Social Justice Issues in Today's World: The Impact of Power and Health

In Octavia’s Brood, the social justice issue depicted in the story Hollow supports the idea that the material body and its health, vitality, and natural and social environments not only create and discipline the citizen-subject but also provide the conditions necessary for its recognition and political agency within biopolitical modes of governance, broadly constructed…to dive deeply into the intersections of bodies with issues of agency, politics, and resistance in a variety of contexts (Johnson, Happe, and Levina 1).

In the short story Hollow, the perfects were people who lived a normal life with no disabilities to hinder their daily activities. There is no doubt that they took their life for granted, and so they were unable to value the gifts of living a normal life. This is seen through their actions of dealing with the imperfections, which were people with disabilities. The perfects believed that these people weren’t worth a single thing, so they took it upon themselves to get rid of them. Thousands of imperfections were killed off from guns, injections, and birds eating them alive in fields just because the perfects felt that their body and health issues were not fit for their environment. The social environment and those above the normal people were so powerful at this time that even families who had disabled children willingly kicked their children out, basically sending them to their own death row.

This shows how influential the government was on society. How can people be ok with murdering innocent children, adults, and seniors just because they weren’t lucky enough to have a fully functional bodies? Another point that proves the influence that people with power hold is the change made which was also supported by the perfects. They decided to stop murdering the imperfects because they just couldn’t do it anymore, so instead, they punished them by sending them to another place to live. Although wild (an imperfect) disagreed and believed it was because of the birth of a child to a powerful man who didn’t want to kill his child, so he was able to stop the killings. However, this was still a degrading option, and the imperfects would still feel a sense of unworthiness and neglect from a society that should have been strong enough to stick together and help one another.

This is shown on page 114, where wild (an imperfect) says, “If it hadn’t been for him, it all would have ended then and there like it should have, and we would never have ended up here in this mess about to lose everything again, everything we’ve worked so hard for.” On the other hand, the remaining imperfects were relieved about their life being spared. Ever since they were sent away from Earth, they built their own homes in a place called Hollow, and they created things to help them live with their disabilities. Ever since then, anytime a disabled was born, the perfects would send them through what was called a vessel, which led to Hollow, and one arrival came with a note that inferred they were coming to Hollow.

The frightened reaction of the imperfects represented their trauma, showing how they were mentally unstable in regards to the perfects. All of this is, in fact, a huge social justice issue that still occurs in today’s world. Disabled people have more than often experienced times where they are shamed and mistreated, but more importantly, people with power, like the government, have and continue to construct and discipline citizens to meet their conditions. For example, China they have a one-child policy, and other countries around the globe sometimes limit the number of children in terms of gender. Sadly society has been following these rules imposed on them. Everyone should be able to have children no matter the amount or gender because everyone should be equal.

A similar idea that included powerful corrupted people taking advantage of people with health or mental issues is provided in the story “Exploiting Vulnerable Citizens: Drug Testing and Mental Ill,” which is part of the book “Biocitizenship: The Politics of Bodies, Governance, and Power by Kelly E. Happe, Jenell Johnson, and Marina Levina.” In this story, we are introduced to researchers who use mentally ill people and prisoners as guinea pigs to test out their new medications in exchange for money, which I personally believe is not enough compared to the risks that are factored in with these types of things. For people to be using mentally ill individuals who are vulnerable and sometimes incapable of understanding the seriousness of these trials shows the corruption that is going on in this world.

On page 135, it says, “The primary threat to research subjects came from the academic and governmental researchers, whose scientific curiosity and personal ambition might lead them to overlook the rights and the welfare of their research subjects.” These people are literally killing and causing more illnesses to those already ill just for the sake of their own greed for money and to make a name for themselves. On the first page of this story, a man named Walter Jorden became a victim and a statistic because of these so-called researchers.

Jorden had paranoid schizophrenia, he had been hospitalized previously for depression, substance abuse, and heart problems, and of course, he was taken advantage of and bribed with money he desperately needed. He is an example of a person who was vulnerable, ill, and now dead from a heart attack because all he was, was a subject for an experimental drug. This is an issue that needs to be stopped, but first, it must be spilled to everyone who most likely has no clue about what is going on. Prisoners should not be tricked into taking medications that aren’t really what they are prescribed, they should not be detained illegally for an experimental study, and mentally ill people should not be bribed or feel forced into these researches either. It’s time to stop this corrupt way of research.

In the New York Times article titled “4,000 Children Flee Pollution Disaster on Ukraine-Crimea Border” by Luliia Mendel, it is brought to my attention that pollution in Russia and Ukraine has resulted in the evacuation of over 4,000 children. They believe the cause came from a Crimean chemical factory that makes titanium dioxide and other chemicals such as sulfur. It was reported that this factory had a pond buildup of sulfuric acid, which seems to be a huge part of the problem as well as the titanium dioxide. People are now becoming ill along with the grass, plants, trees, and even metal which is rusting.

People are experiencing shortness of breath, allergic-like reactions, coughing, and burning sensations. A witness from the article stated, “We are used to sulfur when the wind blows in our direction, but there has never been rust everywhere,” said Liliia Simeiko, 44. “If it corrodes metal, it also has an impact on the lungs.” This shows that it goes past the people of the communities affected. If they are used to living under the circumstances like this, which they shouldn’t, then we know those who issue these factories need to make sure the fumes are safely disposed of or replaced with a safer alternative, and we know it is possible with all the technology we have today. Once again, people are being hurt physically, health-wise, and chemically because those with power could care less.

The scholarly journal “Disordered Eating/Eating Disorder: Hidden Perils of the Nation’s Fight against Fat” by Greenhalgh Susan points out another way in which the nation controls the citizens. This article talks about the so-called worthy body of a citizen, and it discusses the term obesity. America tries to force people to believe that we must have a certain look or weight to be worthy, which may or may not be ok, but it is why all the fast foods and advertisements. If they really wanted us to be healthy and fit, they wouldn’t be selling us these foods that are mechanically engineered and causing us to be unhealthy or obese or both in the first place. Another problem with the word obese which is also brought up in the article, is that it becomes a disease. Some people end up eating more, and others end up eating way more than less causing them to become anorexic.

People sometimes lose so much weight and feel like still, and it’s not enough. It has become more than just putting food with chemicals in our bodies, it’s come to the point where physically, many people are uncomfortable with their bodies, and mentally they are unstable because of it. In the article, it says, “The nation’s fight against fat has not reduced obesity, but it has had other worrying effects. Mental health researchers have raised the possibility that the intense pressures to lose weight have heightened the risks of developing eating disorders, especially among the young.” This is what America causes to its citizens. Some people choose to eat more some people choose to eat less and go to the gym, but in both situations, the outcome for them is a gym membership or a burger or, in other words, money that’s what seems to be the goal for all the powerful people who are constructing the typical body subjected to recognition for a worthy citizen.

Works Cited

  1. Mungus, Mia, and Mia Mingus. “Hollow.” Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, by Walidah Imarisha et al., AK Press, 2015, p. 114.
  2. Elliott, Carl, and Emma Bedor Hiland. “Exploiting Vulnerable Citizens Drug Testing and the Mentally Ill.” Biocitizenship: the Politics of Bodies, Governance, and Power, by Kelly E. Happe et al., New York University Press, 2018, p. 135.
  3. Mendel, Luliia. “4,000 Children Flee Pollution Disaster on Ukraine-Crimea Border.” New York Times, 15 Sept. 2018.
  4. Greenhalgh, Susan. “Disordered Eating/Eating Disorder: Hidden Perils of the Nation’s Fight against Fat.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, vol. 30, no. 4, 2015, pp. 545–562., doi:10.1111/maq.12257.
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Social Justice Issues in Today's World: The Impact of Power and Health. (2023, Mar 16). Retrieved May 19, 2024 , from

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