It’s time for some more promotion of the book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, a collection of essays edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Feministing.com founder Jessica Valenti and written by established and emerging feminist writers including yours truly. (Click here to purchase your copy. FYI: My essay starts on page 53.)
Kate Harding‘s essay “How Do You F—- a Fat Woman” (FYI: This post will be censored for the easily offended.) really got me thinking about the role that self esteem plays in our romantic relationships.
Harding’s essay explores the “rape is a compliment” construct. You know, the suggestion that a woman who’s overweight should be happy that a man wanted to have sex with her in the first place. In the essay Harding gives examples of comments that some idiots have actually posted on some feminists blogs. Things like:
I’m against rape. Unless it’s obese women. How else are they going to get sweet, sweet, c-ck.
Can you believe a human being would say something like that?
Harding is quite comfortable in her body these days. But she writes in the essay that while she’s never fallen for this fat-chicks-should-be happy-to-be-raped crap, body image issues have affected her relationships in the past. She tells the story of how a flirty friendship she had with a guy pal in college didn’t blossom into more because she was convinced he didn’t really want her because of she wasn’t skinny.
But Harding points out that what’s even worse is the fact that low self esteem can cause a woman to believe that any male attention is to be treasured and retained at all costs. Unfortunately, I know women of all shapes and sizes who have fallen for this one, myself included.
You stay in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship because something inside tells you that if you let this one go you’ll find no one else to love you.
You stay in an abusive relationship because you somehow feel you deserve it.
You have sex with a man before you really want to because you’re convinced you should do anything to make him stay.
If you’ve found yourself in any of these situations my message to you is this: Do not believe the hype. Oftentimes we think we’re too fat or too skinny, too short or too tall, too dark or too pale because we’re comparing ourselves to mainstream beauty standards, to popular culture’s notion of what’s hot.
But as Harding explains in her essay, “Ain’t no such thing as a person who’s categorically hot in the opinion of every single person who sees them.”
Most folks think Angelina Jolie is gorgeous, but my husband just doesn’t get the appeal. And as for the issue of weight, the hubster would choose a woman that Hollywood considers fat over a woman who’s supermodel thin any day. “It’s unnatural for a woman’s thighs not to touch,” he told me one day while we were watching America’s Next Top Model. (Yes, he watches ANTM with me. But I digress.)
Ladies, once you realize how fabulous you are, the idea of staying with a jerk because you fear no one else will want you will sound absolutely ludicrous, because it is.