This one’s an Ideologically Impure exclusive, because I have better things to do on my weekend than run around inside other people’s circular logic as they insist on making and re-making arguments I’ve already addressed.
But here, after a possibly exhaustive run of the pro-plain-packaging side of things in the comments of this post of mine at The Standard, are what I have seen as the key arguments in favour of plain packaging for cigarettes:
Studies show lack of branding makes products less appealing
Fuck me, it’s almost like branding and marketing are gigantic universal things which have been working on our brains since birth to incite specific responses.
“Aha!” I hear the pro-plain-packagers say. “So you ADMIT branding has an effect on people!”
Yeah, sure. When I’m buying cola, I will buy the cola I usually buy because I know the product well. But I’ll also avoid certain products based on their branding (Snickers’ Paul Henry ads, I’m looking at you) and branding has never been enough to make me buy something I didn’t actively want to buy.
And yes, there’s a lot of complex factors around “wanting to buy things”. But none of that actually links clearly to the idea, which plain packaging is based on, that shiny packet => makes you want to buy a product in a context-vacuum.
Once you’ve decided to buy a pack of cigarettes, sure. Branding, naming, all those evil mind-altering factors will almost certainly influence the choice you have already decided to make.
But the brand is a comforting familiar enabler of my addiction!
Yes, I understand that when you’re in a habit, be it physical addiction or just where you go for coffee every day, humans seek out the familiar.
But, as every smoker I know has said, you think people won’t buy fancy cigarette tins with branding on those? Switch to wanky cigarette holders for that totally evil cigarettes-are-glamorous vibe? Let’s ban all cigarette merchandise! You think people won’t decorate their boring plain packs? Especially, oh I don’t know, teenagers who are already expressing their developing identities by modifying every damn thing they own? Let’s ban pens!
Plain packaging doesn’t fix addiction.
But kids will be less likely to START smoking!
No. All the “evidence” produced says roughly the above: taking away the shiny branding makes a thing less appealing. The shiny branding might be a contributing factor to addiction continuing.
But I’m pretty sure no evidence, in the history of ever, has linked the specific colour and logo and image and wording on a cigarette pack to a person beginning smoking.
It’s another point I’ve raised which has conveniently passed people by: people smoke because their social groups smoke. Because their family members smoke. Because smoking gives them a five-minute break which the non-smokers at their work don’t get (yeah, lifelong nonsmoker still actually a bit bitter about that, me). Because smoking gets them out of the building. Because they’re a teenager and they’re going to do something they know is disapproved of because it’s disapproved of.
And yeah, once they’ve started smoking they’ll figure out what type of cigarette they prefer – menthol, low tar etc – and they’ll associate with a particular brand because that’s what they’re used to smoking, because that’s what their friends smoke.
The packaging is not making them start to smoke. Especially since you hardly ever see the goddamn packaging these days, ANOTHER POINT I KIND OF ALREADY COVERED, JESUS CHRIST.
But sometimes the greater good trumps individual rights!
Who the fuck is talking about individual rights? Not me. Unless we count the right to have our government treat us like we’re adults.
This isn’t me on some warpath about the right of smokers to walk around in tuxedo jackets made of Pall Mall packs. This is about just expecting that we make public policy on the basis of evidence, for actual health reasons, and not because we want to feel superior to smokers.
It’s also about treating teenagers like they too have dignity and autonomy. Yes, I know, teenage brain not completely developed blah blah – but let’s please look at our wonderful history of treating teenagers like they need to be baby-talked to, aka “we can’t talk openly about our teen suicide rates, it’ll just encourage them to commit suicide more.” Yeah, that’s done fucking wonders for our teen suicide rates. And our moves to stop evil teen drinking have been a roaring success, haven’t they?
What’s worked? Well, we’ve managed, over 20+ years, to change general public attitudes to drink driving. By putting out campaigns saying “hey, if you drink and drive, you could die. Or you could kill your mates. Or you could kill kids standing at the side of the road waiting for a school bus. Have a fucking think about that, OK?”
Oh, I’m sure ALAC would love to claim that its own “if you drink you’ll get raped” ads played a part, but I don’t think so. Best anti-drink driving ad of the decade? Ghost chips. Because it was clever, it was compact, and it basically served as a giant public “you are going to feel really shit if you let your mate drive home drunk” message. It challenged current attitudes by saying “it’s not dumb to stop a mate driving drunk, it won’t make you look like a party pooper, it’s the right thing to do so don’t shame people for it.”
It didn’t, you may note, say YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO DRINK, YOUNG BROWN MEN, WE WILL TAKE YOUR BEER AWAY FROM YOU FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.
Apparently I am practically alone in my understanding of why one works and one doesn’t.
I’m certainly not in favour of young adults doing shit to their underdeveloped brains. I just know, because I didn’t take the “turn 25 and forget was it was like to be 16” pill, that prohibition and scorn are far less effective at stopping behaviour than information and respect.
But if it won’t affect rates of smoking, why does the industry oppose it?
For fuck’s sake, people, in the past week we have seen Business NZ oppose a paid parental leave bill which does not affect businesses at all. Doesn’t change the total amount of leave an employee can take, doesn’t cost them any extra money. Still opposing it. Because … reasons.
So yeah, why would the tobacco industry oppose plain packaging?
Well, it helps if you remember that the Big Scary Tobacco Industry is actually comprised of individual companies who are in this thing called competition with each other. So yeah. Plain packaging is going to cost them money in terms of printing a different set of packs for the Australia/NZ market. Plain packaging could cost them money because if their brand identity is weakened, and they have no other avenues to advertise to people, no other way to grab the first-time smoker who will be starting to smoke anyway, see above, people are probably going to go for the cheapest brand. It doesn’t mean they’re not going to smoke, it just means the market share will shift to cheaper brands, so prices, ergo profits, could in all likelihood come down.
(And yeah, that’ll help people stop smoking.)
The packaging and branding of cigarettes is “integral” to the harm caused
This one came up when I proposed we paint all cars white and pull the insignia off them. Once people managed to address the point and not try patting me on the head to say “silly QoT, cars aren’t cigarettes!” the argument was thus: the colour of cars isn’t the same as the branding on a cigarette package.
No, I have no idea why this is, and would be quite happy to argue that there’s a lot of social memes and marketing-based entrenched ideas about car colour (red cars go faster) brand (Ferrari and Mercedes = Formula 1 teams ergo speedy, Holden = rally car ergo grunty and masculine) which could very well influence people’s decisions to buy cars which are far more powerful than they need to be, far less fuel-efficient than they could be, more likely to pollute our air and hearing, more likely to drive stupidly and be involved in accidents, perhaps.
I mean, that whole paragraph is based on just about as much evidence as anything I’ve heard about plain packaging.
This is just about your feelings!
Shit, I’m a blogger with an opinion on something. Lock me the fuck up. Yes. This is my opinion. I happen to think it’s pretty internally consistent, and all the people over at The Standard trying to baby-talk me about how I Don’t Understand Branding have not actually managed to demonstrate otherwise.
Here’s some more feelings: I’m worried about plain packaging. Despite BAT’s ludicrous advertising, I think the slippery slope argument works really well – it very well could be alcohol next, but I’m betting money on “junk food”.
Of course, the reason a lot of people don’t see that as a slippery slope is because they have no problem with telling people – especially people who they perceive as making choices they don’t like, who coincidentally are poorer, browner, femaler – that they’re not allowed to choose bad choices.
I guess we’ll just have to wait until it’s something they actually care about, then suddenly the shittiness of making regulations based on no evidence because someone wants to punish them might become clear.
Note on comments: while I certainly don’t get anywhere near the volume here that I do at The Standard, I am forewarning anyone who wants to try that I’m pretty much over every argument above and will delete attempts to relitigate shit I’ve already covered.
So, Business NZ has chosen to use the recent push for extended paid parental leave as a chance to warn “potential parents” that they might face discrimination in the workplace.
I’d personally like to be the first to welcome Business NZ to “gender pay gap 101”. Now class, I know the rest of us covered this at some point in the 1970s but let’s give the privileged doods some cookies for finally acknowledging that they’re a bunch of discriminating, women-hating bastards.
Oh wait, no, they’re pretending that they totally just came up with this idea and it has nothing to do with historical, often open discrimination against women in the workplace entirely founded on the premise that we’re nothing but walking uteri.*
They’re doing this by claiming that extended paid parental leave – which, as Sue Moroney is probably getting engraved on her forehead right now because she’s tired of saying it, does not extend the total amount of time a person may take for parental leave, just the paid portion of it – will threaten the job prospects of:
women aged anywhere from 15 to 45 and men of any age.
Yes, I’m sure we can all remember the dark days when no man could ever get a job because employers took one look at a male candidate and said “look mate, sure you’ve got the quals, but how do I know you’re not just going to swan off when your partner gets knocked up in order to play an active and meaningful role in your child’s earliest days?”
Here’s the real question.
Business NZ want to claim that:
extending paid parental leave could result in mums and dads having to be retrained because they lose their “sharp edge” by taking more time off work
Yes, mums and dads, shut up you feminists, Business NZ is a staunch supporter of men taking a more equitable role in childrearing.
But here’s the thing. What’s so special about time taken off to raise a baby?
Don’t people who go through illness, or suffer injury, need to be retrained? What about people who take extended holidays? People who are ordered to take extensive holidays because they’re such bloody hard/obsessed workers that they accrue ridiculous amounts of leave? People who take a few months off between jobs? Doesn’t the absenteeism caused by our wonderful Evil Binge Drinking Culture knock the sharp edges off a lot of people, especially young dudes?
Don’t we all need a little bit of retraining after our Christmas breaks? Personally Labour Weekend was enough to take a few sharp edges off me, is all I’m saying.
The answer is simple: babies eat your brains. Probably while you sleep, though I understand scientists are getting close to some really good data on babies’ abilities to literally suck neurons out of nearby adult brains with heretofore undocumented Village of the Damned-esque psychic powers.
The BBC tried to warn us, but did we listen? No. So now Business NZ, on behalf of all the mums AND DADS, SHUTUPFEMINISTS is going to save us from ourselves, by preventing parents (INCLUDING DADS) from having extra paid time at home with their babies which doesn’t actually have any impact on their employers at all because they could still take unpaid leave to make it up to a full year.
It’s the only logical answer. Because otherwise we’d have to believe that the national Voice of New Zealand Business is run by a bunch of reactionary conservatives so far up Milton Friedman’s ass that they literally cannot even understand that happy healthy babies = happy healthy future working units, and happy, relaxed parents = happy healthy present working units.
And that would just be silly.
*Of course, not all women have uteri, not all pregnant people or potentially pregnant people are women, but I have the feeling this concept might blow Business NZ’s collective doodly minds.
Admittedly, Lesley Soper doesn’t exactly come top of the list when you think “former Labour MPs”, but she was one of our elected representatives, and she was, probably more importantly, the Labour Party Women’s Vice President from 1995 to 2006.
She’s also a concern-troll style antichoicer.
Via ALRANZ, who are keeping tabs on the Southland Times letters page:
I was saddened to read the Southern District Health Board decision to begin an abortion service at Kew Hospital, especially at a time when boards are being forced to trim millions from budgets and when the Government Budget did not even cover health inflation.
During my tenure as an elected board member we received a non-clinical staff recommendation to institute this service.
We rejected it on the grounds of financial affordability, and because, along with several other competing new service proposals, it was not seen as a priority in public health or population terms.
Abortion services for people who are going to have abortions anyway but face a day’s travel and the associated costs of accommodation, childcare, time off work, and increased medical complications if they have to delay the procedure: “just not a priority”.
At a time when the board is threatening local maternity services like Tuatapere with closure, and following on from the cuts to aged care, I would have thought the announcement of this new service was particularly inappropriate.
There are several other much-requested clinical services that would seem a priority to offer or expand first.
Your unwanted pregnancy: totally less important than old people or Women Who Are Better Than You.
If there is additional money to spare I would also have thought it was better directed to positive action such as the prevention of unwanted pregnancies (for example, free provision of contraceptive choices) and support programmes for those who choose to keep their babies.
So if there is spare money, can we at least spend it on things Lesley Soper doesn’t find icky? Like contraception, which may create its own series of health issues for you, or which might increase your risk of domestic violence, or which might not work so you still have to have that abortion you were going to have anyway.
The board should be consulting with the Southland community on this decision, and on what the community sees as health priorities.
I urge it to do so.
And by “consult with the community” Lesley of course means “listen to the people who agree with me.” Just like her apparent buddy, Dr McLean.
It’s a bit fucking concerning to me that a person who for 11 years had – one assumes – a pretty substantial influence over the Labour Party’s policy around women’s issues (and although abortion doesn’t just affect women it is always stuck in the “women’s issues” box) is quite clearly anti-choice. Or at least willing to play the anti-choice violin if it allows her to get in some digs about a decision being undertaken by a DHB under a government led by the sitting MP’s party.
How many antichoice tropes can Lesley hit in one letter? Well, there’s “these silly women’s issues can wait until Serious Issues are dealt with” – entirely too reminiscent of Jim Hopkins’ utterly pathetic “ask the womenfolk, Bill, they’ll sacrifice their silly pay equality for the kiddies” (and how did I NOT blog that shit?).
Then there’s “ew, abortion is icky, spend the money on fluffy bunnies instead” logic. One recurring argument in feminist discussion of abortion is about whether we should ever talk about “wanting a world where there is no abortion”. Because to some – including me – we can never have that world. There’s always going to be “valid” reasons for abortions – saving the life of the pregnant person, for example – and there’s also the fact that the only “valid” reason I think a person needs is that they don’t want to be pregnant.
Nevertheless, we’re not talking utopias here. We’re talking about
positive action such as the prevention of unwanted pregnancies (for example, free provision of contraceptive choices) and support programmes for those who choose to keep their babies
Contraception fails. People should get support when they’ve had babies whether they ~chose life~ or not. And the unwillingly pregnant people of Southland will still being having abortions.
Third up, how about the creepy eugenics implications of this?
We rejected it … because … it was not seen as a priority in … population terms.
Yes, I’ve cut out some of the irrelevant chaff, but the original’s right up there if you want to question it. Fact is, this is one clear part of what Soper says. Part of the reason to deny Southland people easy access to the abortions they’re going to have anyway was because there wasn’t a pressing issue “in population terms”.
If anyone can find an interpretation of that which doesn’t boil down to “abortion would be totally cool if we were being overrun with undesirables ruining the gorgeous vistas” I am all ears.
But what I really want to take from this is the following, which seems to nicely fit in with what I suspected above. This actually has very little to do with Lesley Soper’s personal views on abortion, which (beyond obviously thinking it’s icky) she neatly avoids in her letter.
This is shallow, amoral, political point-scoring. She’s spotted a potential groundswell of opposition to Southern DHB’s plan, Eric Roy has presumably been silent on the topic, so here comes Lesley “I Love Southland SO MUCH” Soper, reminding us all how she’s Played Her Part in Stopping The Abortion Menace before, covering both the “unnecessary spending” and “but I’m still kinda liberal, so spend it over here instead” cards, and finally declaring that They Must Consult With The Community.
Lesley Soper: a former Women’s Vice-President of the Labour Party. Throwing women under the bus to try to chip away at Eric Roy’s thumping majority. Is it merely sad, or abhorrent? I’m going with both.
Two out of three support informed consent on abortion
DPF’s “surprised” comment:
I asked a couple of female friends what they thought, as I was puzzled that more women said they supported a law effectively making it more difficult to have an abortion.
The actual poll question?
“Would you support a law that would require a woman considering an abortion to first see a doctor, who is not an abortion provider, to be informed of the medical risks and alternatives to abortion?”
Hmm. Something seems wrong with this picture. TO THE SLUTCAVE!
Your first hint might be that Family First (who have followed the Kiwi Party’s cue in wheeling out a spokeswoman when convenient) immediately state this in their press release:
“Family First NZ is calling for a law which requires informed consent including ultrasound for all potential abortions, and counselling to be provided only by non-providers of abortion services. Parental notification of teenage pregnancy and abortion should happen automatically except in exceptional circumstances approved by the court.”
That’s funny. The poll question didn’t mention any of those things. 1950s-style-Families First wouldn’t be just using a strangely-innocuous poll question to pretend there’s more support for their misogynist bullshit than there really is, would they?
As a sidenote, you’ve got to love that condition on parental notification. Circumstances approved by the court! Because a teen in the kind of situation where it’s in her best interests not to tell her parents she’s getting an abortion totally has time and resources to get a fucking court order without them knowing! “Honey, why do you have a court date to get an injunction against parental notification of an abortion? You’re not going to have an abortion, are you?” “No, possibly abusive parents, of course not!”
The poll also didn’t say anything about how this might make it harder for women to get abortions. Funny, because if DPF were so concerned maybe he could have counselled his clients about how they might not get accurate results with such an open-ended, not-considering-the-consequences question.
Let’s remember that in New Zealand, even women who get abortions often have no fucking idea at the outset how long and how stressful the process is. So it’s no fucking good to say “oh, I guess this majority of people just considered that forcing women to see yet another medical practitioner, in order to check that they do really want to undergo the medical procedure they’ve already had to see two medical practitioners whom they’ve had to convince to liberally interpret the law’s definition of “mental health” grounds in order to get permission to have.”
But that’s hardly the only problem with the question. “Seeing a doctor who is not an abortion provider” is a wonderful little dogwhistle, particularly common to US antichoicers, that somehow Planned Parenthood or Family Planning are just raaaaaaaaaking in the cash, that every Pweshus Embwyo’s life makes them miiiiiillions, that doctors just love facing daily harassment and even the threat of death in order to make the faaaaaaaaaaat dollaaaaaaaaaaaahs out of abortions.
You do realise they could just go into Botoxing women’s faces, right?
DPF’s open-mouthed innocence is brilliant, though:
One salient question I would pose on this issue is whether such a procedure would actually lead to some women not having an abortion due to “better” information, who do currently have an abortion – or would it just be an extra hassle and cost for every woman seeking an abortion, and not actually change anything.
“Salient question”, DPF? Do your clients know that you’re undermining their entire rationale for forcing women to undergo ultrasounds – i.e. “women are stupid and seeing da widdle handies and feeties (which the vast majority of aborted zefs won’t have anyway) will totes change their minds because they must just think they’re pregnant with guppies.”
And a little protip: “informed consent” is not the same fucking thing as “an antichoice doctor shoving a probe into your vagina and saying “look there’s a heartbeat, boy this little guy sure is energetic, and did we mention [insert antichoice lie of preference here]*”” … especially when there is no proof it will change someone’s mind.
And a final note: when antichoicers say “alternatives to abortion”, they mean “adoption“. Because apparently the alternative to not continuing a pregnancy you don’t want to continue is … continuing a pregnancy you don’t want to continue. Presumably as long as your baby is “healthy” and “normal” and white.
*My personal favourite is “you’ll die of breast cancer!!!” and right here I think it’s pretty salient to point out that no New Zealand woman has died due to an abortion since 1980. Out of over 380,000 abortions. Abortion? Safer than pregnancy. But you don’t see Family First arguing that we need to warn women about pre-eclampsia for their own good, that might interfere with The Breeding.
I’m sorry, everyone.
I’m sorry Chris Trotter likes to wax lyrical, pretending not to know what people are talking about when they’ve taken the time and energy to provide all the relevant links to his own previous sexist whinging.
I’m sorry Chris Trotter has so little respect for women he thinks we can’t concentrate on more than one issue at a time.
I’m sorry Chris Trotter is so defensive about being called on his and the “mainstream” Left’s misogyny that he has to ironically apply a “you’re either
Nexus with us or against us” strawman on feminists.
I’m sorry if any of you sustained abdominal injuries while cackling* at Chris Trotter of all people calling someone else a “bully”.
I’m sorry if anyone had to waste 5 minutes on Google to reassure themselves that Chris Trotter has no idea what he’s talking about in regards to the US antichoice movement, which has been incremental and smouldering and very subtly engineered for the most part.
I’m sorry that my heretofore mild tone is about to be cast aside in favour of my usual “expletives-included” style.
Because fuck you, Chris Trotter. Fuck you for using vulnerable solo mothers as a fucking weapon against a feminist who actually gives a fuck about helping women take charge of their bodies and doesn’t cast them aside once they’re no longer useful. Fuck you for trying to turn NZ feminists against each other and using a woman public figure, very thinly veiled, as another weapon. Fuck you for fucking implying with scare quotes that that woman was somehow being dishonest in describing herself as a mother.
And fuck you, you pathetic, outmoded hack, for trying to say “that’s politics” as though you have a single fucking clue how to get the left back into power in this country. Let me know when that brilliant racebaiting manoeuvre from fucking 2009 starts paying off, mmkay?
But thank you, too, Chris. Thank you for continuing to demonstrate your utter irrelevancy. Thank you for proving for me (as though it needed to be proven) that feminists cannot assume the left are allies (hey Marty G, if you’re reading this, remind me why you were surprised my post was less than flattering of Labour?).
Thank you for the hilarity of the fact that you have no fucking sense of history, when you try to say that the people who stood up and made noise never achieved anything. I’ll remind every civil rights activist ever, shall I? Guess they should’ve just got up and asked quietly from the back of the bus if they could be treated like full, worthy human beings, etc.
You’re not scary, Chris. You’re not intimidating. You haven’t put me in my place. You’ve just made my entire argument for me. And I thank you for that.
A challenge, dear readers (which you probably shouldn’t take up if you are in any way low on spoons or wanted a restful Sunday evening): read any post on the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and take one (1) drink for every comment which states the shooter “must be nuts” or “is clearly insane” (double shots for wonderfully specific diagnoses like “evident paranoid schizophrenia”!).
Then, I only have myself to blame, looking back at the previous form of some.
Yesterday’s post crystallized a lot of things for me around how people think they’re not fatphobic or not engaging in fat-hate.*
Today’s lesson: you are.
Now, there’s probably plenty of you out there who don’t even think fatphobia exists or if it does it’s totes justified ’cause fatties are gross.
This actually isn’t about you.
This is about you, the liberal, the progressive, the feminist, the ally, the friend who sincerely starts sentences with some variation on “I don’t hate fat people but …” and who is, in fact, fatphobic and does, in fact, hate fat people.
It is fatphobic …
When you allow yourself a magic cut-off point at which a fat person is “demonstrated” to be wrong-fat.
Oh, but you get that some people are naturally big and of course you’re totally sympathetic to people who are fat due to medical reasons** and you’re accepting and progressive and non-judgemental … but come on, you’ve got to have some people who it’s okay to hate and judge and scorn!
No, you don’t. You are not being accepting and you are not being progressive and you are not just being “reasonable” because …
- they ate three pies in one sitting!
- they can’t even fit [supposedly huge size] clothes!
- they waddle, or limp, or dislike climbing stairs!
- you don’t find them sexually attractive (and hey, you LOVE curvy chicks!)
Guess what? All these lines in the sand which allow you to feel superior and get your hate on without compromising your progressive cred? Are fat-hating. Are passing judgement on other people’s choices without any consideration of their lives, their dignity, their experiences.***
And it is fatphobic …
When you start throwing around fucked-up words like “natural”.
Things that do not occur in nature: airplane seats, weight limits on mobility scooters, doorways.
Things that occur in nature: my ass.
Yes, of course the size of my ass and of all the glorious asses of the world will probably have been influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. But the fact is that those things don’t really fucking matter in the long run.**** The fact is, I have a big ass. And there is no “natural” way to decrease its size safely, predictably and permanently. And even if there were, who fucking cares, it’s an ass and it’s beautiful and it’s none of your fucking business.
My ass is “natural”, however it came to be the brilliant size and shape it is now. It will probably change throughout my life, due to lifestyle or environmental factors. It will still not be an argument for or against my worthiness and hotness as a person.
While we’re on the topic of “natural”, it is fatphobic …
To insist that every fucking conversation about weight showcase the bits that justify your fat hatred.
Another bloody fat-horror doco is on tv this week. My partner yelled obscenities at the ad we saw for it and then asked, somewhat rhetorically, why yet another Awful Fat Person Exists, Now In Vivid Technicolor doco was on our screens.
Easy, I said. By constantly putting fat people into the frame, fat people at the most extreme end of the population bell curve, society normalises that level of fatness. Like the headless fatties in every panicked news story, you are meant to see the image of that person and come to believe that that [horrible, ugly, awful] level of adipose tissue is what they’re talking about when they yet again remind you 1 in 5 New Zealanders is overweight or obese.
And these images and stories and panic get deeply embedded in our minds, and the fear becomes a part of our lives, and then every single fucking time there’s a conversation about fat acceptance or body policing or intuitive eating, it pops out in little objections like:
- “But what about people who are so fat they can’t walk?”
- “But some fat people are unhealthy!”
- “But you should be getting regular exercise!”
- “But obviously you shouldn’t just eat baby-flavoured donuts all day!”
Here’s what you think you’re saying: “We should just keep these important caveats in mind!”
Here’s what you’re actually saying: “Don’t get too comfortable, fatty! We’re willing to tolerate your silly talk for now, but just remind your body and dietary habits and exercise levels are still totally ours to monitor and judge! We refuse to let you just be positive and uplifting about body acceptance, and we’re going to burst that balloon at every opportunity! Don’t you dare let go of the fear that one day you too will be Inexcusably Fat!!!”
In short: it’s fatphobic, and you are fatphobic, and yes, your fat friends have seen through your protestations but just aren’t willing to confront you directly because it is fatphobic …
When you tell your fat friends you’re “not talking about THEM”.
You are. Even if only in the most indirect way, when you say all these things, you are reminding them that they are fat [and that being fat is baaaaaad], and you are are reminding them that their bodies are perceived as public property for others to assess and find wanting***** and you are reinforcing the constant stream of body-policing, diet-policing, and lifestyle-policing that they are already subjected to every waking minute of their lives.
You are talking about them. You are talking about me. Your intent is not fucking magic. So if you’re going to keep being fatphobic, at least do me the favour of quitting the pretence and join those guys up in paragraph three who are honest about their bigotry.
*And every other bigotry under the sun, but this is the fat edition!
**Especially sympathetic, even, because omg they’re sick AND fat and that’s terrible.
***Of course, taking these things into account would harsh your judge-squee.
****Which is of course not to say that we shouldn’t look at environmental things like poverty and nutrition and availability of ingredients/time/social support. Just that looking at those things should not be completely motivated by ensuring no child shall ever again face having a big ass.
*****Because of course even supermodels can never actually be assessed as completely fulfilling our bullshit beauty standards.
Allow me to let you in on a secret, dear friends: Zetetic’s “guest post by David Farrar“* on The Standard actually has nothing to do with health. And nothing to do with caring about young people.
But your Majesty! you cry. Isn’t it about exactly those things?
Alas no, dear readers.
You see, Zetetic’s post is all about how fat kids can’t run and fat kids need to put down the chips.
If Zetetic’s post actually were about “health” …
Maybe Z would talk about poverty.
Maybe Z would talk about the fact that even a family on a double income may not be able to afford the necessities of life at people who work 80 hour weeks probably don’t have the time to cook from scratch with local/organic/wevs ingredients every meal.
Maybe Z would talk about how our modern society has fucked with people’s connection to their cultures and food traditions in favour of consumerism and greed (but not greed associated with food).
Maybe Z would talk about the obscene markups supermarkets put on “healthy” foods and fresh ingredients. Or about the higher markup and lower availability of “healthy” foods which haven’t been liberally bathed in pesticides.
Maybe Z would talk about the stigma associated with obesity, with “over”weight or even with just being a little on the chubby side, and how maybe, you know, kids who are constantly shamed and criticised and teased – and whose shaming and teasing and abuse is fucking justified and sanctioned by adults – might not feel like getting dressed in a changing room full of their abusers and judgers, and might not feel like submitting themselves to further humiliation when they commit the cardinal sin of Running While Fat.
At intermediate, I had already undergone significant preparatory stages in my journey towards being a Fucking Hot Fat Chick and having Fucking Amazing Big Breasts. And burned into my memory for all time is the day the class was running short laps back and forth across the netball court and a boy pointed at my swaying bosom and laughed really nastily and called his mates over to share the “look, proto-QoT has boobs” joke.
Guess how keen I was to ever repeat that experience? The answer, internets, is not very fucking keen at all. I ended up so hating my breasts that I slept in a sports bra for three years. I did not remove my bra except to bathe. I was convinced that to be seen with visibly moving breasts was absolutely the most shameful thing I could ever do. I refused to run at top speed (not hugely fast, of course, for I am one of Nature’s Long Distance Walkers) until I was well into adulthood and priorities like “catch the bus and make it to work on time” took precedence – briefly – over shame.
And if I had read a post like Zetetic’s during adolescence, when I hated every mouthful of food I ate and certainly knew I wasn’t “healthy” – I couldn’t BE healthy, after all, I was FAT – well, I’m not going to say it would have been hugely traumatic. It would just have been another straw on the camel’s back and maybe the one that might have triggered an eating disorder or another depressive episode.
It wouldn’t have made me fucking thin, though.
No, Zetetic – and his many supporters – aren’t actually interested in how these things – poverty, capitalism, social pressure – actually contribute to actual health problems of which fatness may in some cases be a symptom. Z just wants to play know-it-all and get a warm tinge of superiority by hating on children – but just the ones it’s socially OK to hate on, I mean, we are talking about fatties who can only be fat because they’re stupid and lazy.
You may be sceptical, I know. Litmus test time!
the 12 year-old who can’t climb a flight of stairs without wheezing and going red in the face
If you’re a 9 year old and you want to stuff chips into your face until you’re obese
Oh, QoT! you cry. Zetetic is just concerned for the kids’ health! He’s just riffing on rightwing/libertarian freedom-of-choice dogma!
No, dear readers. You see, if Zetetic is “concerned” about that 12-year-old’s health – in this case apparently completely measured by ability-to-climb-stairs** – then Zetetic should also care enough not to use that child as a symbol of The End Of The World As We Know It. And how convenient for Z that “satirising” that particular style conveniently allows him to parrot classic fat-hating, bullying tropes about how fat people “choose” to eat themselves into Horrible Obesity!
Tell you what, inevitable concern-trolling objecters: a challenge! Criticise the earlier scrapping of Fruit in Schools or similar programmes … without making cracks about how Fat Kids Can’t Run or Poor People Are Stupid or Everyone Knows Fat Is Bad. You’ll get a fun mental workout and might learn something – about yourself and how big a bigot you really are.
(Zetetic, sorry, probably too late for you given previous form.)
*I imagine Zetetic also feels amazingly clever because, lol, David Farrar is fat, so that makes it, like, ironic!
**More on why this is full of bonus ableism fail in an upcoming post!
Two Hone Harawira posts in a row. I apologise. It’s Friday (well, technically Saturday at this point) and I’m cranky and in need of beddy-byes, however, so just a quick hit on the continuing saga of Mofo-gate.*
And it’s back to The Standard, where the usual suspects are still trying to act like the writers are a great hivemind of Newspeaking automata despite massive evidence to the contrary, and it’s Marty G, for whom I normally have a lot of respect.
And I don’t so much have any analysis to offer as some snark for this opening paragraph-and-a-bit:
Frankly, I don’t appreciate being called a white motherf**ker, by Buddy Mikaere and Hone Harawira. Before you start, that’s not to deny that Pakeha stole vast amounts of Maori resources despite the treaty signed between the Crown and iwi, and in spite of the Crown’s own laws. …
But none of that justifies calling my whole ethnic group motherf**kers, which is what Harawira did.
Of course, Marty. You’re not denying that Maori have been generally shat on, no, no, not at all, and certainly a post entitled “Harawira offensive & dumb. No excuses” is by no means privileging the icky fee fees of white men, and the phrase “Frankly I don’t appreciate” is by no means centring your experience and trying to claim a headmaster-ish highground in the tone stakes.
Tune in further down for some outraged rejections of rocky’s previously-linked linguistic arguments, hilariously followed by the first instance I’ve seen of someone actually reducing Harawira’s comments to “Goff should be shot”, adorable ellipses notwithstanding; and a nice piece of bullshit “I’m totes worried for him!!!” concern trolling.
All delectable cherries on top of a beautiful WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE FEELINGS OF WHITE MEN, THE NASTY MAN CALLED US NAMES parfait.
*I hereby claim dibs on this coinage, it’s so adorably kitsch.
You know it’s a bad fucking day when I have to agree, in part, with fucking WhaleOil.
Point the Zero: I’m actually not going to rehash his situation here, because then I’d feel hypocritical for slagging off Eddie at The Standard for Point One.*
That being said, Point the First: It’s a bit fucking rich playing the “we kept quiet about this because we are Such Noble Creatures” card as a prelude to:
but seeing as the Sunday Star-Times felt differently, a few comments.
It’s a lovely tactic of some of our Parliamentarians to try a variation on this spin, the “well I might call the member a liar, if it weren’t against Standing Orders” line. It’s childish bullshit and, in Eddie’s case, serves as a handy warning that things are going to go rapidly downhill.
Protip: if it weren’t okay to comment on it before, it ain’t okay now that one of the trashiest newsrags in NZ has decided it’s a good time to rake through their Most Unflattering Photos file.