Wednesday, 29 June 2011


You know, I'm a big fan of apples. I'm not satisfied if there's a day where I haven't eaten one apple - but mainly because that's part of the autistic routine I don't like to deviate from. Also because they taste amazing. Now, when I eat apples, I'm not wasteful, I eat all of it, core included, and yes, some of the god-feared seeds. What's bizarre is that this simple act of eating an edible core causes me all kinds of grief. I've been called "One of those weird people who eats apple cores" at least twice.

All of this insanity makes me wonder at the power of stigma.

Stigma and taboo are very powerful forces. They have been the basis of many laws, including laws against homosexuality (once upon a day, and still so in some parts of the world,) prostitution, and incest, all forbidden because of a deep-down "yuck factor" that we cannot repress and so has bled into all parts of our world, except with considerably more poison than you'd actually find in the seed of an apple.
Stigma is a really odd thing. Ask 99% of people* what they think about incest, and they'll tell you it's disgusting, wrong, abominable, god-awful, and plenty will think that people "guilty" of a consented incestuous relationship should go to jail. While that's a whole other subject to which I may eventually dedicate a blog post, the point I'm trying to make is that the force of stigma here is so powerful that people don't even think about incest, let alone give you a cogent response if you asked them on the street what they thought about it.

You're probably no more innocent than I am. Most of us, at some point in our lives, have proclaimed "That's weird" or "That's strange" or "That's wrong" or even "That's evil" at something that goes against our conventions or traditions, no matter how harmless or harmful - and it's true that some taboos can be genuinely harmful (mental illness, for instance, is a taboo subject that is nonetheless of serious consequence to sufferers.)

That doesn't mean we're bad people, and sometimes, we only do it to appease someone else, to try and fit in with the crowd. It just says a hell of a lot about the poison that seeps through the walls of society, the restrictive force that actively fights all the progress we make.

And you know, when it comes to stigma, I'd much rather take my chances with the apple core.

*Collected from the National Association of False Facts (NAFF)

1 comment:

  1. Another great read Leo. ^_^

    I've been reading all of your blog posts roughly when they come out and I'm really enjoying them thus far. Keep it up!

    Stigma really is a deadly force. You know, we're a lot like monkeys in that we go bananas (ahaha puns... 'kay moving on) whenever our environment changes or we encounter something new. It makes us feel very tense, uneasy and sometimes even scared. It's something that's been instilled into our heads over the course of literally thousands of generations, each one contributing to an evolutionary trait that tells us but one thing: change is bad.

    You mentioned at the top that you were drilled into routine in that you feel the need to eat an apple every day. I think that's related.

    I'm sure that there are countless other routines that you've become accustomed to fulfilling throughout your everyday life. Routine, in fact, is what keeps us and many other animals alive. Sometimes these routines are called 'instincts', and there are many, many instincts different animal species may have: to herd, to graze, to walk, to communicate, etc. - it makes sense, then, that every time those routines are broken, we would feel threatened. We're being exposed to something new and potentially dangerous - something outside of the norm we're used to, leaving us naked and vulnerable without the routines and instincts we need to know what the heck we're doing. As soon as we get thrown outside our little comfort bubble, our world turns upside down and all we know is that we don't like it.

    Thus, taboos are formed. But so are cultures and societies. We protect ourselves by building thriving communities in which our routines are defended and upheld religiously so that society can function. The downside is that this results in cultural norms and social stigmas. Anyone who fits outside those norms (which are most often governed by the majority) is ostracised or punished - because god forbid we allow anyone to eat an apple core if that's not something the majority does.

    It's different. It's a threat or it could expose us to threats. We can't have it.

    I get the feeling we'll only do away with this mindset when and if people finally learn to look at themselves as creatures who, while we may have been enslaved and led by evolution for all these many millions of years, now have come to the point where we can decide our own futures and directions. We shouldn't discard our instincts - they're important. They keep us alive and healthy. But we should be able to show restraint and learn to control those instincts - rather than letting them control us.

    Hope to see and read more of your work soon Leo. ^_^



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