The “Other”

In a way, I am a specimen of genetic freakishness. Certain traits have been proven to be linked on the chromosome. Red hair and pale skin for example. It is rare to see a person with red hair who tans easily. This is because when the genes splice themselves and rearrange during recombination certain traits that are in close proximity get spliced together.

I have red hair, green eyes, freckles, and dark tanned skin. I am the subject of a rare “cutting and pasting” so to speak of the chromosomes of my red-haired mother and olive skinned father. I am, in the most technical way possible, a genetic rarity.

There are much more extreme versions of genetic rarities of course. These are called mutations. Historically, people with extreme mutations have been exiled, ridiculed, persecuted and also the subject of much fascination. “Freak Shows” are age-old practices. These spectacles of exhibition are commonly found at traveling circuses or fairs. What makes us as humans so interested in seeing “freaks”?

People travel all over the world to battle-grounds, prison camps and sites of famous massacres. This is called dark tourism. Traffic slows for miles around the site of even a minor traffic incident. This is called rubber necking. I think that the reaction people experience when seeing so called “freaks” must be the same phenomenon that accompanies dark tourism and rubber-necking at accidents. We all want to know: what would it be like if I was HIM? There may even be a sense of gratification we experience from knowing we are NOT in fact that person we feel is less fortunate than we.

Differences are part of what make us human. Unfortunately major differences like dwarfism and other mutations can sometimes be hard to understand, simply because it is so hard to place oneself in the shoes of someone so outwardly different. Putting these people on display is a sick, sick thing. They may be different but they are still human, and should be treated with respect. On the other hand, so-called “normal” people are only human, and can be fully expected to engage in a sometimes morbid fascination with the “other”


~ by onealac1 on April 11, 2010.

One Response to “The “Other””

  1. You’re right…I think we do get a sense (sometimes unconscious) of gratification from knowing that we are not that person. Most of us probably experience sympathy along with that. And I agree we have these similar feelings when seeing someone “abnormal” and when seeing someone in an unfortunate situation.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: