Friday, November 11, 2016

Stories With a Cure

We all hope for cures for diseases and illnesses that kill people.  No one would shed one tear for the eradication of AIDS or cancer.  But things become more complex when the condition/disability/divergence isn't fatal.

A disability like Cerebral Palsy, for example, has people split.  Some with it say they'd take the cure this second.  Others, never in their lives.  And another group would want it for certain aspects (remove the disabled accent, perhaps) but not others.  It depends.
In a fair amount of books about disability, the focus is on the cure.  The character with the disability/neurodivergence wants nothing more in the world than to be able-bodied/neurotypical.  Everyone desires to be normal, the author thinks.

An entire tale may focus on nothing but the journey to normalcy, whatever the hell that is.  Which tells disabled/neurodivergent readers:  It doesn't matter how funny, badass, or talented you are, the only worthwhile pursuit is fixing what society sees as wrong.  Not even personality flaws like selfishness trump those stick legs, those stimming hands, clubbed feet, or that impared vision.

But, not all books take the entire plot to cure our plucky disabled/neurodivergent protagonist!  There is often romance, family relationships, swashbuckling!  Wow!  What disabled character gets to do that in a book where a cure for their disability is part of the plot?  One where the potion, shot, or surgery comes at the beginning.  Probably in the first couple chapters.  Definitely before the heroics start because, you know, we're just not heroes (unless it's inspiration porn, which doesn't usually happen in cure stories).
Though the issue of curing someone's disability/neurodivergence is complex for the individual presented with the choice (even for a great deal of people who'd love a cure), most stories make it seem like an effortless decision.  It isn't.  Because, though our differences aren't everything we are, they are a part which has shaped our very self.  In a world more intent on valuing it's version of wholeness, we need more stories stating that we are whole, no assembly required.

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