My bias towards the category of sex stems first from the fact that it stands out as unique due to the way that the “pronoun problem” interferes with eating disorders affecting a male population. For example, even if a clinician develops a workbook or program which might be better suited to teenagers than someone in their fifties, if they are writing to an intended female audience or discussing body image as a problem facing women, then at least their pronoun use will be consistent. There is, of course, nothing wrong with writing to an intended audience, and there is undeniable value in acknowledging the unique ways that one’s position in society based on sex and/or gender identity may play a role in a negative body image or an eating disorder.
The problem begins when the focus upon the statistical majority (women) is such that the already marginalized male voice is practically silenced and erased from the conversation. The first thirty results from a quick search for the topic “eating disorders” in the books section of Amazon.com in December 2012 reveals the following: out of thirty books, only five were authored or co-authored by men. If we exclude more academic writings such as clinical handbooks or guides tailored to professionals and focus purely on books intended for a general consumer audience (such as parental guides, self-help books, memoirs) that number drops to three out of thirty, or ten percent – which is, coincidentally, the same estimated percentage of male anorexics. While the sex of the author(s) is not deterministic of the content or focus of the writing, the more noteworthy finding is that out of the first thirty results, fourteen out of thirty books (essentially half) either specifically had words like ‘woman’ or ‘girls’ in the title or, despite a gender-neutral title, featured a female on the cover. The latter is especially concerning due to the fact that titles and descriptions of these books sound as though they written in a gender-inclusive or gender-neutral fashion, but then through their cover art or imagery implied that they were actually written for or about women.
…As a male-bodied individual, much of my recovery from anorexia required me to squeeze into a recovery culture which had been tailored and designed for women. To create space and dialogue which is gender-inclusive requires an investigation into the reasons that negative body image and eating disorders have historically been associated with women or regarded as a “women’s problem.” The word choice here is deliberate. I have on occasion found myself employing the phrase “gender neutral,” but as I stated previously, I believe there is value in the unique experience of how one’s sex or gender may play a role in their recovery. Gender inclusivity is preferable because it is also a fluid phrase which does not limit itself to an idea such as “a dialogue which includes men” or is otherwise rooted in a binary understanding of sex or gender; rather, it could accommodate an infinite number of genders.
If you have one you’d like to share, please email me at EDsNoMore@gmail.com with:
-a clear picture of the tattoo
-the story or inspiration behind it
-how you’d like to be identified (1st name? Alias? Anonymous?)
Aiming to publish Monday. Please reblog/signal boost!