No Fats, No Fems...No PPE?

I was told today by a pretty new Rioter that a tweet I sent out today while I was at my gym's pool went against the principles of Project Pagan Enough. The tweet in question reads a little something like this:

Eeek!!! Overly hairy man alert!!! Begone gym pool blasphemer!!!

And here I thought, for a tiny moment, I was joking. Before I discuss the finer points of the dichotomy of taste and tolerance, I'd like to discuss the finer points of a gym pool. Nay, a gym pool in the suburbs of one of the largest cities in America that is known to be a men's fashion capitol.

Manscaping. Is. Everywhere. From eyebrows to waxing to Nair to backs to fronts, from top to bottom, manscaping is everywhere. When you're around a community pool, you get all shapes, sizes, and levels of fur. However, around a ritzy gym in the suburbs of Chicago, you get overly tanned, overly worked out, overly waxed guys sitting around staring at one another. It reminds me of a scene from Eat, Pray, Love in which the author describes a scene from Bali - a party.

At the party, a lot of people got dressed up in their best clothes, and then sat around staring at one another. Nobody danced or did anything other than sit around and watch. That's kind of what it's like at the gym pool. Guys work out really hard 10 months out of the year so they can spend 2 months of Chicago summer walking around in their most attractive swimsuit, baring all of their year's hard work. None of the guys really swim or dive or do laps. They just sit there being hot.

A big hairy guy sort of sticks out. Thus the 'blasphemer' comment. I'm not saying the guy can't be there. I'm not saying hairy people are bad or less than or not fit to be seen in public. I'm making a joke about a guy showing up amidst a sea of steroids and hair removal products in all his unworked out, unmanscaped glory.

It's funny. It's a joke. Let's all find that bridge we built a while back and get right on over it.

But this brings up a really important point: the difference between tolerance and taste. The Rioter said that this is "basic discrimination," and likened my comment to "ginger hate" and nudist colonies kicking people out who they deem unsexy. The email that I received went on to compare my comment with the hypocrisy pagans accuse the Christian Church of having.

Normally, one would get a bit defensive and say brash things. I'm not that kind of Rioter. I would just like to make a simple distinction:

  1. Taste (in this instance) means "a particular liking for certain flavors" or more appropriately "a person's tendency to like and dislike certain things." 
  2. Tolerance means "the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behaviors that one does not necessarily agree with."

This is a matter of taste, not a matter of tolerance. Well, actually it was a matter of observation and humor, but that point has been made. When I talk in Project Pagan Enough about treating others with respect and tolerance despite their physical appearance, I mean that. We shouldn't denigrate someone's right to call themselves pagan due to their gym body or lack thereof. However, just because I am not willing to discredit someone's religious claims due to their appearance does not mean I find them attractive. The two aren't really even in the same category, are they? 

I like tall, dark, and beefy. Tom Welling. Mario Lopez. Victor Webster. These are my tastes. It doesn't mean that I believe anybody who is tall, dark, and beefy is automatically a good person, a bad person, or a good chess player. I make no judgments about a person's character or moral standing or anything else just because of their outer shell. I have had many a relationship with guys who were not gym bunny material due to their outstanding personalities, and many a relationship based on abs alone. I prefer the first.

As far as tolerance goes, this is a much deeper beast. Tolerance deals in intentions and beliefs and passions and truths. Allowing someone to get into what makes a person a person, rather than what makes them human. The soul and not the body. Tolerance means not judging someone based on one aspect of his or her person.

An intolerant act would have been to say he is fat thus he must be lazy. Someone is black so they commit crime. Someone is Jewish, therefore they are evil. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Was my joke the most sensitive thing I could have said? No, of course not. Am I to be exceedingly sensitive all the time? Well, that wouldn't be me.

So, Rioters, I put this to you. Does my comment go against the ideas of tolerance espoused in Project Pagan Enough? Am I a hypocrite? Or, am I a bad comedian? Or, even still, am I simply expressing taste instead of tolerance?

Leave a comment, tweet @IncitingARiot, or email

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. Thats funny. I don't remember you questioning Mr. Fuzzie's pagan credentials =p

  2. As someone who actually prefers hairy men a bit, I still found the tweet hilarious. Especially, like you said, the image of a big hairy guy in a sea of shaved muscle. It's almost like that old bit on Sesame Street when they ask you which thing is different.

  3. I had a right giggle when you tweeted that. It was just a little observational humour for crying out loud!!
    You had an opinion and it was expressed. And it does seem to be a matter of taste, not tolerance. Did you demand this guy leave the gym? Did you swear never to go back for fear of running into him? No, no, a thousand times no.

    While there might, at times, be a fine line between tolerance and taste, I am firmly of the view that this is not one of those times.

  4. Odom of the Evil EyeMay 31, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Whilst I did not get the tweet since I do not tweet (not that there is anything wrong with tweeting mind you), the mental image conjured up by this post does strike me as quite funny. I think its a shame you got scolded for something as innocent as an off-hand comment.

    While I do agree and believe in respect for everyone, I think some folk are just a bit too sensitive. Granted this same rioter could have been trying to cause a stink for all I know. But I digress.

    Point is, as a large, hairy, pasty Dutch-Irish-blooded (just to get the point of how pasty we're talking here) white guy I find the tweeting comment funny :).

    Keep up the good work Fire Lyte and keep on tweeting! Maybe I'll sign up for twitter one day...

  5. You have a right to your opinion and taste, sugar-plum.

    Of course, we have a right to think you're full of it in return (IF that is in fact what we think).

    And those men out there who are like MY man Joe, who is big and hairy and really fecking scary (huge burly hairy tattooed biker kind of guy - looks like he eats babies - see his picture on my blog under the "About Me" tab), reserve the right to scare the living shit out of you with his hirsuteness. :EVIL GRIN:

    So you go on with your bad self.

    Just know that those of us who are hairy and those of us who love hairy are out here doing OUR thing too.

    Because we're entitled.

    I don't see a problem. :D

  6. I hope that came across right.

    Basically, it's this: neither party is here to run their lives according to the needs and wishes of the other. We're going to do our thing, and that's that.

    How we handle things when we come across something that is offensive or against our personal taste or whatever, is up to us individually. What neither party has the "right" to is getting through this life without a moment of offense to our personal tastes or opinions.

    How we handle it determines how much of an adult we are or are not. :D

    Make sense?

    That's why I say "go on with your bad self." Because that's what we are going to do. WOOOHOOO

  7. Ah the youth obsessed gay/pagan community exposed... Amusing to think that making a blatant doraphobic or chaetophobic statement is completely acceptable while the same individual demands tolerance for the the unconventional members of the pagan community
    *Rachael Maddow style pause*
    based on their appearance.
    Saying, "just kidding," does not negate the negativity of any statement nor mend hurt feelings. Sorry to fall back on a horrible cliche, but... put yourself in that guys shoes. It takes courage to walk out there looking so different from those around him.
    Comedy is a dangerous endeavor when trying to be a public figure.

  8. Commercial Fitness equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and custom strength equipment. You can find our nearest provider for Fitness equipment orlando.


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