I do not feel I have anything particular to complain about. Life, for me, is pretty good – I have two supportive parents, two great brothers, and more friends than I can count. The only thing I’m particularly worried about is my thesis, but that’s generally of another order to the subject of this entry.
I think I’m content with life, all in all. There is, however, a school of thought within the disabled community which says that disabled people are subjugated and oppressed, and that we are well within our rights to rail against this oppression. They cite, for instance, the carer/client relationship as innately coded within a power structure – that when one is bathed, dressed, washed and toileted by someone, the person being cared for is always going to be under the power of, and in effect subservient to, the carer. If we further generalise this principle, it follows that we crips are always going to be second class citizens.
I have a problem with this. it isn’t as if I don’t agree with it – they certainly have a point – but I see it as a part of life which one should allow to fade into the background. I have better things to worry about than whether the manner in which I need to live my life is encoded with oppression. If you need to be fed, why worry about it? And anyway, this power structure is not always the case: I have been fed, on many occasions, by people whom I consider my close friends; I have asked one or two to help me bathe a few times. No doubt they would be bemused at the notion that there was some kind of power involved. I would guess they, like me, think that it’s just something that needs to be done. Moreover, I was reading an article in the business supplement of the Sunday times about this guy who works as a trader in goldman-sach’s as a trader, who uses one of his fellow traders as a kind of work-time PA. again there is no evidence of this power-structure in their relationship its just something that needs to be done.
I guess it could go to the other extreme. Some people seem to think that the term ‘personal assistant’ means ‘slave’ and that they deserve to have someone at their beck and call 24/7. although I admit I may have, at university, been guilty of pestering people like jen, Charlie and ash a little more than I should have, I tried to respect their private time, and understood that if they said ‘no’, that meant ‘no’. Yet I get the impression some crips can be over-reliant on their staff, in effect demanding a slave. To me, that constitutes an abuse of one’s rights.
Back to my main point, though: there is an argument which says that it should be our right to complain; that
” Blacks and Latinos are encouraged to form communities and discuss the [insert minority group here] Experience. Abuse and incest survivors are rightly lauded for their bravery. People with eating disorders are told they can find support here.
Disabled folks? Not so much. While we’re appreciated as a quaint novelty, we’re in the steerage with the cutters and the kohl-snorting emo children when it comes to expressing angst or anger. And if we persist, well, it won’t be long before the cries of ”Being disabled, you’re doing it wrong!” ring out, along with accusations of whining, pity-whoring, and delusion.” source
We could detail the means by which we are repressed. Wee could detail the perceived humiliations and the indignities we ‘suffer’. But I fail to see the point, as all it would lead to is a particularly bleak, pessimistic outlook on life. I tried it once: I paid special attention to all the things which made me different, all the means by which we are allegedly oppressed. All it did was make me miserable, and annoy my parents. I suspect it even put people off me. In short, it got me nowhere but a depressed pessimistic stupor.
Such points of view are counterproductive and self fulfilling. It was also cyclical, and I didn’t really break that cycle until the berlin trip with south Cheshire college. It is far better to focus on how alike we all are than how different we are. I guess this is why I dislike the idea that disabled people have a community, for if we are a subset of people, then we are somehow different. This leads back into feelings of ostracisation and persecution. Yes, we are a community as expressed through the ways in which we articulate our lives, but as soon as that articulation becomes one of persecution and negativity, we risk losing the thing which unites us to wider humanity.