Saturday, December 25, 2010

Testing, one, two, three?

So, I got an iPad for Christmas. Apparently you can blog from this machine! I'm giving it a whirl because if it works, I think y'all can expect to hear from me more often.

This is excellent news because I've had lots and lots of ideas lately (because you know, it's winter break except I don't understand the meaning of the word "break"). Upcoming posts include a review of Golda Poretsky of Body Love Wellness's new book and a discussion of the writings of Irvin D. Yalom, body size and countertransference.

I hope that anyone this blog post reaches had a safe holiday. I also hope this blog post reaches anyone!

In solidarity,
The Fat Social Worker

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rape culture, and how it affects me (and probably my clients, too)

I haven't been able to pull myself away from the #MooreandMe dialog on Twitter, even though I have a final that I've barely started due in 24 hours. The whole thing to me is really remarkable and inspiring.

Warning: This post can be triggering to survivors of violence and sexual assault.

Also, a lil background on #MooreandMe:
I decided to post about this after reading The Rotund's response to the all of this. Up until I read Kirby's post, I had a hard time putting my finger on why this is such a trigger for me (and how do I respond to triggers? I write about them and get angry on the internet, obvs). But then it dawned on me while I considered my own relationship and past with sexual assault.

Self-disclosure warning: I am no stranger to sexual assault. It's overwhelming for me to think about how many times I have been sexually violated/raped/molested in my life. It's to the point where I have a serious disconnect with my past. I speak with hardly anyone about it, not even my therapist. I, in an unhealthy way, consider it a non-issue; something I've moved on from. You know why? I barely can acknowledge what has happened to me as rape.

Every single assault I've experienced has been questioned by someone. When it was a family member, I must just be remembering it wrong. When it was a guy I hung out with in high school, I must have just been trying to get attention. When it was a guy I was in a monogamous relationship (or so I thought) and lived with, I must have just been bitter he broke up with me. Its not hard to believe that all of this questioning has led me to question it myself.

What Naomi Wolf and Michael Moore have done is no different from what those people who suspected I was lying have done to me. Let's say Assange didn't do it: does that make what Naomi Wolf said any better? No. Because she is still perpetuating the idea that it is okay to dismiss accounts of rape. And if Assange did do it? I don't know about you, but just because he's become the Poster Boy of Freedom and Truth does not mean someone he could have potentially raped should keep it under wraps until the U.S. gov't doesn't want a piece of him anymore. You know why? It's not their fault. If Assange did it and the government is using this as a convenient way to get what they want out of him, well, too bad, that is an entirely separate issue from the fact that he may have raped someone. If only they treated all rape cases this way.

If Assange didn't do it? Well, considering the world's track record of convicting people who ACTUALLY commit rape, I'd say he has nothing to worry about.

But, as The Rotund points out:

Assange’s innocence or guilt is not the current issue. It’s whether or not rape accusations are taken seriously. It’s whether or not women feel comfortable coming forward and talking about these things – to the police or to anyone else for that matter.

I have been profoundly impacted by rape culture and words that sound a lot like Naomi Wolf's. I have clients who say things like "It wasn't rape because he's my baby's father." THEY have been profoundly impacted by rape culture. Every one is hurt by rape culture. It is not to be apologized for. It is not "hooey." It is not simply the "dating police."

Naomi, as a survivor, I ask you to stop speaking for me. As someone who has experienced rape, I feel empowered by things such as #MooreandMe. I feel empowered knowing that there is a group of people out there who would be willing to fight for my right to be believed.

I will join that fight. I deserve to be believed. My clients deserve to be believed. And our culture needs to start honoring that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I would be lying if I said this was my first attempt at blogging. I've started many blogs, mostly personal blogs, that have absolutely no focus. I end up writing obnoxiously emotional complaints about how I want to go shopping or how I'm mad at my boyfriend; in other words, blogging usually makes me feel absolutely vapid.

I think this is because I've had no focus. It's also been a long time since I've felt passionate about anything except how I'm broke/someone I love--and these two things have both contributed to the fact that I've experienced a loss of identity throughout the years. But, I think I've rekindled a part of myself that I lost when I started social work school in September.

When I was 15 years old, I knew I was going to change the world. But uh, every American 15 year old feels that way. I was different though. I was precocious. If I met 15 year old me now, I'd be in love. I was a hardcore, radical feminist. I was unabashedly open about my thoughts, feeling, sexual preferences, etc. I didn't know how to pick my battles; I fought them all. I don't know when I lost this. I think it's when my battles started having real-world implications.

Social work school, 10 years later, has reminded me of all of those feelings. Fortunately I now have the judgment to reserve my energy for when the battles are truly necessary. I am sort of learning the idea of self-care. I am actually helping people, and I figured out how to do this being a feminist thing, and get paid for it.

While social work school has thus far been truly transformative for me, it is not all gumdrops and rainbows. I've been interested in fat acceptance for a long while. Getting fat helped me along with that interest. ;) I noticed though that social work school has all of these courses and articles we're supposed to read about cultural competence. We learned about how to understand our bias in order to prevent negative counter-transference. We talk about race, immigration status, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, ethnicity, omg I know I'm forgetting something. But, so far, my social work education has consisted of a total of 30 minutes of talk on fat issues. 20 minutes of those I had to advocate to make happen. I had to get really fucking angry actually, and I ended up raising my voice toward my favorite professor.

Basically, she pulled what almost everyone in the world pulls when the topic of teh death fatz comes up: But what about their health? That's not healthy. And my question is, "How is this relevant to our work?" Crickets. I asked again, louder (I guess she identified a trigger, huh?). She didn't understand the question. I went home and began digging through my links and saved papers and books to find the best information I could to represent the fat acceptance/fat studies movements. I sent them out to the class.

When we came back, the professor wanted to retouch the topic. She openly admitted she was a fatist. It was kind of amazing.

And I realize, you know, all it takes is a conversation. Conversations that social work schools aren't having. Progressive people are not talking about body size. It's irrelevant, because it's gross and unhealthy. Fat people are not worthy of equal rights, even from social workers, because it's unhealthy, and they eat too much, and no one likes sitting next to them on airplanes.

So this blog is my place to do some processing. It's a place for me to focus my thoughts on social work in general, and to hopefully reach out to other fat social workers. And to get started on what I hope to be a long foray into social justice. Thanks for stopping by :)