Monday, March 17, 2008

Personal violations

Some recent conversations about school meals and whether or not they should be obligatory made me wonder whether or not I value my physical self-determination more than most people (it certainly seems so), and if yes, why - or rather why don't many other people value theirs as much - and to what extents does the culture affect the attitudes towards it.

It seems like our society (probably all the Western societies, including Eastern Europe), and probably many others, considers a sexual assault a very serious violation of a person, but many other intrusions on a person's physical privacy much less so. I sort of understand the historical background for it, it's the people's current emotional reactions that are hard to understand.

I am not saying this to say that rape is not a serious crime - I'd rather other forms of assault be taken more seriously, too.

The reason I am writing this post is that I don't take personal violation lightly - and every time the subject comes up I keep running into people saying things like "but surely this cannot be that serious?". I can understand that for them it isn't (people can and do forgive some personal violations under some circumstances, and I have done so myself), but for me it is, and I am sort of surprised at their surprise.

To take one simple example, on the emotional level I don't see much difference between people trying to forcibly stuff unwanted penises and unwanted food into my mouth. It's my mouth, dammit. I decide what goes into it. If you try to physically override my decision - well, you just might get that fork in your eye. The law might well disagree, which I am sure will be a great consolation to your disembodied soul.

We had some obligatory meals in the daycare (you wouldn't believe what these people tried to make me eat, but luckily the actual violence was rather mild on both parts) and in theory in the first three grades in school. My first semester of the first grade was spent with every lunch break in the lunchroom, the teacher telling me that we are not leaving until I eat whatever is on my plate, and me pointing out that I am not in a hurry to get anywhere, and the class is not likely to start with her in the lunchroom anyway. After the first semester she gave up and banished me from the lunchroom to the great satisfaction of all the parties involved.

Anyway - when I hear Finnish people's rather numerous stories about being forced to eat in school I always wonder why they didn't employ this simple strategy, but I wonder even more about those who make those policies. Don't they understand that some percentage of people affected by them consider this a personal violation? Or don't they care? Or am I really that far out on this?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're on the mark, dear.

& the personal violations do not stop with lunch room food. It is permeated into our society. People are so used to it that they don't stand up for themselves anymore, they don't even realise when they are being violated.

Don't back down.