Tag Archives: healthism

A few days ago some joker posted a comment on one of my old posts, trying to tell me that most people who commit rape are mental ill, which 1) is a wrong & useless assertion, but also 2) did not refute or even interact with what the original post was even saying

healthy is relative

[cw: health talk, food talk, diet talk, weight-adjacent talk]

People keep using “healthy” to mean “something you (general you) should do,” and so I feel compelled to keep talking about this.

“Healthiness” isn’t some kind of inherent trait, some innate Platonic value, embedded in a thing and applicable to all.  And what I mean by that is, it’s frequently possible that what may be healthy for some may not be healthy for others, and what may not be healthy for some may yet be healthy for others.

Here’s an explanation of what I mean.

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healthism and femininity

[cw: Christianity comparison in post; sexually-toned “reparative therapy”-toned psychiatric abuse, misogyny, and anti-sex worker sentiment at link]

Anyway this is the kind of thing I’m talking about when I say the concept of “health” has been used to abuse and control people.

And I should be able to drop a sentence like that and leave it, without anticipating someone seeing it and coming back to me with “It’s good to be healthy though.  Don’t shame people for trying to get healthy.”  Of course it’s convenient to be healthy.  But I should get to be able to say “be wary of how people deploy the concept of ‘good for your health'” without getting inane responses, the same way I should be able to say “be wary of how people deploy the concept of ‘it’s God’s will'” without someone replying, “But some things ARE God’s will and it’s important to follow it.”  I mean, I expect even very sheltered Christians to get the idea that some Chritianities are worse than others and do lead people astray, but I swear I don’t know how to get through to some people about healthism, not when it’s as ingrained in my culture as it is, I dare say more than Christianity is.  Critiquing healthism is incomprehensible blasphemy.  I might as well tell someone “I want to be sick and always getting sicker.”  It’s…  I don’t know.  I worry.  I worry about the pervasiveness of a faith that strong.

Here are some quotes for those of you who didn’t click the link.

A quote from user lesbian-lily in the linked comment chain:

I’m too tired to find sources and images and whatever, but this is literally how they used to assess women’s mental health and still is a lot of the time. If women wore baggy clothes, didn’t wear make up, didn’t have perfect hair or rejected femininity in any way it was used as a sign of their mental health, a sign that they were crazy and needed fixing. Women wouldn’t be able to free themselves from institutions until they began to conform to femininity. Associating self care with femininity is kinda really fucked up considering we used to get sectioned purely for not being feminine enough.

A quote from Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful cultural practices in the west screenshot’d by user nineteencigarettes:

Pertschuck’s big worry is that, “The woman who feels unable to meet the demands of a female identity and who grooms and dresses accordingly is indeed likely to be viewed as asexual by those around her” (1985, p.221).  The woman may desire precisely such freedom from men’s gaze but Pertschuck will not allow it.  He sees the solution for such women who refuse to service male sexuality as “appearance training.”

What’s got me hecked up is that I can’t even be properly horrified at just the passages themselves, because I’m also thinking…

I’m imagining that someone would tell me the use of the word “asexual” here has nothing to do with the modern usage by the ace community, not even a little bit.  Which makes about as much sense to me as saying that there’s no anti-butch sentiment in trying to “help” an unfeminine woman engage in more feminine beauty rituals, as long as the reason for that “help” isn’t paired with suspicion that she’s attracted to women.  Or as much sense as saying that this “appearance training” to make her sexier (to men) has nothing to do with heteronormativity.  Just misogyny.  Just misogyny alone.  Because those two systems don’t overlap like that and aren’t enmeshed in each other or anything.

I’m so hecked up by the homophobia of saying homophobia doesn’t care about making women attractive to/attracted to/”sexually available” to men.  It’s just so patently false, so black is white and red is blue, it springs up in my brain now when I read about this stuff.  God, I want to fight someone.  But this is down the rabbit hole deep.

aces against healthism

[cw: medical talk, genitals talk]

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[link to post]

Substantive discussions, huh?

Yeah, those would be nice to have.  For example, how about a substantive discussion about your habitual practice of giving bad advice to vulnerable people?

Like making authoritative claims about what medical decisions everyone with a cervix should make?  Regardless of financial status, sexual and medical trauma, sex repulsion, body dysphoria, the list goes on…

Or like recommending kink-curious aces join Fetlife?  Without mentioning — at all — the site security issues, the official policy of protecting abusers from being named, or any kind of warning for anyone who might want to prepare for constant risk of porn across the whole site

Or maybe your dubious understanding of the human learning process?

I for one would love to have some substantive discussions!

Pap Test CBA

[cw: medical talk, genitals talk, etc.]

Found some ace blogs recommending all folks w/ cervices get pap tests.


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AA: Questions on Health/Healthism

Em wrote in:

[cw: brief discussion of abuse, with specific examples]

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It’d be nice if there were some kind of in-depth, ace-friendly resource for reading up on sexual disorders that wasn’t an utter minefield.

I’m thinking of the more technical/physical/structural ones here — pain disorders, arousal disorders, orgasmic disorders, etc (not desire or aversion disorders thx).

Corruption in the Holy Places

[ cw for suicide and medical abuse ]

No one really knows how much of the medical literature is ghostwritten, but a hint emerged in a 2003 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP).  A lawsuit brought against Pfizer in 1999 had turned up documents produced by a medical communications company called Current Medical Directions, which was responsible for a publication strategy for Pfizer’s antidepressant Zoloft.  These documents listed all the Zoloft studies that Current Medical Directions was preparing for publication in 1999. The authors of the BJP article, David Healy and Dinah Cattel, decided to track down the articles on Zoloft that Current Medical Directions had been working on in 1999 and see what had happened to them.  They picked three years (1998, 1999, and 2000) and searched the medical literature for articles published on Zoloft during that time.  They found that the agency-prepared articles outnumbered the articles written in the traditional way, were published in more prestigious journals, and had citation rates over five times that of traditionally authored articles.  The ghosted articles also painted a much happier profile of Zoloft than did the traditionally authored articles.  For example, the articles prepared by Current Medical Directions on pediatric psychopharmacology failed to mention five of the six children taking Zoloft who took action toward committing suicide.

Metzl, Jonathan M., and Anna Kirkland, eds. Against health: How health became the new morality. NYU Press, 2010. (p. 99-100)

In layman’s terms: companies are commissioning ghostwritten articles about their drugs and getting them published in medical journals.  Or in other words, they’re advertising in places where there’s not supposed to be advertising, specifically in order to deceive people about the content’s origins.

While I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I worry that people are too quick to forget about things like this when they associate cultural prestige with credibility.

another quote from rhetoric class readings

In healthism, healthy behavior has become the paradigm for good living.  Healthy men and women become model men and women.  A kind of reductionism or one-dimensionalization seems to occur among healthists: more and more experiences are collapsed into health experience, more and more values into health values.  Health, or its supreme — “super health” — subsumes a panoply of values: “a sense of happiness and purpose,” “a high level of self-esteem,” “work satisfaction,” “ability to engage in creative expression,” “capacity to function effectively under stress,” “having confidence in the future,” “a commitment to living in the world,” the ability “to celebrate one’s life,” or even “cosmic affirmation.”  “Health is more than the absence of disease…,” writes one of the new pulpiteers (49, p. x), “it includes a fully productive, self-realized, expanded life of joy, happiness, and love in and for whatever one is doing.”  In the “high level of wellness” ethic, “health is freedom in the truest sense — freedom from aimlessness, being able to express a range of emotions freely, a zest for living.” (67)  In short, health has become not only a preoccupation; it has also become a pan-value or standard by which an expanding number of behaviors and social phenomena are judged.  Less a means toward the achievement of other fundamental values, health takes on the quality of an end in itself.

Crawford, Robert. “Healthism and the medicalization of everyday life.” International journal of health services 10, no. 3 (1980): 365-388.

I want to ask why this isn’t considered a religion, but then again, we know why.