‘Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her.
I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain…
I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!’
‘Well,’ I said, slightly nonplussed, ‘the last time you saw me I’d just had a baby.’
What I felt like saying was, ‘I’ve produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren’t either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?’ But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!
I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.
People often want to “complicate” the statutory rape conversation by talking about the sexual empowerment of adolescents and this and that. These exercises in intellectual masturbation are pointless. I am not the one. I cannot do it. It’s too personal and it’s always going to be too personal. Sometimes, rules exist for a reason and this is one rule that shouldn’t be broken. Deal with it. We are not sending our children to school so they might be seduced by teacher. We send them to school to learn and socialize and begin to move out into the world to be what they’re going to be.
I was a teenager, we were all teenagers and we all felt empowered in our youthful seductions. We maybe were and we probably weren’t. We like to tell ourselves we know exactly what we’re doing, even when we don’t. I try to see both sides of the issue but frankly, on the issue of rape, I don’t give one flying fuck about nuance. Not one. I really don’t.
Suggesting that adults, and particularly teachers, have no business having sex with their students, doesn’t diminish adolescent sexual empowerment or autonomy. It’s common sense. It is decency. The power imbalance is too great. The potential repercussions are too great. Why would we tolerate such risk?