Posts tagged disability.
Here’s a hilarious Helen Keller joke!
Do you know what no one saw or heard coming?
Helen Keller’s radical socialist activism for the rights of the poor, women, the disabled. And so people ignored and belittled her politics. They argued a deaf, blind person could not know what she was talking about. And so they reduced her to the safe story of a young girl who overcame disability, and nothing else.
Wait I mean haha she was blind! How funny.
When disabled people, Autistic and non-autistic, say that they use identity-first language to refer to themselves, a common retort is “I don’t understand why you would define yourself by your disability.” To me, this doesn’t make sense. I call myself disabled because I don’t think my disability needs to be held at arm’s length, not because I believe that I’m autism on legs.
(As with my other traits, I refer to my disability with an adjective-noun construction which is common to the English language. I would also describe myself as a long-haired woman. So far no one has come forward to demand that I instead refer to myself as “an individual with long hair,” or accused me of “defining myself by my hair length.”)
I’m starting to think that when people say “defining yourself by your disability” they really mean “talking about yourself in a way that reflects the belief that your disability is not detachable.”
Sue Austin - Creating the Spectacle (2012)
As part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, performance and installation artist Sue Austin created this series in which she—in her self-propelled underwater wheelchair—explored the magnificence of the underwater world, aiming to generate a widespread public debate about the nature and value of contemporary arts practice shaped by the experience of disability.
“My studio practice has, for sometime, centred around finding ways to understand and represent my embodied experience as a wheelchair user, opening up profound issues about methods of self-representation and the power of self-narration in challenging the nexus of power and control that created the ‘disabled’ as other.”
-Mia Mingus, Edges
feeling this so hard right now, though in different communities and in different ways as a white person who doesn’t utilize a wheelchair. but my life has been all about this lately and really feeling the vulnerability that comes with going over the edge and paying for it for weeks. i keep modeling my edge after my past and the edges of my able bodied peers and i need to stop
That particular ‘amazing’ comment was not an isolated event, and happens fairly regularly. Recently, I pushed the button in an elevator, which was also deemed ‘amazing.’ What’s so upsetting about these seemingly glib remarks is that they reveal the insidious consequences of pervasive cultural stereotypes about disability (namely: to be disabled means you must be incompetent); more personally, it exposes society’s lowered expectations of me as a disabled woman. Because if putting on a pair of glasses or pushing a button is an achievement deserving of a verbal pat on the back (it’s not), what sort of legitimateaccomplishments do people believe I’m capable of? Evidently my options are limited. For the record I don’t think the people making these ridiculous comments are bad people. In fact I think they’re ‘trying to be nice,’ but severely misguided, with no awareness that what they consider to be complimentary is actually denigrating and otherizing. An apt comparison would be a white person telling a black person they’re articulate or well-spoken. What one person considers praise, another labels as ‘worthy of a melodramatic, audible groan.’ Also, strangers in general just feel comfortable asking me really personal questions (“What happened to you?!” “Were you in an accident?” “Can you have sex?” which even at 30 years old I’m still shocked by. (Answers: Does it matter?, No, and YES — ALL THE TIME. I’m actually having sex as I’m typing now — it’s amazing.) I don’t have to deal with parking space-stealers as I rely on Portland’s ever-entertaining public transport. Did you know wheelchair vans are like $50K? Like most non-Huxtables I can’t afford that. I just keep it real on the bus.
— Caitlin Wood (via stowaway)
I love this pic so much. But I hate the quote, so much. My “bad attitude” comes from the fact that so many of my disabled kin are either homeless or locked up in nursing homes. It comes from the long history of eugenics [that’s still continuing today]. It comes from the fact that disability justice gets pushed so far back that many, many activists haven’t even heard/come across the term “ableism,” let alone understand it as a systemic oppression.
Shit like this makes disabled people responsible for inaccessibility and ableism—while it romanticizes it. ::hisses:: Why can’t this simply be a pic of a child running with her friend/mentor? Why does everything having to do with our lives have to be repackaged and consumed for the purpose of inspiration?
Our lives aren’t owned by Hallmark, y’all.
also you get abled bodied people going, “such and such disabled person did this! whats your excuse?”
what the fuck is that supposed to mean? everyone’s amazing is different. obviously people like Oscar Pistorius are born athletes. thats HIS skills. it doesnt make him some sort of poster child to make all other people who have NOT accomplished some great feats feel bad about themselves and to have their accomplishments diminished by highlighting his disability as “WOW he did that even though he is disabled! whats your excuse for not being better??”
disabled people are not here to be your inspiration.
i will repeat. disabled people are not here to be your inspiration.
Thank you. And that child is cute, I remember having a dress like that when I was little.
And you know what else?
This *could* be a picture of something like “why disabled kids need disabled adults”, or “Awesome, she’s not being taught to pretend she’s not disabled and look normal at all costs”, or any number of other genuinely good things going on in that picture.
But instead people make it mean *the exact opposite* of what it’s a picture of.
Reblogging for josiahd’s commentary. Super good point.