Kim Daul.

Can't believe it's been a year. Whatever anyone else says about her, she was fucking beautiful. And no matter where you place the cultural blame -- or where she saw fit to place it, as she undoubtedly had an elevated right to do -- every culture has its struggles with the things that she did, and she stood up to any that she encountered.

People are quick to point out that mental illness doubtlessly played a 'bigger' role in what went on in her life than society did, but I think people who try to make points like that only stand to make it incredibly obvious how little they understand what mental illness is, or can be. In many cases, it can be simplified and reduced to be defined as an inability to adapt and conform oneself to meet various social standards. Some people try to argue that those social standards constitute being mentally well -- that there is a 'naturally' correct way to be. But, for anyone who's ever been there, it's obvious how convoluted and, frankly, naive that stance is. When the way that you 'naturally' are is different from what's 'natural', well....

Then you're mentally ill, and society can't be held responsible.

And how easy it is to foist those labels on women, in particular.

I don't believe Daul was responding to Korean (or any other) society at large -- she was responding to the various expectations individuals, and communities of individuals, had for her. In her personal life. Is that less damaging? Is it less influenced by cultural and social standards? When my father told me 'girls don't behave that way' when I was growing up, was that just my father? Was it American culture? Southern Baptist culture? Working class culture? Italian-American culture? Society at large? Or just a personal problem? Where did my father get that idea from? And how was it enforced by other aspects of the culture that surrounded me?

You see what I mean?

It's not so simple, although when something as tragic as the suicide of an extremely successful 20 year old girl with a big, wide open future in front of her happens, it's certainly easy to see why people try to rationalize, compartmentalize and reduce it as much as possible.

But let's try not to do that. Or to speak for the dead. She had a voice of her own, even if you disagreed with it.


The Korean said...

Her name was Kim Daul... ;)

I'm no Picasso said...

Fuck sake. I know that, of course. It's what I get for blogging at work. Thank you, TK.^^

Lisa Petrarca said...

No matter what the reason, her death still lingers as a sad reminder of how hard it is to pick up on someones secret cries for help.

I know I for one didn't see it coming and I had been commenting and following her blog for some time. It left me shocked, saddened and regretting things that I wanted to say to her but never did.

I have learned a valuable lesson and now when I see even the slightest cry for help, I say what's in my heart and I don't hold back! Words matter, words can encourage and push people to get help or continue on.

Thanks for this post, I still think of her often!