Does VMI Oppress Fat People?

by James A. Bacon

Last night the Virginia Military Institute hosted Kimberly Dark, a gay- and fat-rights activist, at its Gender Inclusion Dinner. The VMI website has published no information about the event. But in her website, Dark said she intended to address “the ways in which women and LGBTQ+ cadets, along with those who struggle to meet the height/weight requirements of the military are still targeted for unfair treatment.”

Dark also said she intended to “touch on the views and values upheld by military and paramilitary organizations as well, and how pervasive those are in our society.”

Dark’s appearance prompted a rebuke from the Spirit of VMI PAC, a dissident alumni organization, for openly embracing “an attack on military standards to the Corps by a performance artist who tilts at the windmills of imaginary oppression on Post.”

The California native describes herself as queer, white-privileged and a gender-conforming “girl with a pretty face” who has been fat since childhood. Her most recent book, “the Daddies,” is a “dark love letter to masculinity” told as a “lesbian leather-Daddy love story” and an “indictment of patriarchy.” A previous work, “Fat, Pretty and Soon to Be Old,” combines storytelling and social analysis to probe how “appearance privilege” functions in everyday life.

Participation in the event was voluntary, VMI spokesman Bill Wyatt told Bacon’s Rebellion. He estimated that 60 to 70 cadets and 10 to 12 faculty and staff attended. 

“Ms. Dark is just one of many speakers who come to post each semester,” Wyatt said. “VMI has a long history of providing forums for academics as well as national and world leaders to share their ideas. Providing such a forum is common for institutions of higher education and is not an endorsement of their ideas or policy positions. VMI will not shield our cadets from difficult conversations. Rather, we encourage them to participate in conversations and experiences that challenge them academically, philosophically, and emotionally in order to prepare them for the world which they’ll enter after graduation.”

Dark’s appearance already has fueled the ongoing debate over diversity and equity at VMI, which was assailed as racist and sexist by The Washington Post and an investigation launched by former Governor Ralph Northam. Under the direction of General Cedric T. Wins and a new Board of Visitors VMI has hired its first director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Over the summer, dissident alumni focused on the nature of “diversity” training, contending that the emphasis on racial, sexual and gender identity would undermine the VMI mission of tearing down such differences and remolding cadets through the Rat Line, barracks system, and honor code into citizen soldiers.

Dark’s focus on body-type identity adds another dimension to the diversity debate. Fat acceptance is diametrically opposed to the military requirement for physical fitness. As it is, the high incidence of obesity and lack of fitness of American youth is a commonly cited reason for the failure of the military to meet its recruitment goals. 

The U.S. Army has two-tiered fitness standards: one for men, one for women. Males between the ages of 17 and 21 must be able to perform 35 pushups and 47 situps within two minutes, and run two miles in 16 minutes and 36 seconds. Females must be able to perform 11 pushups and 43 situps, and run two miles under 20 minutes 36 seconds. Why have such standards in an era of drone and missile warfare? Because the modern infantry soldier now carries the heaviest combat kit in the history of war — up to 88 pounds of uniform, boots, helmet, Kevlar jackets, rifles, ammo pouches, first aid kits, combat optics and more.

Critics of the Biden administration worry that military effectiveness is being compromised by the application of leftist identity politics under the guise of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to the armed services. Dark’s appearance at the Gender Inclusion Dinner indicated that similar culture-war battles are playing out at VMI.

The Spirit of VMI called upon the VMI board and Virginia’s elected representatives to “halt this corrosive and divisive social indoctrination of the VMI Corps, and to restore the order of VMI’s traditional citizen-soldier leadership training.”

“To the thousands of VMI Alumni and friends who remain unengaged,” the Spirit of VMI asked, “are you awake yet?”

“The alumni group’s attempt to shut down the event assumes that our cadets can’t or won’t think for themselves or won’t challenge assumptions with which they disagree,” Wyatt responded. “Anyone who has spent any time with our cadets knows this to be untrue. Not surprisingly, our cadets listened respectfully, asked really great questions, and engaged in productive dialogue last night.”

One VMI alumnus in agreement with The Spirit of VMI was Jim Cottrell, VMI class of 1974, with Cottrell Fletcher and Cottrell, an Alexandria law firm. In a letter to Wins, he accused the Institute of virtue-signaling its new agenda for diversity, equity and inclusion and “force-feeding cadets instead of allowing them to make up their own minds after hearing simultaneously from advocates with different points of view. … [Dark] should have been part of a program that would allow her views to be countered and discussed by others who disagreed with her.”

“Presenting a free-standing lecture of one point of view … at a moment when everyone associated with the Institute and politically throughout the Commonwealth, if not the nation, is engaged in a deep division over CRT and DEI doctrines smacks of propagandistic political re-education that only totalitarians engage in to squeeze out opposing ideas,” Cottrell wrote.


Share this article



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)


Comments

43 responses to “Does VMI Oppress Fat People?”

  1. What’s Fat-rights?

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Is this the same VMI that produced George Catlett Marshall? I can’t tell anymore.

    1. Perhaps this is what they’re shooting for?

      😉

  3. Virginia Gentleman Avatar
    Virginia Gentleman

    Is allowing yourself to be indoctrinated a sign of weakness? Perhaps the Spirit of VMI needs to petition admissions to not allow cadet applicants who allow themselves to be indoctrinated. You know weak minds should have no place at VMI. That way it won’t matter what gay fat women have to say.

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    This is interesting. At UVa, the alumni are upset because they feel that only progressive or liberal speakers are brought to campus. At VMI, the alumni are upset because a liberal, gay-rights advocate was invited to speak.

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      Apparently conservative alumni are always upset that ideas they disagree with are being presented on a voluntary basis.

  5. how_it_works Avatar
    how_it_works

    Gravity oppresses fat people.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Not fat centers and tackles…… 😉

      1. how_it_works Avatar
        how_it_works

        Gravity sure oppresses my fat cat. She can’t jump up to the windowsill anymore. I’ve started cutting back on the amount of food I give her. The food used to be “all you can eat”, but now I let it stay empty for a few hours.

  6. Lefty665 Avatar

    With 40% of the US obese and the numbers increasing by the minute “fat rights” was only a question of when, not if.

    A couple of years ago Scientific American published an article that accused doctors who routinely weigh patients as discriminating against fat people, and because black people tended to be heavier than average that was racism too.

    The average woman in America is 5’4″ and 170 pounds. I’m male, 6′, 175 pounds and not skinny. What’s wrong with this picture?

    In addition to being physically unfit, military recruits are being rejected for educational deficiencies, drug use and criminal records. Imagine, our services actually setting minimum standards for service and requiring all genetic males to register with the Selective Service. How unwoke of them.

    https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/average-weight-for-women

  7. Carter Melton Avatar
    Carter Melton

    Ahhh….for the days of the “Fat Boy Brigade”…..a special exercise group….that would have to be re-titled to be inclusive…that worked wonders on your appearance, endurance, attitude, and good health

  8. An hour or more they’ll never get back…. when they could have been learning about, I don’t know…. how to fight, how to undertake an orderly retreat [maybe a lessons learned from the Kabul retreat], or any other military-worthy endeavor….

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      It wasn’t mandatory. And believe it or not, VMI is a college, not boot camp.

      1. FYI – you don’t learn strategy at boot camp….you learn tactics, marching, uniform wear, etc……. all of which are also taught at VMI, plus strategy

        1. M. Purdy Avatar

          Fighting and orderly retreat are “strategies”? News to me. I did attend VMI, and we didn’t learn how to fight or do orderly retreats “on the hill.” We learned that through ROTC.

  9. Superintendent Wins sent out the following letter to members of the VMI community today:

    From: VMI-Superintendent
    Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2022 9:11 AM
    Subject: Last night’s VMI speaker

    Last night, VMI hosted a speaker on post whose very presence upset some in the VMI community calling the event “corrosive and divisive social indoctrination.” The speaker, Kimberly Dark, is a sociologist, author, and storyteller who has been invited to speak about body image, gender equity, and LGBTQIA+ issues. Dark’s talk last night was well-attended by cadets with several faculty and staff present as well. Attendance for cadets was completely voluntary.

    Last night’s speaker is one of many that are scheduled. Some, such as our convocation speaker, Judge Michael Luttig, are mandatory for the Corps to attend. A number like the one last night are provided as topics of interest for cadets to attend at their discretion.

    While I understand and appreciate those who are genuinely concerned about the curriculum, method of education, and various topics of learning that VMI cadets are exposed to both in and out of the classroom, time and time again, there has been a group of unhappy alumni who want to stoke the worst fears and sow seeds of discord about the training and education of students here. These unhappy alumni conduct themselves as if cadets can’t or won’t think for themselves, won’t challenge assumptions or ideas to gain a better understanding of new ideas or individuals with whom they disagree. They assume that many on our faculty and staff are a part of the conspiracy to alter VMI to an agenda counter to their own.

    Take the case of Kimberly Dark. She’s been described as a national level speaker, who tackles tough topics with masterful storytelling and blends a pithy sense of humor. By her own words, the topic she intended to present at VMI was about issues concerning women and the LGBTQ+ cadets and how they struggle and are targeted for unfair treatment. What a wonderful opportunity to listen to a speaker, evaluate the soundness of her analysis, hit her with tough questions and see how well-founded her beliefs are. Instead, however, in an aim to project fear and concern, her topic is twisted into “targeted for unfair treatment at VMI”which in no way is she qualified to speak.

    Critics called for executive and legislative leaders to put a stop to “social indoctrination” like Dark’s presentation. These are the same critics who just three weeks ago accused the Institute of infringing upon their free speech rights. Now they want to do the same to someone who has opinions different from their own.

    From what I have heard, members of the Corps of Cadets and faculty and staff who attended the event listened attentively and engaged with the speaker in a manner that is becoming of the Virginia Military Institute. I suspect that not all who attended agreed with everything she had to say. But that’s alright. This is how critical thinking and civil discourse works.

    VMI has a long history of providing a forum for many local, national, and world leaders and experts to share their thoughts and ideas on matters of public policy and social change. In a similar way, VMI has welcomed the likes of President George W. Bush, Rep. John Lewis, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Their talks on post were not about conforming the Corps to their ideas but rather exposure to varied perspectives.

    VMI will continue to provide an environment where cadets can hear varying perspectives on the important topics of the day. VMI is not about shielding cadets from difficult conversations and challenging experiences. This is about preparing graduates for the outside world. In every corner of our nation and commonwealth, organizations are working through these issues. We owe it to our graduates the opportunity to avail themselves on these topics, if they choose to attend.

    Major General Cedric T. Wins ‘85
    U.S. Army (Retired)
    Superintendent
    Virginia Military Institute

    1. …..And the knowledge learned will help so very much the next time the military has to beat a hasty retreat because of a failed Democratic White House policy decision…

    2. M. Purdy Avatar

      “Critics called for executive and legislative leaders to put a stop to “social indoctrination” like Dark’s presentation. These are the same critics who just three weeks ago accused the Institute of infringing upon their free speech rights. Now they want to do the same to someone who has opinions different from their own.” This is a terrific point…one apparently Mr. Bacon missed. The PAC did in fact call for legislators to intervene and halt the presentation.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Conservatives “free speech” liturgy is confusing as heck.

    3. Bob X from Texas Avatar
      Bob X from Texas

      The proper response to Kimberly Dark is a stunned look of disbelief and a prayer for our Republic.

  10. What’s fat-rights?

    Seriously, though, while I oppose lessening the physical requirements for serving in the military, I’m not sure how it harms cadets to hear a viewpoint they may not have been exposed to before. It might help them accept people different from themselves throughout their entire lives, not just in whatever military service or career they may have.

    Also, attendance at the event was voluntary.

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      Think about what a thin-skinned book burner you have to be to worry about the presentation of a viewpoint at a voluntary lecture at an institution of higher learning. Hahaha…

    2. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy

      And to expose future military leaders to the populations they protect.

      1. Lefty665 Avatar

        That might not be a feature.

        “You want me to do what for who?”

  11. Bob X from Texas Avatar
    Bob X from Texas

    Diet tip:
    If you eat like a pig and don’t exercise you will become undesirable to all 700 genders.

  12. M. Purdy Avatar

    The PAC says that this voluntary lecture is “an attack on military standards to the Corps…” This is rich. The military is invested in DEI and removing vestiges of the Confederacy in its ranks…two standard that the PAC expressly opposes for the Corps. Not too smart.

  13. Matt Adams Avatar
    Matt Adams

    Minor correction:

    “The U.S. Army has two-tiered fitness standards: one for men, one for women. Males between the ages of 17 and 21 must be able to perform 35 pushups and 47 sit-ups within two minutes, and run two miles in 16 minutes and 36 seconds. Females must be able to perform 11 pushups and 43 sit-ups, and run two miles under 20 minutes 36 seconds. Why have such standards in an era of drone and missile warfare? Because the modern infantry soldier now carries the heaviest combat hit in the history of war — up to 88 pounds of uniform, boots, helmet, Kevlar jackets, rifles, ammo pouches, first aid kits, combat optics and more.”

    Those are the standards for the old APFT. The ACFT became law of the land for AD this month and will become law of the land for R/G units October 23.

    Army Hight and Weight standards is a completely separate issue from the APFT. They haven’t changed since WWII.

  14. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Edward Gibbon or Saturday Night Live. I go back and forth as to which I’d like to see have a go at this…probably both. Works for both. I want their take on both the speaker who gets paid for doing this schtick (damn, what a gig), the higher ed muckety-mucks who see such value in it, and those who find their hair on fire when they hear about it. Hate to break it to you, guys, but the fat, weird kid in the basement working on deep gaming and coding skills may actually be the brilliant soldier of the future. Anybody read Ender’s Game? How many push ups needed to operate a HIMARS system or drone? The person’s gender and sexual preference won’t matter.

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      “How many push ups needed to operate a HIMARS system or drone? The person’s gender and sexual preference won’t matter.” Can you scream this from the hilltops so the peanut gallery in the back can hear you?

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        I doubt my AF retiree (and D&D freak) brother did more than a dozen pushups after OCS and he sure didn’t look like that special forces hunk Bacon portrayed with the other post on this topic, but his natural gift for languages and then IT talents were enough to build a career, in uniform and as a contractor. It ain’t all ground pounders and fighter jocks anymore.

        1. M. Purdy Avatar

          What’s astounding is that the Tucker Carlson version of the military reflected in this post is so far divorced from reality. 10% or so of the military is combat arms. And of combat arms, a minority are are infantry or special ops. As technology changes the. modern battlefield, it’s less about testosterone counts (and I can’t stress this enough; any vet talks about testosterone levels, and you should check their papers) and much more about brains.

          1. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            The ASVAB score for entrance in the Ranger Regiment is at least 106. For SF it’s 110 and you have to pass the DLPT.

            You parroting a stereotype that is not based in reality.

            Not only do those soldiers have to be physically fit, they have to be highly intelligent.

            You understanding of the modern battlefield could be surmised in the following, “none”. Also, you’re parroting Person Other than Grunt (POG) talking points. You can’t win battles without bullets going to range.

          2. M. Purdy Avatar

            Hey Matt, you still haven’t apologized for lying about my service. I’ll wait…

          3. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “M. Purdy 7 minutes ago
            Hey Matt, you still haven’t apologized for lying about my service. I’ll wait…”

            That’s a lovely deflection, however. You’ve never proven your “service” and when asked for a DD-214 you seem to deflect. Just for your edification, I cannot lie about your service. I questioned your service based upon your statements before and those questions continue given your statements, clearly someone who alleges to be a law professional would know the difference.

            If you’re unwilling to provide a DD-214 (which is the custom) your service is alleged, that is the only document that validates service. Your word means nothing, you’re a random internet poster who is clearly full of themselves and makes statements which are clearly not true.

          4. M. Purdy Avatar

            I don’t deal with people with no honor. Good bye.

          5. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “M. Purdy a minute ago
            I don’t deal with people with no honor. Good bye.”

            That’s another deflection.

            I doubt you were a member of the military.

            I doubt you graduated law school.

            I doubt all your claims, merely because of your comments and that alone.

            PS: Testosterone is present in male and females. The ratio of test / estrogen is vital for survival. So your continued non-sequiturs, are just the braying of a woefully uneducated fraud.

          6. M. Purdy Avatar

            You’re out here accusing me of something false. You won’t correct it. You are dishonorable. Period.

          7. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            More deflections and accusations from your side. All you have to do is provide a DD-214, it’s not a hard task.

            That fact that you seem to be so unwilling to do so, means your hiding something.

    2. In Ender’s Game, Ender Wiggen kept himself in top physical condition. He killed a much larger attacker with his bare hands while still a child, if I recall correctly. It’s been while since I re-read the book but that is how I remember it.

    3. How about Edward Gibbon discussing it in a monologue on Saturday Night Live?

  15. George  Walton Avatar
    George Walton

    May Gen. Wins get his wish: a corps of fat LGBQ…whatever cadet with chartreuse hair marching in review and a greatly reduced alumni base of Biden supporters.

    1. SmallTowner Avatar
      SmallTowner

      Did you actually read his letter?

Leave a Reply