Saturday, January 22, 2011

Understanding Oppression

Hi folks:  There has been some confusion about the part from  the Exam # 2 where I ask you to "Discuss the form of discrimination at multiple levels: personal/individual, institutional and cultural.  Give several concrete examples of your form of oppression that help the reader to better understand it."  So, I thought I would share this handout to help spell out more clearly what is meant by individual, institutional and cultural oppression.  -JRR

Understanding the Different Levels of Oppression 

Oppression is a system that maintains advantage and disadvantage based on social group memberships and operates, intentionally and unintentionally, on individual, institutional and cultural levels.

Individual: Attitudes and actions that reflect prejudice against a social group (intentional and unintentional).

Institutional: Policies, laws, rules, norms and customs enacted by organizations and social institutions that disadvantage some social groups and advantage other social groups.  These institutions include religion, government, education, law, the media, and the health care system (intentional and unintentional).

Societal/Cultural:  Social norms, roles, rituals, language, music and art that reflect and reinforce the belief that one social group is superior to another  (Intentional and unintentional).

Here are some examples of each type:

Individual Unintentional:

·      A high school teacher assumes all her students are interested in dating classmates of the “opposite” gender

·      A teacher who prides himself on being fair to all his students calls on boys to answer questions three times more often than he calls on girls

Individual Intentional:

·      Someone uses racial slurs to refer to Black and Puerto Rican People

·      A Parents asks to have her child moved out of a transgender teacher’s classroom

Institutional Unintentional:

·      Students celebrate Christmas in school, but not other winter religious holidays

·      A town hall building does not have an entrance that is accessible to people using wheelchairs

Institutional Intentional:

·      A state adopts a law prohibiting the legal recognition (marriage equality) of lesbian and gay relationships

·      An employment agency steers Black People toward low-paying, domestic, or custodial positions

Societal/Cultural Unintentional:

·      Standards of beauty for women are based on white norms: blond, fine hair, blue eyes, and fair/light skin

·      A Belief in individual merit and hard work being rewarded by economic success leads to an assumption that poor people are lazy and undeserving

Societal/Cultural Intentional:

·      English is designated as the “official” language in the United States

·      European Culture is assumed to be superior to other cultures

From: Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, 2nd Edition.  P. 58-59.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quotes for the Revolution

Being an activist is hard work. One of the things that makes it more bearable is learning about the activists who have come before you.  I love quotes and often find quotes from activists I admire to give me inspiration to continue on the fight. Some of my favorite activists are: Audre Lorde, Gandhi, Malcolm X, Andrea Dworkin, Leslie Feinberg, Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, Gloria Anzaldua, Alice Paul, Sylvia Rivera, Shirley Chisholm, Harvey Milk, Ida B. Wells, Cesar Chavez, Howard Zinn, and many more everyday people who stood up, fought back and tried their best to do the right thing.

Quotes for the Revolution :  Compiled by Joelle Ruby Ryan
If I can’t do it, it ain’t worth doing. – Arthur Campbell, Jr.
When I dare to be powerful, to use my life in service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.  – Audre Lorde
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.  – Mother Jones
We are the ones we have been waiting for.  – June Jordan
We can only be considered “gender-bent” in a society that’s gender-rigid. – Leslie Feinberg
Anything we love can be saved.  – Alice Walker
Activism is my rent for living on this planet.  - Alice Walker
You did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.     
 – Maya Angelou

I am not only a casualty, I am also a warrior.  – Audre Lorde

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.  – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.  – Frederick Douglas

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. – Frederick Douglas

Greatness is not measured by what a person accomplishes, but by the opposition they have overcome to reach their goals.   – Dorothy Height

Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating. - Andrea Dworkin

Be the change that you want to see in the world.   -Mohandas Gandhi

I am, was, and always will be a catalyst for change. – Shirley Chisholm

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.     - Dalai Lama

Failure is impossible. – Susan B. Anthony 

You can kill a revolutionary but you can never kill the revolution. - Fred Hampton 

If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.  – Australian Aboriginal Group

You are a star, everybody is one.  You are a star, you only happen once. – Sylvester
As far as I'm concerned, being any gender is a drag. -Patti Smith
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevera                       
As long as there is rape... there is not going to be any peace or justice or equality or freedom. You are not going to become what you want to become or who you want to become. You are not going to live in the world you want to live in.  – Andrea Dworkin 

Do not feel shame for how I live. I chose this tribe of warriors and outlaws.  – Essex Hemphill

I am in the world to change the world.   – Kathe Kollwitz
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  – Margaret Mead
The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.  – Wade Davis
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. 
 – Jimi Hendrix
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.  - Based on a Cree Proverb
I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.  I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin.  
 Malcolm X

You Get Proud by Practicing

This is a terrific poem by the disability rights activist Laura Hershey.  Hershey passed away last year, but her legacy of fighting for feminism, disability liberation and LGBT rights will not be soon forgotten.

You Get Proud by Practicing 
by Laura Hershey

If you are not proud
For who you are, for what you say, for how you look;
If every time you stop
To think of yourself, you do not see yourself glowing
With golden light; do not, therefore, give up on yourself.
You can get proud.

You do not need
A better body, a purer spirit, or a Ph.D.
To be proud.
You do not need
A lot of money, a handsome boyfriend, or a nice car.
You do not need
To be able to walk, or see, or hear,
Or use big, complicated words,
Or do any of those things that you just can’t do
To be proud. A caseworker
Cannot make you proud,
Or a doctor.
You only need more practice.
You get proud by practicing.

There are many many ways to get proud.
You can try riding a horse, or skiing on one leg,
Or playing guitar,
And do well or not so well,
And be glad you tried
Either way.
You can show
Something you’ve made
To someone you respect
And be happy with it no matter
What they say.
You can say
What you think, though you know
Other people do not think the same way, and you can
keep saying it, even if they tell you
You are crazy.

You can add your voice
All night to the voices
Of a hundred and fifty others
In a circle
Around a jailhouse
Where your brothers and sisters are being held
For blocking buses with no lifts,
Or you can be one of the ones
Inside the jailhouse,
Knowing of the circle outside.
You can speak your love
To a friend
Without fear.
You can find someone who will listen to you
Without judging you or doubting you or being
Afraid of you
And let you hear yourself perhaps
For the very first time.
These are all ways
Of getting proud.
None of them
Are easy, but all of them
Are possible. You can do all of these things,
Or just one of them again and again.
You get proud
By practicing.

Power makes you proud, and power
Comes in many fine forms
Supple and rich as butterfly wings.
It is music
when you practice opening your mouth
And liking what you hear
Because it is the sound of your own
True voice.

It is sunlight
When you practice seeing
Strength and beauty in everyone,
Including yourself.
It is dance
when you practice knowing
That what you do
And the way you do it
Is the right way for you
And cannot be called wrong.
All these hold
More power than weapons or money
Or lies.
All these practices bring power, and power
Makes you proud.
You get proud
By practicing.

Remember, you weren’t the one
Who made you ashamed,
But you are the one
Who can make you proud.
Just practice,
Practice until you get proud, and once you are proud,
Keep practicing so you won’t forget.    
You get proud
By practicing.

Audre Lorde

 Audre Lorde is one of my favorite activists. If you do not know about her,  I encourage you to learn about her.  Below is a short article and poem that she wrote. -JRR

There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions                             By Audre Lorde

I was born Black, and a woman. I am trying to become the strongest person I can become to live the life I have been given and to help effect change toward a liveable future for this earth and for my children. As a Black, lesbian, feminist, socialist, poet, mother of two including one boy and a member of an interracial couple, I usually find myself part of some group in which the majority defines me as deviant, difficult, inferior or just plain "wrong."

From my membership in all of these groups I have learned that oppression and the intolerance of difference come in all shapes and sexes and colors and sexualities; and that among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression. I have learned that sexism (a belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over all others and thereby its right to dominance) and heterosexism (a belief in the inherent superiority of one pattern of loving over all others and thereby its right to dominance) both arise from the same source as racism-- a belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby its right to dominance.

"Oh," says a voice from the Black community, "but being Black is NORMAL!" Well, I and many Black people of my age can remember grimly the days when it didn't used to be!

I simply do not believe that one aspect of myself can possibly profit from the oppression of any other part of my identity. I know that my people cannot possibly profit from the oppression of any other group which seeks the right to peaceful existence. Rather, we diminish ourselves by denying to others what we have shed blood to obtain for our children. And those children need to learn that they do not have to become like each other in order to work together for a future they will all share.

The increasing attacks upon lesbians and gay men are only an introduction to the increasing attacks upon all Black people, for wherever oppression manifests itself in this country, Black people are potential victims. And it is a standard of right-wing cynicism to encourage members of oppressed groups to act against each other, and so long as we are divided because of our particular identities we cannot join together in effective political action.

Within the lesbian community I am Black, and within the Black community I am a lesbian. Any attack against Black people is a lesbian and gay issue, because I and thousands of other Black women are part of the lesbian community. Any attack against lesbians and gays is a Black issue, because thousands of lesbians and gay men are Black. There is no hierarchy of oppression.

It is not accidental that the Family Protection Act, which is virulently anti-woman and anti-Black, is also anti-gay. As a Black person, I know who my enemies are, and when the Ku Klux Klan goes to court in Detroit to try and force the Board of Education to remove books the Klan believes "hint at homosexuality," then I know I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, .wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.

A Litany for Survival
By Audre Lorde
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak
we are afraid our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Exam # 2 and Self-Evaluation

WS 405: J-Term 2011: Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan
Exam # 2: Question and Guidelines

Pick one of the following forms of oppression (racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, religious oppression, transgender oppression, ageism, ableism) and write a 5-page essay on it.  You may NOT pick the form of oppression that was the subject of your short video/slideshow.  In your essay, you should cover the following:
1.     Begin with a personal narrative.  Discuss your relationship to this form of discrimination as both a target and an agent.  How and to what degree have you perpetrated this form of oppression?  How, and to what degree, have you been victimized by this form of oppression?  Why did you choose this form of oppression to write about and why is it important to you to discuss?
2.     Clearly define the form of discrimination.  Remember to understand the distinction between personal prejudices and systemic discrimination and oppression.  Discuss the form of discrimination at multiple levels: personal/individual, institutional and cultural.  Give several concrete examples of your form of oppression that help the reader to better understand it.
3.     From here, move into a discussion of several articles (2-3) from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice that clearly discuss your chosen ism.  Be sure to include a discussion of power and privilege, and how the victims of this form of discrimination are negatively affected in terms of their life chances.   
4.     To end, I want you to discuss social change.  What are specific things that individuals and groups can do to combat this form of discrimination?  Be sure to use Johnson’s text to discuss the ideas he puts forth in the chapter “What Can We Do?”  Also, what will you personally commit to do to work on this problem?    

Required Format for Exams:

·      Name, Date, Course # (WS 405) and Instructor Name in upper left hand corner

·      Identify Document (Exam #2)

·      Typed, Double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, 1” margins.  5 pages in length.  Insert page numbers.  

·      Parenthetical Citations, MLA Style

·      Works Cited Page

·      Edited, proof-read, spell-checked

·      Use at least 3-4 citations from Readings for Diversity and 1-2 citations from Johnson. You can also cite course videos; no outside sources. 

·      Introduction: Include overall thesis and what you will set out to do in the body. Provide sign posts to help orient the reader.  Strive for clear sentences and clear organization structure.  Your intro should be folded into your personal narrative.   

·      Body: Elaboration and documentation of your thesis and the problem, organized clearly: Prove your thesis.  This section includes your definition of the oppression and your analyses of the articles.

·      Conclusion: Summing up and reiterating your overall theme and reflecting on social change.  What can we do to make it better?

·      Due by: Sunday, Jan. 23 at 10:00 PM EST.  Email as a MS Word Doc (.doc) to: AND Write your name and WS 405 Exam # 2 in the subject line.


As the FINAL page of your exam, you should also answer the following questions, reflecting on your own performance during J-Term.  You should not take up more than one page (single or double spaced, as you prefer). Please, do not forget to include this as the final page (after your works cited page) of your exam # 2.

1.     Please discuss your performance on your Blog.  How do you think your entries came out?  Did you: meet the minimum word count?  Post on time?  Respond to two or more of your peer’s Blogs? Complete all 15 entries?  Complete all the Quick Blogs?  Please discuss any special circumstances that may have negatively impacted your work on the Blogs.
2.     Please discuss your work on the exams.  Were you pleased with your performance on Exam # 1?  Exam # 2?  What was most challenging for you on the Exams?  Do you feel the Exams adequately reflected your knowledge and learning for the term?
3.     Evaluate your performance on the short video project.   How do you think you did?  Do you think this is an effective educational video?  How did you make out with the technology?  How about your level of creativity for the project?
4.     Finally, what grade do you think you earned for this class?  Here, it is VERY important to be honest.  Do not inflate your performance.  Given the Blogs, Exams Punctuality (all work turned in on time) and Video Project, what do you believe that your final grade should be and why?

Quick Blog # 6 (Last One!)

Age Diversity

Write a paragraph in which you respond to the following questions:

1. Is your social sphere (family, work, school, friends, hobbies, etc.) comprised of people of diverse ages?  How often do you regularly encounter young people and elders? Do you wish you had more interactions with youth or elderly people?
2. In many ways, our society is segregated on the basis of age.  Why do you think that is?  How are young people and old people often socially marginalized?  How and why are young adults and middle-age adults often advantaged and privileged due to their age?
3. What are some possible ways to promote greater integration of all ages/generations and to challenge age-based segregation?  How can we as a culture work to promote respect for people of all ages, especially greater respect for old people?

More on Ageism

Ageism Defined

Ageism is arbitrary discrimination on the basis of chronological age.

Ageism is as serious and pervasive as racism and sexism.

Ageism is harmful to all age groups, and oppresses both the old and the young. It deprives both groups of power and status and the right to control their own lives and destinies.

The greatest handicap associated with old age is the ageist barriers and prejudices imposed on the old by society’s orientation to youth.

We have been conditioned to despise and devalue our own experiences, skills, gray hair and wrinkles.
Many have been so brainwashed by this thinking that we rarely admit our true age and try to keep alive the youth cult by lies, self-deception and futile efforts to look young.

The subject of age affects all persons: we are becoming older. Powerlessness and alienation affect young as well as old in ways which are destructive.

Examples of Ageism
  • Black balloon birthday parties
  • “You don’t look 40”--- or whatever age
  • Mandatory retirement
  • Limited positive roles in TV and movies for older people
  • Lower ticket costs for older adults for movies
  • Seating old people away from the active, entry area in a restaurant
  • Not being waited on in line/getting passed by for others who came after you
  • “Terrible twos” used to describe a vital life stage of growing independence
  • Dreading being a parent of teenagers
  • People in their twenties being told they are too young to work with “senior
  • Lying about one’s age for fear of negative perceptions or treatment or to be
    eligible for some benefit
  • Absence of older models in advertising (clothing, cars, etc.)
  • Lack of old people in position of influence, decision-making
  • Efforts to create sub-minimum wage for teen jobs
  • Assumption that young people are computer whizzes and older people are
  • Stereotype that youth are drug addicts or gang members
  • Cosmetics focused on anti-aging
 Parallel Myths of Youth and Elders
  • Deemed too young or too old to contribute
  • Take too many drugs
  • Are unproductive
  • Should not /cannot have sex
  • Don’t have money
  • Don’t know what they are talking about (so can be discounted)
  • Want to be left alone or only want be with “own kind”
Other Myths About Aging
  • You become less attractive the older you get
  • Losing memory is a normal part of growing old
  • Mental ability declines with age
  • Old people are physically unable to function
  • Aging is terrible
  • Old people are bored
Actions to Combat Ageism
  • Throw yourself a birthday party
  • Stop lying about your age
  • Let your hair be its natural color
  • Quit complimenting people on how young they look
  • Write to your local news media when a headline or cartoon is ageist
  • Monitor advertising—write complaints, boycott products/places
  • Voice your objections
  • Educate others
  • Challenge stereotypes about age
  • Refuse to buy derogatory birthday cards
  • Research, monitor, and question the responsiveness of institutions to age
  • Get to know people across age boundaries
  • Don’t patronize people who are old
  • Don’t mix illness with aging
  • Be aware of language that is stereotyping
  • Don’t tell jokes that make fun of growing old
  • Challenge ageism 

Adultism, Ageism and Socio-Cultural Transformation

Please review the definitions of Adultism and Ageism and then read the different things we can do in society to combat these forms of age prejudice and discrimination.  - JRR

Adultism: The systematic mistreatment of young people on the basis of their youth, including stereotyping, discrimination, negative attitudes or behaviors toward young people, and withholding respect, power, privilege, and rights of participation on the basis of age. It includes the assumption that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon young people without their agreement.  This mistreatment is supported and reinforced by the laws, policies, norms, mores, social customs, and everyday practices of society

Ageism: The systematic mistreatment of older persons on the basis of presumed age,
including stereotyping, discrimination, negative attitudes or behaviors toward a person on the basis of their age, and loss of respect, power, privilege, and rights of participation. This mistreatment is supported and reinforced by the laws, policies, norms, mores, social customs, and everyday practices of society.

The guidelines and suggestions listed below can help inform a discussion about changes
in beliefs and practices towards young people and elders that facilitate the transformation
of society.

1. View and treat young people and elders as growing, developing humans and not as problems to be solved, and develop policies, programs, and practices that aim at developing a sense of competence: being able to do something well; a sense of usefulness: having something to contribute; a sense of belonging: being part of a community; and, a sense of power: having control over one’s future.

2. Avoid patronizing, tokenizing, or otherwise marginalizing young people and elders.

3. Involve the entire communities, including young people and elders, in creating
a continuum of services and opportunities that supports the life needs of young people and elders.

4. Involve young people and elders in meaningful decision-making about institutional
practices and policies that affect their lives, such as designing their health care environments and their learning environments.

5. Understand and act on the fact that young people and elders have the capacity
to play meaningful roles in their communities.

6. Work to ensure an equitable distribution of resources, such as health care, retirement resources, resources for educational development, and so on.

7. Value people of all ages for their experience and wisdom.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Understanding Ageism

Help Stamp Out Ageism! (Re-printed from National Gray Panthers publication "Network" Volume 1, Issue 2, September/October 1995, page 14.)  Gray Panthers is an intergenerational organization dedicated to bring together young, old, women, men, persons of all ethnic, racial and economic backgrounds for the promotion of social justice.

Step I - Define It

Ageism is:

·       Discrimination based on chronological age.
·       The notion that people cease to be persons by virtue of having lived a specific number of years.
·       The use of age to define capability and roles.
·       A process of systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against people just because they are old.
·       To be told "you're too old" is as disheartening as to be told "you're too young"; both statements make you a stereotype when in fact you are an individual.

Step II - How to Identify Ageists

1. The Pretenders - These are misguided older folks who believe that age is "all in your head".

2. The Discriminators - Some of their best friends are old, so how could they be ageist?  However, they are quick to point out the realistic limitations of older applicants to jobs in their sphere of influence.

3. The Exceptionalists - These elders consider themselves the fortunate exceptions to society's negative view of old people.  While they think of themselves as vigorous, productive and useful to society, they imagine most of their peers to be in bad shape, useless and boring.

4.  The Colonists - This type is frequently found among politicians, and is not at all rare in the ageism establishment.  They may easily be identified because they always preface any word for the ageing with the possessive pronoun, such as "OUR senior citizens" or "MY elderly".

5.  The Patronizers - This garden variety is commonly found in senior programs.  To them, the old are just delightful when in "their place" and, like children, should be catered to and played with.

Step III - (The Hardest Step to Accept) We are ALL ageist.

Whether we're young, middle-aged or old, whether we've taken courses in gerontology or not, whether we think we're immune or too well-meaning to be afflicted, we are all ageists.

We're ageist because the society we live in is permeated with ageism. We can no more escape it than we can the chemicals in our food-- or sexism or racism for that matter.  But at least in the case of the other two social diseases, there's been some progress and some serious efforts to combat them.  Ageism, by comparison, has been analyzed very little and manifests itself in many variations with hardly a challenge.

Step IV - What You Can Do to Help Stamp Out Ageism

1.  Quit complimenting people on how young they look.

2.  Promote intergenerational job sharing, part-time hours, and no hiring or retirement according to a plan based on chronological age.

3.  Try not to blame old age for fatigue or disorganization or forgetfulness.  In our youth, we blame poor planning, lack of sleep, and a bad memory.

4.  Criticize your local news media when a headline or cartoon is offensive.

5.  When selecting a birthday card, keep your sense of humor.  Just learn the difference between laughing WITH rather than laughing AT.

6.  Fight ageism with two important weapons -- knowledge and a willingness to approach every person, regardless of age, as an individual with unique strengths, weaknesses, options, and opportunities.

 The Old Women’s Project

Ageism — the attitudes and practices that ignore, patronize, insult or trivialize old women — affects women of all colors, ethnicities, classes, sexualities, abilities. It is a form of sexism — very old, very powerless, very frail old men are seen as if they were women, just as gay men are sometimes treated with contempt as if they were women.  Ageism is a central issue for women, because as long as we are erased in the last third of our lives, we will continue to have perilous footing during the other two thirds.


WHY NOT "CUTE"?  "Cute" is what younger people call an old woman when she does or says something that surprises them because it is just what a normal person would do or say.   Example: if she engages in, or even refers to, sexual activity.
WHY NOT "FEISTY"?  "Feisty" is an automatic putdown — its origin is "excitable, like a mongrel dog" — that is frequently used in newspapers to describe an old woman who is in any way outspoken, determined, or who engages in political protest.  Example: "Mary Jones, a feisty 86-year-old, had a different opinion."
WHY NOT "SWEET"?  When an old woman is not "feisty," she is rewarded by being told she is "sweet."
WHY NOT "SPRY"?  As you see more of us in gyms, this word is used less often since it expresses surprise that a woman in her 60s or 80s should be even a little active.
WHY NOT "LITTLE"? WHY NOT "LADY"?  Some of us are short and some of us are tall. We are still women, not "little old ladies."
WE ARE NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER.  "You remind me of my grandmother." Why don't we ever remind younger people of their sister, cousin, best friend back in Boston?  We are not defined by our ages, but by our interests and our personalities.
RULE OF THUMB: If there's something you wouldn't say to a 35-year-old woman, don't say it about a 75-year-old woman. 

Weightism and Size Acceptance

During the regular 405, I usually do a unit on fatness, weightism and the size acceptance movement in U.S. culture.  I thought I would include some information here for you to peruse to learn more about the fat liberation movement.  At the end of this diary, is the Xtranormal video I made this weekend about the issue of weightism--I hope you enjoy it! -JRR

F-A-T !  : A Basic Primer
·       Fat is being reclaimed as a neutral descriptor of human bodies.  Fat people are reclaiming the word “fat” like some members of the LGBT community have reclaimed the word “queer.”  Words like heavy, zaftig, large, voluptuous etc. are euphemisms that suggest that being fat is wrong or needs to be concealed somehow.
·      Some people in size acceptance communities also use the phrase “People of Size” (POS) to refer to fat folks
·      Fatphobia, sizeism, and weightism are words used to denote fear, hatred and discrimination against fat people
·      Discrimination towards fat people in the workplace, education system, and healthcare system has been clearly documented and is growing rapidly
·       The consequences of size discrimination are real.  They include: medical and psychological effects, wage disparity, hiring and promotion discrimination and lessening of academic options and advancement
·       Obesity is a word used by doctors and others to medicalize fatness.  Health has been weaponized and used as a tool against people of size.
·       Fat acceptance activists believe it is not the person of size that needs to change, but the society in which s/he lives.  Fatphobia needs to be seen as a form of bigotry that is as virulent as any other.
·       The fat acceptance movement, also known as the size acceptance movement, fat liberation movement or fat power, is a grassroots effort to change societal attitudes towards fat people.
·       Fat women are scorned more than fat men due to sexism, misogyny and the way women are so harshly judged based on their appearance. 
·       The Fat Acceptance Movement began in the late 1960s.  William Fabrey declared “fat pride” and formed the National Association to Aid Fat Americans, subsequently renamed the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA).
·       NAAFA is still active today and has a website, annual conference and chapters across the U.S.  See:
·       Fat activists assert that 95-98% of diets fail, and that repeated yo-yo dieting has been proven to be potentially hazardous to one’s health, more so than being fat
·       Marilyn Wann is a key activist in the fat liberation movement, and is well known for her foundational fat activism book: Fat!So?:  Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for your Size.
·       Many people in fat-positive communities advocate the movement known as Health At Every Size (HAES). See principles below.
·       The size acceptance movement has a big presence on the world wide web through websites, e-groups, blogs, videos, etc.  Some call this the “fatosphere.”
·       There are also fat burlesque groups, synchronized swimming groups, dance and performance art troupes, etc.
·       Fat Studies is a burgeoning field of inquiry that features many books, articles, panels and researchers.  The Fat Studies Reader was published in 2009.

What Do Fat People Want?

WE WANT fat children to grow up safe from ridicule and physical violence. Such hate crimes rob fat children of their self-esteem and their hope for the future. To this end, we want schools, social service agencies, and courts to recognize, and help alleviate, the socially condoned mistreatment of fat children.
WE WANT to be healthy. We also want people to understand that being healthy does not necessarily mean being thin.
WE WANT doctors who focus on our health and well-being, not on weight loss.
WE WANT doctors to stop pushing dangerous treatments: diets, diet pills, liposuction, and weight-loss surgery. As the New England Journal of Medicine said recently, "The cure for obesity [sic] may be worse than the condition."
WE WANT diagnostic equipment that will accommodate us: MRIs, CAT scans, ultrasound machines, some X-ray machines, etc.
WE WANT health insurance companies to stop denying coverage based on weight.
WE WANT surgeons to stop refusing to operate on us unless we lose weight, just because they do not have the skill, the tools, or the technique to work with large bodies. (Ironically, sometimes the only surgery a fat person can obtain is mutilating weight-loss surgery.)
WE WANT the media to stop quoting inaccurate and spurious statistics about fat mortality rates. This practice only reinforces the prejudice we face.  For example, the oft-quoted figure of 300,000 fat-related deaths in America is based on a study (McGinnis and Foege, JAMA, Nov. 10, 1993) that linked these deaths to sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, not to weight!
WE WANT the FDA to test weight-loss drugs thoroughly for safety before approving them for use by millions of consumers who are all-too-eager for a miracle pill, even when it is life-threatening. Beyond that, we question the value or wisdom of seeking medical cures for social problems in the first place.
WE WANT doctors and health professionals to heed the New England Journal of Medicine's January 1, 1998 editorial, "Losing Weight-An Ill-Fated New Year's Resolution," when it says:
"Doctors should do their part to help end discrimination against overweight [sic] people in schools and workplaces. We should also speak out against the public's excessive infatuation with being thin and the extreme, expensive, and potentially dangerous measures taken to attain that goal. Many Americans are sacrificing their appreciation of one of the great pleasure of life--eating--in an attempt to look like our semi-starved celebrities. Countless numbers of our daughters and increasingly many of our sons are suffering immeasurable torment in fruitless weight-loss schemes and scams, and some are losing their lives."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
We invite people of good conscience to join with us in decrying prejudice against fat people. Help us create a world that celebrates diversity of size!
Created by:
FAT!SO?--the zine for people who don't apologize for their size: (800) OH-FATSO, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (800) 442-1214, NAAFA Feminist Caucus: (510) 836-1153, SF/Bay Area NAAFA chapter: (510) 524-6470
Basic Principles of Health At Every Size (HAES)

1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.

2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.

3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.

4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure.

5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss. 

Institutional Ableism Examples

Institutional Ableism Examples

- Children with Disabilities segregated from other students in classes
- Class trips are planned without checking to see if places to visit are accessible for students with disabilities

- Classrooms do not have assistive technology for learning
- Staff development programs do not include information about universal
instructional design

- A town votes down a proposal to fund additional classroom aides or tutors for students with disabilities
- Students with disabilities are not part of curriculum materials – books,
videos. etc.
Health Care
- Funding for Medicare resources for people with disabilities is cu
- Opposition to universal health care places people with disabilities at risk
of losing health care benefits

- Managed care decisions made by insurance companies limit resources for people with disabilities to cut costs
- Lack of health care insurance places people with disabilities at increased risk of death and poor health

- Decisions about right to die based on belief that living with a disability is
“fate worse than death.”

- A medicalized view of people with disabilities invalidates their ability to control their lives

- Lack of accessibility or assistive technology enabling people with disabilities to participate in local government meetings, committees
- Focus on privatizing services based on for-profit jeopardizes support for programs for people with disabilities

- Cutting funds for programs that benefit people with disabilities

- Sponsoring charity events, but not supporting independent living programs

- Use of “normal,” “beautiful” people in
- Absence of people with disabilities portrayed in movies, TV

- Lack of books on tape or in Braille, use of subtitles on videos
- Focus on disability as tragedy to be overcome

- Focus on people with psychiatric disabilities as serial killers, murderers
- Assumption that person with a physical disability should not compete with “normal” athletes –
unfair competition (PGA disallowing golfer who needs to use a golf cart)
- Assumptions that able-bodied athletes are superior to disabled athletes
(Olympics and Paralympics)

- Sport drug rules that exclude people with disabilities (asthma medications)

© Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, Second Edition, Routledge, 2007