Carbonated Wit

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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Policing Appearances

About a month ago, Pat Robertson said a terrible thing, and the internet was like “Whoa, Look What That Jerk Said!”

What he said is basically that it’s women’s fault when their husbands drink or cheat, because the women have gotten ugly and sloppy in their dress.

The Internet is totally right to call this guy out for saying such a terrible thing.

But you know what?

In a lot of places, I see comments about how ugly Robertson is. Check out how ugly he is, who is he to talk? For instance, here, at about 2 minutes in.

Sure, it’s an easy shot. We love hypocrisy, right? But the problem is not that an ugly dude is telling women to be pretty for their husbands (lest their husbands become alcoholics or divorce them). It wouldn’t be okay if a handsome dude was telling women to be pretty for their husbands. The problem is not who’s saying it, the problem is what’s being said.

The thing that is the problem is called “appearance policing” and it is about socially requiring people to look a certain way in order to qualify for certain social benefits, such as basic respect from a spouse. Or an employer, or a shopkeeper, or whoever. Leggings aren’t pants is the same thing (even if I passionately hate the use of leggings as pants).

When we go off and say “Yeah, what a terrible thing to say and what an ugly dude who said it!” we are doing the SAME THING AS ROBERTSON. We are saying that the problem is with what he looks like, not with what he said. We are playing into his hands, agreeing with his basic assertion that a person’s appearance determines what value they should have.

And really, what he looks like is perfectly fine old white guy. There’s nothing wrong with his appearance — not that it matters, it really doesn’t. But it just makes it worse, because the problem isn’t even that he’s some essence of ugly, it’s just that he’s old.

It’s not okay to police the appearance of old guys, calling them ugly for being old, even if they’re assholes. Even if they’re Pat Robertson, professional asshole.

Call him a sexist asshole. Call him wrong. Say how angry you are that this old fucker is going on as if he knows something about you and your marriage and how it’s all your fault that your husband is an abusive alcoholic. That’s all totally legit.

Just leave his looks out of it.


On Starting To Exercise

I have begin the quest to develop that most elusive of things: a regular, non-remarkable exercise habit.

I hear people have this. I hear that for a lot of people, it is the most normal thing in the world to have a gym membership and have certain times when you go to the gym, and you do the thing, and then you go on with your day. I hear that for these people, missing too many days will actually cause them to suffer from mood disruptions.

This is completely mind-boggling to me. I sort of get it intellectually, but… no. What? How? Who does that? How does that even work?

But my health problems over the past year combined to render me less of a couch potato and more of a couch. A migraine every other day will do that! So gradually even routine daily stuff like grocery shopping was getting hard. Two flights of stairs? HA. Going for a walk with my husband? Hard work, instead of a lovely time under sun-dappled trees, watching the ducks. Worse still, while I am okay with the changes in my weight*, my doctors are not, and they make a cogent case for how my weight is causing me a specific harm. I’d push back against general Fat Is Bad from the doctors but “these studies show this for your condition” is, like, Actual Science and not run of the mill fat bias.

So… shit.

I have signed up with a fancy expensive small-group training gym. You can’t actually go without an appointment and there will be a maximum of eight people there at any time — and four of them are on cardio and don’t need the trainer’s attention. They notice if you don’t show up to appointments or if you don’t make all the appointments you’ve paid for, and will call you to ask what’s up. They listened when I said I didn’t want to hear about their nutrition plan. When I had an injury, they worked around it. When I’m struggling, they tell me I’m doing great.

It’s been less than a month. I’ve had to struggle to get my three appointments a week into my schedule, sometimes; having back to back appointments is really tough for me and they’re closed Sundays. But I have now gone to the gym more times in a month than possibly in any other twelve-month period of my life.

I can (repeatedly) pick up and put down  heavier things than I thought I could!

I have improved one of the exercises they use as an index for your capability by like 25%!

I still can’t really use the elliptical machine or the bike for my cardio without crying and having to stop. But on the treadmill, I have walked, like, an entire mile, after repeatedly moving heavy things around!

It is super hard, though, and I have had to apply a lot of stubborn bitch to get through some of this. But that is all in the gym! The best thing about all of this is that really, I don’t have to think about it the rest of the time. I just have to figure out how I’m going to make this appointment, same as if it were a doctor appointment or a meeting with my boss. The trainers have planned out what we do that week and I just have to follow instructions as best I can.

So, mostly, it’s like, all I really have to do is show up. Once I’m there, other processes take over and I am working hard because really any kind of movement is hard work for me, but again, someone else is in charge of that. I just have to get there.

I think that’s what’s going to be the thing that makes this possible for me. At least, I hope so. I need enough willpower and other supportive pressures to keep me going until I hit that point where the training is its own reward.

…will that happen? I hope it does. I really, really hope it does before the novelty of “wow, I moved heavy things around!” wears off.

Have any of you done this kind of thing?

*I finally fit in cheap mass-produced dresses off the internet, now that my belly has caught up to my breasts! Yay! Macy’s sales for the win!

This has become a bit less exciting now that I’ve discovered eShakti, which will serve me up cute dresses forever no matter what measurements I may possess. So awesome, so cute, and I should write up a post about that soon.