There’s this fetish out there where some people are turned on sexually by amputees. It’s called apotemnophilia. Some of the folks who have this condition desire amputees sexually and some want to be amputees themselves. To be honest, I don’t understand either proclivity. However, I will say that over the years I’ve met some perfectly nice folks with these leanings and found them to be harmless–even if they are unusually curious about my body.
But occasionally I come across some not-so-perfectly-nice things in connection with this condition. It tends to happen often on flickr, when someone asks to be my ‘contact.’ When someone sends such a request, I typically click through to their profile or their photos to see if I know this person or to find what we might have in common (because, I do love photography and flickr is one of my favorite social media spaces). Oh, but today, as has happened more than a few times before, I didn’t see any lovely landscapes or kitties. Instead, when I clicked through to the profile I landed on a site with terrifically graphic and disturbing images of women’s disembodied limbs [scrub, scrub, scrubbing my eyeballs now]. What I saw…I can’t understand or be tolerant of–it’s simply sick. And it’s one of the main reasons that I don’t watch slasher horror movies or attend zombie walks. My life has enough of the zombie already.
Posting this with a picture of a pretty kitten–a small attempt to overwrite the ugliness dancing around in my brain right now.
I understand your aversion to the images. I hope this isn’t too clumsy, but I’d be interested in hearing what you think about less graphic depictions of amputees in art/literature, where being an amputee is not incidental but is also not the focus. The only thing that comes to mind is the Flannery O’Connor short story “Good Country People,” and the reason it comes to mind is my class was discussing it today. I thought of what you might say to the student who insisted Helga was a Gothic character because she was “distorted” while others thought she was simply a flawed human.
Oh, I love “Good Country People.” It’s been awhile since I read it so I can’t speak to the details of the characterization…but I remember feeling that it used amputation to express something so profound about vulnerability and loss. I remember feeling similarly about the use of physical abnormality in _Geek Love_.
What I’m uncomfortable with is when amputation is used to indicate villany (a la Ahab) or for over-sentimentality (most of the books that fall into this category tend to be memoirs or biographies).
I wonder sometimes what people think of my discussions of my disability–do you find them sentimental or maudlin? I’m aiming to tell the real experience of my disability, without sugar-coating or high drama. Do you think it works?
I have wondered what it must be like to see from your perspective Jana, and this was a really great example for me to use. I’m sorry you had to scrub your eyeballs though, that’s no fun. I love that grey kitty :)
To be honest, zombie culture makes me sick to my stomach. I find nothing entertaining or playful about it at all. But I feel like a wet blanket when I try to talk about that–so many of my friends enjoy the movies, the dressing up, etc.
heh, this is sort of ironic, because I just barely re-tweeted a (funny,in my opinion) zombie vid…
On a broader level, I find this sort of thing happens across many of my friendships: I am into something that someone else might not be into, and someone else might be into something that I am not into… etc etc etc… for the most part, we just sort of tolerate each others odd preferences.
In this particular instance, I do find that I really have to be sensitive. the Horror genre is.. well… horrific. For me I find it a place where I can process some stuff. But I have to be constantly aware, and be careful, because for many (like you), it has significant triggers.
On a side note… ugh for scrubbing your eyeballs… I had some similar issues when I posted pics of my hairy armpits… you would not BELIEVE (or maybe you would) some of the people who crawled out of dark places to contact me with.. ahem… *other* hairy body parts.
*SCRUBBING EYEBALLS AGAIN NOW*
I don’t have a problem with other people enjoying horror even though I don’t. But I wouldn’t go to a party if that was the theme or if such movies were being shown. I feel like I need to be selective in a world where there are so many options for entertainment. :)
The zombie/vampire scene puzzles me. is it some kind of acknowledgement that our culture is hollow but somehow tottering along? Projection of a lack of vitality? Recognition that most are living lives of quiet desperation? I find it
I’m sure there are PhDs working on an answer to this one, Vajra. It’s so much less sexy than vampires or werewolves–I don’t get it either.
I do have strong opinions about vampires however: they are NOT sparkly.