Typical New Crip

This may sound a bit controversial, but people like Martin Hibbert really irritate me. He is a wheelchair user, badly injured in the Manchester Arena bombing, who has now climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity. Don’t get me wrong: that is a remarkable achievement and I have every respect for it, but does he have to sound like he’s the first cripple ever to do anything great? Or like he has been appointed leader of all disabled people and is now speaking for the rest of us? It could be my imagination, but to hear Hibbert talk sounds like he thinks he’s the first and only disability rights campaigner. He talks about sending people ‘a message’ and ‘showing people ‘we’ can do anything’, forgetting that there have been disabled people achieving things since long before he started using a wheelchair. To be honest this is typical of people I’ve heard called ‘New Crips’ – those who become disabled later in life, instead of being born disabled. Without having grown up around other disabled people, they, perhaps unconsciously, retain society’s condescending attitudes, and think that, having once been able-bodied, they are now best placed to represent the rest of us. Thus we see the stoic, brave Martin Hibbert climbing the African mountain (or being pushed up it, more like) to benefit the rest of us. Yet that is to forget that we already know what we are capable of: we know we can achieve anything we put our minds to, and don’t need someone who has experienced comparatively little of the prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion we have had ti deal with since infancy, trying to speak for us.

2 thoughts on “Typical New Crip

  1. Yes, I think this a real issue. And actually I don’t think that anyone CAN do whatever they set their mind to…and personally I think that can sometimes have very negative implications (I didn;t manage to do that so i didn;t try hard enough etc etc…about something that is clearly never going to be achievable) But what disabled people should be able to do is live the life that they choose too, with the support that they need and minus unneccessary barriers. People being manhandled to the tops of mountains by huge teams of volunteers/sherpas is not actually indicative of anything useful in everyday life. Perhaps (very likely) he needed to do this to somehow validate his new existence as a disabled person; because society as a whole has still a very long way to go, and it’s very likely that he had no idea about the realities of that before he became disabled. So he’s a sort of born-again crip, if you like…

    Liked by 1 person

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