Monday, November 27, 2006

Fat and Proud?

I'm not sure how I feel about fat studies. I'm all for dismantling the ridiculous discrimination people face just because they're fat, and I'm all for questioning the cultural panic over obesity when it starts to make fat people look like bad people, but I have a hard time taking fat studies scholars seriously if they insist that being very overweight doesn't hurt their health.

I think the right message about fat is that it's a health concern and nothing more, and we shouldn't discriminate against people who are overweight anymore than we would discriminate against a person who has asthma. People who are fat ought to enjoy feelings of self-worth and be appreciated for their many capabilities. And I think the medical community can still talk about the real health consequences of obesity without adding to the body-image-as-identity nightmare. Fat studies scholars ought to be working with medical researchers who study fat to help them avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes, instead of just writing them off.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! (Yes, that's right, I don't eat meat.)

Although I'm never the one to bring it up, Thanksgiving is usually my busiest day for explaining to others why I'm a vegan. Best case scenario: my veganism is a good conversation starter. Worst case scenario: I have to defend my choice, because for some reason I can't understand, some people are deeply offended by my decision
to reach for the tofurky.

This year, I'm going to prepare for the "yes, that's right, I'm a vegan" conversation by compiling some resources to will help other people understand my food choices. And what better vehicle for compiling my reasons than my little blog?

First, a cool new site that proves a vegan diet can be fun and yummy! I found A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise a few weeks ago and the recipes look great! No, I haven't tried making any of the desserts yet, but I swear I'm going to! Or if don't, I know I can count Mr. Boyfriend to make them! (subtle, eh?)

As to why I'm a vegan, ugh, it's a long conversation...and while my views on compassion and the importance of reducing suffering in the world are totally private and self-focused, they seem to offend so many people, which is insanely frustrating to me. Surprisingly, some of the people most offended are those who share my compassion for the world--my theory is that Dudley Do-Right types can't stand to be outdone in their efforts to do good. I'll admit I don't have much sympathy for vegan-haters who are secretly wracked with guilt, because really, there's any easy solution to their problem.

Anywho, Agnes L., over at A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise (in the comments thread of her "Noteworthy?" post) has boiled her reason down to a few sentences and I think her logic is pretty similar to that of other vegans:

Animals raised for food (whether for meat, milk, or eggs) suffer tremendously. We do not need to eat animal products to be healthy. Therefore, this suffering is unnecessary. Causing unnecessary suffering is unethical.

I might add that it doesn't matter if animals are inferior to humans (and I agree that humans are unquestionably superior to animals). It's their capacity to suffer--not their self awareness or their ability to do multi-variable calculus--that makes it wrong to make them hurt for no good reason. And yummy is not a good reason. Finding a cure for cancer, for example, would be a good reason.

"Well, maybe that's what you believe, but what about my right to eat animals," you say? I'd say it's your right. Just like it's your right to practice a different religion and still expect a li'l tolerance.*

Now, on to cuter things, this is also why I'm a vegan: Meet Hildy! She's the turkey up top there. She's cute! And she's happy, and no one's going to eat her tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe, she's also a little bit happy because I adopted her. (I'm really trying, and failing, to resist the urge to anthropomorphize.) Anyway, adopting Hildy is how I will "do turkey" this Thanksgiving, and you can adopt a turkey too!

Happy holidays, kids. Try your best to enjoy your families because nothing lasts forever, have a moment of silence to remember that this is ultimately a holiday celebrating the beginning of our national policy to stick it to Native Americans, and please, be nice to the vegans. After all, we brushed out our dreds, shaved and showered, and fretted about burning gasoline just so we could travel all that way to spend Thanksgiving with you.

*Disclaimer: Not suggesting veganism and religion are them same here folks, just suggesting we already know how to do tolerance for religion, so clearly we can do tolerance for something as simple as tofu.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We’ve only just begun

This November 07 Election Day was a huge moment for Democrats. I’ve heard over and over again from Political Science types that all politics are local and it’s rare for one issue to generate a national momentum that an entire party can ride to victory--so it’s telling that the Bush administration’s refusal to take responsibility for the Iraq War was enough to generate the national discontent that killed the Republicans in this election.

But word to Tommy D., this wasn’t a Republican loss, it was a Democratic victory, and this victory was about Iraq. It was also proof that it can take more than one election cycle to win on issues. Kerry didn’t take the lead on exiting Iraq like he should have in the 2004 election, but our brighter Congresswomen and men, community leaders, and friendly neighborhood Democrats have been talking about the Bush administration’s failure in Iraq for years. And it’s taken that long to convince our friends and neighbors that Iraq was a mistake. It’s hard to admit to being wrong, and for a lot Americans who initially supported the war in Iraq, that’s exactly what this election was—an admission that they’d been duped and that Democrats can offer the leadership we need to get out of a mess that President Bush led us into.

It took years of repeating the same message before we changed American hearts and minds about the war in Iraq, but it worked, and now that the nation is listening to Democrats, we need to keep talking and we need to do it with one voice. The election may have been about Iraq, but people are going to keep listening if Democrats prove we can ease the squeeze on working Americans. So let’s let Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid set an agenda, and let them lead. God willing, they’ll set an agenda to focus on economic populist issues that are sure to unite Democrats, and avoid the ones that can tear us apart.

And the same goes for the newly elected members of Congress and the Senate—there’s no need for a war about abortion. Hey New Kids on the Block, make it clear the new Democratic leadership needs to protect you against floor votes on tough issues sure to tick off your districts, and then do your part to avoid bringing up issues like gun control and abortion.

“And what about me, what can I do?” sayeth my momma and the other five people who read this blog? Well, exactly the same. Take a little break, enjoy your weekend, have a beer, and get back to it. Focus on the issues we can all agree on, and build the grassroots. Keep going to club meetings, invite new friends to go with you, talk to people who still need convincing, stay on message, and stay positive. Although it may be the hundredth time you’ve said the same thing about jobs or social security or getting our young women and men the heck out of Iraq, it could still be the first time the person you’re talking to has heard it. Who knows, you could be the reason a person changes their mind.

At the request of a UC Davis scholar, I'm finally back, fresh and glowing from the successes of our mid-term elections!

Not only did Democrats take back both houses of Congress, but I get to celebrate some local victories close to my own heart!!

Debra Bowen is the new Secretary of State in California! Finally, we can all rest assured that our vote is going to be counted as it was cast and that someone is going to hold county registrars responsible for making sure every registered voter gets to cast a ballot on election day!!

Jerry McNerney beat 7-term incumbent Richard Pombo in CD-11! Not only does this kick a big-oil bad-guy out of Congress, but it replaces him with a really good guy. I mean, who doesn't love wind energy, the jobs created by clean energy, and the earnesty and seriousness of a man who's son is serving in the military?

Abel Guillen is the newest member of the Peralta Community College Board (Oakland), and he's going to make sure the new bond money is spent on students, teachers, and staff!!

So many great victories! It feels so good, at last, to see the good women and men win!!