[Image is a graphic of the words “Fat People Have Sex”]
There are many things that fat people have managed to come together to do since we started resisting our oppression. We have more fashion options than ever (even if a lot of them are online), Southwest is a fatty go-to for traveling with their free extra reserved seat policy, fat- positive conferences have been going on for over 4 decades and are growing, more and more medical professionals are embracing Health At Every Size, and the list can go on and on.
One thing that hasn’t gotten a lot of traction though, is fat sex.
There have only been a few projects and books that address the topic. This fact was pointed out in the January 2015 XO Jane article, “Why I’m over the fat acceptance movement” that gives a number of critiques of the size acceptance movement as it currently exists. This article was a bit of catalyst for me in seeing that what I was already doing - running Validity, the first body-inclusive sex gear website – had a potential to be a collective force within our community.
The way to effectively address issues surrounding fat sex is to approach it intersectionally. We have to look at ALL the different ways bodies are oppressed when it comes to sex and confront them as a whole. To do it any other way creates space for fracturing and exclusion.
Underlying this framework, though, is a concept that is so buried in our culture that it needs to be recognized before we get to talking about oppression – that sex is a vital part of the human experience. Sexual satisfaction and gratification are dimensions of humanity that need to be looked at as essential, not as afterthoughts.
It is so important to address this piece because when we talk about oppression – racism, sexism, poverty, etc. – sex as an aspect of a fulfilling life is completely dismissed while food, water, shelter, and medical care are recognized as necessities.
I want to revolutionize that idea. If something can be a factor in the fulfillment of life of the privileged, which sex certainly is, then is should be seen as important in the lives of the oppressed. A person’s need for intimacy and sexual satisfaction doesn’t evaporate because they are discriminated against and have to struggle for sustenance. It has become an almost invisible layer of oppression. That is part of the reason it’s been hard to address with any large impact – we have been largely focused on things deemed “more important” by our oppressors.
I’m not saying that we should stop working on our general right to be respected as people. I’m saying that right should include sex.
This is where *You* come in.
I’ve just launched my crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to have the first physical space for Validity – The body inclusive sex gear store I mentioned earlier and wrote about previously on the Militant Baker. It will be a brick-and-mortar shop that expands the Validity website's mission and service by providing greater access and opportunity for education and community building located in San Francisco East Bay.
I am taking that intersectional, sex-is-a-human-right approach to fighting oppression by creating a sex gear store that is accessible to ALL bodies. I mean all of them. ‘Access for one means access for all’ is the guiding principle for how the store will be designed. There will be focus groups to directly involve our community in defining our diverse desires and needs for such a store, which doesn’t exist yet. For sex gear or art or books or kitchenware or ANYTHING. I have yet to find any store that approaches its service to customers from a universal access perspective (if you know of one, let me know! We can learn from them!). I also have an ongoing commitment to welcome and seek feedback to see how we could do better going forward.
Besides making this particular store accessible for all, we will be transforming our knowledge gained from creating this space into resources that people can take to their local retailers to help them advocate for themselves to have better access everywhere. People with oppressed bodies spend so much time surviving it can be hard to drum up the energy to advocate for change. Having the store exist will help alleviate that burden.
These resources also speak to the wide-scale view of change I that I seek to create. Great sex isn’t just about sex gear and how-to guides. It’s about valuing and treating yourself well. General access in the world is a factor in how valuable we feel. No matter what the intention, if there is a store I can’t access, that business is telling me that I don’t matter as much as those people who can. That implicit message has a negative effect. It’s part of how oppression works.
The goal with this campaign is a little different as well. I want to bring together 50,000 people to donate $5 and pledge to treat everyone’s sex lives with dignity and respect. Yes, my crowdfund page has a monetary goal, but that’s only part of what is important here. We deserve a place like this. We deserved it ages ago & it still hasn’t happened.
50,000 people with oppressed bodies (this includes disabled people, aging people and people with unique anatomy as well) and our allies donating $5 a piece is a powerful statement about what we can accomplish as a community – even if we each individually don’t have a lot to give.
The internet shorthand for this call to action is:
The internet shorthand for this call to action is:
[Image is a graphic of “hashtag Respect Our Sex”]
I have been working up to making this store a reality for a long time. I’m very grateful for the support and community I have that have led me to taking this leap of faith of asking others for support.
I hope you’ll join me.
Go to respectoursex.com to donate to the campaign.