It seems to me that having an obvious physical disability is a bit of a weird cultural position to occupied: you’re simultaneously pitied and revered, coddled and shunned. You’re part of society, but separated from it; you’re the same as everyone else but different. People think you’re brave for just being who you are and trying to live your life like everyone else.
What I’ve been puzzling over for a while is whether others have started to become jealous of that cultural position. Motivated, perhaps, by a type of liberal guilt at being straight, white and able-bodied, as well as attracted by the romance of being a member of an oppressed minority fighting for one’s rights, I get the sense that the disability community is now filling up with people who never used to see theirselves as disabled. They probably don’t even realise it and would react badly when questioned, but they seem to want to see theirselves as oppressed outsiders, even though they have only been through a fraction of what guys like me put up with.
This, however, is only a hunch; something I’ve been mulling over for a while. The problem is, I have no way of testing whether it’s true or not: I don’t want to accuse anyone of lying or exaggerating their disability. Yet from what I see, online and off, people now seem increasingly eager to be seen as abnormal and different: look, for instance, at the plethora of vlogs on youtube about people who have diagnosed theirselves with autism. It’s as if social outsidership is in fashion, so people are clamouring to be seen as a member of a minority, not just in terms of disability but other minorities too. I don’t know why this might be happening, but perhaps being seen as straight, white and able-bodied is perceived as being too privileged these days, so people have started to foreground aspects of their personalities they previously left hidden.