Can’t You Just Take a (Fat) Joke?

George Takei is awesome for many reasons. There’s the Star Trek awesomeness, the outspoken queer rights and anti-bullying advocate awesomeness, and the Facebook page with the very funny pictures awesomeness.  Yesterday he posted a picture of three actors who had played Star Trek Captains.  Two of them are more chunky and one is ripped.  The caption said “Apparently only one of the ships came equipped with a gym.” the accompanying note said “help me spread this like a virus”.

Before I get into the whole joke thing, one thing I will never understand is GLBT people who don’t support fat rights. I don’t know George Takei’s take (except that he was ok with making this fat joke), but Dan Savage comes to mind here as well as any number of non-famous gay people who I’ve heard and seen make this argument.  Let’s take a minute to examine this.

One argument often used against queer rights is that being queer is a choice.  GLBT people rightly argue that we are better witnesses to our experience than those who are not us, and that even if we could choose to be straight, we shouldn’t have to because we have the right to love any adults we want.

One argument used against fat people is that being fat is a choice.  Fat people rightly argue that we are better witnesses to our experience than those who are not us, and that even if we could choose to be thin, we shouldn’t have to because our bodies are our business.

Another argument used against GLBT people is that our “lifestyle” is unhealthy, both physically and mentally. Queer people rightly argue that physical health risks can be mitigated or eliminated in ways other than becoming straight (which is a good thing because the chances of that are very low)  and that mental health issues that exist are most likely due to stigma and the cure for social stigma is not becoming straight, it’s ending social stigma.

Another argument used against Fat people is that our “lifestyle” is unhealthy, both physically and mentally.  Fat people rightly argue that physical health issues can be mitigated or eliminated in ways other than becoming thin (which is a good thing because the chances of that are very low) and that mental health issues that exist are most likely due to stigma and the cure for social stigma is not becoming thin, it’s ending social stigma.

The comparisons go on but hopefully you get the idea. Get it together queer people and get on the fat rights bandwagon.

Anyway, back to George Takei.  I left a message on his FB saying “It seems inconsistent to me that you would be against bullying and shaming people for their sexual orientation and participate in bullying and shaming people for their size. Nobody hates themselves healthy and this kind of body stigma hurts everyone.”  I also posted it on my Facebook page and said that I would love it if other people who were bothered would comment as well.

And then it started.  Before I had left a comment plenty of people on George’s FB had made anti-fat comments about the people in the picture.  Once I and other people  made comments people said that we were oversensitive, lazy fatties who don’t exercise and are fighting for our right to a double chin, that we have a stick where normally there is not one, there were a bevy of fat hating and body shaming comments,  they are friends so it’s ok, or “I’m fat and I think it’s funny”  On my Facebook page someone posted that George Takei is a really cool and that we need to pick our battles – like worrying about the little boy who was ripped from his home because he is fat.

Ok, first I can “take a joke”. His Facebook post did not affect my self esteem.  I’m comfortable with myself and my choices, and I’m well aware that some people do jackass things.  That doesn’t make it ok to stigmatize me or people who look like me.  And isn’t it a problem when we tell some people that they need to toughen up and become better at being stigmatized and made fun of so that other people can laugh at our expense without having to consider the consequences?

If George is such good friends with these people and he feels the need to make fun of them for their size, he should call them up instead of body shaming them on Facebook.  Because then it’s not just about them, it’s about letting everyone who looks like them know that George Takei is comfortable stereotyping them and publicly stigmatizing them.

I think each of us individually needs to “pick our battles” since we can’t do everything, but I don’t think that as a community we should tell each other to  ignore people who stigmatize fat people because they are otherwise cool people, or we think the joke is funny, or if we don’t think it’s a big deal.  If people didn’t think it was ok to make the original fat joke, then there is no way that they would have thought all of the fat shaming comments were ok.  That 200 pound boy got ripped from his home because of an irrational wave of fat phobia and these kind of fat jokes are part of that wave.  What I think makes body shaming like this particularly harmful is that so many people defend them.  When we say that body shaming is ok if it’s funny, if it’s between friends, if it’s done by a person who is oppressed in another way, if it’s done by a person who is famous, if it’s done by a person who is generally cool,  all we’re really saying is that body shaming is ok.

People make mistakes.  I’ve made jokes on this blog that people pointed out could be offensive and I have fixed the issues. I think it’s important to point out these mistakes when people make them and I think we can see where they are at based on their response. I think that consistency is really important, otherwise we get stigma-creep wherein more and more things are considered ok, or a not worth the battle or whatever.  Once it starts it’s hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube, so I think it’s far better to say that body shaming is never ok in any guise – then we don’t have to decide where the line is between body stigma that’s “hilarious” and body stigma that is shaming and wrong.

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on December 13, 2011 at 7:37 am  Comments (62)  

62 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “one thing I will never understand is GLBT people who don’t support fat rights”

    I can understand that. People don’t feel there’s a stigma unless it’s directed straight at them, and sometimes not even then..That is why some people believe we live in a postracist America, and others think us fat people are being coddled too much. And why some of the greatest fat haters are fat people themselves.
    Understanding this is akin to understanding privilege. I hope nobody here confuses “understanding” with “agreement”. Still, it behooves us to understand these things in order to figure out how to deal with them.

  2. I don’t think that George means to be mean-spirited, I just think he doesn’t understand because he has never had a problem with his weight. I think he could be made to understand. Some of those other people that commented though–ugh! Sometimes it all just makes me so sad and sick in my heart that I just want to give up. A lot of the time I think I would give up except my son still needs my help in many ways to succeed with his goals, so I have to stick around at least a while longer and piss people off.

  3. Fat jokes will stop when people realise there’s nothing funny about them. Who are the people who laugh at racist jokes? People with racist tendencies who think the punchline is making some wry, but truthful, comment on the world. Everyone else feels uncomfortable hearing those same jokes. When the stereotype of lazy fatties who don’t use the gym is gone, then the Star Trek joke and jokes like it will simply be meaningless.

    That’s a long way off, of course. In the meantime, I guess it’s just a long, slow process of carefully explaining the problem, incident by incident.

  4. Ragen, I think I may love you =)

    I made this for you (okay, perhaps for myself.. but I’m showing it to you incase you want it!), I hope you don’t mind. I cut down your words a little for the quote, so the context wasn’t confusing, I hope you don’t mind that either. I just found your comparison inspiring – Mainly because I’m a huge advocate for gay rights myself, yet have had trouble feeling like I don’t deserve all the hatred I personally get for being fat. Seeing the comparison, side by side, has made me see things a little more clearly.

    Plus I like making random graphics when I’m bored.

    http://imgur.com/n6KPA

    • I think I may love you back – this graphic is awesome!!!! Thank you so much🙂

  5. I also left a critical comment but it was swallowed up in the sea of “HAHA FATTIES”.

  6. I just went through this very thing with a couple people on Facebook. A guy I know on fb (who I reluctantly keep as a “friend” as an exercise in tolerance on my part) started taking pics of fat women, strangers in public, & then posting them on his fb page. THEN his friends would all start in w/ the fat jokes. When I pointed out how obviously offensive it was to me I was told 1-get a sense of humor/can’t you take a joke 2-that it was “none of my business (even though it was posted publicly for all to see) and 3-that I must be super insecure if I have to take something like that personally. I responded to the three accusations, and then the three accusers never wrote back. These are people that, in general, do not share my views on politics and whatnot, which is ok with me. People are allowed to disagree. But to post pics of people, without their knowledge or consent, so you and your buddies can have a laugh is not ok. (& it’s not just because I’m fat, or the women in the pics were fat. It’s a violation of privacy too…that whole issue seemed to have gone right over all their heads…but I’m getting off topic.) anyway, I appreciate this blog post especially since I just went through this. It reaffirms what I already knew, that it’s wrong & disrespectful.

  7. I know a lot of fat people who make and laugh at fat jokes. Many of them have the “I know I’m unhealthy and I don’t really care” attitude. I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing, because I honestly can’t decide. Maybe I shouldn’t even care.

    Now I’ve never compared fat stigma to homosexual stigma, but you have a point. Maybe he or others don’t see it as the same, so the joke against fat people wouldn’t cross his mind as hypocritical. If anything, you might give him something to think about. This was kind of a move that you probably knew you were going to get into some drama over facebook by taking it publicly, but hey, I did a similar thing recently. Facebook drama is sometimes not such a bad thing, especially when it’s for a cause you are passionate about.

  8. I did leave a message on his post. As well as a message on the recent post that was totally misogynist. And I have to say, if this is really George Takei posting this stuff then I am so disappointed! He has always been my favorite ST:TOS character and I have met him in person a few times when I used to do the ST conventions.

    I do have to say, listening to him on the Howard Stern show, it actually might be him. He has always been diplomatic when it comes to other people weight, but still will concern troll a lot. He is a health nut and used to be an avid runner. I know he takes care of himself and he wants other people to take care of themselves too.

    I guess I am just confused! Why, George? WHY?!! I had so much respect for you! I just am holding on to my last shred of hope that the REAL George Takei will stand up and say that this isn’t really his F?b page or that he has some paid monkey posting stuff for him and he didn’t realize what was being posted and he does not authorize or endorse this kind of shameful bigotry!

  9. I’m disappointed but I’m not surprised, I guess? We’re all marinating in the same sea of institutionalized prejudices; not all people who fight against one or two types of prejudice want to fight against all of them.

    Intersectionality has always been an issue. Good for you for calling Takei out on this (and dealing with the ensuing shitstorm).

  10. My rule is that jokes are /funny/. For /everyone/. That was’t a joke.

    • It continues to amaze me how most of these fat “jokes” are basically “fat people are fat! Hurr hurr!!!” There’s no actual HUMOR or WIT there. The “joke” is a “joke” merely because it’s about fat people, who are… fat. Or something.

      Why even bother? Why waste the breath or pixels it takes to tell one of these so-called jokes?

  11. Well, as I posted to you on FB, I had it on my own wall (I was raised on Star Trek…yeah, we were THAT family) until you pointed out the disparity. And I felt like kicking myself in the teeth for not seeing it, so I took it down.

    My first thought was that I still think Kate Mulgrew looks good and who the hell cares what she weighs? I had the same reaction when Sinead O’Connor was in the news recently, and everyone was slamming her for looking so “fat and horrible”: you get to hear her for free on the radio and the internet, so why are you complaining? And the woman’s been through the mental wringer…that sort of thing shows, believe me.

    Besides, I’m a singing girl too, and if it weren’t for my broad shoulders and chest (and in fact, the whole package), I couldn’t hit the high notes the way I do.

    But you’re fighting against stigma here, one that is deeply ingrained since we were very young and pushed into every orifice from every possible angle: if you’re fat, you clearly have one or more moral failings and therefore you can completely control it, so why don’t you, you weakling?

    I say, go try that philosophy on a Sumo wrestler and see how far you get.

    I admire you greatly Ragen, but please, please be careful to keep your perspective clear and not break your back against the world. You are doing excellent work here, and I would hate to see you burn yourself out or reach a point where you’re so frustrated and demoralised that you don’t even want to try anymore. Steady on…

  12. I think Ta-Nahesi Coates put it well when he said (paraphrasing) that there’s a difference between saying, “Discrimination like the kind I experience is wrong,” and saying, “Discrimination against people exactly like me is wrong.” Some people follow the second line of thought first, and then eventually come to realize that fetishizing the bog standard is something that affects many different kinds of people adversely…and some just don’t give a crap if anyone else has to suffer, as long as they’re in the power seat. Suffering that way doesn’t make anyone inherently noble; sometimes it can make people even bigger assholes, because they’re convinced that their own stigmatized status makes them immune to prejudice and wrongdoing.

  13. Look, (these days) we don’t make fun of people with cancer or mental illness. Is weight different? I don’t think so. That said, a lot of people still operate under the impression that people choose to be fat.

    Anytime we take time to point out prejudice we are making a difference, so WTG, Beth. Just because people jumped to his defense or even if he never apologizes, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been reformed by your action. Change takes time. Speaking out creates change — especially when it is respectful. My 2 cents!

    • Hi Dreena,

      I understand what you are saying. I do think that people do still make jokes about cancer and mental illness that are in bad taste. And I do think that weight is different in that weight is a body size and not a disease or illness – I think it’s more like making a joke about race, gender, or sexuality. In the end none of these jokes are ok and making them about one group leaves all groups vulnerable. I agree that respectful dialog is an important part of change.

      ~Ragen

  14. we have a long way to go. But keep speaking out. Thanks!

  15. It doesn’t surprise me, every time bigotry comes to the fore, painfully won lessons have to be re-learned the same way. Some may wake up to themselves when, as you pointed out, they realise treating weight as wholly willful strengthens the argument that sexuality is also wholly willful.

    • Even if it were? Religion is wholly willful, and people experience horrible discrimination because of it; I can’t imagine Takei, Savage et al would think that was OK.

      • It’s not either/or, it is important for the sake of fact to establish that for most people sexuality is not at its heart a directly willed characteristic.

        The point I’m really making is those who make this argument about fatness disregarding fat people’s own experience automatically dismiss any basis of inclusion of their experience of their own sexuality, even if they are getting around that by seeing fat people as non sentient (i.e. unaware of our own existence, requiring wholly outside input to know ourselves).

        It also therefore throws some doubt on whether they actually dobelieve that their sexuality is not a direct choice.

        When this awareness dawns things should get interesting. I frankly don’t give a damn how much any bigot has cultivated a “sensitized” response to fat bodies.

  16. I actually thought Kate Mulgrew was looking pretty good there too. And Shatner? Sure doesn’t look like he’s 80 in that photo!

    But yeah, not impressed with that post of his.

  17. excellent excellent post. I’m so disappointed by this whole incident.. when people started just calling me a fat fattie after commending on the photo I just wanted to shout to Takai “see?! see? this is the kind of bullying your post is helping to create and support! How can you say it has nothing to do with bullying??” But people rarely see beyond their own self interests.. takai cares about gay rights because he’s gay.. he doesn’t care about fat rights because it’s outside of his own self interest. Hope this gets posted on his page! I know i’ll be posting it several places🙂

  18. This is disappointing to me in a weird convergence of events that left me seeing your Facebook comment yesterday *and* getting an email announcing George Takei as the speaker at the PCA/ACA Conference I’m going to in the Spring. I’m still looking forward to hearing him speak, but now with that hope that he will show he has learned his lesson – or at least not demonstrate that he hasn’t!

  19. I’m fat AND queer – and I get a heck of a lot more crap from people for being fat. Even living in Kentucky, being openly queer and with my partner for 13 years, no one seems to care. We’re just “that couple down the street with all those kids” (we have four now grown kids and a toddler grandson AND a new granddaughter on the way!!!). On the other hand, I am “That fat lady”. I get a LOT of flak from people who try to shame me about my body. People have walked up to me in the grocery store and taken stuff out of my cart telling me “You don’t need that, honey.” I’ve had people tell me I’ll never get a man unless I lose weight (um, ok?), throw garbage at me out of car windows as they drive by, and tell me how beautiful I would be if I could just lose weight. These are daily occurrences. (My favorite response? “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry for your loss.” “What loss?” “Seems like your parents weren’t around to teach you manners. I just thought you must have lost them at a very young age.”) I love George Takei, but I do wish he would clue in to this not being very funny. :-/

    • Oh my god that’s how people behave in Kentucky? Unbelievable.

      • It’s been my experience as a very fat woman that this is how people behave EVERYWHERE. I’ve been openly criticized by strangers – particularly at grocery stores and restaraunts, anywhere where the fat lady might be seen with food – in multiple states. Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana… well, perhaps it’s a Midwest thing. Having not traveled much outside the midwest as an adult, I’m not sure.

      • I’ve had those exact things (the “you don’t need this” cart grabbers and the “you’ll never get a man” ones) happen to me in Colorado and California, so not just the midwest.

        I love the you’ll never get a man ones… seeing as I’ve been effectively married since I was 19, legally since I was 21. To the same guy. And no, I was not any flavor of skinny back then… maybe weighed 20lbs less but when you’re over 200lbs 20lbs isn’t exactly going to make you magically thin and delicious!

    • I’m not sure of the legalities but there must be some way of recording this sort of thing so others can see this harassment.

      And send it straight to some “obesity” organization and ask them if this is sufficient to make you slim or whether you need more and of what type.

  20. I think the fact that he wanted people to spread his joke “like a virus” tells me that it wasn’t just a harmless joke. He obviously has some underlying issues with fat people. You know, the people who teased and bullied me in school thought they were just joking. They laughed and though it was such a fun time. People who moo at fat people, people who throw things at fat people, people who take pictures of fat people eating, they all think it’s fun. Is it fun for the fat person? I remember the bullying and it will stay with me for the rest of my life. So I guess my answer is no, I can’t take a fucking joke, so maybe these fat-haters need to shut their fucking mouths!

  21. I love your point about how we all make mistakes. I think that’s key! Based on our own perspectives, we are never going to know all the time what will hurt someone’s feelings – we just have to be ready and willing to admit when we have done something hurtful, and this world would be such a better place.

  22. Being oppressed in one area of your identity does not automatically make you sensitive to your privilege in other areas. You have to make a conscious decision to unpack your own privilege, and to back down off the defensiveness when you are called on it.

    I think your analogy of oppression against fat people to that against gay people is very powerful, and spot on.

    But I think to constructively engage this kind of incident we also need to make other analogies — to the privilege blindness fat people show in other areas of identity. Probably the most common I see is with regard to race and racism. From the hoary old debunked-a-thousand-times-but-never-seems-to-die “fat is the last acceptable prejudice” comments and arguments to the “but its easier for black women to be fat because its more accepted in their culture” to “Asian culture is so fat hating!” to just garden variety privilege-blind comments that nearly every white person makes.

    Fat people are absolutely not any better when called on our bigoted or privilege-blind comments or jokes than other folks are.

    I don’t know the answer or the best way to respond here. But I do know that it helps me to respond well when I remember how often my own ass has been handed to me when my actions or comments were offensive and hurtful because I was blind to my own privilege (as Takei clearly is here) … and how long it took me to get over myself and actually learn something.

    Thank you for this post, Ragen. Your analysis and writing inspire me and make me braver.

  23. Would you believe I scrolled through every last one of those comments, hoping to find one from Leonard Nimoy? No dice. You’d think the guy who did the Full Body Project would have had something to say about that.

    • Damned straight. But he probably has more on his mind than George’s public page.😉

  24. I went looking for that post on George’s page as I didn’t catch it yesterday, and it appears that it isn’t there anymore. Perhaps he listened.

    • Nope – it’s still there. Posted Sunday afternoon if you’re looking.

    • It’s still there. It was posted Sunday 12:04.

  25. I posted a link to this on George’s wall, and this is what he wrote back.

    “Your blog post was very helpful. Many fans find some of my jokes to be insensitive in some way, but I’ve tried to keep everything on a “let’s all laugh together at ourselves” level. For example, gay people have often accused me of playing into stereotypes, but only in exposing them can we hope to remove their sting. Most fans know that I mean no offense, and that I don’t condone mean-spirited comments left by some fans. As for the pic itself, it was ribbing against some colleagues whom I’ve known for years, not something directed at one group in particular. Thank you for being a fan!”

    • Thanks for sharing it with him. It’s nice of him to have said that the blog is helpful, but I can’t imagine that he actually read it and then made this argument.

      First – his fans wouldn’t have a chance to make mean-spirited comments if he didn’t make “let’s laugh at ourselves” posts.
      Second – nobody’s body is funny because it’s fat.
      Third – If you want to joke with your friends, call ’em up. When you put a fat joke on FB, you put a fat joke on FB.
      Fourth – if you, as a gay person, want to make jokes about gay people that is your deal. You are not a fat person so you’re not challenging stereotypes about you, you are adding to stereotypes of people like me.

      ~Ragen

  26. The thing that saddens me the most is that George Takei has completely missed the point, and missed a great opportunity to turn this around. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he didn’t mean any harm when he originally posted it. But once the commenting began, how could he completely overlook that this whole thread incited bullying and hatred?

    Then he missed the real opportunity. A simple apology for offending people and inadvertently contributing to a culture of bullying would have been a much better response, imho. Instead, he defended it by saying it was funny ribbing between friends, that it was just a joke. No. Ribbing between friends takes place between friends, not way out in the middle of facebook where it’s directed at an incalculably large audience.

    Any form of “whoops, sorry about that,” would have come off with far more grace and class than his attempted defense of it as “just a joke.” So disappointing.

  27. lets’ hope he did listen… and learn.

  28. I particularly liked the comment that making fun of people (on the Internet) ISN’T bullying!
    But the virus part seems to refer to a video he’s releasing. “Spread me like a virus.” Did he edit it?

  29. Like the rest of the world, George has been fed the mainstream drivel. I hope that he read Ragen’s comment, visited her blog and is open to having his mind changed now that he has an opportunity. I think a lot of people are in his position having been lied to for most of his life about the horribleness of fatness. I don’t blame them for their ignorance, but I do give them an opportunity to alleviate themselves of that burden. George’s also been in Hollyweird his whole life too and you know how body-perfect obsessed that culture is. I hope he shakes it for the sake of his fans.

  30. I think this is a perfectly good battle to pick. After all, the big problems are always made up of little ones. An average schmoe posting fat-hate is very different from a celebrity famous for his fight for some other form of tolerance.

    I think the biggest issue in these fights though is that we really are speaking a different language than the people we’re talking to, and have a habit (a la the “Ugly American”) of trying to speak louder when misunderstood. I’m working on some ideas for how to bridge the language gap with people who have no frame of reference for size discrimination, but it’s tricky. I really think that the parallels you draw with the LGTBQ experience are fantastic, because shared experience seems like a great way to communicate what would otherwise be an entirely alien paradigm.

  31. If someone is offended by something, that means by definition it is offensive. When people try to argue with someone about whether or not something is offensive, it absolutely boggles my mind.

    As far as Mr. Takei goes, I have never been a fan of the series and therefore don’t know anything about him. After a look at his facebook though, it appears to me that a lot of his posts seem to be mean spirited.

  32. This might be a little off topic, but I want to share it anyway – it’s Dr. Arya Sharma on TV talking about weight bias and the media (i.e., how those ‘headless fatty’ shots they always run actually increase bias against the overweight and obese). I know some people disagree with Dr Sharma over things like gastric bypass surgery and whether obesity should be considered a disease, but I am always impressed by his obvious empathy for his patients and the high quality of his research

    http://www.albertaprimetime.com/Archived.aspx?pd=3116

  33. I really really REALLY resent bei told I have no sense of humour/need t get a life etc etc for not finding something funny. I am more hurt by the comments left on the picture than the picture itself.

    • *being
      *to

      Sorry😦

  34. Oh, Ragen! I was busy composing emails to you in my head last night about this very comment!!

    A friend of mine (very liberal, very vocally pro-same sex marriage and very anti religion) posted a video on FB about how Japan made being fat illegal (they didn’t and I didn’t watch the video) with some remarks about how this would never happen here because the healthcare and fast food industries make too much money off fatties to ever allow the government to do that. i did my best to set her straight but she wasn’t hearing me. I hope I at least planted a seed in someone’s mind.

    But here’s what I just don’t get. How can someone sit down and say “being fat is a reprehensible choice” and then turn around and say “but all homosexuals were born that way!” The reality is that there are shades of grey on both sides and the point isn’t the CHOICE, but the fact that no one has the right to spread hate, period.

    I don’t get how politically liberal, anti-religion fat haters can say “I know you’ve sinned because my religion [with the prophet Dr. Oz, maybe?] tells me so!” and yet blow off Christians for saying the same. exact. thing. about homosexuals. It blows my mind that my friend dismiss biblically based arguments against homosexuality, but with the same breath insist that her beliefs about fatness are true.

    For the record, I feel EVERYONE should have equal rights. Even gays and fatties😉

  35. Well, when I personally hear a racist joke, a fat joke, a sexuality joke, a sexist joke, I find them hilarious, not because I feel it’s some witty comment about a truth, but because I find it to be a witty comment on society’s standards. I look at it as a way of mocking the bs standards that society sets up for us to meet.
    The unfortunate typicality of the matter is that many people who laugh at these kind of jokes do not share that viewpoint.
    George Takei, I would wager, thinks of these not as serious stereotypes but as things to be laughed at; he posts gay joke pictures frequently.
    It is a shame that so many people took his post that way, and perhaps he should be more careful in the future, but I wouldn’t abandon him simply because he posted something that brought about negative comments that go against my views-people make mistakes, and to judge them simply on one action (with extreme exception) is perhaps not the wisest action.

  36. Also not that this in any way excuses the statements made by people on the pictures, but there weren’t really any *fat hating comments* until there were comments about how dare the post make body jokes, until an avenue for the trolls to traipse on opened. That’s the thing about the internet: if you say it, they will troll.

    • I see what you’re saying, but there were only nine comments before someone pointed out that there were fat bashing issues with the post. Also, a lot of the comments that were inappropriate didn’t have anything to do with the complaints, they were just saying nasty things about the people in the pictures.

      ~Ragen

  37. You just rock, I came across this blog a little while ago and have enjoyed all of your posts !

  38. Thank you for actually criticizing Takei openly like this. I know far too many people who are actually afraid of the flak they’ll get for saying something negative about him. Yes, he’s awesome and cool, but he’s not a fucking god. Someone I follow on Twitter recently spoke out against his “war on Twilight”, only to take her comments back because of all the shit she was getting for saying something negative about him. Sigh.

    And yeah, when I saw that, my reaction was thus::/

  39. I’m one of the admins for the Short Attention Time Abbreviated News page on Facebook, which is a joke page. As we say in our info, some of the jokes we share might be crass or even in questionable taste, but we do not tolerate body snarking. If we can find jokes to share that exclude the hateful jokes, so can other pages. Not that we’re perfect, but at least we try. And the excuse that some pages use that “if you don’t like it you can fuck off” is a copout. Humor should be funny, not hateful.

    • Thank you. It’s good to hear someone who runs one of these pages saying that.

      I recently, and regretfully, unfriended a cartoonist, mentioning no names, after he made a ‘joke’ about what ought to be done about fat people on airplanes. The sad thing is, his observations on various aspects of everyday life were freaking hilarious, and there was absolutely no need for him to make the fat joke, but a lot of his followers appeared to find it funny – and I don’t want to be seen in that kind of company. (Will check yours out, though. I can always do with laughs.)

  40. Love this quote: “That 200 pound boy got ripped from his home because of an irrational wave of fat phobia and these kind of fat jokes are part of that wave.” Anti-fat actions stem from anti-fat mindsets and rhetorics; it’s impossible to separate these.

    I’m always baffled by the “Can’t you take a joke?” question. Anyone who’s ever studied methods of abuse know the cruelest sentiments often come in the form of so-called “jokes.”

  41. head bang wall…overly sensitive fatties who can’t take a joke, argument. I had a similar FB discussion too. Seriously these people do think they are providing a community service and rarely can they back up anything they say. Frustrating much

  42. I’m a member of several groups that are often the butt of jokes in poor taste– that is, I’m a fat, queer survivor. You’ll notice that none of those things are a choice. Loving women? Born that way. Fat? Check out my entire clan– all that good Russian blood means we’re all built like oxen. And as for being raped… well, it’s never the victim’s fault, but if you want to victim-blame a 5-year-old for getting raped, there’s a special spot in hell reserved just for you.

    Yet, all three of these identities are often mocked, and if you stand up to say “that’s not funny” suddenly you can’t take a joke. It’s absurd. What’s even more absurd to me is that many people openly accept the bullying of fatties and survivors as “fair game.” The idea that some kinds of bullying are okay, while others are not is beyond my comprehension. Why is it that we can finally accept that passing judgement based on the color of someone’s skin isn’t okay, but passing judgement based on the size of their body is? What’s the difference? They’re both external attributes that tell you nothing about the person underneath, and neither is a choice. I guess the difference is that we lie. We tell people being fat is a choice, and that it speaks volumes about your character (like that you’re lazy and lack self-control). HMMM, doesn’t that sound familiar? Wasn’t it not that long ago that some people associated laziness with race, too?

    I guess what I’m getting at is that times change, but as a society we just seem to shift our prejudice to another group. Racism isn’t PC? How about homophobia! No, not anymore? Well, at least we can all agree that fatties need to be put down, you know, for their own good. It’s disgusting, and that people fail to see the parallels really boggles my mind.

    As for George Takei, I did comment on that picture, much to the effect that you did. I have no expectations of changing the minds of any other his fat-hating followers, and frankly I think it would be a waste of energy to try, but I hope, collectively, we at least made George pause and rethink. There is a world where his quip would’ve been funny, but it’s one in which there isn’t pervasive stigmas against fat people, and that’s not the world we live in.

  43. I do want to point out that there are PLENTY of queer folks who do “get it” with respect to fat rights… because we’re also fat. There just happen to be few of us in mainstream media, because, well, fat stigma.

    • Hi Monica,

      Sorry I missed this is the moderation queue. There are definitely logs of queer folks who get it (I’m one of them). I didn’t mean to make it sound like it was everybody. Thanks for clarifying!

      ~Ragen

  44. While I agree with you, the odds of it actually being George Takei himself who posted that are approximately equivalent to the odds of me becoming the Queen of England.

    Celebrities, 9 of 10 times, do not actually run their own Facebook pages. This is probably just some publicity wonk having a laugh.

  45. Apparently, George didn’t learn anything from your comments, because yesterday he posted a comic that fat shames Santa Claus.


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