I mentioned in my post earlier today that many health-oriented vegans and others promoting plant-based diets engage in fat-shaming. Fat-shaming is one reason I stopped participating in the forums for Dr. John McDougall*, whose starch-centered, low-fat dietary philosophy I generally follow. I didn’t like some forum members blaming anyone who had a BMI above 22 for any health problems they might have, and I didn’t like the concern-trolling of other people’s weight.
I regret that I engaged in fat-shaming myself at that time, which I’m trying not to do now. Hence I’m noticing more disturbing things about McDougall’s message that I previously missed. In the “Best Of” section of his latest newsletter, he reposts an April 2012 report where he actually blames precocious puberty for inciting sexual abuse of children. He notes that the average onset of puberty was once 16-19 years of age and is now 8-12, due to the rich Western diet. He writes, “The development of female breasts and buttocks activate natural male reproductive behaviors, causing some men to prey on girls.”
This is a sentence straight out of rape culture. Men have no excuse for preying on anyone, regardless of their age or figure. Excusing this as a “natural male reproductive behavior” is nothing short of disgusting, especially when McDougall writes in the same newsletter “Civilized people, however, protect their children.”
Note that I am not disputing McDougall’s argument about what causes precocious puberty. As a child I ate a fairly standard American diet, and entered female puberty** in 1981 at the age of 11, for what it’s worth. But the sexual abuse I endured started well before that time. Sexual abuse and rape are about power, not desire.
In case any McDougallers are reading this and tempted to accuse me of libel, I am not accusing McDougall of actually promoting rape or being a rapist. I am simply pointing out that saying that the abuse of a young girl (or person of any age or gender) is due in any part to “natural reproductive behaviors” is promoting the idea that abusers are not responsible for their actions. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I am nauseated by this attitude.
I really hate to see people whose ideas I respect say things that I abhor, but it happens, a fair amount as it turns out. Hence the need for me to be independent.
* McDougall himself is not vegan, but his diet is 100% plant-based other than honey.
** My male puberty began in January 2014, when I started testosterone therapy.