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Sep. 24th, 2001 | 10:44 pm

Well its been a while since I've posted anything of interest here.

The most exciting things I've done in recent memory were to go to one of the last independent bookstores in Los Angeles Midnight Special Books with rampling. I was shocked to find a book store actually liberal enough for me. One of the more interesting magazine titles I came across was (I think) American Socialist Review. They were selling copies of the communist manifesto along with the US constitution.

I ended up buying about a $100 worth of books and magazines. The first one I've been reading is called Listen Up: voices from the next feminist generation Barbara Findlen, editor.

One of the first essays that I read was "The Body Politic" by Abra Fortune Chernik It was the story of one woman's experience with Anorexia and society. She lost a number of years of her life battling to feel control over her body by starving herself. Eventually she ended up in the hospital nearly dead from starvation.

One of the turning points for her as she moved her understanding of being Anorexic from personal to societal, was when she had gotten a pass to leave the hospital and go to a mall with her mom. Toward the end of her visit she noticed a Test your Body Fat exhibit at a fitness store. So she tried it.

Age: 21
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 99
The information was fed into a computer plus the results of some body fat sensor. The guy read the results "Only 10 percent body fat! Unbelievably healthy. The average for a woman your age is twenty-five percent. Fantastic! You're this week's blue ribbon winner."

She stared at him in disbelief. Winner? Healthy? Fantastic? She answered him with "I am dying of anorexia, don't congratulate me."

There's something seriously wrong with a culture that considers a woman whose starving herself to death to be healthy. She's managed to pull herself away from societies clutches but so many other women are still trapped into thinking that thin is the only way to be.

The current best theory on why its considered good for women to be wasting their time wasting away is that it prevents them from being threatening. A weak, half-starved woman is not going to be physically strong, she's not going to be able to think well, though she might have more freedoms she's still under the patriarchies control.

This does seem to me to be one of the important struggles for women in America is to fight off these cruel chains of physical self-hatred. One's body doesn't determine one's worth. (Of course I'm reading this because I too am a woman living in this rather anti-woman society and have picked up this fat is evil meme.)

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Sep. 25th, 2001 12:19 am (UTC)

but the idea that women try and be medically anorexic to be weak doesn't match my own observations

Perhaps a better statement of the theory is that it's not that women are trying to be weak, it's that society (or was it conservative white men in positions of power that) views physically weak women as being less threatening than a physically strong woman and so holds thin and weak as the ideal in the world of media and advertising.

One possible counter to the thin as a sign of wealth argument for women is that although the ideal man lacks any body fat he is still supposed to be muscular. Women are supposed to be smooth and lacking obvious muscle development.

Of course the descriptions I've heard of people who were at or nearly at some form of eating disorder was that it was about finding control over ones life. I'm not sure how that actually relates to either explanation.

One of the things I'd learned in a book called "The Body Project" was that in the diaries of girls from the 1800's they were much more concerned about being better people, by doing volunteer work, helping their church, developing themselves morally. Girls now though offered a wider array of opportunties spend far more time hating themselves for being too fat or other failures of their physical body.

Its stories like that which suggest that the tools of social oppression of women somehow moved from institutionalized limits of their choices to an internalized oppression based on self-hatred.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Sep. 25th, 2001 11:54 pm (UTC)

One of the things about eating disorders as a method of control is why is that the popular solution as opposed to becoming a fanatic about self-defense? (A solution that some of the more consciously feminist women who were abused turned to.) For some reason it's important for women to be small and to not take up much space. Perhaps if they're good girls they'll be safe from harm? Especially since women are told that they can't successfully fight back.

As for the muscle bound men in the gyms... I'm under the impression that gay male culture is nearly as obnoxious about men looking a certain way as heterosexual society is about women looking a certain way.

A really interesting detail that clare pointed out at some point was that gay mens magazines have loads of ads for liposuction and fitness while lesbian magazines have gobs of ads for therapists. It must be one of the lesbian advantages that the culture places a premium on emotional development.

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