Life Out on the Street: Freak

At the beginning of the year, Loglady Loon and company posed a dramatic project to the creative minds of Second Life: capture the opposite of beauty and present it at the Modasl Freak Showroom. Since then, the question has stuck with me- what does it mean to be a freak?

Sure, the simple way is to pull up a dictionary website and plug it in to get a slew of descriptions certified by some official group. But that completely glosses over the active social construction and usage of the term: why did we choose those definitions? Why does it have as many as it does? How did the term evolve? What emotions does it evoke?

Sn@tch Diamond Dogs Entry - Go On, Keep Staring II

Freak, based on the Random House Dictionary
– noun
1. any abnormal phenomenon or product or unusual object; anomaly; aberration.

That which is beyond our understanding of the world has innately been looked at oddly. This is a basic biological function going back to when our ancestors lived in small groups and were beginning to develop a great capacity for understanding the world around us.

Anti V-Day I

2. a person or animal on exhibition as an example of a strange deviation from nature; monster.

At times we would look at the unfamiliar curiously; other – fairly often – times, we would see the strange as a threat. The reaction was based on survival- if it was not part of your tribe, then it competed for resources and might even harm you.

Freak V.1 I

4. Slang.
a. a person who has withdrawn from normal, rational behavior and activities to pursue one interest or obsession.
b. a devoted fan or follower; enthusiast: a baseball freak.

Industrial cultures have grown beyond the hunter-gather norms, but their influences remain. Though we’re not fighting for our lives so much, there are still ‘in-groups’ and ‘out-groups’, people who are acceptable and those that are cast out. Those that are different may intentionally seek to be separate from the greater society and only blend with those similar is abnormality. In some cases, an individual that was once normal may change themselves to be different and move amongst the various social crowds.

Freak V.2 II

– adjective
7. unusual; odd; irregular.

Sadly, there are many who are labeled unwanted by the larger whole, despite having very little different from the rest. And because they are considered “freaks”, that same hostility that was shown ages ago is thrown upon them.

Yes, Continued II

I’m positive there are people out there who wish I would shut the hell up about these things. Everybody gets kicked to the curb at some point, and some people more often than others. It’s just how nature works. I honestly wish I could just put it all behind me; if I could stop doubting who I am and what I’m capable of. If there was a magical pill, I’d take it. But there isn’t.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something that can’t be done. As humans, we have ascended what is naturally possible- submarines, space stations and heart defibrillators are only a few of the machines we have built to overcome natural barriers to our lives. If we can send a man to the moon, how difficult is it to rethink how we treat each other?

Nobody Likes Me II

~ by Terry Toland on July 5, 2009.

3 Responses to “Life Out on the Street: Freak”

  1. […] Lifestyles of the Broke and Notorious […]

  2. I’ve been recently reminded of a question from high school: Why are the most attrective women; women who have the widest choice of who they spend their time with so attracted to cruel, violent trash of the sort who inspired the Columbine massacre?

    • It boils down to evolutionary and social psychology, actually. And again, just because this is the nature of things doesn’t mean people cannot act differently. On a basic, general level, females are attracted to males that are strong, healthy and can potentially provide for offspring. In high school, fitness is often displayed through sports, and in good ol’ America, our most popular sports can be very aggressive. Add to this the in-group/out-group evolutionary mentality I mentioned earlier, but enhance it by coaches teaching the players to see opponents as enemies; more likely than not, the players – especially during the emotion-focused period of brain development with teenagers – are not going to leave that mentality on the field.

      In addition, American culture has developed an idea of masculinity that is very aggressive and violent. Our male heros have burgeoning muscles and defeat the bad guy with explosions, lead or backstabbing. And even when it isn’t violent, there is a clear definition of being “on top” and dominating. Society also demands men to hide their emotions; otherwise, they’re ‘pussies’ or effeminate. Just as women are subjected to objectifying standards through multiple mediums, so are men, and it’s creating a poisonous atmosphere for everyone.

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