What's So Special About Dan Savage?
So here's the thing.
This past week, Dan Savage reared his ugly head again and wrote another "But wait, fat people? Suck!" column. Rachel called him out on his lackluster advice which in turn led to massive trolling of her site by Savage's readers. As an impressive bonus Savage linked back to Rachel more than once this week.
My initial opinion is that, holy crap, that's a huge recognition of the impact of the fatosphere. Huge. Dan Savage doesn't have to give us the time of day, nor does he need to. And one thing to keep in mind is this Savage quote from a great post by Kate Harding at the old Shakesville:
I’m all for fat rights.
There you go. He's for fat rights. Just not... well, anything else but saying he's for fat rights. His next sentence:
What I’m against is the notion that pretending obesity is healthy is somehow a “right” to which fat people are entitled, or that it’s some sort of social justice issue. It’s not. Also, people are not violating your “rights” if they don’t find you attractive for whatever reason.
Setting aside the claim that it's not a social justice issue (!) for a moment, to be totally fair, Kate and many others deconstructed his comment in that Shakesville thread. But that last sentence... that's what we saw again this week.
This is something that's important to separate: not everyone will find fat attractive. It's true. And The Rotund put a finer point on it at her site in response to an anonymous (surprise) commenter:
Anon, you totally have the right to think I am unattractive. That is actually the point - we all have the right to our personal aesthetics. Acknowledging that doesn’t hurt the cause - because the cause is not making everyone think fat people are attractive.
But here is the difference: if someone thinks a thin person is unattractive, they don’t fuck that person. If someone thinks a fat person is unattractive, they throw things or verbally harass the fat person as they walk down the side of the road.
That's something that, apparently, hasn't sunken in for Dan Savage in the five months since this last incident. I suspect that it may not sink in, either, because it's way easier to just write some BS and get a rise out of fat rights bloggers than be open-minded. Being open-minded isn't in Dan Savage's public persona so, there you go.
It's frustrating, sure. But Rachel was totally on target by bringing up comparisons to the "gay people can change!!!" stance put forth by gay hate groups, for we face the exact same argument from people such as Savage's supporters and, Savage himself. He makes his opinion very clear: if fat people just didn't eat So Damn Much, everything would be fine and people wouldn't write him bitching about their shallow perceptions of attractiveness and beauty, and everything would be just fine.
A dilemma comes up here: do we even need to argue against that outmoded We Just Eat image anymore? Part of me says yes, we do, as there are many many people whose heads explode when they hear about HAES. But another side of me says no, it's time to move on from this little BS and point towards bigger issues - issues of equality and rights. Maybe we don't need to choose, though. Maybe we just need to put on a continual full-court press and tell people about the real issues while combatting their ignorance.
Tough job, yes, but someone's gotta do it. Again, big props to Rachel for her work this week.