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A Weird Story Gets Weirder -- Ever-Expanding Definitions Of Abuse

Last month England's Daily Mail reported that New Jersey resident Donna Simpson was determined to become the world's fattest woman (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1257850/Super-sized-mother-determined-worlds-fattest-woman-years.html).

Already 600 lbs at the age of 42, the stay-at-home mom of a three year old girl wants gain 400 lbs in the next two years, reaching her goal weight of 1000 lbs and thereby breaking the Guinness World Record for female fatness. He husband, a 150lb "belly man," is completely supportive of her pursuit.

On March 20, 2010, an outraged Renee Martin blogged that Simpson's husband isn't just a chubby chaser, he's an abuser. "Abuse can take many forms and it often goes unremarked upon, or else wrongly labelled. The nature of the power dynamic between the feeder/feedee removes agency and therefore eliminates culpability. Just as it is highly unreasonable to blame the victim of domestic violence for their bruises, so too is it unconscionable to blame the feedee for over eating."

Ms. Martin's take on the story is wrong for three reasons. First, and most importantly, by stretching the definition of domestic violence to include the encouragement of overeating, she diminishes the suffering of real victims of domestic violence. Secondly, she infantilizes Donna Simpson, that is, she treats her as an unconscious automaton who has no role to play in her efforts to gain weight. Lastly, she places Simpson's husband in a no-win position. What if he chastised her for wanting to gain more weight, or was simply indifferent? Wouldn't that make him an unsupportive bastard? Isn't that abuse under an expansive definition of domestic violence?

The story of one woman's quest to become the fattest woman in the world and the accompanying question of whether her husband is an abuser for encouraging her to reach her goal is perfect for talk radio, both on the left and the right of the political spectrum. Please contact your favorite radio talk show and tell them about the controversy. If you can, please send them a copy of our report,

Expanding Definitions of Domestic Violence, Vanishing Rule of Law (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Vanishing-Rule-of-Law.pdf).

Thanks for your help.

Date of RADAR Release: April 20, 2010

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org