Monday, January 21, 2013

Stiletto Surgery

Women are cutting off their small toes so they can wear stiletto heels. This is insane. Enough said!

The American Podiatric Medical Association says, “eighty-seven percent of women have had foot problems from wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes such as high heels.”

A collective belief of our culture is that women should have small dainty feet. We were all programmed by the story of Cinderella: the stepsisters’ feet were too big for the dainty glass slipper, and their huge feet were as much a part of their ugliness as the look of their faces.

How different are we from the Chinese who bound their women’s feet?

As a feminist once said about the Virginia Slim slogan (“You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”): “You haven’t come a long way and you aren’t a baby.”


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Search for a Motive

The perpetrator of the latest American mass shooting—at the elementary school in Newton Connecticut—also killed himself and his mother. In addition, Adam Lanza smashed his computer hard drive before he went on his rampage. This, we are told by the investigators, is going to make it harder to find what motivated Mr. Lanza to do such a horrible thing.

When we say we want to find the motive for a crime, what we want is a clear, logical, rational explanation for an action that makes it understandable. However, when someone does something of this nature—a mass killing—you can be sure they were not thinking clearly and rationally. Sure they could think clearly about the guns, ammunition, clothing, etc., but this deludes us into thinking that the motivation for their action is also rational.

Dr. James Gilligan, a psychiatrist who directed the Center for the Study of Violence at Harvard Medical School and was in charge of psychiatric services for the Massachusetts state prison system for ten years, begins his book, Violence, with this message: “The first that all violence is an attempt to reach justice, or what the violent person perceives as justice, for himself or for whomever it is on whose behalf he is being violent…Thus, the attempt to achieve and maintain justice, or to undo or prevent injustice, is the one and only universal cause of violence. [italics in the original]

I think Dr. Gilligan gives us the guidance we need in our search for a motive: somehow, for Adam Lanza this action was an attempt to achieve justice. It’s not too hard to imagine how Mr. Lanza might have perceived that his mother had caused him an injustice, but it’s much harder to get a handle on how killing children could undo or prevent injustice. I suggest we’ll never know for sure. All we can know is that in some way this action helped Lanza, in his mind, right an injustice that he believed had been done to him.