Rabble: Fat-shaming, sexism and Rob Ford: A discussion on fatphobia and bullying

Despite the title, it is largely about ‘fatphobia’ and women, with a bunch of other phobias tossed in for good measure:

There was an editorial cartoon depicting Rob Ford falling from the sky, with Steven Harper remarking to Mike Duffy, “We need something really big to take the focus off you…” While we have little sympathy for the mess Mr. Ford has created for himself, we cringe at the fat-shaming in the cartoon, as well as in some of the commentaries on his behaviour.

Even though there continue to be some comments that ridicule him about his weight, they are a minor part of the tsunami of public discussion on his series of scandals. Ford has certainly been confronted en masse about his capability to serve as mayor of Toronto, his refusal to step down and subsequent run for re-election. Some have taken him to task on his bullying behaviours, homophobic comments and drunken threats of violence.

Fair enough. But, what if Ford were a woman? Not only would she be subject to a barrage of insults, such as ‘cow,’ ‘pig,’ ‘lard-ass’ and ‘thunder thighs,’ but the barrage would be coupled with sexist and misogynist accusations, as well.

Indeed, what if Ford were anything but a white male, which is really what writer Dr. Connie Russell, “social justice educator specializing in environmental issues and body diversity”, wants to talk about. It is all sheer speculation, since she is not referring to a particular event. The only documented event is about Ford.

Doubling the power of language to insult, demean and dehumanize, epihtets like ‘bitch,’ ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ would also likely be prominent in responses that attempt to put her ‘in her place.’ Plus, social commentary about her body would be extended to her character: lazy. Weak-willed. Undisciplined.

[blah blah blah]

A wide variety of minority groups have had to tolerate the untamed bigotry of others for decades, even centuries. Just ask people who are gay, lesbian, transgender, Black, Jewish, Indigenous, mentally ill, mentally challenged, physically disabled, poor and working class, among others. It’s the same sad, tired pattern over and over again, which is that those in a perceived position of superiority feel entitled to express, in person or online, their contempt for those who are different from them. If it isn’t one group who’s a target, then it’s another.

Gets a lot of mileage from that Ford anecdote, doesn’t she?