A few disjointed thoughts that hopefully add up to something jointed

1) Is jointed a word? I guess so, because WordPress didn’t highlight it in red when I typed it. I hope it means what I think it means.

2) I stumbled across something recently (I’ll be darned if I can find it again) that echoed something I’ve been thinking for a long time: Part of the reason why weight loss surgery, specifically the surgeries where large portions of the stomach are removed or reorganized, works is because the body responds to it as a near-fatal injury and then acts as though it’s been injured and left for dead, mobilizing fat stores to survive. In part, I’m speaking from the experience of having a stomach-opening surgery, an emergency appendectomy,  not performed laparoscopically, where it took the surgeon a long time to locate my poor appendix, and afterward I lost around 20 pounds that I never really regained. I’m not saying that eating less has no impact, or that as people lose weight they don’t also gain increased mobility that allows them to move more, but the difference between the lap band and gastric bypass, for example, may have to do with the way the body responds to injury, especially to an injury to the stomach, more than anything else. What an amazing thing, that our bodies might have a switch that says: “Stoke the engines with all the reserves! We need all you’ve got! We can’t get any more fuel right now, we’ve got to use what we have on board!” It might also explain why people with type 2 diabetes see an immediate change after the surgery — I’m guessing there’s something that turns off the insulin sensitivity and puts it in reverse. Of course, I’m no bariatric biochemical endocrinology expert. I haven’t even taken O-Chem.

3) I’m not going to pretend that what I’m going to write next is original. I’m sure I’ve been influenced by Lonie McMichael’s series on Big Fat Blog. My 42-year-old brain is synthesizing things I haven’t read in over 20 years, like bell hooks and Audre Lorde and Adrianne Rich and Michel Foucault and Dorothy Allison and many, many others. But, while dancing the other day, I stumbled upon a fear that I realized wasn’t unique to me: The fear of my sexuality being misperceived in a way that was potentially dangerous.

Let me say that again a slightly different way: I noticed I was afraid that my sexuality would be perceived in a way that would cause others to harm me.

And suddenly, I felt connected to many, many people in the world who may have the same fear. I felt like my sexualness, my sensuality, my sexiness as a being, the sense I carry of that in myself, would lead me to be harmed.

Does that sound familiar?

Now, my fear in that very moment, in a very safe place, may have been unfounded. In fact, had the space consisted entirely of women, I might not have felt that fear so acutely. Unless the space was filled entirely with fat women dancing (a lovely image to me), though, it’s likely that fear would have come up.

I’m going to try to put this in the concept that I think in my own mind comes from Foucault of the internalization of the prison guard to prevent the consequences of being out of line. I learned that for a fat woman, wearing a proud sense of sexual self was going to lead to ridicule. So, although my sensuality and sexualness are primary aspects of who I am (I am not saying this is universal to all fat women), I have a fear of letting that show.

And, while I was dancing, I felt a sense of solidarity, and sadness and grief and apology, for all of the people who have felt the same fear. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like as a transwoman, or a gay man, or a person of color, or an elder, who are ridiculed and threatened or beaten or killed for allowing their sexuality to be seen publicly. But as a fat white 42 year old Jewish woman, I felt fear that my own recognition and rejoicing in my sexualness through dancing would lead to punishment and pain. There are many complexities that no doubt other people have written about far better than me (feel free to link in the comments section) — the push-pull of dominant culture coaxing the “other” sexuality out into the open only to beat the living daylights out of it if it feels even slightly threatened by it.

So, I have some work to do on my own fear. And I have a new fierceness in my fight for all people to be able to live as themselves, free from that fear.

4) I’m off now to embark on a day of activism for the well-being of children in my state!


1 Comment

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One response to “A few disjointed thoughts that hopefully add up to something jointed

  1. I get that feeling sometimes, too. It’s always in a different space or situation, but it’s there. I know why this happens for me (past abuse), but at the same time I wonder if it will ever go away. And what about people who have never endured abuse or trauma? Do they still have this fear? Thanks for bringing this up. It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for awhile but I wasn’t sure how to approach it.

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