I don't know if you all know this, but I am a HUGE Grey's Anatomy fan. HUGE. I may have talked about this before, but since Jack was born, I pay more attention to medical dramas. I hear more things. I know more of what they are talking about. I know when they are doing things wrong, and when things are inprobable. But I still enjoy it for it's entertainment value.
Well last night, one of the Doctor's said a very flippant remark, that has me bugged to the core.
Here's what bugs me. The fact that most people don't know it's offensive. The fact that McSteamy said it. People think he's cool. People want to be like him. The fact that my kid, has one.
I go deeper than just his flippant remark, I pretend it's real. What if the parents of that kid were walking by as he said that? What if the kid was being wheeled to post op, and heard him say that? What if I was sitting in our little post op room across from the desk, and I over heard the nurses talking about the kid across the hall with a harelip. I seriously... think I would rip someones throat out.
Now, I am fully aware it is just a TV show, and maybe my feelings are raw, because we JUST had surgery, but I'm still bugged. I put this up first on my facebook, and have had great conversation about it. Someone asked, "Why is it so negative?" And sadly enough, I didn't know. But I was directed to it.
Here it is:
This one is about: "Harelip" - The Dark History of an Unfortunate Word
(c) 1996 Wide SmilesThis Document is from WideSmiles Website - www.widesmiles.orgReprint in whole or in part, with out written permission from Wide Smilesis prohibited. Email: email@example.com
The accepted and appropriate word that defines a birth condition in which facial tissues fail to fuse during gestation is 'cleft'. However, the parent of a cleft-affected child does not go far before hearing the term, 'harelip' instead. And we do not like that term. Why? Isn't it just a word? Most people don't mean anything negative by using it. Well, perhaps knowing the history of the term may help us to understand why it is so inappropriate. And so here, excerpted from an article from WIDE SMILES, is the dark history of the word, 'harelip':
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In the 16th century, it was a French Doctor who, when discussing a patient with a cleft, first coined the phrase that would be translated, "Lip of the Hare". In English it was more comfortably shortened to "HareLip". It was an unfortunate pairing of similes. The good doctor was only reflecting that the lip was split, as is the lip of a Hare (and every other rodent). But unfortunately for those who were born with a cleft, the hare had also long been associated with witchcraft!
It was believed throughout the dark ages and even to relatively recent times that a witch would often take the shape of a hare. And if a hare were to frighten a pregnant woman, she would give birth to a child bearing the mark.
In the 17th century the hysteria surrounding witchcraft rose to a new and frightening level. And it was during that time that the hare had become a symbol of Satan himself. A woman bearing a child with the mark of the hare, or a harelip, at that time, was thought to have had to have had relations with Satan. And thus, the cleft-affected child born of a woman, say, in Salem Massachusetts during the mid 17th century, in the midst of witchcraft hysteria would have condemned his mother to a violent end. That baby would have constituted "irrefutable evidence" of his mother's unnatural liaison with Satan.
Fast forward now to the 20th Century. Many people still use the term, "HareLip" when they mean to say, "Cleft Lip". Do they associate our children with Satanism and witchcraft? No, surely they don't. But it is nonetheless a term that has persevered in our language, long after a more accurate, more appropriate term has been coined.
At the very least, the term, "HareLip" likens our children to a common field rodent. It is not a soft, fluffy bunny. It is just a rodent. At the very most it harkens back to a darker past. A past that would never have happened were it not for massive hysteria on the part of a superstitious and almost militantly religious population. A past that condemned our children as the Devil's Seed, and condemned their mothers to death.
Maybe it's because I'm from Beverly, the town just north of Salem. But this really got to me. I try to be upbeat, and educate people about Jack's cleft. I was so excited about "Smile Pinki" getting so much attention. But when things like this happen, I feel like we are taking 10 steps back. I have seen the documentaries from operation smile, that talk about children being shunned. I just saw this. But I feel like we have really come a long way, and then this happened.
I was saying on facebook, how annoying it is, that as upset as most of my friends with cranio facial conditions in the family and I are about this, it won't get the attention it deserves. It's not going to be a hot topic on The View, it's not going to be covered on all the entertainment shows, or even make it on the news. "McSteamy says HARELIP, sending many families affected by cleft lips, into an emotional frenzy! WHAT is the origin, WHERE did it come from, WHY are these parents so upset?" Ya, NOT going to happen. THAT annoys me. So I'll just write about it on my blog, and on facebook, and put it on You Tube. If I educate one person, I'll be happy. I just wish my voice was bigger, louder, prettier, skinnier, drunk, had an umbrella hitting cars, or wasn't wearing panties. Then maybe I'd get my point across.
I'll calm down soon enough. Maybe...