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Southwest loses another customer

So yesterday for work I flew for the 8th time this month.  This time we flew southwest for scheduling issues.  Since I’ve flown so many times this month for once I didn’t spend the whole run up to the flight worrying that someone would harass me for being a fat fat fatty.  After cramming myself into a tiny American Eagle seat for an hour and a half I really wasn’t concerned.

Mom’s law states that whatever you’ve forgotten to worry about will therefore come to pass.  Good job being right again Mom.  (Icanhaz anxiety issues, yes.)

My work party of 4 walked up to the gate and had our little cards scanned.  I got mine scanned and then walked down the jetway.  And then there was a pause.  My boss did not follow for a while.  At the time I thought it may just have been them waiting for the jetway to clear.

However, once I had boarded and chosen my seat in a row with an empty middle seat it became apparent that that may have not been the case.  The gate agent, who reminded me of a brand new bschool grad with his first very important job in consulting, was on the plane.  He walked past me and asked if I could lower my armrest, which I did. Granted, there is a bit of a squish for me, but the armrest lowers and I fit and am not encroaching on the seat nearby. Of course I think this is no big deal, since I fit, and the plane has plenty of extra seats.

Well then later the gate agent is back and he speaks to me in what I’m sure he thinks is a “Very nice and helpful tone” but certainly comes off as more of a “I’m so excited to tell you what a fatass you are tone.”  He tells me that this time they have very kindly decide not to charge me for an additional seat on a half empty plane, but that his supervisor says I need to be able to lower the arm rest “comfortably.” He says that next time I should really plan on buying two seats.

I tell him there wont be a next time, thanks.

It now becomes apparent to me that they my boss may have been asked to pay for an additional seat for me.  He hasn’t said anything, but I kindof wish he would so we can get that over with.  So now I’m angry, embarassed, and concerned about my job.

Thanks Southwest Gate Agent Fatty Police.

What really gets me is that this guy clearly wasn’t very familiar with their policies, or he would know that if I DID buy two seats, the extra seat would have been refunded anyway since I didn’t need it. Also, the word “comfortably” does not appear on their persons of size policies.  They only state that the armrest must lower and that you must not encroach on nearby seats.  The fact that he acted like he was doing me some kind of favor by not charging me and publicly humiliating me was pretty infuriating.

So I anticipate that that will be my last ever Southwest flight.  My boss did observe that the service on that flight was not very “Southwesty.”  But perhaps they have changed their policies, and they are now more interested in humiliating fat people than providing good service.

(I know I promised to post more.  I will try harder. )


Monday’s stuff worth reading

So here’s a round up of stuff I found interesting/enlightening or whatever over the weekend and this morning.

Blogging GO

Occupy WallStreet

I”m planning to write a big post later to talk about Occupy Wall Street.  I have been following it pretty closely, watching their live streams.  One could say I am interested.

On a more Fat related note:

Paul Campos really nails some liberal pundits for their criticism of Gov. Christie.  Paul Campos is awesome. (Via Marilyn Wann)

Here is an interesting article about sexism in the workplace, as it relates to recent accusations of sexism in the White House.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Time for a third cup of coffee.  *Twitch*

Reason’s Voodoo Strawmen

A great video of Elizabeth Warren discussing debt and taxation has been making the rounds of late. Of course, the liberals love a video of a smart professorial type talking about why we all have to contribute to society, and conservatives pretty much hate it. Today there is an article in Reason about it. I think the most deeply out of touch part of the article is this:

But in August remarks about class warfare that have gone viral, the Democratic candidate for a Senate seat from Massachusetts is visibly seething.

That’s okay; everyone gets worked up now and then, and most of us are lucky enough not to be caught on camera at the moment. Funny thing is, Warren’s comments—her rage and resentment and sarcasm—have made her an overnight heroine.

Uhm, you guys, a Lady used SARCASM, and she may have RAISED HER VOICE. She should be ASHAMED.

The writer of this article clearly doesn’t understand the frustration that a lot of people on the left have been feeling of late. I say this not to be patronizing, because if he did he would not think it is so “funny” that Warren’s comments were so well received. People are frustrated, and she gave voice to some of those frustrations. I hope she never looks back on this video in shame.

I will also summarize some other points he made against this video for your enjoyment:

1. She is arguing against a straw person, no one says we don’t live in a community. I mean sure there are people who don’t want to pay as much to be part of that community, or people who want “the government” to be replaced by profit driven enterprises. There are also people who don’t want certain members of the community to have any particular power compared to other members of the community who have more money. But, of course, it is still a community!

2. It is offensive to hypothetical individual business owners to call them “you” instead of including them in “the rest of us.” Distinguishing an individual hypothetical business owner from the rest of the community is just like busting unions, except it is actually CLASS WARFARE, unlike the union thing.

3. When the richest fifth of Americans pay 64% of all federal taxes while poor people don’t pay any that hurts our feelings. But it doesn’t hurt our feelings quite as much as the fact that the richest fifth ONLY had 54% of total us income in 2010, that hurts our feelings too much to even mention. Also, sales taxes TOTALLY don’t count as taxes because everyone has to pay those.

4. Nobody minds paying taxes for roads and police and stuff, that’s crazy. We just mind paying taxes for things like preventing our fellow citizens from starving or being homeless. They should get a job, there are plenty of jobs they are not qualified for because they couldn’t afford the education, so really, hop to it.

5. Something possibly valid about schools and how we could try to improve efficiency there through validated methods that work. Though it is possible that improve efficiency actually means fire teachers and or pay them less. (I”m not even sure paying them less is possible at this point.)

6. Elizabeth Warren clearly hates employers. She wants them to pay taxes, But the poor employers are already providing jobs and pensions for their workers. Well that is they are providing pensions for their workers until profit margins get tight, and then the pensions are gonna go. Also the jobs might go too if the employer can find someone to do it cheaper somewhere else. Maybe the workers will just have to work twice as hard for less money, gotta make a profit y’know? Did someone say Union? You’re fired.

7.Steep taxes on rich people aren’t fair because those rich people are already giving back just by being rich around other people. They employ all those lawyers and accountants to avoid paying taxes. How can you expect them to give back in any other way besides employing all those people? Plus they totally donated a couple hundred bucks to an art institute the other day. Your property values have probably gone up just because of all the rich people around here. Oh you can’t afford to live here anymore? Sorry.

8. Maybe she’s just too sheltered to understand our enlightened point of view about how rich people should always be allowed to get richer, and richer. We can’t limit their richness, or they will stop being rich and then where will we be?

All snarkiness aside, I do think it is important to have discussions about how we can improve our systems. It is important that programs like education and welfare are better and more efficient.  But the reason that is important is not to save money so the rich people can pay fewer taxes. It iso that those programs work better.

If they do save money, and then taxes can be lowered, that would be great. But republicans generally haven’t been proposing reforms and improvements in efficiency. They’ve been proposing blanket cuts, that would result in people losing services and losing their jobs.

Zombie Fatistician – The Resurrection

I don’t even want to look at how long it has been since I updated this blog. I had declared it dead, and now it is going to rise from the dead in some kind of zombie form.

I find that recently I have thoughts. (BRAAAINS) I would like to share those thoughts, on the off chance that someone will actually care. The main caveat I’m gong to make here is that most of these thoughts are not really about Fat Acceptance. Politics, economics and feminism are important to me as well and I think part of the reason I stopped posting is that most of the things I had to say about FA were being said by someone else, better than I could.

Chances are this will still be true of anything I have to say about non FA stuff. However I’m going to post anyway, if only so that will keep me from trying to discuss it with my argumentative work colleagues. (Seriously they will argue about ANYTHING. We spent a half an hour seriously debating the appropriateness and rationality of shoes being placed on the lunch table. Real life trolls. I finally cut through all the “rationality” BS and pointed out that I don’t care if it is perfectly rational, don’t put your shoes where I’m about to eat, end of story.)

Here’s my plan, I’m going to post it here vaguely hoping that it will help me feel motivated to do it.
1. Share regular links that I find interesting. This will probably be from my reader news feed. I will try to post stuff that’s not already being posted a million places. (I’m also going to update my blogroll, so people who are interested in what I’m interested can read what I am reading and maybe recommend stuff that I have not yet read.)
2. Post about stuff. Any stuff.
3. Moderate Comments. For now comment moderation is on and to those 7 people whose comments NEVER posted, I’m sorry. I’m going to keep it pretty locked down for a while because there is an extremely minute chance that some new people will read this blog.

My Stereotypical Feminist Manhating Post

There is really nothing I hate more in this universe than seeing research being used to prove something it doesn’t actually prove.  For all that I am an angry man hating feminist and I obviously spend a lot of time hating on men.  (In fact just last night I went into a Feminist Bezerker Rage at a group of guys.  If I wasn’t such an evil man hating bitch I would obviously be thrilled to listen to hours of conversations that amount to “Girls do this but not that and therefore ruin EVERYTHING.”  but my rampant  misandry prevents this.  I would like to add that I did not look that word up.)

But really, the thing I hate more than all men evah is research being twisted to prove a point.  Case in point is this recent article at Scientific American that has been making the rounds in a few spots.

The post itself is largely about the author throwing a hissy fit because someone said something he said was misogynist and he is upset.  Blah blah blah, do not care about internet kerfluffle.  I am not here to pass judgment on whether his previous statements regarding bodily fluids were sexist and whether the person who called him out was justified.  NOT INTERESTED.

What I am interested in is how someone who is supposed to write for a science magazine can misuse research like this.

He cites a paper where researcher used Implicit Attitude Testing to evaluate hidden biases against feminist attitudes among college aged individuals.  The paper just essentially confirms that stereotypes of women’s right’s activists that have existed in some form or another since women were fighting for the right to vote STILL in fact exist (I know, we are all shocked) even though they may not be overt.

However Bering seems to be making a different conclusion from this research than “Some populations still have a negative view of feminism.”  Several times he implies that feminists themselves are the CAUSE of these negative views:

If you’ve ever wondered why some feminists have earned themselves such a bad name, and are at all curious about how some intriguing new experimental research demonstrates that this negative view of feminism is more than just my personal opinion and in fact runs very deep in the modern psyche, then read on.

Even worse, though, by all appearances the Nagoskis of this world—those radical, hot-headed, loudmouthed caricatures of blank slate feminism—are giving the feminist movement itself a bad name. A really bad name.

Jessica Jenen and her colleagues reported the results from the first Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) on feminist concepts, and what this study showed was that the most obnoxious, peevish and humorless feminists were sadly defining the movement in the minds of thoughtful onlookers.

The last quote above is perhaps the most egregious example of how  Bering is mangling this research.  As far as I can tell IAT study shows that these negative attitudes exist, not that these attitudes are in any way justified or based on any kind of experience with actual feminists.

This study does not prove what causes these negative attitudes, only that they still exist in the psyche of those who were studied.  And yet this is an indictment of feminists everywhere.

Bering easily draws the conclusion that feminists ourselves are causing the negative attitudes against us without so much of a word as explanation.  He provides no evidence for this besides an apparent twist of logic that if a negative attitude toward a non privileged group exists then it MUST be caused by the actions of that group. 

I think the most misogynist thing about Bering’s article is his implication in this article that feminists should conduct themselves in a way that Mr. Bering and the rest of society finds appropriate in order to be taken seriously.  We should never be radical or say anything that might cause offense to men, or we are perpetuating negative stereotypes and hurting their own cause.  Feminism is apparently a great idea, as long as feminists are feminist in a way that everyone who is not a feminist finds appropriate.  

After all we wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s precious fee fees while we try to achieve actual equality.  I think our new motto should be “Feminists, never challenging your worldview or making you feel uncomfortable in any way since 1792.”

Fat TV

Shorter CNN:

New show about fat kids could be appeal to fat teens we are concerned that it may forget to remind them to hate themselves. Oh.. uh.. For their health.

They pretty much exactly say this actually:

But will “Huge” provide role models for overweight kids and inspire them to lose weight and get healthy? Or will the show skip obesity’s physical risks to focus on thepsychological and social drama?

Because obviously a show about fat kids has to be about how fat kids are losing weight, I mean like, why would we want a TV show with a bunch of people just being fat at us? That sounds terrible.

I don’t know if I will watch this new show, I’ll probably catch an episode. But to be honest it doesn’t really appeal to me.

I think that the portrayal of marginalized groups in any form of media is INCREDIBLY problematic. Not just fat people, but pretty much any people. It’s sortof a damned if you do damned if you don’t prospect. No matter what choice the show/film/book makes their is probably another better different choice that some member of said marginalized group will wish they had made.

I remember some conversations that happend when The Princess and the Frog came out about the race of the villain and the prince, and it struck me that even if they had moved the races around arguments could still be made against those choices. No matter what they do someone will be unhappy.

And what is happening with fat people on TV right now is one of those choices that makes me personally unhappy. We now have a whole “Fat TV” sub genre. Rather than creating shows that incorperate fat characters in a sympathetic and non stereotypical way, we have shows that make fat the central issue of the show.

I do think it is GREAT to have more fat people on TV, but I’d rather have fat people incorporated in such a way that it wasn’t about them being fat. I mean, being fat should come up, but it should not be their whole deal. Say what you want about GLEE, but I actually appreciate that there are a lot of plots involving Mercedes that have nothing to do with her being fat.

I watch a lot of procedural stuff, Leverage and Lie to me are this summer’s shows, House, Bones, I don’t remember my DVR list right now. Anyway, the thing about these shows is that they sometimes have fat people on them, and whenever there are fat people on them the show is then ABOUT THESE PEOPLE BEING FAT.

No one is just, y’know, a lawyer investigating a government coverup of tobacco industry crimes, who also happens to be fat. Or even just a CSI who is fat, Fatness always has to factor into the plot or be a big part of their identity. And I guess everyone who is not a thin able bodied white christian straight guy gets this too some extent.

It still drives me crazy. I don’t want to see shows specially made to talk about fat, or special fat issues of my favorite shows. I want fat people to show up on TV the same way they do in real life. (About 30% of the time.)

On fat girls and doing it

I really loved Silvana’s post at TigerBeatdown about the recent study indicating that obese teenage girls are more sexually active than their normal weight counter parts. Silvana made some really great points about the pile of steaming crap that was the MSNBC article, and I wanted to make Just One More.  (A point that is so completely horrible I am sad that I even thought of it, but it is a reflection of my life experience, and so here it goes.)

A quote from the end of the MSNBC Article is what made me think of it.

“It’s not as though every overweight girl is having sex just because she’s overweight,” Chernick added. “And, of course, the flip side of that is that parents shouldn’t assume that they don’t have to worry if their daughters are normal weight.”

Perhaps another potential contributing factor to fat girls being more likely to have sex is because parents and other adults in their lives are less worried about them.   If parents view their daughters as overweight and therefore less likely to be attractive to boys it may be that the parental behavior towards overweight daughters is different than normal weight daughters.  They may be less protective of them, less likely to talk to them about sex (and using protection) because they see them as less likely to be sexually active.  And this inaction can then gives the girls more opportunity to have sex and to potentially do so in risky ways.

I know this sounds terrible and I’m not saying that really this is all the parent’s fault.  All of the things that Silvana mentioned, poor body image, early maturity, slut shaming regardless of their actions are probably all more likely reasons for the change in rates of sexual activity.

But for girls at the higher end of the fat spectrum I think their adolescent experience might be not always be about slut shaming and but more “who would want to have sex with you” messages.

A story from my childhood, once upon a time in a 5th grade class far far away I was pretty much hated by all.  I think the comments on my “attitude problem” started around then.   I had a small group of girlfriends and we generally left the rest of the class to their own devices.  One day on our return to our classroom I remember my classmates started making comments to me like “Nice” “I didn’t think you had it in you” “Good going.”  And after some breif detective work I learned that because some of the boys in my class were mad at another boy, they spread a rumor that he had slept with me.

The sex part was so ridiculous to me even at the time, I mean I was 10, and I was  so catholic it hurt.  What was upsetting was that it was not so much about me being a slut, but about him being disgusting for being willing to have sex with me.  How’s that for fucked up ideas about your own sexuality?

But I am pretty sure if I had ever wanted to have sex before I had my first boyfriend I probably could have gotten away with it if I had wanted to.  (Not after that of course.)  My parents never talked to me about sex.  They never told me that guys would try to take advantage of me or anything like that. Most of my friends were allowed to go pretty much anywhere as long as I was around because I was large and can fend off dangerous menfolk.  (No one ever worried about the dangerous menfolk being interested in me.)

There was a friend from my jr high/highschool  who would also have been classified as “Obese” at the time.   The way her family treated her was terrible, I definetly recall hearing one family member of hers tell her to “Go eat something” when she was upset.  I am pretty sure that even if she’d found like 15 guys to have sex with her in front of her parents, they wouldn’t have believed she was having sex.

No one was worried about her having sex, they were worried about her being fat.  (I think MY Mom was more worried I was a Lesbian or that I was so fat I was going to DIE ALONE.)

So what I’m saying is I think that while young thin girls are seen as potential targets and victims of an overly sexual culture by the adults in their lives,  I think some fat girls are seen as future spinsters.  There is no worry that they are going to be a slut, because who would want to have sex with them anyway?

And this gives those girls an increased opportunity to act on whatever sexual desires or emotional needs or whatever they have that they think sex is the answer too.  I know this fat girl for one did a lot of her sexytime over the intertrons.  When I was 12 I was pretending I was 14 and 15 and having cybersex with guys on the internet.   And maybe that sounds terrible to the ears of parents of 12 year old, but I had a lot of fun and it never scarred me in anyway.  (Though i realize now how old some of those people I was talking to probably were, and that’s a little creepy. And I am glad I listened to my father about the whole no giving out phone numbers or addresses or real names thing.)

As much as I think the framing of this MSNBC article was awful, in a way I think it is good.  I think it is an excellent reminder that fat girls are sexual beings too and that if we are going to police the behavior of girls to protect their precious virginities  from whatever horrible thing happens to them when they have sex (locusts? we run out of ritual sacrifices? I don’t know) then we should be policing all of them, not just the ones we think are mad hotties.