Roxane Gay, Mamamia, and Fat Exclusionary Radical Feminism

What Will you DefendThe problem of some women excluding other women from their feminism is not new: you need look no further than SWERFs (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists). I object both to the practice of excluding sex workers and trans folks, and to characterizing any feminist who does so as “radical” unless we’re saying that it’s radically terrible behavior. Although not given an acronym, racism has also been and still is a huge problem in feminism.

There’s another common exclusion of these so-called “radical” feminists, and that’s fat women. The exclusion of fat women works differently than that of trans women and sex workers in that it’s less direct…more subtle. It comes in forms like concern trolling of fat women (ie: responding to demands for respect and accommodation with unrequested non sequitur hand-wringing about our health), lack of representation of fat women, diet and weight loss messages that suggest that a thinner body is a better body in feminist spaces, and push-back against feminist spaces that don’t allow diet and weight loss talk.

And, in the recent failure by Mamamia in its interview of Roxane Gay, the refusal to accommodate fat women, and the failure to treat us with respect.

Read my full piece about this here!

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Published in: on June 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm  Comments (9)  

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Ragen,

    Hope you’re doing well! After reading this, I became really curious about whether or not you had a critique of Roxane’s work itself (e.g. her defense of trying to lose weight, her description of her fatness as a result of sexual trauma, etc.)? I’ve heard Roxane say some very fatphobic things in interviews (e.g. her comments on this NPR piece about fatness), and while I haven’t yet read Hunger, I’ve heard from several people that there’s quite a bit of fatphobia in that book as well.

    Is this something you might write about in the future?

    xx Isabel

    Isabel Foxen Duke – (646) 729-4758 * http://www.stopfightingfood.com *

    On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 6:18 AM, Dances With Fat wrote:

    > danceswithfat posted: “The problem of some women excluding other women > from their feminism is not new: you need look no further than SWERFs (Sex > Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and TERFs (Trans Exclusionary > Radical Feminists). I object both to the practice of excluding s” >

  2. The song remains the same… Every new generation finds it’s footing, feels it’s outrage and it only goes so far.. I’ll let YOU in my movement for person-hood and respect but not them… See I am a good person but really, you have to draw the line somewhere… Yes right across my fat ass.
    Here a woman does everything she can to make herself feel safe and comfortable in an environment she (knows) assumes she won’t be welcome in, even thought is says she is, and bammo, same old BS. Different day.
    The hostess was way wrong. We can’t know what we don’t know, but man make an effort and if you don;t know ASK! Anyone calling them self an activist is probably front and center on how they want to be perceived and what they are comfortable with “tag line wise”.
    It is bizarre to put yourself up as a welcome and lets all be advocate and have so many restrictions on things you “just don’t know about”. Maybe do more work on yourself before you have guests to torment?
    Had an appt, guy was very nice and asked if I’d like another chair… Some things are changing…

  3. Read your article in Ravishly and I have to say it activates my throat punching reflex too. Thanks for bringing attention to this. I’ll be sure to completely ignore Mamamia in the future.

  4. Why would Mamamia put all that stuff out there and not think they were being insulting?

    • Myopia. Or maybe they really don’t care and that is their hold out. “I welcome everyone but fat people….” ?

    • because they think of it as being… charitable or something. Like when you go to a third world country and realize how bad the conditions are, how far people have to walk to get clean water. Then you want to open everyone elses eyes so that they also can know about the deplorable conditions and how the world ignores the problems. And you want a pat on the back for being such a humanitarian for helping all those poor people that don’t have water to drink, and this poor fat lady that has no chair, and a pat on the back for being so aware and now knowing about our plight and sharing our plight with the world. ugh stabby throat punchy ugh

  5. Golly. Either she’s really good at double-speak or completely unaware of how horribly insulting and cruel she is being.

    Also, I’m curious about why at 6’3″ she’s so “imposing” and her height is such an issue, when 6’3″ is a fairly common height for men. Are all those tall men really so put upon by our world with furnishings that don’t accommodate them? I mean, I know airline seats don’t accommodate them, but airline seats don’t accommodate anyone larger than a leprechaun.

    I’ve seen plenty of big men, both tall and fat, be accommodated without much fuss. But for a woman of size (tall and fat), it becomes this BIG DEAL, because as a woman, she is simply supposed to be smaller.

    If a tall man, 6’3″ and fat, were to ask about getting a chair that would hold him and be comfortable, would anyone even think to blog about it? And the questions about the steps? That’s not about fat, height, or body mass. It’s about something else, such as pain or perhaps difficulty breathing. Plenty of fat people can walk without difficulty, and plenty of thin people need oxygen, because there are plenty of reasons to have difficulty breathing. And plenty of reasons to have pain that would limit mobility. But do they even consider those? Nope. It’s ALL about her being “super morbidly obese.”

    And WHY couldn’t she bring herself to say the word “fat” to describe a woman who self-describes as fat? Why would she think that “super morbidly obese” sounds better? It’s because the word fat has been fat-shamed so much.

    I just can’t with this woman. I never heard of her or her magazine/podcast before, and I don’t want to seek it out now.

    • That one made me wonder, it my be a trolling issue or deep seated fat fear issues. When even support is hostile it isn’t support and there is something to it…I stopped reading when it got blurry. Just don’t know.

  6. Whatever Ms. Gay’s particular focus may be, I don’t plan to lose any sleep about it. It surely is the old story: “Acceptable” activism is on a continuum and nobody ever gets it completely “right”–especially those who are also celebrities. It is so in all struggles, not just in fat rights. People can’t even agree on the language. But Ragen, I think you got it right in your post, and we seem to be on the same wavelength 99% of the time; and if pressed, I would have a hard time telling you what the 1% might be!


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