Monday, November 10, 2008

Introduction and Speculation

Hi, I am XXLA’s Boyfriend.

I picked this moniker because I think it is ironic for a man to be primarily identified by his relationship to a woman, when for centuries the reverse has happened because of patriarchy, male privilege, etc.

So now you know two things about me

1) I have a horrible sense of humor

2) I am a pretentious douche

All joking aside, it is great to be blogging here. It is good to be involved in FA and feminist movements, even if my only contributions are rambling on like a Castro speech and making bad jokes.

First topic: Subcultures, Generalizability, and FA

I wanted my first blog post to be analyze the issue “Is the Nerd subculture more prone to fat acceptance than other subcultures or mainstream culture”, but then I got sidetracked by more general questions about the generalizability of subcultures. This question came to mind because, frankly, I am a Nerd and an open FA (FA meaning Fat Admirer in this context). I have shared my preference with my close Nerd friends and they are all really cool and accepting about the whole thing.

So I was going to make some kind of post questioning if my experience can be generalized into the proposition that FA (Fat Acceptance) will be well received most in Nerd social circles, asking the readers of this blog their experiences with Nerds and FA etc. . But this train of thought eventually led me to a more abstract question about what makes people think they can generalize about a subculture and that subculture will react to certain ideas. Do the tenants of ANY subculture either promote or condemn Fat Acceptance in all its members?

Because of my interest in philosophy I am really good at raising questions, but not as good at answering them. I want to know what you the reader at home thinks about this issue.


Janny said...

See, I would pose that question in reverse: is the fat sub-culture more accepting of the nerd sub-culture?

In all seriousness, its an interesting thing that I've noticed in my years of being a larger woman who leads peace talks between followers of Star Trek and Star Wars. The best friends I've had my whole life, both male and female, have been "nerds." Like, the real ones, not the "OMG! I like to read books! I'm such a nerd! LOLLERSKATES!" ones.

I never felt judged by those guys like I did with other guy friends. I had issues letting my boyfriend see me in a tank-top and shorts, but was totally fine with wearing nothing but a swimsuit in front of my nerd friends. Those guys loved me and accepted me for who I was, and still do. And I always loved them for who they were.

Those friendships continue, and the majority of my guy friends classify themselves as Nerds. My boyfriend is one of them, and he thinks I'm the most awesome, sexy, sassy, intelligent woman ever, but I think a lot of that stems from the fact that I get his jokes and references that other women don't.

Now, do the ideas of FA and the Nerd-world completely tie in together? I don't know. I do know that my friends of equal size and I were always treated better by nerd boys. Well, with one exception. The largest of us lands tall, muscular, hunky blond jocks, which I find awesome.

I think that the fact that both members of the FA community and the Nerd community can sometimes feel like they aren't "in" the loop, or (in my experience) identify themselves as "outcasts" has something to do with the levels of acceptance found in either group. We know what it's like to not be on the other side of the window; we're on the outside, looking in. I, for one, like it that way, because the people I know are waaaay more genuine and loveable than others.

Did any of that make sense? I'm doped up on allergy medicine, so I should probably not post this, but it's something near and dear to my heart.

Integgy said...

I think it would depend on where you're looking in nerd culture for acceptance. I think, in general, there's a slight bit more acceptance in nerd culture, because of the same reason Jenny mentioned, the idea of both groups being 'outsiders'. It also can be said that sometimes, being fat, or being weird-looking can lead to hobbies that might be considered more 'nerdish', just because you figure, well, hell, you're already on the outside, you might as well do something interesting on the outside. As a fat, female nerd, I was more accepted by my male nerd friends than I was accepted by community as a whole, and even dated a few of them who I was attracted to, and who were honestly attracted to me.

But there are divisions in nerd culture where fat is not considered acceptable. Look at the cosplay culture.

As someone who regularly attends anime conventions, and has friends who frequently cosplay, I have seen the disdain towards anyone who is fat and cosplays, even if their costume is amazing. If they're not entirely covered up, they're looked at with disgust, snickered at, mocked, ridiculed, etc. You will find very few anime fans who actually will applaud a fat person (be they male or female) for cosplaying.

So while in general is seems like the nerd culture is more open and accepting to more body types, it also strikes me that they also contain within it some very rampant fat-hatred. The same people who might date a larger woman, could also be tearing another one down on some forums, calling her names, speculating on her eating habits, person hygiene, etc. That could also be said about people who are not nerds, but since we're talking about fat acceptance/admiration in nerd culture, that's what I'm relating it to.

Overall point: in general, yes, nerd culture is more accepting, but it seems, from my experience anyway, it's more of an acceptance based on the individual, as opposed to fat people in general. They may accept fat people who are their friends, but not fat people as a whole, if that makes sense.

tara said...

That makes sence. Both nerds and fat people lack erotic capital so they would seem to be a natural match for eachother. Men do not appreciate fat women and women do not appreciate nerds. Nerds and fat women go great together, not to mention the sheer number of fat male nerds that there are out there.

meerkat said...

"Men do not appreciate fat women and women do not appreciate nerds."

I think that sentence gave me a double-take because the first half feels so true (I don't personally know any men who are attracted to fat women) but the second half rings so false (I and most of my female friends, fat or otherwise, are all nerds and therefore not repulsed by nerdiness).

I was bothered by the assumption that there are no female nerds. But since both statements are (false) "common knowledge" stereotypes, "nerd = male" fits right in.

deeleigh said...

In high school and undergrad (long, long ago), a was a cute fat girl who was a nerd magnet, and not very happy about it. I thought that it was the "lack of erotic capital" thing - "they're desperate and they think I'm desperate."

At some point, I realized that my 10 yards of science fiction novels, occasional video game obsessions, Star Trek habit, and love for/skill with computers probably made me a nerd, too. Sure, I wanted to pass for cool, but let's face it. I intimidated and/or weirded out the "normal" guys, even if they'd been open to dating someone who wasn't thin.

The fat/nerd thing goes deeper than availability. Women who try to conform to the beauty standard aren't just supposed to be thin - they're supposed to be a lot of other things that don't come naturally to everyone. Attractive women aren't supposed to debate issues for fun (often playing devil's advocate). We're not supposed to be better at math, science, fixing things, and building things than most men. We're not supposed to be indifferent to celebrities and children. Attractive women aren't supposed to be able to drink men under the table, to eat enthusiastically, or to be sexually direct. We not supposed to be too smart or resourceful, we're not supposed to be direct and unsentimental, and we're not supposed to have appetites. It makes most men uncomfortable.

If society has already put a big red "X" over you as an attractive woman because you're fat, then there are two things you can do. You can try really hard to meet all the other requirements, hoping your appearance will be overlooked - OR - you can say "screw it" and embrace your appearance, your real interests and your real personality, and see who comes along.

I think that fat women and nerdy men end up together so often because fat women are often nerds themselves. Not being conventionally attractive makes it easier for us to be unconventional in other ways, too. Nerds like to date within their species, and the independence, intelligence, and competitiveness that make the "normal" guys want to run and hide is often a big turn-on for nerdy men.

I'm almost 40 now, and let me tell you, nerds (men and women) can age well. They often end up being good looking, successful, and sophisticated. These days, I find that every man I feel a spark with is basically geeky - and HOT. We're not talking about settling, here. Everything changes in the adult, over 30 world. The alpha males and conventional beauties lose their looks - or spend too much money and effort trying to maintain them - and end up bitter or boring. They spend all their free time on treadmills. They save up for cosmetic surgery. They start to look like plastic mannequins and Egyptian mummies, and are just as clever.

The people who were on the outside? We don't lose our attractiveness as we age, because it was never centered on our appearance. But, ironically, we often take more of an informed interest in our presentation as we get older, and that makes us better looking. As you get to be middle aged, you might find that some of the most attractive men by anyone's standards are your type (or the type you'd want to be friends with) and you're theirs. Remember the people you've really admired; the ones who seem to have it all, who are smart, kind, open minded and good looking? You might find that you have their respect. You get this weird feeling that the tables have turned.

Fantine said...

"That makes sence. Both nerds and fat people lack erotic capital so they would seem to be a natural match for eachother. Men do not appreciate fat women and women do not appreciate nerds."

I think a smell a troll, Tara. Did you really say that? Do you really think that? If so, I'm very sad for you.

Fat people do not lack "erotic capital." There may be fewer people who are attracted to fat people than to thin people, but there are enough that a fat person with good self esteem will never be hurting for romantic attention. It's the self esteem that is the kicker, though--a fat person has to believe he or she is worthy of sexual attraction before he or she will find a healthy, loving relationship.

And believe me, there are plenty of female nerds out there, too--fat and thin--who definitely appreciate male nerds--fat and thin.

wellroundedtype2 said...

Great post -- and I think that to some degree, once one gets over the need for approval (or feels it is completely beyond reach) from society in general, then whatever one's preferences are, they are easier to be "out" about.
Does that make sense?
So, nerds (or members of any subculture) who still seek approval rather than reveling in their nerdiness may find that even if they are attracted to larger folks, they have trouble acting on their desires. And then you have people who are just attracted to a wide range of physical characteristics, rather than solely the narrow range that is considered "acceptable" -- again, considering society's approval as important can interfere with happiness in a big way.
There's also perhaps a greater tolerance of difference that comes from the experience of being an outsider that contributes.
I know much of this is what Well Rounded said, but I just want to echo -- and say some of the world's best people are either nerds, fat, or both.

iheartchocolat said...

i agree with wrt2, based on my very recent personal experience. i made friends with a very nerdy, dorky guy, that most girls wouldn't give the time of day. and i'm a nerdy, dorky fat girl and i thought we could find common ground. but when it came to dating, i heard often that i like thinner girls, and so do all my friends. so, bottomline, i believe if he weren't so concerned with what everyone thought of him, what his friends (who all like me, btw) would say, we would probably be in a great relationship. instead, he's holding out for the dorky, nerdy girl who has tits and ass, but thin too. i say more power to him. only time will tell.

Sarah said...

Tara is a troll. She's been around FA blogs for ages, so I assume she has no life. She has to build herself up by putting others down. Sad, really.

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