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Lonie McMichael: Intro & hook's ideology of domination

My name is Lonie McMichael; I just graduated with a PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric. For my dissertation, I focused on the rhetoric surrounding the obesity epidemic including the rhetoric of Fat Acceptance. Many of you participated in either my online focus group or digital interviews, so I wanted to provide the community an overview of my work. Thanks to BFB for hosting this series of blog posts.

My area is rhetoric; rhetoric can be defined as persuasion. I tend to focus on persuasion through language. For my research, I used bell hooks’ ideology of domination as my theoretical focus. hooks says that Western society has a belief that some people are inferior and others are superior and that the seemingly inferior ones buy into the belief that they are inferior. In order to overcome the ideology, hooks says that those in the margin – the ones perceived as inferior – must be the first to resist the dominant ideals. She says that love is the solution. This is not the feeling love, but a force that fights dehumanization and seeks connection. Hooks says that both the dominated and the dominator must come together to overcome domination in the end.

Now, hooks is an African-American woman and writes from her own perspective. She intertwines her ideas about domination into her experience, and it’s not always clear which she is speaking of. That being the case, I had to skirt the line on comparing prejudices. At the same time, the primary question I asked throughout this work was, “why does our society consider some prejudices unacceptable while others are considered acceptable?” hooks says that allowing any prejudice to exist hurts all oppressed people, that all domination must stop. My research supports this assertion. By allowing fat prejudice to continue, we are actually allowing a number of other prejudices to continue including: sexism, racism, ageism and ablism.

So, for the next few weeks, I will show you what I found out about internalization, resistance and love in relation to the rhetoric of fat. Since I gleaned many of my ideas from what I learned in Fat Acceptance and the Fatosphere, much of this will be familiar; I just take it from the rhetorical perspective.

(BFB introduction and dissertation abstract here.)

Harriet Brown's 'Project Body Talk' | Live My C.H.O.I.C.E. - LapBand Contest sponsored by Allergan

DeeLeigh's picture
January 7th, 2011 | Link | I've come to believe that

I've come to believe that the roots of sizism lay in the way social hierarchies work, and have little to do with health or even (at the root) appearance. Appearance is just the signifier. As you say, social dominance is what it's really all about.

And love? It would be nice if human beings loved more (in the broad sense) and hated less but is it in our nature, if we manage to make sizism less socially acceptable or even eliminate it, to find some other -ism to replace it? How can that be prevented?

I wrote this cynical post a couple years ago on how to revere a typical thin>fat social dynamic.

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