In our culture, sexuality has been cemented as a private, taboo aspect of life. From birth, we are socialised by those around us, the media, and the systems in place to adhere to a narrow definition of sexuality. We have had to fight to unlearn this heteronormativity and fight for our right to express ourselves as the diverse and complex people we naturally are. While there has been progress to advance the rights of people on the LGBTQI++ spectrum, there are still many forms of sexuality expression that are taboo and groups of people who are marginalised within society.

There are many negative outcomes that occur within a sex-negative culture. In our feedist spaces – our forums, websites, dating apps, social media sites, pornographic sites, and meetups – there exists toxic behaviour that harms those in our community. Unfortunately, this behaviour also spills out into public spaces and can harm people who are not feedist oriented.

Feedists for Fat Liberation (FFL) believes that this toxic behaviour stems from shame, secrecy, lack of accountability processes, general sex negativity, misogany, fatphobia, fatmisia, transphobia, and racism. While toxic and objectification are emulated in wider society due largely to misogyny, our feedist community also faces the unique challenges of being a kink community. People who have a feedist kink are often ashamed of their fringe sexualities and hide them.

Defining Toxic Feedist Behaviour

In online spaces, problematic feedists use ‘greyface’ accounts (accounts without photos) on various platforms to utilise anonymity. These people may cause harm by offering unwanted sexual advances, bullying, harassing, discriminating, expressing anti-fat bias, and objectifying without consent. It is difficult to ensure feedists take accountability for their harmful words and actions when they are anonymous and have very little stake in online interactions. There have been attempts at structural change on our online platforms, but bad behaviour persists.

Stealing content is also a significant problem within feedist spaces. Content creators can find that their content is disseminated across the web, undermining their financial well-being and subjecting them to trolls, doxxing, and other unsavory behaviour.

In real-life feedist relationships, there can exist power inequities that disadvantage the fat (or fatter) partner. This is most often apparent when one partner is average weight and the other is fat. The fat or fatter partner typically experiences more societal discrimination (in employment, education, access to public accommodations, and access to medical care). This may translate to greater internalization of society’s anti-fat bias and politics of desirability in a way that lessens the person’s agency within the context of a relationship. The partner with thin(ner) privilege may leverage their partner’s low self-esteem to avoid obtaining ongoing consent for feedist behavior. In addition, because feedism can result in weight gain for one or both partners, those in a feedist relationship may be unprepared for or unwilling to face mounting discriminatory and economic repercussions associated with weight gain. As a result, the relationship may end and the fat or fatter partner may be significantly disadvantaged.

FFL’s Bold Vision for the Feedist Community

FFL believes we need to make changes to our wider culture and to the culture of the feedist community. We are fiercely and bravely promoting sex positivity through our organisation’s guiding principals, our actions, and our campaigns. We hope that, through openness and pride, we can help others who have sexually taboo identities to feel unashamed, accepted, and free to explore pleasure in a fun and consensual manner.

This extends to those within our community. We aim to set an example of a healthy culture through our guiding principles, organisational structures, accountability processes, and our willingness to discuss sexuality openly. Specifically, FFL is engaged in:

Creating a transformative justice framework. Restorative justice aims to repair harm and return both parties to the status quo. FFL believes that the status quo in the feedist community is fundamentally flawed. Instead, we are creating a transformative justice framework that provides those who cause harm opportunities to be accountable in ways that let them heal, change their behavior, and reintegrate into the community.

FFL is in the process of identifying injustices and inequities that currently exist in online feedist community spaces, holding workshops to discuss toxicity and potential solutions, and outlining processes that can be implemented to assist those who have been harmed and hold perpetrators accountable.

Creating a culture of consent. Unlike within the BDSM kink community, the feedist community does not have widely-accepted ground rules. Taking inspiration from other kink communities, FFL is committed to creating risk-aware consensual kink (RACK) guidelines and educational initiatives designed to create a culture of full and ongoing consent within the feedist community.

Establishing better practices for those operating online communities. Typically, those administering online communities publish community guidelines. Often, though, the guidelines are not transparently enforced. Sometimes, the guardrails that would create safer space for community members do not exist. FFL would like to work with online platforms to create and implement best practices that removes anonymity, enforces accountability for those who steal content, and educates community members about full and ongoing consent.

Creating healing space. FFL’s vision is to create a space within the feedist community where those who have been harmed by feedists can find empathy, compassion, and healing. A different space will be made available to those who have caused harm, with the goal of rehabilitation and possible reintegration into the feedist community. If both parties agree, there will also exist space for accountability and reparations.

FFL hopes that these initiatives will alleviate shame from feedists, eliminate secrecy, and promote consensual exchanges. If feedists are free of shame and secrecy, and do not have to fear social persecution, we believe that harm will be significantly reduced.