On Sunday, Tobyjoe and I watched Murderball a documentary film about a certain form of rugby in the Paralympics. The film is mesmerizing. The filmmakers follow the lives of three people very closely and a few others peripherally. The three main characters are pretty outstanding.
I realized something about myself while I was watching the movie. And I’m not proud of what I’m about to admit. The best I can do is say I’m a little proud of the fact that I’m about to admit it at all. During the movie, I kept saying, “Wow, that guy is really good-looking.” Or, “His girlfriend is super cute.” I said and/or thought this a dozen times while watching Murderball.
The fact that I called to realize this at all, is a little unnerving. A lot of the men in Murderball sustained spinal injuries leaving them confined to a wheelchair. Some suffered from a rare blood disease leaving them without limbs. They’re perfectly normal human beings. They still eat, drink, laugh, dream, have sex, masturbate, and cry. They’re totally and completely human. Why, then, do I feel compelled to realize that they’re attractive? Why would it be any other way?
It disturbs me what we consider to be “normal” and “beautiful” during this day and age. Who makes these rules? Who deems one as popular? Who defines what is considered normal and therefore acceptable? Why must I realize that someone without an arm or a leg can be attractive?
Conflicted, I watched the movie trying to overcome this realization which was born completely out of judgment. It occurred to me that I have met hundreds of perfectly “normal looking�? people who are so much more ugly. I have witnessed horribly unappealing people on the subway as they scowl and snort at those who accidentally bump into their “normal” bodies. I have met nasty people while driving. I meet unattractive “normal” people every day
– and strangers and friends – people we all might, at first, look at and tag as perfectly normal.
I’m so sick of what we consider normal, popular, safe, and understood. I’m tired of being shallow. I’m sick of assumption. I’m sick of complacency. Most of all, I’m tired of my being afraid to tell the truth.
Perhaps what you were noticing isn’t that they were attractive, but that YOU were attracted to them. It’s indisputable that anyone can be ‘objectively’ attractive (attraction as constituted by assumed others who are theoretically attracted to the subject). It’s another issue for you to realize that your own criteria for attractiveness are more broad than you might have otherwise assumed.
Yes, I was wholeheartedly attracted to at least two of the main guys. Totally.
Superman himself spent his final years in a wheelchair. (Not that you have to dig Christopher Reeve, but he wasn’t exactly what most women would call “hideous.”) As terrible as his accident was, the disbled couldn’t have wished for a better spokesman.
I know. Again, I am regretting this post. I do that all too often. I should stick to the impersonal.
I was annoyed with myself for falling into the usual idea of what we consider “normal”.
“Normal” rugby players are usually pretty gruesome.
A teammate of mine broke his neck playing rugby with us, but fortunately, the spinal cord wasn’t irreparably damaged. He was paralyzed from the neck down for a while, but even as he was lying in the ICU (on mother’s day of all days), he whispered the following to our team captain … “I can still feel my cock!”
The dude walked out of the hospital several months later. And has since even survived a year in Iraq. He doesn’t run really well, but he can carry a gun, and that was good enough for the Army.
Wow. Great story, Charlie. Thank you for sharing.
If you see Murderball, you’ll laugh too. There is one guy who was really worried about not regaining feeling in his penis. He tells a story about how one day a nurse was giving him a sponge bath and he “got a woody”. The nurse was so excited she ran out to tell his mother.