Mainstream sex experts often take a view that I find problematic, due to the fluff factor. The “just light some candles and take a bath” and your sex problems will magically resolve” approach. The “learn these five tips to rejuvenate your sex life with your man” strategy. The quick fix, simple pill, easy solution.
So, these types of posts, prolific and ubiquitous, are often problematic and irritating, but rarely dangerous and perpetrating of violence. Unlike the one I am about to deconstruct.
One of my best business practices is to follow other experts in my field, and read and listen to what they are saying. Often, I learn new things or at least get tasty subject material to chew on. However, consistently following the posts of the sexpert Dr. Laura Berman, I’ve found myself infuriated. There’s just enough substance to give her posts merit, but it’s usually awash in the kind of mainstream approach to sexuality that I feel does a huge disservice to those of us seeking an authentic experience of our sexual potential. And she is everywhere! This is not the sex education I want for our world!
Yesterday, she published this propaganda about obesity. Yes, dears, one more example of fat phobia. It hates on us, tells us that we have higher risk of STD’s, practice unsafe sex, don’t have the self-esteem to ask for condoms/barriers, don’t communicate honestly with our doctors, don’t enjoy sex like skinny “healthy” people do, and so on and on and on. And without careful reading, it just sounds like more of the party line, good advice, inarguable logic, etc. The active link in the article is ‘practicing good self-care’ and links to another article of hers about that extols the wonders of exercise for, you guessed it, women.
This weekend I had the deep pleasure of attending the “NoLose” conference, where I saw many people of various sizes, with amazing wit, fashion, brains and sexiness quotient. It was the first time I was in the company of radical queer fat people, many of whom are female identified, and I felt a place deep inside relax. The conversations we were having were outside the dominant culture, and looked seriously at the concepts of “health.” My friend Virgie Tovar was also at the conference, and wrote an awesome piece on fat + health and you can check it out. I post the values of this non-profit here for your consideration:
In the activist and empowerment work that we do, we envision a world:
- that is accessible to fat people and reflective of us.
- that is without fat discrimination, hatred or prejudice.
- where fat people are empowered to create positive change in ourselves and in our communities.
- where beauty, morality, health, humor and fashion are divorced from size and shape and all bodies are celebrated.
- where fighting fat phobia is seen as integrally linked to other social justice issues such as the women’s movement, anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggles of people of color at home and around the world, queer and transgender movements, class struggle, disability rights movements and more.
- where all people have a right to basic human rights as well as joy, sensuality and self-determination.
- and where the diet industry closes up shop as the world sees their products for the oppressive and ineffective scams they are.
Dr. Laura would have you believe that until you change your body to conform with mainstream standards of beauty and health, you will not have the sex life of your dreams. I stand here as proof that she is wrong. I stand here for all the times I’ve been told that losing weight would solve my problems. I stand here bearing witness to the amazing lovers I have had lining up to be with me, the soul-shifting sex I have on a regular basis, and I stand here saying I am worthy of pleasure, no matter what my size.
So fuck you, Dr. Laura. Fuck your violent and oppressive opinions about people of size and our sexuality. Fuck your body policing, and your certainty that exercise is good for all women, regardless of their body situation. I encourage you to dig a little deeper into the cultural strata, and find a place to stand that represents sexual freedom for all people, not just those you deem acceptable.
And until you do, I will stand here, with my little blog and my big brain, and call you an oppressor of a sexpert. I love having sex in my fat body. I do not engage in riskier behaviors because I’m fat. My access to birth control and use thereof are not impacted by my weight. I am honest with my doctor. I love my fat partner, and the fat sex we have. I stand here, the pleasure cheerleader for every person who has ever had their sexuality made invisible, whether because they are fat, disabled, survivor, mom, aged, express a different standard of beauty, ill, or otherwise marginalized. We are all worthy of pleasure.