Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Reluctant conclusion

It all started again for me with this.

This bit in particular caught my eye:

Here’s the thing: I do not get glowing responses or praise from people on either extreme - not the hardcore FAers, and not the hardcore anti-FAers. I do not get support from the people who just want the other side to go away, and don’t particularly care if they’re “converted”. The extreme anti-FAers can’t wait for the fuss over FA to die out - they don’t really care if FA people decide they want to lose weight. The extreme FAers aren’t all that different: they don’t seem to care if the anti-FAers decide that it’s okay to be fat - they just want them to shut up and go away

I came into this fully expecting to engage with a variety of views and stances, I thought others would be interested and wish to engage with what we have to say, they don't. They wish to maintain the views they already have. That's of course up to them, the problem is they present this as "debate", because they don't seem to wish to acknowledge that they only want to maintain their views and beliefs, they prefer to feel they have won the "debate". So as long as they keep fat people in the same position as before-erased, they feel that is a debate and they are winning. Anything else would be a loss to them and they don't want to get it right, they want to keep winning.

I didn't realise this until I got involved and I've come to the reluctant conclusion that there is no real discussion to be had. Anymore than there is with a born again Christian. I don't "debate" with them either because they believe in what they believe and wish to have it that way. The difference is they know they believe and aren't ashamed that they have beliefs which they wish to hold and shore up against disbelief.

Extreme FA is much touted but doesn't seem very evident to me. There's a difference between an extreme response and an extreme view. Those accused of being extreme, don't represent it as far as I can see. It seems a definition borne of a need to position yourself according to your own view of yourself.

There are two definitions of radical, one is root, that is the essence of an idea, the other is extreme, the absolute end of where an idea can go. The former is important, and it could be great if FA could develop this. The other definition is the one is the somewhat elusive one.

People's personalities can differ from their views. Some People have expansive personalities and narrow views, others vice versa. Some people take a rather strict view of how others should behave, that represents the way they see the world rather than the view itself. Confusing these factors causes people to think someone is being radical in view, when it's really more about their character and how they tend to respond to things.That can affect their views, but not necessarily.

Some have a higher/lower tolerance for disagreement than others, that's not clearly obvious from the ways they define themselves. Some who identify as moderates have a very immoderate view of those they disagree with.

People's desire to create radical FA though, is interesting, it strikes me, although I'm not sure about this case as an attempt to stifle progress. If you think you're at the edge of the precipice, you're more likely to freeze, than if you feel you have further to go.

As it is, I'm not even sure radical FA is necessary. FA has the potential to be radical enough because of the space it occupies and the different threads and themes invested in it, the need to develop a radical extreme is redundant, so far. If some feel that we should just disturb things as minimally as possible to achieve our aims, it may seem radical to wish to go further, however, those don't want to rock the boat seem to me to be trying to be a little bit pregnant. It's not likely to work and that's not because of fat people, but because of what society has decided fat stands for.

Everyone it seems find all this deeply scary. We are as much part of society as those against FA and we are as averse to change as they are. The irony is, the effect of living with the societal view of fatness has come to necessitate the very change everyone wishes to avoid and that's also why people don't want to discuss or debate, they wish to reiterate.

Here, the division into one side; FA and t'other anti-FA, sounds fair and reasonable, but isn't, it's a false division. It's more like two parallel lines that don't really meet, although they may at times appear to. We are sides only by the necessity of both to say what they feel. Both sides wish to engage on their own terms. I've engaged on anti FA's terms already, that's what's brought me to this point. If I was amenable to going back, I wouldn't have got involved in the first place, it's taken me a hell of a lot of time and thought, to swim upstream against a very strong tide.

I cannot for the life of me work out what is a discussion about someone telling me that I need to start doing what I've already done, need to start thinking thoughts I've thought and worked through. My doubts are purely about memory, not about the position I hold, because I have a general idea of what I think. It isn't what I've been told by those who oppose me and they don't seem to care.

It's not that I don't care, it's just hard to gain a point of engagement with those determined to keep their distance. I can see that bridging the gap for them would undermine their beliefs, so I cannot see why they'd want to, unless they were naive enough to believe that they've debated their way into telling me and others their own lives. The disconnection starts with them, it's only FA that has a reason to engage, in order to try and add fat people's voices to the mix. That is the very thing that has permitted the triumph of the anti FA view.

Engaging with them on their own terms just means going back where you've been. Which is possibly why FA seems underdeveloped, it keeps going round and round in circles. It's time to move on.

At one point Lindsay said she couldn't just give up, talking to those against FA, I didn't want to either, but I feel like I'm wasting my time and I have other needs I wish to fulfil. I didn't get into this primarily to engage with what I wish to leave behind in a way that goes nowhere. But if you do, then that's what you bring to the mix, not everyone can do this.

I haven't given up, or rejecting communicating with others, I just haven't found a language that can reach beyond the same old same old. If you have, best of luck to you.

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