Fat shaming and discrimination in academia

This is important, Christina Fisanick’s article Fat Professors feel compelled to overperform should be read by everyone in academia. Mostly because academia is supposed to be this place without this kind of discrimination.
In our culture, obesity equals moral and intellectual laziness. Fat professors feel compelled to overperform. I’ve felt the need to make the fat invisible and be even more excellent at my teaching duties. I’ve wanted people to look at my mind and not at my body. But I realize that my body is important in the classroom—I can use it as a tool—so I no longer try to flatten myself.
I believe there is fat discrimination in academia, but there’s no hard evidence. The numbers of obese faculty are low. The problem is that society believes the university is above all that. Many people think that muscles and beauty don’t matter here, but we are a mirror of our culture at large. People bring their attitudes about obesity to the classroom. They think that if you’re fat you’re lazy, that you’re not going to want to participate in the committee work. These stereotypes play on people’s thinking when they’re making hiring decisions.
It’s not that I didn’t know that there was many forms of discrimination in academia – despite its lofty ideals – it’s just the shallowness of discrimination offends me. The last time fat-shaming in academia reared its idiotic head was in the incredibly shallow, simple-minded, and shallow tweet of NYU professor Geoffrey Miller:
obese-PhD-croppedFor fucks sake! Really Geoff? How dumb are you really. Firstly the fact that fat people have will power does not need to be proved. Just look around you. Second of all, you should know that this view is discriminatory, fat-shaming, rude and borderline illegal. He later “apologized” with the enigmatic words that his own tween did not reflect his “views, values, or standards”
article-2335177-1A20BCA5000005DC-700_634x286Really Geoff? This is the strangest disclaimer (after the fact) I have ever read. I dislike the whole “Tweets are my own” “RT does not mean endorsement” culture but to actually state that your tweets do not reflect your own ideas seems just nuts. So yes, I know that he probably reacted to save his arrogant ass but as apologies go this is pretty insincere.
If we are supposed to be intelligent humans working to advance science this whole fat-shaming must stop. Now.

Apes more deserving than Bulls

Last month Time Online reported that Spain is to become the first country to extend legal rights to apes. This is the result of a long process (I blogged about this in April 2006) but I had missed the news that Spain had implemented the proposal.

The Declaration on Great Apes consists of three main points:

  1. The Right to Life
  2. The Protection of Individual Liberty
  3. The Prohibition of Torture

Let’s start by saying that this is an excellent initiative. BUT it is amazing that this initiative comes from a country so closely associated with bullfights. Naturally animal rights acitivists must be very confused by these results.

Bullfight 1“, photo by Jiddle_L (CC by-nc-nd)

It’s obvious that Spain has decided to be strangely selective to which animals are worth protection and base the need for rights not on the ability to feel pain but rather with the animals closeness to humans (in genetic terms?) This approach is discriminatory and clearly a form of specie-ism, and the worst thing is that the only defences for the conservation of bullfighting is tradition and entertainment.