Friday, October 5, 2018

Inspiration (Without the "Porn")

While reading the essay, "My Disability Story Isn’t For Your Catharsis" I was brought to a question I sometimes ask myself:  How can I be inspiring to other cripples (or helpful in a significant way to humanity in general) without tripping the inspo-porn wire?  I don't have a definitive answer.  Maybe there isn't one.

We can attempt to mitigate it, though.  When we write, we can subvert genre expectations like Katie Rose Guest Pryal suggests.  We can amplify each other's accomplishments so they flood out beyond the echo chamber and become commonplace.  We can rally for more authentic representation in media and defend against inaccurate information.  We can protest.  We can create.

But, it will take more than us, I think.  We didn't start the trend.  We aren't even tending to it.  Ableds just take what they want from us after a while.  If they saw our complete humanity, it wouldn't shock them that we sing, dance, climb, paint, own businesses, become lawyers, or have families.  If they saw our complete humanity, they would argue for an accessible society.

There is one good thing about inspo-porn.  Ableds may spread it for "the feelz", but it sometimes ends up on one of our feeds—not as a way for someone to shove another gimp's accomplishment in our face, but as happenstance arriving just when we need it.  Feel like your dream won't come true?  Well, your colleague shared the story of a paralyzed mountaineer an hour ago!  Ableds, in their attempt to motivate each other, can carry a previously-unknown story about us to us.  They can be unintentional pollinators of hope (as long as we ignore some of the framing).

We can't let how the ableds try to define us stop the progress we make.  We can push back against their ignorance.  We can forge new words and our own definitions.  After all, we're writers.



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