Friday, April 20, 2018

Fat, ugly, and opinionated are the worst things a woman can be?

Yesterday, after I read the disturbing misogynistic comments on an article about Randa Jarrar, I Googled "fat, ugly, and opinionated are the worst things a woman can be".  I wanted to see if other people had written about that phenomenon.  The very first thing that came up in my search results was an article about "Overweight Haters Ltd".  Prior to yesterday, I had not heard of this London group, whose members were known for passing out cards on The Tube to people they deemed to be too fat.

Three years ago, health worker Kara Florish was riding the subway when someone handed her a card.  On one side of the card was the word "FAT".  On the other side, Florish read about Overweight Haters Ltd's disgusting philosophy.  The card read:

Our organisation hates and resents fat people. We object to the enormous amount of food resources you consume while half the world starves. We disapprove of your wasting NHS (National Health Service) money to treat your selfish greed. And we do not understand why you fail to grasp that by eating less you will be better off, slimmer, happy and find a partner who is not a perverted chubby-lover, or even find a partner at all.
We also object that the beatiful (sic) pig is used as an insult. You are not a pig. You are a fat, ugly human.

I told Bill about this "group" last night and fantasized about the best way to strike back against these vile people who think they have the right to humiliate other people.  The first thing that came to mind was to start screaming "Rape!"  Imagine how that would go over, especially if the ballsy git was still trapped on the train between stops.  People who are mean and hateful are usually also massive cowards.  They probably wouldn't enjoy having the tables turned, especially since their aim is to embarrass and shame people they despise on sight.

We didn't linger too long on this topic, though, because we then started talking about Randa Jarrar and all the comments she got about her looks and weight.  So many people were focused on Jarrar's sex appeal (or lack thereof) rather than her comments.  It seemed to me that Jarrar probably made those statements because of where she's from and what she's seen.  She grew up in Egypt and Palestine and likely has personal experience with the Bush family's policies.

Bill and I were reminded of last December, when Bill, his mom, and I went to Berlin and met an Egyptian man who vented about the state of things in his home country.  The man made some anti-American sentiments that probably would have offended a lot of people.  To be honest, that conversation was kind of uncomfortable, although it did provide food for thought.

I read that Randa Jarrar is much beloved by many of her students, who describe her as very kind and caring.  I see on, she gets an overall rating of 4.8 out of a possible 5.  She is described as "engaging", "funny", and "encouraging".  Moreover, she does have tenure, which means she must have been doing something right before her rant about the Bush family.  Does she deserve to lose her entire career because of her admittedly mean comments about Barbara Bush's death?  Is she still an excellent professor, even though she posted some crass tweets about the Bush family?  I think she probably still is.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  It seems like for some people, the worst thing a woman can be is "fat", "ugly", and "opinionated".  I don't really have an opinion about Randa Jarrar's looks.  I focused more on what she tweeted.  I'm sure she has personal reasons for posting as she did.  Her reasons are probably rooted in experience, the same way our Egyptian bartender in Berlin had personal reasons for his comments.  Randa Jarrar may not be "eye candy" for everyone on the planet, but what person is?  And why does her appearance matter, anyway?  If you're not interested in her romantically or sexually, how is that relevant to what she says?  Is her intrinsic value as a person or lack thereof only tied to how "hot" she is?

If you happen to be a woman who doesn't fit a certain beauty standard, some people feel that they have every right to tear you down, even if they don't know you personally.  A few will go as far as presenting you with something truly hateful, like a card from "Overweight Haters Ltd."  I have to wonder what damaged these people so much that they feel they have the right to do this to innocent folks going on about their business.  In Kara Florish's case, she wasn't even daring to speak out about anything.  She was simply riding the train and living life.

Florish wasn't the only one who got a card.  Below is an account from another news article.

“Young man just got on train at Oxford Circus, gave printed card saying YOU’RE FAT to overweight girl. He jumped off. She read it, [and] cried.

“Am 99.9% sure this wasn’t staged. She didn’t even realise I was watching at first. Her stunned, desolate reaction was very real. Then tears.”

Knox described the man who handed over the card as a “hipster.. smartly, trendily dressed” with a beard. “Perhaps it was a piece of conceptual art,” he tweeted

“It lasted a few seconds, but the card in that photo [Florish’s] is the same card I saw, in the girl’s hand. And her shock was real.”

I can't help but conjure up delicious fantasies of turning the tables on cruel people-- particularly men-- who hold women in such deep contempt that they feel emboldened to make comments about the woman's looks.  Personally, I have a feeling that men who do this are extremely frustrated and threatened by women.  Most straight men I know are captivated by the parts of a woman that make her female.  Some of them seem to think a woman who dares to be unattractive, yet has a vagina-- which many men are obsessed with accessing-- needs to be set straight.  It's like some of these guys only value a woman for the parts that will make them feel good.  She's no good for anything else.  If she has the nerve to have and express her opinions, she needs to be knocked down and put in her place.  And some of these men lack the intellect to be able to go head to head with an intelligent female.  So instead of trying to engage her with their minds, they make personal, sexist, demeaning, and humiliating comments about her appearance.  I think it's sad.  

Anyway, after Bill and I started discussing Randa Jarrar, he went on a long-winded lecture about religion and how religion paints women as "temptresses" who need to be covered up, controlled, and shamed into submission.  For the record, Bill disagrees with that mindset.  It's at times like these that I really appreciate my husband, who is truly smarter than the average guy.  He's smart enough to know that even the most beautiful woman will one day grow older and will likely gain weight.  She'll see her breasts sag and her skin wrinkle.  Her hair will turn grey and she might lose her libido.  He's smart enough to understand that the sexiest part of a person is their mind.

Randa Jarrar obviously has a fine mind, even if I question the wisdom of tweeting her thoughts about Barbara Bush.  But despite the fact that I disagree with her comments on the Bush family, she did at least inspire me twice.  So, for that reason, I'm glad she voiced her opinions.  More women should speak up and out against men who value women solely for sexual purposes.  And more women should call out cowardly men who dare to try to humiliate them publicly simply for living life in a body that they don't find attractive.


  1. Now I know who Rand Jarrar is. Bill is right about the sexiest part of a woman.

  2. I was very lucky to get to marry a good man... Maybe not being super gorgeous was a blessing.


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