I study medicine at Florida Atlantic University, and this year I became aware of a truly unkind and discriminatory Halloween fundraiser held yearly by my campus chapter of AMSA. It is called the Gore Gallery, and it displays disabled, diseased, and non-normatively-bodied people in what can only be called a contemporary perpetuation of the "Freak Show." Here is an excerpt from an advertisement for the event: "GORE GALLERY is a photo gallery exhibit of rare, shocking diseases! Come see crazy diseases like leprosy, werewolf syndrome, flesh-eating disease, hundred-pound tumors, human tree, and lots of other graphic stuff! This is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach so come prepared!!! Also, invite your friends! One night only!” I feel strongly that, as people of medicine, the ways in which we speak of our patients are often models not only for the ways in which they will speak of themselves, but also models by which they will allow themselves to be treated. As responsible caretakers, we should be wounded in some way when we witness pain, and good medicine springs from that wound. In addition, the people who's photographs were used in this way were from countries who's economic stability, natural resources, and healthcare access have been compromised by American consumer culture. Of course flesh-eating bacteria is going to grow in the feet of children who's water source was diverted by a Pepsi Cola plant a mile outside their village. I was ashamed that such voyeurism, racism, and objectification was encouraged by my university, and my concerns have heretofore been met with little receptivity. The event's organizers insist that "nobody has ever had a problem before, and it is all in good fun." Because this is not only untrue, but an unacceptable way to answer for the material ableism and oppression that the event produces, a petition has been created to present the university with names of people who dissent. As people who move through our lives with non-normative appearances (ie: our rad hair),I feel like many of us may have simmilarly felt like our bodies were objectified, consumed, needlessly pathologized, and otherwise oppressed by cultural rigidity. I would be really thrilled if any of you felt like this petition initiative was something you could support. PLease feel free to sign it here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/goregallery/
Thanks you guys!