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03 February 2010 @ 12:09 am
It's always a good thing for someone to turn a critical eye on the construction of fatness in literature. We need this critical eye desperately. Good work, Beth Carswell!

I'm unsure why someone who's read Marilyn Wann's Fat!So? -- I'm assuming Carswell has read it because she uses its cover image at the top of the post -- is still using the word "overweight." Carswell clearly knows some fatpol 101, and "overweight" isn't a neutral word, it's an anti-fat word. "Over" what weight? Inherent in the word is the notion that fatness is bad.

Quote: In a world that is (all too slowly) more often refusing to accept prejudiced stereotyping of other varieties, fat people seem like the last largely socially acceptable target of the bigot.

I appreciate the "all too slowly," but I will say it until the fat cows come home: fatphobia is not the last socially acceptable prejudice. Nothing is. Racism is largely socially acceptable. So is hating old people, and trans people. And on.

Quote: Even William Golding's brilliant Lord of the Flies had an easy time with Piggy, the overweight, bespectacled asthmatic boy who was fragile and shrill, weak and soft, and eventually killed off. Would Piggy have been as cringeworthy and pathetic had he only been asthmatic and worn glasses? His softness, his fatness, seemed necessary to evoke as much revulsion and pity as he did.

Something's going on in that section that I can't get a handle on. The fatness brings the repulsiveness, yes. The asthma and glasses bring the weakness. But using glasses and asthma in literature this way isn't any more okay than using fatness.

The ending gives me joy: Will authors ever take to making a character fat just because, like having freckles, or blue being their favorite colour, or does it always have to serve a bigger purpose? Will there ever be a day when a character is fat without it carrying so much weight?

Critical eye for the big, big win. Now bring on the intersectional fatpol.
ex_gnomicut on February 3rd, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
Good for Carswell for the article, and super-double-good for you on respectfully pointing out her repeated failures of intersectionality.
Rebecca Rabinowitzdiceytillerman on February 6th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
It aches me to offer any criticism at all when someone critiques portrayals of fatness, because it's so incredibly rare. But oppression olympics, even the most well-intentioned, aches me too.
(Deleted comment)
Rebecca Rabinowitz: Bea and Mr. Jonesdiceytillerman on March 1st, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
Hi ayshalak08,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm very gratified that you like the article.

I couldn't help you at all unless you told me a whole lot more -- what class is it? in what discipline & department? what specifically is the assignment? -- but honestly, I probably can't help you anyway. My guess is that the assignment means for you to analyze the influences and aims that you can find in the article itself, and then by doing further textual research. I wrote the article, but if you can trace textual influences on my work and make a solid argument, you have as much right to answer the question as I do.

Also, unless the assignment says explicitly to interview a critical author, my answering would only be my doing your homework for you. :)

Good luck, and have fun! Queer theory has tons of room for intellectual play.
ex_writingh on March 6th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
Great post -- thank you. And I'm glad to see articles like this, even though 101-level mistakes make me wince.

Do Piggy's asthma and glasses link into ableism, maybe, and the cultural trope that it's better to be dead than to live disabled? I agree, there was a key intersectionality opportunity there that was missed.