I feel like I end up writing some kind of definitive conclusion at the end of my posts: I used to think that, now I think this, and the lessons have been learned, thank you very much. But I want to talk about something that I just have no idea how to sum up, or even what I think very clearly about it. I am hoping to process.
I am going to write about sex, so if you know me, and don’t want to read about my thoughts about sex, you might want to stop reading. (Also, be forewarned that there’s some graphic descriptions of fat hatred below.)
So the other day I was looking on a website described as a Facebook type site for kinky people (I am being circumspect intentionally.) I am not exactly sure I would describe myself as kinky, although perhaps kink-friendly and kink-curious would fit the bill. Primarily I was looking because having had this difficult relationship with my body all these years, I don’t feel like I am always in my body during sex. Doing yoga, sure – I can really take up space and fill up with breath and be right there in the moment (at least for a moment), but sex is harder. I have been sexually active for about 20 years and often still feel as if I am observing from afar or performing. I am often not embodied during sex, because I still haven’t entirely convinced myself that I can ask for more from sex than using it to prove my worth as an attractive woman. So I thought that this website might be a good place to look for a community of body-positive people and find some resources for getting into my body during sex.
One of the things I did was specifically search for the word “fat,” to see what came up. I realize I do this a lot with any sort of new experience – try to suss out beforehand what kind of reception I might get as a fat woman. Is it even worth trying out? Is this a safe place for me?
I found fat acceptance groups, which was reassuring to see, and fat fetish groups, which I expected, and even found groups like “no fatties wanted, only hotties!” – the existence of which, having perused Craigslist for more than three minutes, didn’t surprise me at all.
But then I found some groups I had no idea existed, and which really knocked the wind out of me in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. These were groups like “fat pigs and the people who love to abuse them.” Where women with bodies like mine post invitations like these:
“Feel free to leave humiliating comments and share my pics with anyone who needs a laugh! Please point out to me all of the flaws with my body in merciless and cruel detail! If you send me a humiliating message, please really tell me in detail everything about my body that is unattractive…. If you are not into BBW’s at all, then please tell me that too. Make it perfectly clear that you have zero interest in me sexually. Tell me how I am WAY too fat for you to ever consider having sex with and how disgusting my body is to you. Feel free to use my pics as a joke to gross out your buddies.” (This is just a tiny sample of what I found.)
I felt physically sick after reading this, because these are the words and opinions that I have tried to avoid my whole life, the kinds of things I have feared my whole life. I remember dating Jeff, my first boyfriend, and how much he loved when I would perform for him sexually yet he would be embarrassed to introduce me to people in public. How he would cry tears of self-pity because he wanted a girlfriend who was small enough to sit in his lap, and yet he wound up with me. (And I remember how I stayed with him for years after that, even after he broke up with me and he slept with me on the side.) I remember the men who would pick me up at bars and act as if they were attracted to me until they got me where they wanted me, until they got what they wanted. I remember my sexual assault.
My husband and I have been together for seven years, and I think that it has only been since the last year that on some level I have stopped waiting for that dangling sword to fall, for him to tell me one day, by the way, I think you are so hideous and worthless and disgusting and I never loved you and you were a fool for thinking anyone could ever love you.
So when I look at these fetish posts, I have an immediate recoil – how can someone invite this kind of abuse? How can someone respond sexually to this kind of abuse? It is something I absolutely never want to have anywhere near me, ever again.
But I wonder about the woman who posted these words. Maybe she is tired of waiting for the sword to fall, wondering when the cut is coming. Maybe it gives her power to decide when and how this denigration of her body that she feels is inevitable will occur. Do the words lose their sting when they’ve been requested?
(And what of the people who want to deliver this abuse? I don’t even know what to do about that, not today.)
I still feel like I’m judging her, and I don’t want to. I have some submissive tendencies in bed, and I can easily understand them as my own imperfect way of dealing with a lifetime of misogynistic messages. Everyone copes in their own way (although I don’t want to position kink as a mere response to societal messages). But I just really want a world where people don’t have to preemptively hate themselves because it’s better than waiting for the inevitable.
(So this is me thinking about it – I would love to hear from people who have thought these things through in deeper ways than I’ve been able to accomplish here. )