Asking for it

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. )

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Asking for it

  1. I have to agree with you Claudia. It took me YEARS to accept my body. I am 30 years old now and I have finally reached a point of acceptance that there is nothing wrong with how I look naked. That I am chunky AND cute. And that there are lots of men in this world who think I am very attractive. I wish I’d had this kind of esteem when I was in my early adulthood.
    I think that post is pretty disturbing. I can be into a little s&m now and then, even kink – friendly as you so awesomely put it. But this is a scary line to cross.
    You are a beautiful woman. Don’t be afraid to just let go and be who you are. Sex is so much better that way. This is the first time in years I have slept with someone while sober and being in it. Trust me, when you do it will be amazing!

  2. Kate

    I thought I was the only person in the world who has been waiting for the sword to fall. I married 10 years before I finally accepted the fact the actually loves me, regardless of what I look like. It still surprises me.

    I found myself judging the woman too.

  3. Sarah

    A lot of people find very mild forms of humiliation to be stimulating – some dirty talk can be that way, or even just being given orders. Or someone might enjoy a light spanking for the feelings of humiliation rather than the physical feel. This is just a much higher degree of the same thing. I did cringe initially and nearly stopped reading, but in thinking about it I realized its no different from many other things that people sexualize that don’t turn me on.

    You’ve fought hard to win self-acceptance, and here’s someone who revels in the exact opposite. Of course its thrown you for a loop. If you read the exact same type of post, this desire for utter humiliation, but the object, instead of being a fat body, was a small penis, would you have been as upset? I doubt it. This is very personal.

  4. J

    Am I the only one who immediately assumed that post was put up by some asshole with a picture of a woman he knew and her email, so that she would get all these hateful comments he wanted her to read? Or a photo of someone else, chosen to elici the worst comments. I mean, I don’t know how the site you’re talking about is set up, so maybe this isn’t possible, and I’m just wrong and too easily assume most things are just some frat boy being an asshole.
    Or maybe it’s a guy who likes being with a woman who disgusts others. Or maybe I guess it could indeed be a woman who wants to hear that. I wonder if she’s trying to become immune to it? Is it possible she really does like it? That’s just so hard for me to imagine enjoying that kind of pain. This is journalistic thinking, but would you ever send her a message and ask her about it?

  5. Kathy

    I got a totally different vibe from that post; I imagine it was an ex posting her picture, and her email address, to humiliate her.

  6. Keller

    I am definitely a pervert, but fat-bashing is a total deal-breaker. That said, I know people who get off on total humiliation, and I guess this is pretty ultimate in that context. Still makes me cringe, though.

  7. Alexa

    Probably a bit off topic, but I just wanted to say that, as someone who is probably small enough to sit in a guy’s lap, if a man ever indicated to me that this was one of his preferred criteria for a girlfriend, I would get an immediate uncontrollable urge to brain him with the nearest heavy object. And I have never been a violent person.
    It gives me hives whenever I talk to a man who doesn’t even try to disguise the fact that he sees me as nothing but a body he’d like to use for sundry sex-related purposes, and thinks it’s perfectly fine because the things he’s saying about my body are supposedly ‘compliments’.
    This is one of, if not the, main reasons I’ve been single for a long time. I can’t stand the thought of dealing with these types of men, and unfortunately because of my body size, these are the only types I’ve ever attracted and most likely will in the future.

    In conclusion, misogyny sucks.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m always interested in reading the observations of other women who may be different from me in a variety of ways, but have problems that originate from the same issue –
    that most of society sees women as nothing but the bodies they’re in.

  8. Regina T

    It’s difficult not to want to judge any woman who wants to be bashed over the head with insults and dehumanization. It makes me wonder why they have such a strong need for this. Psychologically, it seems that they either a) were conditioned to only respond to negativity and abuse–as in, that’s all they learned growing up and have permanently linked that kind of abuse with pleasure/attachment/connection/etc.
    or b) they truly believe those things about themselves and think the only way to connect to someone is to be insulted and dehumanized. or c) they are trying to beat them to the punchline so to speak and want to face the insults up front to get it out of the way. Regardless of the reason why, it still confounds me. Then again, I’m not that level of masochism–just little tweaks here or there to get the adrenaline pumping :).

    Having my own personal history of abuses–sexual, emotional, physical–I had to relearn/reparent myself in my 20s to overcome my unhealthy for me attraction to people who would treat me in the way I was accustomed to. Now that Im in my mid 40s, I find I am hypervigilant and sensitive to negativity from others….even when it’s only implied. That gets me in trouble too as I have a hard time letting some of the go and tend to let it dwell. But now that I’m in a loving and committed relationship with my husband of 12 yrs, I can honestly believe that he finds me attractive sexually, emotionally, and as a companion. In fact, he is the ONLY man I have ever had an orgasm with during sex. I always faked it before, and felt like you did—as if I was performing. Knowing that the person I’m with is commited to me frees me enough to truly engage in the act of sex. I know this person desires me, wants to please me, loves me and is true….and that makes all the difference in the world to me.

  9. As someone who is kinky themselves, I would like to offer my viewpoint. As many other commenters have pointed out, if it was not posted by the woman in the pictures then that is a real problem.

    Assuming that it is her, however, I would like to mention a (rather long) acronym: YKINMKBYKIOK. This stands for Your Kink Is Not My Kink But Your Kink Is O.K. The idea is that sexuality comes in a lot of shapes, sizes and flavours, and so long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, pretty much anything is OK. (I’d add more about not being in a place where others can see you and not breaking any laws not related to the sex, like drugs or something, but I tend to be very wordy.)

    This means that in the kink community and on kink-friendly websites you are likely to find stuff that might be, for you, a turn-off, or even a trigger.

    Finally, I know a lot of kinky people who have been abused in the past, and use consensual BDSM as one of their ways of dealing with it (obviously not all kinky/bdsm people have been abused and not all abused people turn to bdsm, there is merely some overlap)

    I’m sorry if this was a bit wordy, but I worry about being unclear when posting/commenting and accidentally upsetting someone.

  10. Lampdevil

    Fatness and sex come together in such a complicated way. I’ve spent so much of my life as a ‘floating head’ (as I’ve heard another FA blogger put it) with my body being this thing that I refused to acknowledge as much as possible. It’s not there! It doesn’t matter! If I pay it no mind, it cannot hurt me! Maybe it’ll even go away! …ahahah, no. I had been hurt so badly by being harassed as a teen, that my reaction to Actual Real Life Men became one of anxious avoidance. I was convinced that no man could find me genuinely attractive or appealing. I had spent years and years with assholes hooting sexual things at me, and then laughing uproariously, because of COURSE you don’t actually wanna do things like that to someone so fat and ugly, right, right?

    I’m surprised I ever managed to hook up with anyone at all. Bless the Internet, great eraser of all things physical. Befriending and then falling in love with people online was so much safer, emotionally, than putting myself out in the scary and possibly abusive real world. And my heart still got clog-danced on, and I met some of these folk and got nekkid with them, and… well, on one hand, it was an ego boost to know that I was capable of pleasing someone. And I became super eager to please. In exchange, I felt like I had no business demanding that I be pleased in return. Or to be demanding at all, really. I might have been useful as a thing that could be used to get a guy off, but what appeal did I have beyond that? Push too far, and I’d be dropped like a hot potato. It wasn’t all my fevered and damaged imagination. It happened once.

    I’d like to say that I’m 100% all better and things are non-stop asskicking awesome. Can’t, really. Nothing is ever 100% fixed, is it? But things are much better. I’m in a healthy relationship with someone now. I still get twinges of worry that he doesn’t really love me or lust for me, that I’m just better than not having a girlfriend at all… and it’s crap, utter crap to be thinking such things, what with how wonderfully he treats me. I worry less and less, the more I learn to embrace my size and reject years and years of anti-fat messages. It’s going to be a lifelong process. I may never heal completely, but I know I can at least find comfort and contenment as I am.

    (And count me in with thinking that profile was made by someone’s angry ex, without her knowledge or permission. I’m willing to be wrong on this, but it just doesn’t… ring true, for me, to ask for that kind of abuse. It reads like the fantasy of some dude that gets off on degradation.)

  11. Anony-Lis

    I’m familiar with the site you’re referring to, and with the types of postings, as well. Yes, it’s hard to see women (and men) who enjoy being humiliated based on something which would be a hard limit for me, but I agree with the YKINMKBYKIOK ideal. There are lots of things I don’t enjoy, lots of things I actually find fairly repugnant, that other people get off on. And that really is ok, but I do choose not to look.

    To J, Kathy, et. al.: While it is possible that these posts are being created by malicious exes, the way the site works does not mesh with the scenario you’ve offered.

    More generally, I have a good friend who, when faced with information about consensual BDSM, automatically assumes that the sub in question must have been the victim of some sort of abuse in the past. These assumptions always make me uncomfortable, in large part because the implication is that having been sexually assaulted means that a woman (or man) should not have agency over her own sexuality.

  12. Anna

    I am reading this post for the second time. It is really interesting to think about.

    A lecture I had yesterday mentioned that we can forget that people are sometimes completely different to us. Maybe she really does want people to say horrible things about her. The idea made me uncomfortable at first, as my automatic reaction is to put myself in her shoes. But I;m NOT in her shoes. If this is what she wants, that is okay.

    (I’m not going to get into the “what if it’s someone who wants to humiliate her and hurt her” which is just…fucked. Seriously fucking fucked.)

    I am another one waiting for the sword to fall. Or worry that I’ll put on more weight, and there will be a switch where he goes “right. Not into you anymore.”

  13. Hey everyone, I am in the middle of moving to a new apartment, so I don’t have the time to reply in depth right now, but I just have to say that these are *amazing* replies. Thanks for the feedback and I can’t wait to discuss it more.

  14. Mulberry

    I too have doubts about whether a fat woman would post that. Even if someone did enjoy that kind of kink, it’s just far too easy to get it in the real world. Want to be insulted? I’m sure any of us could tell her a dozen places to go or things she could do or wear that would practically guarantee abusive remarks.
    Now it’s entirely possible that some assfart wrote this to get revenge on some woman. Or maybe a fat woman did write this after all. But there’s a third possibility, namely that the message was written by an average-size or thin woman. Think about it: This is not the type of woman who generally gets insulted for her weight. And yet, there are a disturbing number of woman like that with body dysmorphia who insult themselves with such language. So this might be a woman who posted a picture of someone else, or even doctored her own photo to show herself as she sees herself. and invited insults to spur her on to ever harsher dieting/weight-loss behavior.
    I suppose we’ll never know.
    It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. I remember a post in a fat acceptance group that got overrun with trolls by a woman who claimed that she and her thin friends read the group specifically for the insults so they were more motivated to stick to their diets.

  15. Hey Claudia –

    We all work so hard on accepting our bodies, and it sucks that what it comes down to for many men is only physical. It is the body that houses our spirits, our souls, our ability to love, our personalities. How can someone rule all that out based on the fact that a woman isn’t a size 4? I am currently working on a blog post that analyzes what men are looking for via a dating website (thin versus “average”!); I shall release it by the end of this week. Good luck in all your self-discovery. I really enjoy your writing. I am new at the blogging myself, but my WordPress blog is “Pre-existing Condition” if you care to check it out!

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