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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When Being Inspiration Porn is Self-Inflicted

Inspiration Porn....  Any of us who live with a disability or who work in the field of disability have heard this term.  I've been struggling, and I mean STRUGGLING, with how I feel about this for quite some time.  We all have different opinions, and I may lose friends for mine.

How can we (those of us with disabilities) change the face of ableism and discrimination in our culture and society, how can we discourage discrimination in work and life if we're encouraging people to think that our everyday, mundane, basic life activities are amazing??  They're not!  Nor should they be!!!

I go to the store, with shopping assistance or without, not amazing. I clean my house, not amazing. I take my kids to school, not amazing. I work as a lawyer, counselor, author, teacher....  I may be a brilliant blind person, but I'm NOT amazing, courageous, or inspiring for being or doing any of these things!  I'm just a blind chick living life.

My guide dog--she's amazing. It's cool if you want to be inspired by her.
My blind friends who hike all over the world and climb mountains?  They're amazing--but ANYONE doing those kinds of treks is inspiring--not many of us can or would do that!
My paralympian friends...  They're inspiring. Everyday they break down barriers and push the limits of their physical and mental abilities to win the race and demonstrate the abilities others may question.

How can we expect equal opportunities in employment, education, or ANY AREA, if we allow and ENCOURAGE people to think that going to Target is courageous, amazing, and inspirational?!  How can we expect an employer to walk into an interview without low expectations of blind people if we post videos of us vacuuming our homes (as if it's any different than how every other sighted person vacuums their home!)!

Stop it. Please. Just, stop it!

Non-disabled friends--please--I beg of you--DON'T fall into the trap of being awe-inspired by what should be a day to day expectation for any of us. These are not amazing feats.  They are not inspirational. They just, ARE. They are things we all need and want to do in our day to day lives. They are things we do so that we don't run out of toilet paper, or so we can wake up and brew a pot of coffee in the morning.

And blind friends, friends with disabilities. Please, stop. Think about the larger, sweeping, massive ramifications of allowing someone to think your day to day is amazing, inspirational, courageous. Think about the fact that you're not just allowing it, you're encouraging it by creating and posting videos or articles that evoke EXACTLY that response.

I know this is controversial. I know I may lose friends for saying it. I'm sorry--I just can't sit idly by and say nothing when what we all say we want (equally, opportunity, freedom, changing what it means to be blind) is not only hampered by completely downtrodden by what "we" collectively post or create. What you do, say, and post affects any other blind person or person with a disability those you've reached encounter.

What picture do you really want people to see???

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Well said. You've perfectly articulated so many of the ideas I've been thinking recently. Thanks for posting this!

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