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Fat Girls and Rape Culture

February 18, 2014

Dickweed

Trigger warning: Rape culture

fatfapecultureThis is a topic I dread talking about. It’s majorly triggering for me and for so many other women (and men), but it’s something that needs to be addressed. Rape culture is prevalent, insidious, and normalized in our society. It’s everywhere, and every time someone tries to counter it they experience a huge backlash from the Men’s Rights Activism (MRA) movement, as well as everyday misogynists.

Fat women face an extra special facet of rape culture, though — the claim that they should be grateful for it. You read that right: grateful for being raped.

The logic goes that, of course, no one would want to touch a fat woman. We’re so gross, you know? So if someone was actually willing to have sex with us, then we should be on our knees with gratitude thanking that person for sharing their special snowflake of a dick with us. Some people even deny that it’s possible for fat women to be raped because, ew, who would want to have sex with a fatty?

And then you find things like the t-shirt pictured above (found on Cafe Press, but it has since been taken down after several complaints — thanks Rolls Not Trolls!), which reads “Fat Girls Can’t Say No… (and when they do, it still means yes).” I mean wow, if that’s not rape culture rolled into a can of what-the-fuck, then I don’t know what is. It plays on the idea that fat girls lack the willpower to say no to anything (including food and sex) and then, if it weren’t bad enough, tells you that if they do actually say no, it’s okay to rape them. I’ve also seen shirts and slogans like “fat girls give better head because they’re hungry.” No dude, if I were hungry I’d bite your dick off, but trust me, it’s not as tasty as you like to think, so I’ll stick to actual food.

I’ve heard stories from actual rape victims who heard things like “Who would want to rape you?” (that particular story was one in which the police officer said this). Or “I bet you were grateful to finally get some, huh?” Let’s be clear: while the reasons for rape are complicated and include a whole lot of things, dehumanization and objectification of women is at least one pretty large factor. And who doesn’t love to dehumanize and objectify fat women?

Fat woman are simultaneously desexualized and oversexualized in our culture. Myths abound of fat women being always ready for sex, promiscuous, and never turning down sex. And then you get instances like the scene in the popular film The Lorax in which the main character questions the gender identity of a fat woman for no apparent reason. Rape culture is where this desexualization and oversexualization intersect. No one could possibly want to have sex with you, which is why you’re such a slut and sleep around and why you would be lucky if you get raped.

Unfortunately, the solution to this isn’t quick or easy. It has to do with destigmatizing not only fat people, but women in general. Violence against women is a huge problem, not only in our culture, but across the globe. Women are seen as objects and sex toys to be done with as men please, and this extends to fat women. So if we solve the problem as fat people, we still face the problem as women.

We seriously need men to stand up against this kind of thing. When you make a rape joke, when you use rape as a euphemism (“That store totally raped your wallet, man!”), or when someone else does and you stay silent, then you’re contributing to rape culture. Feminism is still so relevant and so needed that it boggles my  mind that anyone would say it’s not (hello MRAs!). Again, the solution to rape culture and, yes, to fat rape issues, is difficult, but everyone needs to be aware that it’s a very real problem that needs to be addressed. So I’m addressing it and hoping that you’ll pass this along. Everyone, no matter who you are, please, let’s help end this problem.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2014 10:29 am

    thank you for your bravery in speaking truth. my sisters delight and amaze me with their bold humanity.

  2. February 18, 2014 10:52 am

    Reblogged this on Luscious Words and commented:
    Word!

  3. Chelle permalink
    February 18, 2014 10:59 am

    This whole thing makes me so fucking angry. Thanks for writing this.

    I’m really interested, particularly, about your assertion that fat women are both desexualised and oversexualised. I think you’re right. One comment that will probably always stick with me about fat women is that our big boobs ‘don’t count’, and just yesterday I read some douchebag saying that fat people would enjoy sex more if they lost weight (hey – if your sexual priority is athleticism then you are really doing it wrong, my friend).

    And yet, there’s this whole sexualisation of fat that I find quite awkward. My husband and I were talking recently about the fact that, although I have nothing against corsets, I resent the notion that the only way that a fat woman can be sexual is to squeeze her into an hourglass. That’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but don’t show me a bunch (what’s the collective noun?) of burlesque dancers and tell me that they represent fat women.

    Then, of course, there’s the fat fetishists and BBW fans. Even going so far as to become Feeders. I don’t know enough to have a fully formed opinion on that, but my instinct is that it could butt up against abusive. I wonder if that’s the reason behind this over-sexualisation, though? The inferred link between the food-based hedonism that fat people apparently represent and pleasures of the flesh. Either way, the whole ‘fat girls are grateful’ thing is abhorrent. Thank you for bringing it to the front of my mind so that I can work on exorcising it.

    • February 18, 2014 1:07 pm

      I’m just bored in general with the idea that I should put on a garment (any garment, anywhere) so as to prove to the world that I’m sexy enough to justify my existence. I mean, to each their own but I’m personally sick and tired of it: The whole perfect collision of a runaway Free Market mentality with runaway sexism. Sexuality is complex and not something that should be tied to the purchase of the “perfect” garment, nail polish, perfume, or whatever. It also shouldn’t be the first/only measure of a woman’s value.

      Oh, and at the risk of stating the obvious: That shirt is gross as hell, but I’m not surprised that it made somebody a buck. I’m not even surprised that they made a buck marketing it to women. I wish I was, though.

    • Elizabeth permalink
      February 18, 2014 3:01 pm

      I think women in general are desexualized and oversexualized, and fat women may be the worst case scenario. Aren’t we constantly told that men are sexual and women want security and romance? And on the other hand sexualized images of women are used to sell everything under the sun. Spend a minute looking at how men and women on television are dressed. Women entertainers may be wearing nothing more than a bikini, men are fully clothed nearly all the time. Someone wrote a letter mentioning that the “news” readers at her local television station wore skimpy, low-cut dresses; I don’t think she meant the men.

      • Trates permalink
        February 19, 2014 3:35 am

        “Aren’t we constantly told that men are sexual and women want security and romance?”

        Biology. Men can slam/bam their way through multiple women and suffer nothing if one gets pregnant. If one does not get pregnant it’s no big deal cuz’ we’ll simply produce more sperm by virtue of being alive.
        We can get a woman pregnant even into old age.

        Women are limited. Limited time to get an egg fertilized. Limited time to get pregnant at all. Limited number of eggs. And once pregnant are looking at months of decreased mobility and productivity that puts a strain on their bodies and situation.

        Women are encouraged to prioritize a man who will stick around because they are looking at greater risk in the carrying of the child. They also want security for later after the child is born.

        This is a generalization and thus can have many exceptions however generally speaking women *do* look for security since it makes pregnancy and child rearing easier.

        “Spend a minute looking at how men and women on television are dressed. Women entertainers may be wearing nothing more than a bikini, men are fully clothed nearly all the time.”

        Of course. The goal is to be seen. Would Gossip Girl have been nearly as interesting without Blake Lively and Leighton Meester strutting their fine stuff?

        To women maybe but to men? Not too much. With it? Men watched and so an audience increased. Come for the hot women. Hang around for intrigue…and hot women.

        People like looking at attractive people and TV is about showing what is liked

        • hlkolaya permalink
          February 19, 2014 7:26 am

          you DO realize how sexist this comment comes off as right? firstly, women are NOT necessarily looking for a man to settle down with and lots of men ARE looking to settle down. We have this little thing called birth control so while the risks are definitely greater for women, it’s somewhat negated and we live in a modern culture where many women are sexually progressive. I’d argue that a lot of sexual repression or conservativeism on women’s part comes because of things like slut shaming. Women CAN’T be as sexually free as men because we face severe personal and social reprocussions.

          And, with your “the goal is to be seen” comment, you’re missing the point. the point is that men can be seen fully clothed while women can only be “seen” (ahem, objectified and sexualized) by appearing in less clothing, more revealing clothing, etc. you’re basically saying it’s okay to objectify these women just because “it’s what men want”. this is pretty much the very definition of the male gaze and what’s wrong with it.

        • February 19, 2014 10:51 am

          Dude, seriously. Let John Gray do John Gray. [rolleyes]

        • February 26, 2014 1:20 am

          Bob Guccione? Is that you back from the grave?
          Honestly, my eyes are rolling as far back into my head as they can go reading this sexist twaddle.

  4. Elizabeth permalink
    February 18, 2014 3:02 pm

    This is a great post, hikolaya; I’d like to see this level of consciousness more often online.

  5. Leila Haddad permalink
    February 18, 2014 8:13 pm

    This is such an important post. I can so relate to the hypersexualization that fat girls get, I deal with it ALL the time. Especially from married men. the idea that as fatties we’re lovely to fuck but god forbid you’re the one who get’s to meet the parents…On this topic I must add the old gem, that well, if we’re fat then we must have been sexually violated at some point and we’re emotionally “hiding” within our fatness. let me tell you, I was molested at 5 and I have dealt with the after effects of this with years and years of therapy and I am still fat. My sister, also molested by the same man, is as thin as a rail. Who is the one hiding here?

  6. February 18, 2014 9:16 pm

    Great post. So close to home that I can’t say much, but thank you for writing it.

  7. February 19, 2014 2:09 am

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    The more of us who stand up and say “I won’t stand for this” the better. Sure, we may initially be told we’re a bunch of humorless See You Next Tuesdays, but some people will hear and they will decide that they really aren’t cool with it either. Eventually more people will have the courage to speak against this garbage.

  8. Trates permalink
    February 19, 2014 11:55 am

    hlkolaya “you DO realize how sexist this comment comes off as right? firstly, women are NOT necessarily looking for a man to settle down with and lots of men ARE looking to settle down.”

    You DO realize that something being generally true does equal universally true yes?

    When a woman looks to settle down a solid financial situation is a fantastic benefit.

    “I’d argue that a lot of sexual repression or conservativeism on women’s part comes because of things like slut shaming.”

    That would require a lot more in-depth data than is available however society has always held sway other these sorts of things in one form or another.

    ” And, with your “the goal is to be seen” comment, you’re missing the point. the point is that men can be seen fully clothed”

    Showing off their assets in a way that draws a mate. Well-fitted and expensive suits portray both physical power and financial security. The best things in a mate that can be conveyed through sight.

    “while women can only be “seen” (ahem, objectified and sexualized) by appearing in less clothing, more revealing clothing, etc.”

    The flip side of the coin. A majority of what women bring to the mating *can* be conveyed through sight. A shapely body, youth, and health can be assessed with few to little clothing.

    This draws people closer and enhances odds by appearing attractive to those around you.

    Even on television this holds.

    “you’re basically saying it’s okay to objectify these women just because “it’s what men want”.”

    In terms of television the target audience matters more. If sex sells (it does) and men and women like looking at pretty people (we all do) then you increase odds of getting attention be having attractive people starring in everything from your commercial to your series.

    That said it’s okay because they are being paid well for it.

    “this is pretty much the very definition of the male gaze and what’s wrong with it.”

    The male gaze is largely a feminist invention and proves in so many ways why they have no clue as to how people work.

    • February 19, 2014 1:56 pm

      I actually agree with hlkolaya. Not only is The Male Gaze all too real, but you’re pretty much the living embodiment of it here. Your own stunted, retrograde, and utterly stereotypical view of male-female relations and sexuality is so generic that it basically functions as MRA boilerplate. I can fully believe that you just randomly cut and paste it all over the internet on a daily basis, wherever and whenever you see the word feminist.

      Congratulations.

    • February 19, 2014 2:35 pm

      The only invention in this discussion is your evo-psycho-babble. “A majority of what women bring to the mating *can* be conveyed through sight”? The 1950s called, they want their spokesman back.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • February 20, 2014 9:39 am

        I’m kind of sorry that Bram Djikstra’s term for the 19th Century inventors of Trates’ not-so-original, self-serving drivel never caught on in the present day.

        He referred to them as “Bio-Sexists.” 😀

    • February 26, 2014 1:23 am

      “Sex sells” translates to misogyny sells.
      If it were really sex that sold, the men would be just as undressed.
      You come off as incredibly unenlightened, and only the most insecure of women would bother with you.

  9. Trates permalink
    February 19, 2014 3:27 pm

    Xeno: Oh I don’t deny that it’s real. The negative context is however an invention.

    “I can fully believe that you just randomly cut and paste it all over the internet on a daily basis, wherever and whenever you see the word feminist.”

    You have an overinflated view of the draw of such arguments. Most of the time the kind of discussions had from this topic go nowhere quickly. Knowing this I steer clear of the boards where they come up or just withhold unless I see something worth adding.

    Atchka: *Insert generic insult directed at reading skills here*

    I’m speaking on physical traits. Unless you start a relationship online the first thing people will notice will be how you look physically.

    People know this and dress accordingly when they go out most of the time. Dress to flatter a certain combination of features they like best. Or dress to convey power and control.

    In television it’s cranked to eleven because the physical features of a character can make them more popular to the viewers or even grow the base and more viewership means more money for everyone.

    For example: Some watch Supernatural for the storyline but it has a dedicated Estrogen Brigade that live to see Dean/Sam/Castiel/Crowley. Story keeps them coming back but they likely would never have been seen without an attractive cast.

    On the flip side you have Gossip Girl who was popular with you women but also had a dedicated Testosterone Brigade that got all hot and bothered when Blair or Serena showed some leg. The story was interesting with the twists but the attractive cast drew people who never would have cared otherwise.

    The result of all this? GG ran for six seasons and Supernatural has been signed for a season TEN.

    In fact to take SN further it’s known for the hot cast, the mood whiplash, and the music.

    • February 20, 2014 9:35 am

      “Oh I don’t deny that it’s real. The negative context is however an invention.”

      Uh, you did deny that The Male Gaze is real, just a post or two above. Then you insulted feminists as “having no clue.”

      But thanks for working so valiantly to set us alllllll straight. You’re happy in a world where you perceive that it’s right and proper for women to be regarded by men as little more than sex toys who also make babies. (Or is it vice versa?) So of course we should alllll be happy, too!

      FOLD UP THE TENTS AND LET’S ALL GO HOME, SISTERS! A man sez that everything’s great because EVOLUTION!!11 and PRETTY PEOPLE ON TV!!11 YAY! Problem solved! WOOOO!!!!11

      • Trates permalink
        February 20, 2014 11:21 am

        “The male gaze is largely a feminist invention”

        ^^^My quote. The male (and female) gaze is a trope that was used in television long before feminists started writing essays and books and why it’s a bad thing.

        “Then you insulted feminists as “having no clue.””

        Indeed I did. When it comes to attraction the more extreme feminists are absolutely clueless.

        Dress to flatter curves (personal action) > Get looked at by men (Result) > “STOP OBJECTIFYING ME!”

        Look at data showing what works in advertising and what does not and use it? You are objectifying.

        “You’re happy in a world where you perceive that it’s right and proper for women to be regarded by men as little more than sex toys who also make babies.”

        Stop being a drama queen. I NEVER said this.

        “FOLD UP THE TENTS AND LET’S ALL GO HOME, SISTERS! A man”

        I have not attributed your attitude to your gender Ms. Xeno and would appreciate like treatment. Or are you one of those Do As I Say Not As I Do types who seethes at being discounted for being female but has no problem doing it to men?

        “sez that everything’s great because EVOLUTION!!”

        Also not true. I said that in terms of the physical what men and women perceive as sexy is different and that these differences are largely based on how our bodies function.

        Now if we were dogs looking hot and being healthy would be it.

        However as human beings looking hot only buys us time to show off our personality. That takes time.

        So no Ms. Xeno the physical is not all a woman brings to the relationship. The physical is generally the first thing noticed.

        “and PRETTY PEOPLE ON TV”

        The function the same in real life. The beauty is the draw and in television you need that draw to get them to hang around and be interested in the plot!

        Until you cut the drama queening I’ll just bow out. No value to this discussion.

  10. lordhellebore permalink
    February 21, 2014 12:47 am

    This article made my skin crawl. It reminded me of sitting on the underground with a group of about 5-6 drunk men in the same car, shooting me looks, talking loudly about who should do the fatty, calling over “Fette Maus” (“fat mouse” in German) to me, and how it would be my lucky day to get any. There were a few other people, but NOBODY said anything. Luckily, the station I and they got off was so crowded that nothing could possibly happen, but it was creepy to the max, and completely humiliating. (I comforted myself with the thought that I was actually on my way to a date with a wonderful guy who was nothing like them . . .)

  11. Elizabeth permalink
    February 21, 2014 1:23 pm

    Thank you all for disposing of trates.

    • Trates permalink
      February 21, 2014 2:26 pm

      I’m still around ma’am. Not disposed really ^___^

    • February 21, 2014 3:01 pm

      Never fear. There’ll be more like him. They’re drawn to these discussions like garden slugs to the perennials in my yard.

    • February 26, 2014 1:27 am

      Sadly, he has not yet fully retreated to his MRA Man Kave with his DVD’s filled with great advice on how to treat women by The Pickup Artist.

      • February 26, 2014 1:44 am

        Do you think these posts are him when he’s really trying his hardest? I suspect they may be just that, and that just breaks my sentimental girly heart.

  12. Elizabeth permalink
    February 23, 2014 10:45 am

    There’s an online piece about trolls: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2453609,00.asp

    Not a pretty picture.

    • Trates permalink
      February 23, 2014 3:02 pm

      “The good news is that really dedicated trolls appear to be fairly uncommon in the online world, at least in terms of their numbers if not their output.”

      Dedicated trolls are a different thing. For many gamers trolling is a mood. A way to work off steam.

      Secondly the problem is that the term “troll” (much like many other words) has been bastardized to the point where no one knows who is what.

      What is a troll? The answers are so insanely convoluted that no one really knows. In fact the word has actually been converted into a *mood*.

      Now I agree that the study might have something but the problem is that not everyone who trolls identifies as such or is a troll all the time.

      Some are having bad days or are dealing with personal crap and use games as release valves for the negativity. Or maybe someone did unto them and are now receiving a ruler across the knuckles for the slight.

      Or maybe they are dissenting against something held in high regard or popular to those they are speaking to.

      Now I may fall into that last one but consider this.

      Many times on this site I’ve read about someone commenting on sites they deem as being guilty of shaming fat people or women. On those sites those commenting could also be called trolls if the usual standard of posting to draw attention holds.

      BUT these people likely do not self identify themselves as trolls. They likely believe that they are doing something good in their actions or are at least adding something to the conversation.

      If that is the case then they don’t own the dark traits the article speaks on.

      I could go on since that last thought leads to another bigger nest of worms but why would I since I’m fairly certain you’ll just respond with another veiled insult.

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