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.