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Oh thank goodness. The sage writers of AskMen.com -- a site that culls its literary talent from the very best of hungover frat boys and 40-year-old virgins -- have cottoned on to one of the major issues facing society today: Women getting fat. In his imaginatively titled "Top 10 Subtle Ways to Tell Her She's Getting Fat" slideshow, AskMen.com's relationship correspondent and frequent receiver of violent slaps, Thomas Foley, sets up this endemic problem: Men can't just walk up to their ladies and point to their fat. "Even if it does have the desired effect and she goes on to drop a few pounds," Foley writes. "She’ll never forgive you for pointing it out so bluntly and making her feel like sh*t in the process." Thanks for the newsflash.
Instead, Foley wants men to consider his ten ground-breaking strategies like "buy her clothes that are too small [...] 'Oh,' you might say, 'I thought you were a size 8. Isn’t that what you were last summer?'" Or, "When dishing up meals for the two of you, try giving her smaller-than-usual amounts. By making her ask for more food, you might succeed in shaming her into an acknowledgment of her recent weight gain." Not to worry guys, if the bird-sized portions that you're so lovingly preparing for her leave you famished (what with your big, manly appetite) "you can always go back for more when she’s not looking."
This one really impressed me, because I wouldn't have expected the editors of AskMen.com to be enlightened enough to let men in the kitchen in the first place. Isn't that where the ladyfolk belong when they aren't out perfecting our bodies for man's viewing pleasure?
There are more tips ("trick her into doing yoga," "playfully grab her love handles"). But you get the idea and my brain is bleeding so I have to stop. Here's the worst part: Foley and co apparently are aware that there is a line that they don't want to cross. In tip #3, he writes: "Every once in a while, we print the odd joke that just doesn’t translate from our editorial meetings, such as the original No. 3 on this list: Sabotage her chair. Although we meant to be facetious in tone, we ended up sounding hateful, and for that we apologize and present you with a new No. 3: Schedule a formal date."
Okay. Just so we're clear: The line is drawn at physical harm. Sabotaging your lady's chair so it breaks underneath her is "hateful." But lying, shaming, and guilt-tripping your girlfriend into a crash diet are all well-intentioned acts of love. Plus Foley is just being "facetious," sheesh. Can't anyone take a (completely heinous) joke?
Well, when the punchlines depend on degrading and objectifying over half the population, sorry, I guess I can't. I could get in to all of the holes in Foley's logic -- that a woman's waist size isn't the relationship dealbreaker he thinks it is, that women aren't stupid enough to fall for half of the tricks up his sweaty little sleeve, and that, as plenty of online dating sites confirm, men are actually attracted to women of all sizes -- but honestly, y'all are smart enough. You don't need my help. But, I will state for the record, that flipping the gender pronouns around wouldn't make this okay -- I'd never support a woman being so cruel about her man's weight gain. Foley just takes the (presumably phallic-shaped) cake because he's killing two birds (women and fat people) with one giant discrimination stone.
I do take comfort in the fact that as of this typing, 84 percent of AskMen.com readers voted that reading Foley's article made them "furious," while only two percent felt that it "made them a better man." The results may be skewed by women clicking through from other critiques on sites like About-Face, but I'm willing to bet that a good number of actual men (read: any decent human being) were infuriated by the piece as well. As for those two percent and the almost 6,000 people who liked this on facebook? They can go sit on those sabotaged chairs.