have set out to transform their bodies in ways there require great effort, longstanding determination and self-denial. Their bodies are a physical manifestation of these traits, and show their success, like a Bowerbird's bower. Because I can see their work ethic and determination, I infer that they will be good partners and parents.

Now, that's a stupid argument. And so is yours. In fact, they are the same argument.

Did you learn anything today, Eric? Good. Now thank me and go away.

Amber Rhea said...

LOVE this post, Roy. It continues to baffle me how so many people apparently think it's okay to make comments about a woman's appearance - no matter WHAT that appearance is. And the entitlement/self-centeredness of some men just floors me. Hello, it is possible that women make decisions about what to do/wear/etc. without considering the question of what your dumb ass will think of it!

Amber Rhea said...

Ah, it's like Bingo! Some variation of this "argument" always shows up:

I'm saying they are, in my and many others' opinions, ugly. And I'm trying to explain why I find them ugly. Why shouldn't I be able to say that?

Dude, nobody's saying you shouldn't be able to say that. But guess what, the whole "free speech" thing? It doesn't mean you can say whatever the hell you want and expect no one to say anything about it. You can say whatever stupid, bigoted, nonsensical thing you want, but you better believe that just as you have the right to do that, I and everyone else have a right to call it what it is: bullshit.

Anyway, too many people confuse "rights" with "relevance." So what if you do find these women ugly? And? What does that have to do with anything?

Roy said...

I don't care for the censorship which states that if your opinion is not politically correct or currently fashionable then you are not allowed to say anything.

Can we please let this meme die, already?

Nobody is censoring you. I haven't deleted anyone's comments. I haven't suggested that they weren't allowed to say something. I've stated that saying certain things, particularly on a feminist thread, and in a thread about the ways that we view women's bodies is shitty. There's a huge difference. I'm talking about what you ought to do, not what you ought to be allowed to do. You can do whatever the fuck you want. I'm not stopping you. But if you decide that calling women's bodies "disgusting" is on the list, then, yes, I'm going to point out that you're being shitty.

Yes, people can do whatever they want with their bodies. But we also have freedom of speech. I'm allowed to say I don't like it, just as they're allowed to do it. Neither Eric nor I have said these people should not be allowed to do what they're doing, you'll notice.

And neither have I. Nobody is taking away your free speech when they point out that your speech is hurtful.

I don't like being told that I'm not allowed to speak because my opinion is not approved.

Well, I guess it's a good thing that didn't happen,then, isn't it?

And now I'm sure people are going to come tell me how much I suck because I said this. Go ahead...if I let that kind of thing bother me, I wouldn't still be goth after all these years.

I assume the implication is "people tell me I suck because I'm a goth"? My point ought to be easy to understand, then. Wouldn't it be nicer if people weren't giving you shit just because you happen to dress a certain way or listen to a certain type of music? Your choice to be goth doesn't hurt them, and, indeed, doesn't impact their lives at all. They don't have to find it appealing, but I would think it'd be nice if, that being the case, they just ignored it and left you alone. Just because we don't like something does not mean that we have to lash out at it in hurtful and ignorant ways.

Brian said...

Eric, you aren't required to find anyone attractive. Feel free not to be attracted to whoever you feel like not being attracted to. THAT'S. NOT. THE. ISSUE.

The issue is that you are making your opinion of someone else's physical attractiveness a public concern. Its not. That's the point. Have whatever opinion you want to have. I'd even suggest that there is room to disagree with extreme body manipulation on other grounds. But don't do it because you think what you believe is sexual attractive matters on a societal level. Because it doesn't.

lady_beca said...

indeed roy, thanks so very much for this. i was ranting along a related line on my blog a few weeks ago, fuled by a post on shapely prose. and this just adds to the thought process for me. the bottom line is this, i think: attraction is enculturated and so cannot be singularly linked to "natural" or "instinctual" desires (are you reading this eric and crepy?), and it's maliable. and in most cases totally irrelivent. because the point is not that you find my fat body, or her thin body, or her muscular body attractive or pleasing... the point is that you find my body to be the house of a human being and thus desrving of erspect. period.

again, thank you for this. it's made of so much win.

Anonymous said...

Eric

"I'm saying they are, in my and many others' opinions, ugly. And I'm trying to explain why I find them ugly. Why shouldn't I be able to say that?"

No-one is telling you that you are not permitted to find such bodies unattractive. I myself don't find such bodies attractive, and that stands even though I can appreciate that within the context of the body building world they meet certain standards. That I don't find them attractive, however, doesn't give me permission to denigrate the persons who inhabit those bodies as persons. To say you find them unattractive, even ugly, appears not to be enough for you, You must, perforce, pass beyond a purely aesthetic evaluation to equating such bodies to "the sick and the diseased and otherwise obviously unhealthy" who, or so you claim, are for "most people" beyond the pale in terms of attractiveness. Of course your claim to some knowledge of what "most people" will countenance in terms of attractiveness rests unproven as does your claim that the underlying reasons for such prejudices are "clearly evolutionary". It is, actually, a good thing that "most people" do not feel as you do, or the "obviously unhealthy" among us would litter the streets for lack of loved ones and the medical professions to care for their "unattractive" bodies.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHA! Evopsych. Because there are evolutionary advantages to having, for example, sexual desires which exclusively dictate a desire for, say, defecation. Or being constricted to the point where one almost suffocates. Or balloons. Or anthropomorphic dragon/fox hybrids.

And of course there is not a single porn website dedicated to women with muscular physiques ANYWHERE because they are JUST NOT ATTRACTIVE. Because being physically appealing is something defined by a single set of characteristics that are the same for every person on the planet.

Add to that of course, the assumption that any of the above bullshit is RELEVANT to any discussion of body modification and objectification and I think we might need to make up a new bingo card.

xBunny (sorry, no blogger ID)

DaleK said...

I think people tend to be critical of anyone or anything that represents something different than themselves. People fear differences.

The thinking goes something along the lines of, "If you're not like me, I'm not like you. If I'm not like YOU then that makes ME different." We live in a society of conformists. Most folks just want to "fit in", be accepted. Be "normal". Be the status quo.

I think it's simply a defense mechanism of sorts. It demonstrates the "hater's" insecurity - their fear that maybe they don't fit in or conform to social norms/expectations.

This applies to the fat haters and the body builder haters or any type of "hater" for that matter.

Having lived in both types of bodies, I can tell you that someone is always criticizing me no matter what I look like, no matter what I do or don't do. I used to get the "looks" from average weight folks when I was over weight. I get the same sorts of looks now from the above average weight folks.

I can never seem to get it "just right". I can't please ANYONE it seems!

It used to bother me. One of the benefits of being a totally unhittable, grotesque, shriveled up middle-aged old lady is that I no longer care! ;)

Mary said...

This post is so essential! Thank you.

Theriomorph said...

...you're thinking of ... a response that consists of or is related to "Wow, that's gross/ugly/nasty/disgusting", take a moment and
Stop.

Don't do it. Just don't. Because the odds are really good that what you're about to do is make some ignorant, superficial insult about another woman's body.


Seriously. In 3D life, too, and for women not at an 'extreme' as well (because all women of all sizes and fitness levels are judged by a standard of relative fuckability).

This is a supportive and smart post, Roy - appreciate that you took the time to respond to that thread in this way.

copykatparis said...

Oh my god. I think you've just restored my faith in men. :-D

Диана said...

@Eric etc.:

Unless you are evolutionary biologist, don't make an argument based on evolution. Sitting through high school (or even college) bio is not the same thing as understanding all the intricacies of what natural selection and its implications for evolution are. HHMI professors doing research in this field wouldn't presume to understand at a level necessary for you to make the assertions you are making. Just because something exists doesn't mean there is an evolutionary reason for it. If you don't believe me, go read the literature. Or, better yet, back up your argument. "Evolution" is not a magic word that lets you say whatever you want to and be right.

Lara said...

Lymphopho,

I know you don't like descriptions of bodilly functions but your "turgid little wingdig" comment made me spew coffee out of my nose. Thanks.

Morganne said...

Amazing. This post just sums it all up. I need to tell everyone I know to read this post ;)

Thank you! Awesome blog!

mahnu.uterna said...

Hey, cool blogger-person! I just stumbled on your blog on a search for the lyrics to "It's Called Christmas," which I planned to rail against and spoof on my own blog. I see you are *way* ahead of me on that mission, so I'm going to post a link to that entry. Peace out!

attack-laurel said...

I found your post from a Feministing link (while browsing the Feministing archives for something entirely different!), but I had to stop and say thank you. It is in the comments to internet articles that the true ugly is often revealed.

morning-radio said...

Thank you, thank you for continuing to fight the good fight and make comments that not only correct other commenters' un-thought-out posts, but also further the conversation.

Ithaca Men's Rights said...

Nobody cares? You cared enough to go on a huge rant about it.

Roy said...

Aw, you got me. Well spotted!

projektleiterin said...

There have been a lot of comments already and I'm not going to read through all of them, so I might repeat myself, but there's one thing I would like to point out. You criticize these people for saying intolerant stuff, for not accepting that other people have other beauty standards. I'm sure you also have a beauty standard. Is it the average one (Natalie Portman is hot, Julia Roberts is hot, Selma Hayek is hot, etc) or do you think these bodybuilder women are hot? Is the kind of woman you want to date the average pretty one or do you favor women whose looks are unusual? My assumption is that you prefer the regular pretty one. This could mean that your biological instinct is stronger than your conscious mind. Or that you got brainwashed to like what everybody else likes. You might be consciously more tolerant, but subconsciously you will like what most other people like, meaning you have also given in.

And by the way, I'm sure guys who do bodybuilding experience the same comments about their body. I don't think this is a topic that should only be viewed from a woman's perspective, this is a general problem.

Roy said...

You criticize these people for saying intolerant stuff, for not accepting that other people have other beauty standards. I'm sure you also have a beauty standard.

I'm sure I do, too, but I don't think that my personal taste in beauty is relevant to anyone but me. And I especially don't see that I need to go out in public spaces and talk about women's bodies as being grotesque or disgusting. The point isn't that any of those people need to or should find body builders attractive, it's that a post talking about how it's interesting that women who have worked very hard to build a body that breaks out of the traditional gender stereotypes in some ways still engage in very gendered presentations in other ways, and that, all other things aside, the human body can do some incredible things turned into a game of "let's talk about how ugly these women are."

Is it the average one (Natalie Portman is hot, Julia Roberts is hot, Selma Hayek is hot, etc) or do you think these bodybuilder women are hot? Is the kind of woman you want to date the average pretty one or do you favor women whose looks are unusual? My assumption is that you prefer the regular pretty one.

I think you're making some pretty broad assumptions about a lot of things, there. "Pretty" is not an objective measurement. Obviously, I prefer to date women that I find attractive, but what I find attractive doesn't necessarily include every person that graces the covers of a flashy magazine. That's another problem--there's an assumption there that says that women who look a certain way are somehow measurably unattractive or that there's some factual standard of beauty that certain women fall within and certain women don't. I've known far too many people who found people "whose looks are unusual" more attractive than, for example, the women you mentioned for me to think otherwise.

This could mean that your biological instinct is stronger than your conscious mind. Or that you got brainwashed to like what everybody else likes.

Or it could mean that lots of people find lots of different things attractive, and you're working from the flawed position that "everybody" finds the type of women you listed attractive, and few or no people find the other attractive.

You might be consciously more tolerant, but subconsciously you will like what most other people like, meaning you have also given in.

Except that, again, none of this is about what people happen to like in their personal lives. I don't care if someone isn't attracted to body builders. Why should I? I care about the move from not finding body builders attractive to feeling the need to shame them for being body builders, for needing to insult them, for needing to wrongly assume that nobody could find them attractive, or that there's something inherently wrong with wanting to look like that.

And by the way, I'm sure guys who do bodybuilding experience the same comments about their body. I don't think this is a topic that should only be viewed from a woman's perspective, this is a general problem.

I disagree. I think that some men who body build get those kinds of comments, but I don't think they get them to near the same degree that women do, and I think that the point at which people will make negative comments is very different. A man can bulk up a lot more before he'll experience negative comments than a woman can. It's "manly" to bulk up to a certain degree.

snobographer said...

The flip-side of the same coin is comments like "I think she looks hot," and "I like a woman with curves/meat on her bones/muscles/[whatever]," "I'd rather do a woman who looked like this than the typical stick figure/bag of antlers/98-pound weakling/[whatever]. Still missing the point, but you see a lot of that too.

morethinking said...

Very intelligent post. It's amazing how people think they are making a difference just by saying something, but in reality, action speak louder (So goes the cliche).

Hadley said...

I'd like to start off by saying I'm a woman and an obese one, though I wasn't always. I also do not find the bodies of body builders very attractive, in fact I find them quite disturbing (I don't find my own body attractive of course, but I don't find it quite as disturbing), wether women or men, but especially women. I have to say that if a woman is involved in a public sport and allows her pictures to be put up on the internet or tv, whatever, it should be expected that people will make comments about it. I also consider myself a feminist and I'd like to say that this has a whole lot less to do with it being women, and a whole lot more to do with people simply seeing something that visually disturbs them, as shallow as that may seem, it is in fact a very involuntary reaction. Yes, it IS voluntary wether to say something about it or not, but again, if someone is putting themselves in a very public position they should expect that. In this case even more than celebrities that act or sing because these people are in fact getting notice BECAUSE of their very muscly bodies and for absolutely no other reason.

So these people are not really just criticizing woman's bodies and choices and insulting women they don't even know and devaluing their self worth which we as women and feminists know happens all the time...but really they are actually criticizing a lifestyle, which we all have the right to do.

Personally I don't believe in the sport of boxing or extreme fighting as a valid sport no matter that I'm a movie buff and what great final scenes it makes in movies and suspence, even if it keeps people in shape and even if it is kind of beautiful minus the really bloody hard hitting parts....because it is pure violence to me and to me that should not qualify as a valid sport.

I also have a problem with what i hear about people breeding horses to have thinner legs and ankles to be faster in the horse races, when they know that injuries will be much more likely.

body building is an extremely extreme thing to do to your body, especially a woman's body, regardless of the visual grotesqueness (or attractiveness if that is your point of view) and although that is a personal choice and no one is forcing it on anyone like with the horses, I think it's good for people to be able to speak up about these things, even if it starts with a very shallow thought. Maybe it will never change anything, and maybe it SHOULDN'T. we all have free will and these sports are traditions wether I like it or not.

I am not going to tell anyone what to do with their own body and I am certainly not disrespecting these women as people who are probably smart, kind, and certainly work damn hard, harder than I ever could, but I do have freedom of speech, even on a feminist blog.

Anonymous said...

Good day Ladies and Gent. Allow me to post this, and the the insanity/hilarity/murderous side of feminism, brought to you by BitingBeaver:

"Several years ago my accountability program found that the computer had been accessing pornography. Turns out it was my middle son. To date he has been 'caught' accessing pornography many times since then. He was 13 I think when this started.

"I banned him from the computer, but after a few months I would allow him to be on it for short periods of time. Each and every single time my son would access pornography within days (and sometimes hours) of being allowed back online. He was aware that he would be caught because the computers are monitored but he chose to do it anyway.

"Most recently my youngest son allowed my middle son to play with his PSP. Brandon (the middle child) used it to immediately access pornography online. The child is now banned from computers, video games and so forth. I've talked until I'm blue in the face, I've grown angry and yelled, I've cried when I was alone and when I was in front of him. I've had him read Dworkin, my site, and other places (namely OAG's site) and I still can't unseat this problem. He can recite feminist literature all day long, he can understand the tenets, the ideas behind it, how it links together but he will not allow this knowledge to stand in the way of his porn use.

"I don't think I'm looking for advice (I've tried everything I could think of so far) but more a place to simply be sad. I can clearly see why he's looking at pornography, I've figured all that out readily enough, but I can't seem to make it stop.


Her blog features BitingBeaver's fursona biting through the heart of patriarchy, represented by the wooden penis."I know, that as soon as my child leaves my home and moves into his own place that he will be looking at porn immediately. I know that I am raising a problem for women. I know that this child will one day grow and will fully absorb the messages that porn sends to men. I know that my child masturbates to degradation of my people (when I use that phrase I mean (womyn) and that with every orgasm he will further solidify his own hatred of and superiority over, women.

"I know that there will likely come a day where my son coerces a young woman into sex (rape) and there isn't a damned thing I can do about it. I look into the eyes of my son and they still sparkle like they did when he was a baby, but he's not a baby anymore, he's growing into a man and that man will have trained himself to degrade women before he leaves my home.

"As a radical feminist who puts women first I cannot begin to determine what I should do with regards to this issue. My heart breaks because there is nothing I can do to protect the womyn he will come into contact with.

"I have three boys. One of them is lost to me and as a mother and a radical womyn this breaks my heart in a way I can scarcely express. I don't know if it says something terrible about me, but you know what haunts me late at night? More than anything else? I know, in my heart of hearts that, knowing what I know now, if I had it to do over again I would have had that abortion.

"I also find myself blaming myself over and over again, even though that radical womyn inside of me stands up and yells that I'm placing blame in the wrong place. I'm not sure what I intended to say with this message. I began writing it this morning and put it away again and finally decided to finish it this evening. I think that maybe I just wanted to share, I keep trying with Brandon and I keep failing. He simply doesn't care. When he wants to jerk off, everything goes right out the window."

All of that was real. Goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Hey poster above me(ANONYMOUS July 16, 2009 1:02 PM):

It's obvious that you won't believe in anything other than misogynistic literature written by Men's Rights Activist extremists. Societal female degradation and objectification done by sexist men is The Way Things Are Supposed To Be Forever, huh?

And please do note that while TRUE insane/murderous radical feminists may exist, they are the exception and minority. Unlike the group of irrationally sexist anti-feminists such as you and your friends (and the majority of MRAs), extreme misogyny is apparently the norm.

Rick said...

wow what a shame :( Just could think or view this in the same light ..