Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Why society's current perception of normal is dangerous

In our society we like to split things into normal and abnormal. While this is usually harmless or needed, for example murder is abnormal for a reason, it can at times be harmful. This is when the thing that is “ abnormal” is harmless and does not affect anyone and yet it is scrutinized, ridiculed, and sometimes gets people killed. Some examples of dangerous society norms would be sexuality, gender, and body modifications.

Although society is beginning to change people still often scrutinize someone with tattoos or other body modifications. People will still stop and stare in disgust or judgementally when they see someone with tattoos and such. This is an example of something “abnormal” that honestly affects no one but the person who has done it to their own body yet people still feel it necessary to “help” these people by going on about how they shouldn't of done this. Popular beliefs are that they do this for attention and that no one will ever hire them.


This is a picture of Rick Genest also known as “zombie boy”. He is a Canadian model and actor though he is mostly know for tattooing 80% of his body like a living skeleton. In the picture above the focus is on Genest and his tattoos as well as the words themselves. Genest is show from two different angles, obviously to show off the tattoos on his body. As for Genest himself he is comfortable and confident. His body is neither stiff nor folding in on itself. He is displaying himself and his tattoos proudly and he is obviously not ashamed of them. You can tell that he is content with his choice to tattoo his body. As for the words themselves they read “I didn’t do this to be different. I did this, because i wanted to be me”. This is a direct quote from Genest. Many people get tattoos and body modifications because it makes them feel comfortable; they often use this as a way of self expression. I believe the body is a blank canvas and that you can choose what to do with. However people often ostracise and isolate these people because that is not something they themselves would do to their own body. People often deem someone with tattoos as unprofessional and unable to do a job because people think that they are impulsive and unable to think ahead. This can be true but it’s incorrect to think it always is. Again use Rick Genest as an example: he is a professional model. Modeling is a serious career and you can’t be unprofessional or rash and be able to make it in such a career. Yet people still judge someone based on their looks before seeing if they are competent and it stops people from being able to make a living. This is why this perception can be dangerous and harmful to many people.

Just as people feel it necessary to give negative remarks on another persons tattoos people also feel it necessary to comment on another person's gender. Now i don’t mean sexism though that is a problem: in this instance i am referring to someone disregarding another person's gender identity. Now you may be familiar with transexual people but if not i will clarify a transexual person is a person who feels they were born in the wrong body. Essentially their physical sex doesn't match up with who they feel in their heart they are. Now I’m sure some of you are thinking “no your genitals tell you what gender you are” and that is where the problem lies.

In the above picture we see a child whose wings are being clipped off by their father as their mother watches. The child is obviously upset and it seems as if the child will begin to cry as for the father he is focused and angry. You can tell by his furrowed brows and the slight downward curve of his mouth. While the mother she is standing back. She is sad and likely feels bad for her child but she will not step in. The words say “refuse to be your child's first bully”. Wings often symbolise freedom and the child in the photo is having their wings removed. The parents are removing the child's wings and taking a part of themself from the child. Likely you feel an impact from this picture however the true impact is shown with the colours in the wings. The wings are coloured to represent the transexual pride flag. The child in this photo is transexual and is having this part of themself taken because of their parents. That in itself is a form of abuse and bullying as they are denying an important part of the child. This is where that not respecting someone's gender identity part comes in. The child's parents do not respect their child's gender identity and instead feel it necessary to destroy a part of their child than to accept them. Many people feel that transexuals are just being rebellious or want to stand out. People believe there is no such thing as transexuality and feel it is a new “fad”. However evidince of transexual people can date back as far as ancient Greece.


The picture above was illustrated by a young transexual boy showing his experience. The character in the comic is being assaulted by female pronouns. They are suffocating him and crushing him under their weight and despite how much he runs or hides they are still there. In the fifth panel he attempts to correct them. He is tentative and frightened however in the final panel the words return full force and are surrounding him. They are taking up the entire panel and suffocating him until there is no space left for him. These words take up the entire panel to the point where he is no longer the focus and no longer important. Not only that but the large “she” has two exclamation points as the person saying this is forcibly attempting to tell the character he is a girl. The progression of the previous panel with him correcting them to the last shows that he feels no matter how hard he fights back he will always be surrounded by people who say he is a girl. This perception that society has of your genitalia determining your gender is not only incorrect but dangerous. It is dangerous for these individuals as they suffer the onslaught of people saying they are wrong, disrespecting them, calling them disgusting, vile. Many trans youths do not see a way out and 41% of transgender youth in the US alone have attempted suicide. Not only that but due to many peoples violent reactions transgender people have even been assaulted in the doctor's office. Many trans men are raped and many trans women are violently killed. 1 in 12 transgender people in the US are murdered due to the societal belief that they are less than human. Worthless. Many transexual people lose friends and family and 18% are homeless. An example: recently this year the salvation army refused to let a transexual teen stay at one of their shelters simply because they were transexual and because of that the teen froze to death. That is why this belief is so dangerous. Just like with tattoos even if you do not agree; a person's decision is their own and you have no right to impose on them; much less to end their life.    

The perception regarding transsexual people is that everyone is born cisgendered. Cisgendered is a term created to refer to a person to whom identifies as the sex they were born with. This perception is also often coupled with the perception that everyone is born straight. These perceptions are the entire reason people even need to “come out of the closet” as the saying goes. Much like with transexual people people will say that being any sexuality other than straight is disgusting and unnatural.


The above image shows a pink piece of fabric cut into the shape of a triangle with the words “some memories never fade”. If you look closely at the triangle you will see the outline of a swastika. The swastika as we all know is a symbol from the holocaust. Something i’m sure quite a few of you know is that the pink triangle was placed onto gay people hitler rounded up and placed into concentration camps. A bit of information conveniently left out is that in many cases when the camps were freed the gay people in them were forced to go to jail as at the time being gay was illegal. So not only did they endure years of the torture we have all heard about but once they were “freed” they were placed in jail to suffer more. The triangle appears to be attached to something or someone but it is unclear as to who. Rather it floats in black space continuously attached to something as if it is always attached to those in the gay community; those prejudices and that hatred always with them. People will ask me and others why we care so much; why we fight so hard. The answer is the above triangle that represents so many peoples past and present suffering. The gay community has reclaimed the pink triangle since then; made it a symbol of pride but the prejudice is still there. This triangle is proof of how dangerous these perceptions are because this triangle represents the torture and death of hundreds from then and now.

To conclude while I’ll agree that sometimes we need to dictate what is normal and what is not I don’t believe people who are not harming anyone deserve to be harmed themselves. I do not believe in isolating these people and I do not believe they deserve the mental, physical, verbal, sexual, and emotional abuse they face.


  1. Danny, this is a thoughtful post that very much focused on the dangers of abnormal. You also maintained your focus on the use of textual elements.

  2. I completely agree that sometimes we need to dictate what is normal and find that the last photo speaks quite clearly on this point.