Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

'Fat girl rodeo' is weigh too serious to be laughed at

One too many: laddish culture
One too many: laddish culture

Fat girl rodeo' is a game which I had not heard of until recently. The 'game' is played like this: you grab a 'fat' woman in a club and hang on to her, yelling 'yee-hah' until they throw you off.

It rang a bit false to me that so many people can grow into adulthood and still play childish games like this. So I asked a few of my token 'lad' acquaintances about it.

The first response I got? "Haha. I've never heard of that, but it's actually pretty awesome." Another tried to explain: "But it's just a laugh. Probably you're going to be all feminist about it [er, yes, I am], but it's just a bit of fun."

Perhaps this shouldn't surprise me. Harassment of fat women is common. The worst kind of objectification is often directed at overweight bodies.

To give one example: I remember, years ago, a group of guys I used to work with, on a work night out, discussing how they liked to sleep with the "fattest bird they could find in the club", which apparently gets them some kind of respect from each other.

These men might be a minority, but the problem is, they don't think they are. They're egged on by a bullying media, obsessed with shaming overweight people.

You might roll your eyes and say that these people are just idiots and we should ignore them.

It's tempting. But these are educated, respected, professional adults we're talking about. They have careers. Some of them hold positions of authority.

These 'games' are not a good measure of what most people think is acceptable behaviour, but they are a good measure of the psychology of sexism.

Games like these prove what feminists have been long known: that sexual harassment is about power and humiliation – not sex.

Games like 'fat girl rodeo' draw attention to the genuine belief that it's normal to see sex as something degrading that they do to women, instead of something two people want to do together.

So sorry to keep coming back to this pesky feminism business, but that whole mess of moral nonsense is part of what feminists call 'rape culture'.

It's the ugly razor-edge of the logic that men chase, and women either give or withhold. If you think there is no difference between degrading someone and having sex with them, then it isn't hard to see how you struggle to grasp the difference between coercion and seduction. The worst thing about this nasty culture is the way it pretends to be liberated, fun and sex-positive.

Don't be fooled. If you think having sex with a woman means you're doing something degrading to her, then you are the one who has an unhealthy, sex-negative attitude, not me.

And if you don't like the idea of people assuming you'd find this type of 'game' funny, then take it up with the lads in your life, next time they mouth off about their hilarious banter.

Being quiet and rolling our eyes isn't enough: unless they're clearly shown otherwise, people like this will carry on kidding themselves that the rest of us all reckon they are, like, total legends.

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