September 15, 2007

This Needs To Be Explained



145000 unique visitors may not seem like a lot to those in the porn industry, but it's a lot for me, and especially for a "throwaway post" like the one on Halloween.

Getting on Digg and the front page of reddit certainly is the cause of this, but not the explanation.  The post got over 200 comments, not counting what my spam filter destroyed; more importantly, the post went to places like metafilter, where it had over 170 comments-- more than any other post that week.


About half of the people didn't like the article at all.  A lot said it was badly written. (I know.)  A lot disagreed with what they thought were my points-- the same points that made the other half like the post.

There were four elements of the post that received the most attention.

  • Are violent films bad for kids?  Very polarized debate.  Interestingly, the debate was always personal and negative: "watching horror movies didn't affect me."  No one asked whether currently violent people had watched horror movies as a kid, and if it had an impact.  And no one suggested they'd be okay with taking their kid to one.
  • What is "torture porn?"  Are horror movies really porn?  To call it porn implies something-- what is the nature of that implication? 
  • I was surprised by the number of people whose main criticism was the photo of the stroller-- that it wasn't scary.  "It's just a stupid stroller!"  That is an example of concrete thinking, and I'd bet that those people like Halloween, Hotel, etc, but are not touched by them (i.e. they go to sleep with the lights off no problem.)  I'm not criticizing, just profiling a preference set.
  • Why did I refer to the parents as "obese" and "white?" Is that really relevant?
I posted a comment on metafilter that is worth repeating/rephrasing here:

1. I suck at writing. Some of the criticisms of my points are really the result of this. Not an excuse, just an explanation. If I wrote better, I think there would have been less disagreement.

2. The point of the last sentence was NOT that horror movies make kids into ADHD serial killers-- that's up for debate. My point was that those/these kids are growing up in a family/environment where obviously there are so many negatives-- taking them to Halloween is simply an example-- that for psychiatry to be focused on utter nonsense-- food additives and ADHD-- misses the whole context of the "ADHD" child.  Psychiatry does this a lot: it focuses on the trivial because it's the only thing it can affect.  But in doing this, it creates the social policy story that these minor issues are the causative, or at least substantive, ones.

3. I tried to juxtapose the bad childhood of Michael Meyers with the (IMHO) bad childhood of these kids, not to imply they will become serial killers, but to suggest that maybe, oh, I don't know, once in a while, how we parent affects how the kids turn out.   Just saying.

4. The "obese white parents" comment. You know what? I have no idea why I wrote that. It's factual, but it was a completely prejudicial remark that I now regret writing-- it was nothing less than the promulgation of stereotypes.  It highlighted things that have no relationship to the topic at hand.  

4b. Except those attributes did have some relationship, otherwise it wouldn't have been on my mind.  I wasn't born with the stereotype in my head.   I'm going to tread carefully, and I hope you'll appreciate what I'm going to say: I recognize that my thoughts were wrong-- i.e. a prejudice,  but they came from somewhere-- even if that somewhere is an attribution or information bias. This speaks to the whole problem of prejudices in general, where they come from and how we combat them.

Here's an example: when I wrote that comment, my thoughts were exactly this: "I better let everyone know they were white, or else they're going to assume they were black."  Think about that.

Strangely, it never occurred to me not to write they were obese-- another prejudice on my part. It  surprises and frightens me that I could have and execute thoughts so automatically, without any consideration.  It never even occurred to me that writing "obese"was in any way wrong.  

5. "Torture porn."  People took issue with it because they think porn gets defined as "what other people think is bad."  As a working definition, porn can be anything that causes sexual excitement in the absence of the fetishized object. Think of it like this: porn's natural outlet is masturbation. There's no actual naked coed with you. The masturbation is the end in itself.

What about when porn leads to actual sex, with, say, your wife of 15 years? It's still masturbatory, in that your sexual energy is directed at the porn (e.g., how her hip looks like that pic, or how she moans the same way, etc.) Your mind fantasizes around the reality of your wife, so that the wife becomes a prop for masturbation. (This is an example, don't yell at me.) All of this is narcissistic, introverted.  It's power over your own identity. Torture porn is the same: it's about you, and making the other simply an extension of your own affective needs. The point isn't to kill the person; the point  is the killing.  That's why torture porn is never about revenge, or crime, or any obvious purpose.   The purpose is the exertion of your power. If there was a purpose to it, it wouldn't be masturbation.


Oh man, this is why you don... (Below threshold)

September 16, 2007 12:49 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh man, this is why you don't flame a psychiatrist.

Alone's response: Outstanding.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 24 (24 votes cast)
I think you wrote that the ... (Below threshold)

September 16, 2007 2:00 AM | Posted by Dale: | Reply

I think you wrote that the parents were obese to emphasize your loathing for them for giving no thought to bringing their small children to see the movie. Most people find the Deadly sins loathsome and disturbing, and it seems that clusters of them often go hand in hand. In this case the slothfulness of the parents is underscored by their gluttony.

I'm not sure why you thought the common stereotype of these people would have been black. In my response to your post on reddit, the people who took their children to Texas Chainsaw Massacre were hispanic, which I found slightly surprising. If anything I would have expected white (I'm white, btw). They were also obese, but I didn't state any of this at the time because it didn't seem relevant to my point.

In closing I made an offhand remark about the children probably growing up to be serial killers numbed to horrific violence. My post got some upvotes, but there were a lot of people who took exception to my final remark. I didn't cave and say that it was only intended to be offhand, because sometimes I like to debate with people even if I know I'm wrong. Not a good debate though, people were too hung up with their own personal anecdotes to really consider the implications and come up with an intelligent rebuttal.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 4 (6 votes cast)
I don't think you're such a... (Below threshold)

September 16, 2007 2:05 AM | Posted by Chris: | Reply

I don't think you're such a bad writer, I pretty much got what you were saying before you had to back it up in this post, but perhaps that's because I'm like-minded? Anyway, I hardly ever read blogs and only came to yours via Reddit. I wouldn't have got to the end of your post if it wasn't engaging. Thanks!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 4 (6 votes cast)
I thought the obese comment... (Below threshold)

September 16, 2007 7:27 AM | Posted by Patrick Cullinan: | Reply

I thought the obese comment was to show just one more bad role model projected on the kids. It is what it is. The truth.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 11 (13 votes cast)
I don't know why you think ... (Below threshold)

September 16, 2007 6:07 PM | Posted by Parapraxis: | Reply

I don't know why you think your comment about "obese white kids" was prejudicial. Frankly, the obese part might have suggested something to you about the family dynamics in combination with taking their children to that movie. I am a psychologist and we are accustomed to giving physical descriptions of people (i.e., mental status). I think you are being too hard on yourself about that comment. I thought your writeup was excellent. Keep up the good work.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 11 (11 votes cast)
Actually, I think you're a ... (Below threshold)

September 16, 2007 10:16 PM | Posted by Jennifer Emick: | Reply

Actually, I think you're a pretty fantastic writer; I've been reading here for a while (although I can't remember how I got here in the first place.) I would have commented the other day, but there seemed to be a crowd. I've also been shocked seeing children in places I thought were not child-friendly- like a screening of "Hannibal" where I was so distracted thinking about the five year old girl in front of me I couldn't remember the movie. It's not that I think violent movies necessarily harm children- I don't know and I haven't researched it, but I do know kids get nightmares and anxiety from things like this. I also think the unspoken thing here is not that the parents who casually plop their kids in front of ultra-violent media are probably lax in other areas as well- it's tough not to judge, to think maybe these are the same parents putting soda in baby bottles and letting them ride without's natural to react to what looks like poor treatment of a child.

I think I disagree a little on the porn angle- I think the ultraviolence movies serve the same purpose as rollercoasters do- give people a fear rush.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
<a href="http://www.movieso... (Below threshold)

September 17, 2007 12:38 AM | Posted by Lori Strode: | Reply ---> my review. FYI, I agree with your "throwaway" post, and I'm glad you wrote it. Keep it coming-- self-professed bad writer (I don't think you are), or not.

Let anyone flame; your opinions were entirely valid. Good work.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 2 (2 votes cast)
My roommate showed me your ... (Below threshold)

September 17, 2007 2:52 AM | Posted by Fargo: | Reply

My roommate showed me your blog, and frankly I think you're an excellent writer. Smart, funny, and mostly coherent. What more can you ask for really? Anyway, thanks for the great reading material.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 4 (4 votes cast)
the majority of americans a... (Below threshold)

September 17, 2007 7:50 PM | Posted by andy: | Reply

the majority of americans are overweight, and a large percentage are obese. why is talking about that offensive?
the only way a child can get overweight is to eat more than they need, and the only way that can happen is if their parents/ caregivers are not monitoring what they are eating.
it is a logical step (although unproven) that parents who do not monitor what their kids eat are also not monitoring other activities, such as what they watch, how they behave.
i know this sounds like i am blaming parents for their childrens obesity and behavioural problems.
but think about that. if you argue with me, you are saying that parents are NOT responsible for their childrens diet and behaviour. is that what you believe?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 5 (7 votes cast)
Thank you for apologizing f... (Below threshold)

September 17, 2007 8:20 PM | Posted by stefanie: | Reply

Thank you for apologizing for your "obese" remark. Unfortunately your readers still seem to find it acceptable to reflexively link 'fat parents' with 'bad parents.'

Alone's response: yes, I did/do apologize. but I've taken it as an opportunity to do a little self-analysis, to see why "obese" was so prominent in my thinking. I mean, I could have written any other descriptors: shaved head; woman had stringy hair; certain t-shirt, etc, but the one I picked was obese. Do you see my point? That's what needs to be explained.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -1 (5 votes cast)
So, what's the certain t-sh... (Below threshold)

September 17, 2007 11:49 PM | Posted by Stephany: | Reply

So, what's the certain t-shirt? and stringy hair isn't life threatening or cause of reduction of life, or cause for diabetes screening. Don't think you need to explain a health hazard. It's not about categorizing, it's about health risks, wasn't that your point? Parent gives blue dye and red #40 in "fruit snacks" for kids lunch. Kid eats lunch, goes to office nurse for mid-day dose of Adderall,or Ritalin.Heads back to class with a 504 Plan in place for ADHD. Goes home, eats Hamburger Helper. Stays up late, goes to late gore-porn flicks. Goes to school.Repeat.Cycle.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 4 (6 votes cast)
I think that obesity has be... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 12:31 AM | Posted by jack: | Reply

I think that obesity has been linked in the media to a certain level of decadence in American society. We keep seeing movies and television shows talking about eating fast food like it was something corrupting our noble culture, instead of a quick and cheap way to stop feeling hungry. We've got documentaries telling us that fast food is ruining our kids' lives, and we've got stand-up comics constantly mocking the overweight and identifying all trends towards obesity as signs of a certain lack of restraint--which can translate to a lack of moral fiber. When a designated foreigner, like Dr. Chase on "House" starts talking trash about American society, one of the first things mentioned is obesity. I think this probably has a lot to do with why the parent's weight was the identifiable trait that you singled out; that obesity is the media's designated identifier for social and moral decadence.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 4 (6 votes cast)
This response is really tho... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 11:11 AM | Posted by The Rotund: | Reply

This response is really thoughtful. Thank you for posting it.

I also noted that the main dissenters were disagreeing because they "watched scary movies as a kid and turned out fine." I don't think you ever implied otherwise.

I think it is often useful to point out that someone is white - and not just to specify that they weren't black. People point it out when someone ISN'T white because white is the assumed default. Just as films are usually centered in the male gaze, regardless of the actual gender of the viewer, observations tend to be centered in the white gaze, which is a phrase I just made up to parallel the other. *laugh*

The "obese" observation, however, is a bit more subtle - because our society has SUCH a negative view of fat people. Fat is not a moral issue but, as evidenced in the comments here, many people still insist on turning it into one. Being fat has no reflection on one's parenting abilities, nor does it set a bad example. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and willingness to examine your own motivations for choosing the descriptor!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 3 (5 votes cast)
And, Andy, you are full of ... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 11:13 AM | Posted by The Rotund: | Reply

And, Andy, you are full of it. There are many factors that can lead to a person being fat and it is NOT about eating too much. This very assumption is one reason why casually throwing around the word obese means knocking people around with negative connotations!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -4 (4 votes cast)
NOTE TO READERS: IF YOU ... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 1:52 PM | Posted by rich: | Reply


While I agree with you that torture porn doesn't have to include sex and in fact rarely does (the naked woman freezing to death in Saw III being the stand out exception there) I'm not sure that I agree that Halloween qualifies. Torture porn, to me, is characterized by a story in which torture is the point of the story (such as a grizzly little film from Lionsgate called Murder, Set, Pieces) or integral to the story (such as the Saw and Hostel series of films, or the recent Captivity). While the violence in Halloween was certainly over the top, I disagree that Zombie made any particular point of it - I think it's more accurate to say that he was working to what he considers to be the style of genre, which includes over the top gore. Even at that, for all the gore we did see, there was quite a bit that we didn't. Most of the actual killing takes place off camera: we see him menacing the blonde cheerleader, then we cut to a different scene and the next thing we see of her is her dead body, without even any obvious cause of death the camera can detect; we see him drag the brunette cop's daughter into the house, and we see her streaked with blood, but we don't see the knife enter her body; we don't see the killing blow Michael delivers to his sister, and while we see the knife enter her back, we see it from the front, so the actual stab is implied.

Compare this to the languishing, almost caressing close ups of blades biting into flesh in the Saw movies, of the unspeakable atrocities perpetrated in the Hostel movies. It's over the top but it's not on the same level.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
I have been thinking about ... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 2:17 PM | Posted by Em: | Reply

I have been thinking about your initial post a lot since I read it yesterday morning. Last night I had nightmares that people were chasing me with guns, because (I guess) all day long I thought about what those kids thought or felt at seeing that movie.

I don't really have a great point but I just wanted to say that what you wrote made me think. And it obviously made lots of other people think also. I think you're a pretty good writer, for that fact alone.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
I agree with everything you... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 3:40 PM | Posted by bonfiglioalberto: | Reply

I agree with everything you wrote. To hell with all the physiatrists and non parents.
Only morons would take children to see this misogynistic garbage.
Where I live in Dallas Child Protective Services would have landed on those dumbasses like a Ton Of Bricks.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
I agree with everything you... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Posted by bonfiglioalberto: | Reply

I agree with everything you wrote. To hell with the psychiatrists and non parents. They know literally nothing.
Only morons would take children to see this misogynistic garbage.
Where I live in Dallas Child Protective Services would have landed on these dumb asses like a Ton Of Bricks.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
Thanks very much for taking... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 4:35 PM | Posted by Nancy Lebovitz: | Reply

Thanks very much for taking the point about the parents' obesity being irrelevent seriously.

I hope you're considering whether your reflexes about fatness affect the way you treat your patients.

There's a connection between the prejudice against fat and that piece you wrote about Lilly's new glutamate agonist--a quite possibly dangerous drug whose only advantage is that it doesn't cause weight gain.

Alone's response: you know, actually, I didn't think of this, and it's an excellent point. This mania we have about antipsychotic induced diabetes is really just about antipsychotic induced weight gain-- which, while a real phenomenon, is disproportionately talked about relative to other, more serious toxicities. Which begs the question, why do we focus on it? Part of the answer is Pfizer-- when Geodon came out, it attacked Zyprexa on this basis (and Lilly counterattacked with QTc)-- take a look at who all wrote most of the weight gain articles in 1999, and it took on a life of its own (i.e. Abilify and Seroquel ran with it.) But the other part is likely that it's an easy target.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (2 votes cast)
I enjoyed your article actu... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 6:34 PM | Posted by brian: | Reply

I enjoyed your article actually, I probably would have felt the same way in that situation. The really sad part is those kids aren't going to grow up to be serial killers, they're going to grow up like their parents.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
I think fat people are nice... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 8:48 PM | Posted by nms.aprn: | Reply

I think fat people are nice. I do believe that fat lady with a stroller should have had their kid in bed and she should have been on a treadmill. (I do ask my patients to exercise and keep a log). I think you're a very good writer but too much of an apologist- Boo!
Most of all I like gratuitous sex and violence.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (2 votes cast)
Having read your original p... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2007 9:54 PM | Posted by CJCarlin: | Reply

Having read your original post and the apology/explanation, I have to put in my two bits.
For one, exposing small children to violent and graphic material is quite likely very damaging. I am personally acquainted with someone who has encouraged his children to watch R-rated horror movies with him, and those kids are amazingly messed up. His oldest child refused to ride a bicycle without training wheels until he was thirteen, and his second-oldest cried and picked at his fingers whenever he got his hands dirty. Neither child could stand sleeping in a dark room for years, and the oldest also hated sleeping by himself at age twelve.
I also think that "torture porn" works as a description for some of these movies. Porn, in my estimation, is about getting a vicarious kind of thrill, and some people really are sick enough to get that from watching others die in a horrible manner.
Lastly, you are not a bad writer. Your work is insightful, intelligent, and thought-provoking, and that is what I usually look for in a commentary. I do have to mention that some of your critics are apparently incapable of staying on topic, and seem to suffer some kind of grammatical dyslexia. *shrug*
Thank you for sharing your views. Your integrity is refreshing, to say the least.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 2 (2 votes cast)
It totally blows my mind th... (Below threshold)

September 19, 2007 12:05 AM | Posted by CE: | Reply

It totally blows my mind that people are upset at what you wrote... I agree with you - kids of any age shouldn't have been in the movie. Those people's behavior show a complete lack of judgement. You don't need to apologize - those crappy parents do.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
Your writing style is great... (Below threshold)

September 22, 2007 12:49 PM | Posted by Devin: | Reply

Your writing style is great. The readers aren't used to such an abrupt and to the point writing style, they want filler. Do not change your style, and definitely do not cut yourself down. Self confidence is the most important and you should know that. You may not be the best writer ever, but in your head, think like you are.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
Porn accentuate disparity o... (Below threshold)

September 23, 2007 1:56 AM | Posted by Jim Thio: | Reply

Porn accentuate disparity of beauty. It's in a sense the opposite of burga. In consensual society, porn allows pretty girls to out evolve the ugly ones. So ugly bitches hate porn.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -7 (9 votes cast)
I just wanted to comment on... (Below threshold)

September 23, 2007 3:29 AM | Posted by Ron: | Reply

I just wanted to comment on your statement : " It surprises and frightens me that I could have and execute thoughts so automatically, without any consideration. It never even occurred to me that writing "obese"was in any way wrong." You will be interested to know that the latest research into how our brain works reveals the following as per an article at :

"Everybody has implicit assumptions," says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville who played a big part in their discovery. "They're a necessary part of how the brain operates and they generally serve us very well."

But not always. Nosek and colleagues argue that because we are not in control of our implicit assumptions, and are seldom aware of them, it is possible to develop unconscious prejudices that your conscious mind would find unappealing or even abhorrent - such as associating men with science and women with the arts, preferring thin people to fat people or assuming that blonde women are stupid. "You may think you're egalitarian, yet your associations are often quite different," says Nosek.

Nosek and colleagues have devised a way to access these implicit assumptions (take the test at The tests are based on the idea that people find it easier to recognise pairs of stimuli that fit their unconscious assumptions - white people and positive words or black people and negative words, for example. People often find the results of their tests "provocative", says Nosek. "The most common implicit associations are race and age - they're quite profound."

Alone's response: Yes, this is what I was getting at. It wasn't simply that I made the obese comment without considering that it was wrong; it didn't even occur to me that it might offend someone. You would think that, if nothing else, out of self-preservation/maintaining readers I would think twice about making such a comment-- but that's just it, it didn't occur to me. That's how deep it went.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (2 votes cast)
All races, it seems, have t... (Below threshold)

September 24, 2007 1:17 PM | Posted by dave: | Reply

All races, it seems, have their leagues of incredibly stupid people.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
I think obese ppl should be... (Below threshold)

September 24, 2007 3:18 PM | Posted by trei: | Reply

I think obese ppl should be grateful for any bad reactions they get. We shouldn't make it easy for them to stay that way.

The last thing they need is for their un-healthy way of life and their lack of self-discipline to be comfortable and cozy.

I think it's obvious that they can't motivate themselves to act on what'd be ultimately in their best interest, they all do feel bad about themselves, and they all tend to complain and wine, and feel quite helpless... BUT

being overweight is not like having blue eyes. it is your own doing/responsibility/problem.

so if others can function as a motivating agent: why not? if shame works, let's use it. they already have no self-esteem. how much worse can their lives get? who knows, some of them may actually do something about it

yes, I'm thin. I make the effort. hate me. be easy on yoursef. it's the least you can do.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -3 (13 votes cast)
Torture porn = torture porn... (Below threshold)

September 24, 2007 4:00 PM | Posted by Paul Komarek: | Reply

Torture porn = torture porn. My kids use this term all the time to describe movies like SAW. (There's "business porn" too, for those who crave the latest insight into marketing, motivation or team building. I think there is now "political porn" as well -- look at all the "Leftie/Rightie Hater" titles you see on bookshelves these days.)

Anyway, here is a proposition that is worth examining: "Parents influence the lives of their children." Is this true or false? Many hope it is true, because they see value in good parenting and hope their own children come out OK. Others see parents as a factor that some children just survive - because there should be hope for kids with problem parents.

The literature on child development seems to say that the statement is somewhat true, but "true/false" misses the point. The point is that kids need safety, refuge, guidance, good examples, and opportunities to interact in positive ways. Bad parents can be compensated for by relationships with other adults. This is the gist of research done by the Search Institute and others.

I wouldn't sweat the "obese" thing either. So you made a faux pas! Move on. At least you didn't take your young kids to an awful movie...


Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
dear Rotund:please e... (Below threshold)

September 26, 2007 1:56 AM | Posted by andy: | Reply

dear Rotund:
please explain how one can possibly become overweight without eating more than they need?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (11 votes cast)
Clicked over here through i... (Below threshold)

September 27, 2007 9:04 AM | Posted by Lori at Spinning Yellow: | Reply

Clicked over here through izzymom, never read your stuff before. I agree completely with your original post and I wonder about the people who complained. Do they actually think it was good parenting to take those kids to this horrific movie? Really? Come on.

This really has me shaking my head. And your comment about ADHD, brilliant! This coming from a mom with a child with "issues".

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
Obese and white are adjecti... (Below threshold)

September 27, 2007 3:13 PM | Posted by Black Belt Mama: | Reply

Obese and white are adjectives that you used to describe people. Relevant or not, you painted a picture. That's called good descriptive writing, not prejudice. People get their undies in a bunch about such silly things sometimes. If you're not 100% PC all the time, someone will call you on it, guaranteed. I caught hell last week when I wrote about how I thought boys shouldn't be playing on a girls field hockey team. Suddenly I was a "feminist, fear mongering mother." No, actually just a person with an opinion, which as a fellow human being, you happen to be entitled to as well. Came here via izzymom.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 4 (6 votes cast)
In relation to the "obese" ... (Below threshold)

September 29, 2007 8:50 AM | Posted by cerebralmum: | Reply

In relation to the "obese" description, I think it was probably out of place, and the questions you are now asking yourself are important. But the question I have is this - Why do people find this particular term so offensive?
Obesity is a clinical term. Anybody with a Body Mass Index of 30 to 39.9 is not "overweight" (which is a BMI of 25-29.9): They are obese. End of story. It is not a value judgement - it is a measurement.

It is a matter of concern that the general public thinks of "obese" as referring to those who are "morbidly obese" (BMI: 40+) and that obese people consider themselves as only "overweight". There are very specific risk factors associated with obesity and those who do not associate the correct definition with themselves are denying very important health issues.

As I said, the word probably didn't need to be used descriptively here but I think that this is a subject that really does need discussing. An obese person who self-identifies as "overweight" has the same distorted perception as an anorexic who self-identifies as "underweight". Why is this distortion, in either direction, so common and what can be done about it?

When will we be able to look in the mirror, call a spade a spade, and learn to like ourselves as we are, and take care of ourselves because we deserve it?

Alone's reponse: no argument here. While I did use the term in a pejorative manner--, essentially, as a replacement for "stupid" or something like that-- and for which I apologize but, as I said before, am also impressed by how deeply such prejudice goes that I didn't even think to censor myself out of decency or even self-preservation; all that notwithstanding, you are correct that the term "obese" has been commandeered in order to control its content. In other words, short of my admitting that I used "obese" inappropriately, no one could really know that I did not mean it as a specific descriptor. The problem is that I, and everyone else, knows that even if I use the term generically and neutrally, other people will add to it additional meaning (e.g. "stupid.")

In other words-- and this is precisely the problem with language-- the user of the term has to know the meaning of the term, and what others will think is the meaning of the term-- and possibly modify their own speech. And language controls thought, so things start to lose meaning, become "meta," and we start to thinking terms that are actually devoid of their appropriate usage.

Here's a trivial, neutral example: "he just could care less." You know what it means? Well, read it again-- it literally means the opposite of what you think it means. So now, if I actually want to say, "he could care less" I either have to emphasize it, repeat it, or use other words, to convey my desired meaning-- all because the sound of the phrase has been appropriated into a contentless sing song: "Ti ti ta ta."

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (0 votes cast)
By the way, I arrived here ... (Below threshold)

September 29, 2007 8:54 AM | Posted by cerebralmum: | Reply

By the way, I arrived here by way of IzzyMom as well and will now be subscribing to your blog. You may not be the most "brilliant "writer but you have a mind and you use it and you communicate your thoughts more than adequately.

Alone's response: Thanks for the compliment. I am collecting the ad revenue and enrolling in writing courses.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
dave's comments ... I can't... (Below threshold)

October 24, 2007 3:51 PM | Posted by just saying: | Reply

dave's comments ... I can't believe anyone could be so narrow minded. You sound like so many who are quick to judge and humilate others. I agree the kids should not have been there but not all obese parents are bad parents. As for ur stupid comment that there lives can be any worse so why not humilate and shame. What gives u the right and who the F do u think u are. I hope and pray U do NOT work with people because they are better deserving that to be stuck with U.. oh and congrads on being a thin A Hole

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -3 (3 votes cast)
Good site. Thanks!!!... (Below threshold)

November 2, 2007 5:04 PM | Posted by [email protected]: | Reply

Good site. Thanks!!! cure dysfunction erectile

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
Nice site. Thanks.<a... (Below threshold)

November 2, 2007 5:10 PM | Posted by [email protected]: | Reply

Nice site. Thanks. erectile disfunction help

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
Nice site. Thanks!<a... (Below threshold)

November 4, 2007 12:08 PM | Posted by [email protected]: | Reply

Nice site. Thanks! electrical sex stimulation

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
Very good site. Thank you!<... (Below threshold)

November 4, 2007 12:36 PM | Posted by [email protected]: | Reply

Very good site. Thank you! clinic colorado impotent in

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
Good site. Thanks:-)... (Below threshold)

November 4, 2007 12:55 PM | Posted by [email protected]: | Reply

Good site. Thanks:-) erectile disfunction medicines

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
Nice site. Thanks!<a... (Below threshold)

November 4, 2007 3:15 PM | Posted by [email protected]: | Reply

Nice site. Thanks! impotence meds

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 1 (1 votes cast)
I agree with everything you... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2007 8:37 PM | Posted by PFG: | Reply

I agree with everything you say in the article. One thing to keep in mind is that the reason your site is so good is because you speak your mind... your honesty is refreshing! Don't apologize for that, it makes everything more interesting.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 3 (3 votes cast)