The “superhero” phenomenon has fascinated sociologists for the last decade, ever since the first metahumans revealed themselves to the world. In the past, outward characteristics divided humanity–the manufactured concept of “race.” But now, superhuman abilities divided people, and not all of them were directly observable.
Today, superheroes and supervillains show their difference through garish costumes, not to mention liberal power usage, which made singling them out as Other easier. However, unlike observable “races,” not all metahumans were physically diverse from one another.
Take Robert Butcher for instance. Here is a metahuman with the ability to sweat through tears rather than skin. The only physical difference observable in Robert is his weepy eyes after a run or during a hot day–not something that makes him stand out as metahuman by any means.
“I wanted to show solidarity to other metahumans by making a costume,” says Robert during an interview, “but I didn’t know what to make. I don’t know where they get those costumes done, or how they choose them. I spent most of my life ashamed of my ability. How many people have stinky eyes? But I’ve learned to be part of a larger group, even if they won’t invite me to join any of their teams or give me the names of their tailors.”
After coming out of the Batcave (an ironic term for outing oneself as metahuman, given that the comic book character Batman had no superpowers), Robert’s life changed considerably. Coworkers stopped speaking to him, people would shout slurs at him from car windows, and twice he’s had burning capes left on his doorstep.
“It’s not like I’m walking through walls or shooting lasers from my nipples,” Robert says. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just need to dab my eyes with kleenex a lot in summer. I don’t deserve this treatment. None of us do.”
Day 279’s three random prompt categories were, “Superheroes,” “Can only sweat through tears,” and, “A sociological study.”
At least his eyes are above his nose.