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Gay Marriage and Size Acceptance: More Related than You Might Think

Debbie says:

It shouldn’t surprise any regular (or even occasional readers) that here at Body Impolitic we support gay marriage and we fought against California’s Proposition 8. We didn’t blog about it much, though, because we don’t generally write about electoral politics.

However, this article by Deacon Keith Fournier in Catholic Online draws a connection worth examining. Fournier, like many (but certainly not all) believing Catholics, starts from the position that gay marriage is against the will of God, quoting Pope Benedict XI from before his papacy: “To choose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design.”

Therefore, Fournier argues, accusations like homophobia and intolerance are smokescreens. Those who support equal rights and safety for GLBT people (such as President Obama) are heading down a bad path. “Efforts of some within the homosexual movement to equate how one engages in non-marital sexual acts with a member of the same sex with being a member of a particular race, or gender and thereby a ‘protected class’ for civil rights purposes is legally and socially dangerous. One is a status; the other involves behavior, a chosen behavior and a lifestyle.”

From here, it probably isn’t hard to guess how size acceptance enters the picture. It’s so easy to imagine that last sentence as a differentiator between, say, having a disabling neuromuscular disease and being fat: one is “a status” and the other “involves a chosen behavior.”

Fournier, as you may have already gathered, isn’t a very original thinker, and he follows that line to the letter.

“A very good argument can be made that obesity also has a genetic predisposition. However, I will fight it my whole life because it is unhealthy. It is a disordered appetite. Should we as a Nation decide that fat people have a civil right to be fat? Should those who insist that they resist that “genetic predisposition” to overeat be called Fata-phobic?”

First of all, he clearly doesn’t know how to use Google. He thinks he’s being sarcastic. Many of the Google hits on “fataphobic” link to Fournier’s column (including this excellent response by A Sarah at Shapely Prose), but the first line is “did you mean ‘fatphobic’?” So it would have taken him thirty seconds to find out that he was not making up an out-of-bounds concept to make fun of.

It might have taken him 90 seconds to find out that obesity is not the same as “disordered eating.” In fact, the most common usages of that phrase are anorexia, bulimia, and milder indicator versions of those behaviors. Or he might have spent that 90 seconds learning that his flat conviction that obesity is unhealthy is not a universal belief.

Worst of all, he can’t think about his own statements. Tucked between his little diatribe about obesity and a return to his rant about gay marriage, he says, “Our bodies do not lie, they speak the language written within their constitution and confirmed in the Natural Law which binds us all. ”

Sarah at Shapely Prose picked up on that sentence and very usefully went in a different direction than I did:

Specifically, you seem very worried about that “special” right — which I’m sure you have never enjoyed yourself — NOT to have your identity judged legally and bindingly “disordered,” according to one particular religious account of “the language written within [its] constitution and confirmed in the Natural Law which binds us all.”

She is, of course, right. He thinks he knows what “Natural Law” is, and his job is to tell us.

I really wish that, instead of using that comment about bodies not lying to shore up his positions, he’d thought about what it means. It’s the one point in the article where I agree with him.

My body is my body, and when I react erotically to someone of my gender, that’s not a lie. My body is my body and when I find myself hungry after what the book or website tells me should be a full meal, that’s not a lie. My body is my body, and if I am healthy and on no blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar medications at 260 (or so) pounds and 57 years, that’s not a lie. My body is my body, and when it shakes with fear or rage because its reactions, or size, or preferences make it unsafe, that’s not a lie.

Deacon Fournier has a little inkling of the truth buried in his knee-jerk beliefs. I hope he listens to his body.

Thanks to Joe Decker for the pointer.

5 Responses to “Gay Marriage and Size Acceptance: More Related than You Might Think”

  1. Other Kate Says:

    “My body is my body, and when I react erotically to someone of my gender, that’s not a lie. My body is my body and when I find myself hungry after what the book or website tells me should be a full meal, that’s not a lie. My body is my body, and if I am healthy and on no blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar medications at 260 (or so) pounds and 57 years, that’s not a lie.”

    Beautiful. From the perspective of a faithful Catholic, our bodies are a gift from God–how about listening to the truth they tell us.

  2. Wordweaverlynn Says:

    Ah, good old Natural Law: the assumption that any deviation from the known local average is necessarily evil. (I’m reminded of the old Stalinist motto, “Deviation is treason.”) By the same logic, racists despise people with different tones of skin or hair, different shapes of nose or eyes. Why would God have made such differences if He didn’t intend us to use them as a social classification scheme?

  3. Maria Lima Says:

    “I am healthy and on no blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar medications at 260 (or so) pounds and 57 years, that’s not a lie.”

    A-freakin-me to that! Took me years to find a doctor that didn’t automatically assume I had high blood pressure, etc. etc. because I am fat. Damn it, I’m healthy and so are many other fat people, just as many thin people are not. It’s the way it is. Nature, in her infinite glory, created us all to be equally respected and to be as different and amazing as we are.

    Thanks for the great post, Debbie!

  4. Lizzy L Says:

    Sigh. As James Joyce said about the Catholic Church: “Here comes everybody!” — which includes bigots and people who don’t think clearly, and people who are made uncomfortable by lack of orthodoxy, and people who struggle with the pronouncements of the magesterium, and people who just don’t know what they think.

    It doesn’t really surprise me that a person who hasn’t (in my opinion) fully thought through the basis of his objections to gay marriage would not have thought through his own assumptions about size and health and other people’s bodies.

  5. Lynne Murray Says:

    My father, who was a psychologist, had a wonderful phrase to describe religious beliefs that tie your mind up like a pretzel–he called them “religions that ask you to check your brain at the door.” I think that part of the reason that so many in our Western culture don’t respond well to the idea of the body having inherent wisdom is that there is a mistrust of the physical built into the mindset.

    The more I observe how people cling to the illusion that the physical body can be shaped at will, the more I see a very deep-seated Flesh Bad/Spirit Good belief. It seems to me that this viewpoint facilitates a great deal of harmful behavior, some of which amounts to profiteering. Other aspects of it amount to crowd control. Aside from fatphobia and homophobia, we also have a whole raft of body mistrusting, body punishing and essentially suicidal “medical treatments” based on denying, controlling and hating our physical selves.

    I don’t think this has to be central to being a Christian in good standing, but as a Buddhist I’m on the outside looking in, so I could be wrong about that one. My suspicion is that a transcendent and meditative Christianity might be more body positive, while a so-called “fundamentalist” sort of Christianity–which looks very Crowd-Control-Based to me–would mistrust any ideas of listening to one’s body, as opposed to listening to an authority figure telling you what to think and advising you to adjust your body to the externally imposed rules.

    One of the deep comforts of my 41 years of Buddhist practice is an increasing trust in my own body (and mind) based on the idea that Body and Mind are two sides of the same coin–literally two but inseparable.

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