Problematic Fitness

Tissues At The Ready, People

The word has done incredible damage to my body.

In the pages of Slate, Emily Duke, a woman who “loves carbohydrates,” shares her sorrows as a professional person of girth:

When New York state announced that Phase 1B of vaccinations would include those who are “obese” or “severely obese,” I knew I would qualify. My heart sank into my stomach. I am fat. I am a fat activist. Like a lot of larger-bodied people, I have embraced the word fat. Doing so allows me to buy clothes that fit, rather than those that could fit if I changed. 

The last three words of that sentence are perhaps worth keeping in mind.

It allows me to exist.

Which, we’re to assume, the word obese does not. It being less fluffy. With the power to send a fat woman into an emotional tailspin. 

Among all the radical self-love coffee mugs I’ve seen, “I love being obese” has never been one of them. The word obese elicits an unparalleled grief in me. 

Well, recognition can do that, especially if belated and previously avoided. And incidentally, if your world is one in which “radical self-love coffee mugs” feature prominently, I’d suggest something may be awry.

When I heard the [vaccination] announcement I had been waiting for, I spent three hours in the grocery store trying to figure out what I “should” have for dinner that night.

Three hours. One might call that a telling preoccupation. Ms Duke then detours, at length, into recollections of being in therapy, parental divorce, the “trauma” of dieting, and the woes of being told she is an “emotional eater.” 

When I heard the good news about my eligibility for the vaccine… I panicked that I was a bad fat activist. I felt like I was just one weigh-in away from losing my chosen identity because I can’t face a number on a scale… I’d need to know my BMI to ensure I qualified, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle it.

No emotional issues there, thank goodness.

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Our Betters In Love (2)

Further to this recent tale of aching tenderness, it’s time for another visit to the pages of Slate, where our progressive betters mull the quandaries of modern living:  

I’m a woman in my mid-30s, and I’ve identified as asexual and aromantic basically forever. A few months ago, something changed, and I experienced sexual attraction for the first time, 

Ah, a sexual blossoming.

I’m kind of touch-averse, 

Albeit complicated.

I befriended a man online. We were a little flirty right from the start, but I drew a hard line in the sand because he’s (unhappily) married, and that’s very much against my moral code. 

Thank goodness for moral codes.

Our relationship escalated during this time and turned sexual (still just over text or online).

That hard line in the sand.

As we go further, though, I’m starting to wonder if I’m a terrible person for encouraging and enabling this man to cheat on his wife, just because he treats me in a way that no one else ever has. He tells me I’m beautiful and desirable and values me so much more than I am often able to value myself.

Yeah, screw the wife. I got mine and now I’m hot, baby.

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Reheated (56)

For newcomers, more items from the archives.

Weepy And Hysterical.

A philosophy lecturer, a specialist in “critical whiteness studies,” apologises, at length, for his own heterosexuality.

Professor Yancy goes on to denounce, on behalf of all men, “our sexually objectifying gazes… our pornographic imaginations.” Our “dominant phallic economy.” Indeed, he continues, “we are collectively complicit with a sexist mind-set and a poisonous masculinity.” You see, being aroused by women, while not quite rape in itself, is nonetheless, as it were, rape-adjacent, and constitutes “a violent, pathetic and problematic masculinity.” One wonders how a species of suitably corrected human beings, purged of such heterosexual inclinations, might propagate and flourish. Such that we can indulge the theatrical sorrows of woke philosophy lecturers.

The Perils Of Jogging.

Zoe Williams warns Guardian readers that exercise “makes you rightwing.”

According to Zoe, if you visit a gym, or cycle, or merely take the occasional brisk walk with a dog in tow - or presumably have any kind of goals, however modest, and then achieve them - you’ll become boastful, consumed with “self-love” and wicked delusions of “self-sufficiency,” a gateway to the greatest sin of all: not being leftwing. Because leftwing people, like Zoe, are free of vanity and unblemished by urges to signal superiority of one kind or another. Say, by telling us, quite often, that they’re not at all rightwing.

Still, it’s strange just how readily Zoe leaps from ‘people can be a bit tedious when banging on about their enthusiasms’ – the word blogging comes to mind – to ‘regular jogging will make you vote Conservative because feelings of achievement and capability are politically corrupting’. Presumably, leftist piety is arrived at via indolence, whining and half-arsed flummery. Though it’s not, perhaps, as strange as declaring one’s own piety and compassion – as opposed to all those dreadful rightwing people - while sneering at a cancer charity because its most direct beneficiaries are men.

How To Impress Your Boss, An Intersectional Guide

Self-described “educator” Sophia Stephens says that minority employees shouldn’t have to be reliable or competent.

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The Year Reheated

In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.

The year began on a highbrow note as the University of Denver’s Professor Ryan Evely Gildersleeve informed the world that laziness is a “a political stance,” a way to “combat the neoliberal condition,” and a “tool for contributing to social justice.” Half-arsed incompetence is, we were assured, both radical and empowering. The professor also shared his belief that plastic is sentient. Inanimate objects also troubled Dr Jane Bone, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, who specialises in “feminist post-structural perspectives” and the political implications of problematic furniture. Dr Bone’s research involves quite a lot of “embodied knowing,” i.e., visiting IKEA and sitting on chairs. Her work, she revealed, is “not necessarily logical.” Further feminist insights came via Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, whose feminist fight club is “a mode of resistance,” because the spectacle of unhappy ladies body-slamming each other and breaking each other’s ribs is an obvious way to “destroy the Conservative government” and “bring down the patriarchy.”

In February, we turned our attention to the world of aesthetics, where performance artist Sandrine Schaefer presented her buttocks to the world then waited for applause. We also learned that space exploration is all about “abuse” and “male entitlement,” thanks to Women’s Studies educator Marcie Bianco. Ms Bianco, who claims that sending spacecraft to Mars is akin to grabbing ladies’ genitals, teaches “social justice courses” at Rutgers University and John Jay College.

The ability of Jordan Peterson to trigger fits of theatrical hysteria among leftwing students was a highlight of March, when an attempt to speak at Queen’s University, Ontario, resulted in memorable and telling scenes, as students unleashed their inner screeching id. Also memorable, though for very different reasons, was this short, rather lovely film by Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet. And at Simmons College, where recreational indignation is very much in fashion, and annual tuition is a mere $40,000, we learned that responding to a sneeze with the words “bless you” is problematic and oppressive, and that compiling lists of things that are problematic and oppressive, and therefore to be avoided, is itself problematic and oppressive.

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The Perils of Jogging

For want of anything better to do, we turn to the pages of the Guardian, where columnist Zoe Williams is once again unhappy and resentful

The tweeting began before 6am, as healthy, responsible people announced to the world that they were going to the gym for their 6am workout, and might go for a run later… By 7am, someone had posted a picture of themselves doing a complicated yoga posture on a log, and I was as angry as a bull. The problem wasn’t the hashtagging; the problem is with fitness itself.

Ms Williams, it seems, spends every dawn monitoring Twitter hashtags of which she disapproves and raging at the thought of strangers exercising. And she does this while writing an ostensible fitness column for the Guardian, the details of which she struggles to retain:  

I have been writing a fitness column for a year and in this time I’ve digested very little about what exercise does for your body.

Or as the headline puts it,

I’m not sure what exercise does for your body.

This appears, incidentally, inches above a reminder of the importance of supporting the paper’s relentless professionalism. However, there are some things Ms Williams does know:

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