Reshared post from +Kaj Sotala
"When I was 15, a member of my local community approached my parents and told them she wanted to nominate me for some kind of community achievement award. My parents said, "Thanks, but there's one glaring problem with that… she hasn't actually achieved anything out of the ordinary."
"They were right. I went to school, I got good marks, I had a very low key after-school job, and I spent a lot of time watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek. I wasn't feeding orphaned Chlamydia-infected baby koalas before school, or setting up a soup kitchen in the main street, or reading newspapers to the elderly at the local hospital. I was doing exactly the same things as my non-disabled friends. When my parents explained all this to the well-meaning nominator, they said "yes, but she's just such an inspiration".
"And there's the rub. My everyday life in which I do exactly the same things as everyone else should not inspire people, and yet I am constantly congratulated by strangers for simply existing. It happened twice last week.
"I was on a train with my earphones shoved in my ears completely ignoring my fellow commuters (as is my want early in the morning) while reading inane things on twitter. Before getting off at her stop, a woman patted me on the arm and said "I see you on the train every morning and I just wanted to say it's great. You're an inspiration to me."
"Should I have said "you too"? Because we were doing exactly the same thing; catching public transport to our respective places of employment. I was just doing it sitting down. Should I have pointed out that, in many ways, that requires less effort, not more?
"That's the thing about those kids in the inspiration porn pictures too – they're not doing anything their peers don't do. We all learn how to use the bodies we're born with, or learn to use them in an adjusted state, whether those bodies are considered disabled or not. So that image of the kid drawing a picture with the pencil held in her mouth instead of her hand? That's just the best way for her, in her body, to do it. For her, it's normal.
"I can't help but wonder whether the source of this strange assumption that living our lives takes some particular kind of courage is the news media, an incredibly powerful tool in shaping the way we think about disability. Most journalists seem utterly incapable of writing or talking about a person with a disability without using phrases like "overcoming disability", "brave", "suffers from", "defying the odds", "wheelchair bound" or, my personal favourite, "inspirational".
"If we even begin to question the way we're labelled, we slide immediately to the other end of the scale and become "bitter" and "ungrateful". We fail to be what people expect.
"Which brings us back to Scott Hamilton and his mantra. The statement "the only disability in life is a bad attitude" puts the responsibility for our oppression squarely at the feet, prosthetic or otherwise, of people with disabilities. It's victim blaming. It says that we have complete control of the way disability impacts our lives. To that, I have one thing to say. Get stuffed."
We’re not here for your inspiration
Pictures of people with disabilities going about their everyday lives posted on Facebook and Twitter as inspiration porn shame and objectify those they pretend to represent.
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