There has never in a point in my life where I have thought having a term to refer to a large diverse group of people was acceptable. After reading Dan Savage’s so called ‘response’ to this weekends uproar over a huge history of fat phobic comments he has made, most recently and in the past. His response was to his co-worker, Lindy West, who basically called him out on his history of comments. I was mostly struck by the fact that he was referring to all fat people in the most dehumanizing blanket term available, “The obese.”
If you are unaware of the whole thing, check out Kate Harding’s post regarding it, after Dan’s first response was one he wrote to Kate three years ago. While your at it read Lindy West’s amazing post that relates to the Dananigans (Dan + shenanigans = HA!)
My gut reaction to his use of ‘the obese’ was to put it in relation to using ‘the gays’ to talk about all people align themselves with the LGBT movement. While the comment below doesn’t state what I meant as eloquently as I would have liked I can say that the meaning was to point out that any form of blanket terminology is dehumanizing to the people who may and or may not associate themselves with that term, and the general public (and Dan) stupidly assumes that they would fall under.
“Can i refer to all the people in the LGBT community as ‘the gays’ because I want to smash my head into my laptop screen if I read ‘the obese’ again. Way to dehumanize a whole class of people Dan.”
Using one term to talk about an entire group of people makes you look stupid, and rude, but mostly stupid. You are denying that there is diversity in a group of people that might feel common ground in a larger movement. You are also denying that there is diversity in the beliefs or characteristics of those people that you place under that blanket term. Not all fat people have the same life, we do not all have the same job, or body, or person. We are separate and should expect to be treated as people, not a generic term that labels us as diseased ‘others.’
P.s. I do apologize if my comment offended anyone, apparently bigoted induced rage makes me not explain myself very well.