Friday, January 25, 2019

A Gift of Ableism for the Holidays

"Editors are always interested in heart-warming, holiday-themed content.  Write stories of stray dogs finding homes and disabled people finding help."

"The disabled receiving Christmas miracles make great stories!  How about a young girl learning to walk on Christmas morning?!"

At least four different, able-bodied writers gave a variation of the above advice in newsletters or via social media last month.  Cripples are to be pitied, according to these writers.  We are as pathetic and helpless as stray dogs!  We are a gimmick (tug those heartstrings).  One writer went as far as to say able-bodied people should be the ones to fix or assist us in the stories.

We are seen as nothing but an abstract concept or glaring stereotype of sucking, horrid need.  I'd like to blame the existence of Tiny Tim—a sweet, sickly child with the temperament a Catholic martyr would envy—for this, but I just can't.  People should know better in our current age.  Research, if nothing else, would improve their impressions of us.

This is yet another consequence of our exclusion from society (as writers and as part of the general population).  I'd bet most of these writers only have whispers of interaction with a disabled person, if that.  They get their ignorance from misguided popular media and, in turn, guide other writers in creating more of the same.  Disabled people writing new narratives are often dismissed because they refuse to reinforce ludicrous notions or regurgitate stories of our oppression.

Next holiday season, don't regift your ableism... throw it the hell out!

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