Bits and bobs from a British glasses-wearing, sweary, fat, disabled, atheist ex-Catholic, anti-capitalist, pacifist feminist lesbian with eclectic tastes.
I normally blog at incurable-hippie.blogspot.com.
Thin privilege is being able to reveal your invisible disability in public without people assuming you are disabled because of your body shape.
Thin privilege means not having to forge on through pain and sickness because you are too ashamed to reveal that you have an invisible disability.
Thin privilege is knowing that people are not assuming that you choose to be disabled.
Thin privilege means never having angry people accuse you of not having a real disability.
Thin privilege means not having people deny you use of a wheelchair because they are only for ‘real disabled people’, roll their eyes or mutter loudly if you use a mobility aid in public, or yell at/threaten you when you use facilities for disabled people because ‘if you weren’t fat and lazy you wouldn’t need this!’
Thin privilege means finding a wheelchair that you can fit into.
Thin privilege means never having your nearest and dearest delicately suggest that your disability might be made worse by your size, even though they already know a) it wasn’t caused by your size in the first place, b) your disability makes it practically impossible to lose weight, even temporarily.
Thin privilege means not having medical people refuse treatment for your non-weight-related disability because your inability to lose weight makes them brand you as ‘non-compliant’.
I’m frustrated beyond belief.
I was excited to work with the Deaf. Deaf people understand that although other’s may call them ‘disabled’ or ‘handicapped’, they are not. That their identity is not based on what they can’t do, but on what they can. I think that’s fucking brilliant. I thought they might be a bit more openminded in general about other’s in the supposed ‘handicapped’ category.
I was wrong.
There may be some, but my teacher today went on a 5 minute rant about how he would much rather be Deaf than blind, or crippled. THOSE THINGS DO NOT BELONG IN THE SAME FUCKING SENTENCE.
For those who do not know, I am learning ASL with the intent of becoming an Interpreter in the Future. I am also engaged to a wonderful man. This man is absolutely amazing, completely independent, a wonderful musician… and blind.
Being blind, deaf, or wheelchairbound is not a handicap. There are two criterion for someone to be handicapped or disabled: 1) actually being unable to function normally in society, and 2) thinking you’re disabled. There are deaf individuals who consider themselves disabled, and I’ve known blind people who consider themselves disabled. But in the end, it doesn’t matter.
YOU decide what you are. If you decide that being blind, deaf, or some other ‘impairment’ means that you are handicapped, then you are, end of story. No one has the right to say that a group of people are ‘less than’.
I’ve been angry about this for a while, noticing how there is comraderie and culture in the Deaf tag, and looking in the Blind tag, there are jokes and unrelated comments. But having a Deaf man looking down on a group that is just as marginalized hurts me.
I’m sorry if anyone feels offended by this, I just really need to get this off my chest. This is not meant to be directed at Deaf people, it is meant as a open message to everybody about the nature of disability and what it means to me.
I can’t speak to the blind or the deaf thing other than saying that not being able to see and/or hear would hinder your ability to work and live “normally” in society so you blew that when you defined it…
But, anyway, the being crippled or otherwise disabled does make you handicapped.
If I can’t walk but feel totally positive about it I’m still in a fucking wheelchair.
“1) actually being unable to function normally in society, and 2) thinking you’re disabled.”
I’m too sedated/lacking in lucidity for this crap. But somehow I’m still pretty certain that the whole “attitude is the only disability” concept is a load of shit…
Or did I somehow think my way into this wheelchair?
It seems to me there is this idea that being disabled or having a disability is a bad thing. So that leads to people saying “oh me? I’m not disabled, not like them!” With that comes all those kinds of wonderful things you get from othering and suchlike.
Of course, I’ve already been told that I can’t walk just because I just don’t want to hard enough. That was the same person who described my shoulder subluxating as “that weird thing your shoulder does” to my face. Oh yes, she also told me the pain isn’t real.
I have no words.
A) What is “functioning normally in society”? Being able to pass? Even though it’s fucking hard and takes way too much energy? The idea of “functioning normally” is so ridiculous, because everyone has their own normal.
B) Why is it a bad thing if I “think” I’m disabled? I am disabled. I am impaired by my CP and even more by society’s barriers and attitudes towards me. I am disabled. That is not a bad thing. Just like it’s not a bad thing if you’re a different race, or ethnicity, or gender identity or sexual orientation. I am disabled. I will shout it from the rooftops. I AM DISABLED - AND I AM PROUD.
(also the Jean-Luc Picard facepalm gif is made of awesome)
EDIT: Also, you’re right. No one DOES have the right to say that a group of people is “less than”. But just because you don’t identify openly as disabled doesn’t mean that you are somehow immune to ableism or that you magically are not “less than” other people. Not identifying as disabled BECAUSE you don’t want to be viewed as “less than” is fucked up. That’s the very perception that we as disability activists are trying to change - that we are not “less than” and we are whole just the way we are, thank you very much. If you don’t identify as disabled because you don’t want to be viewed as “less than”, you are sending the message that there are “real” disabled people, true disabled people, who really are “less than”. Who deserve that treatment. And by your own reasoning, no one has the right to call a group of people “less than”. So in your mind, people who identify as disabled really aren’t people at all, are they?
Oh god no. Repeated use of the word ‘handicapped’ and the odd addition of ‘wheelchairbound’ make me feel much grosser about myself than someone with one impairment expressing superiority over another. And I do hate that! But for a seemingly non-disabled person (I may be wrong there) to come in and announce that disabled people, we’re doing it wrong… THAT is wrong.
The language you use, and the things you are saying, are very marginalising. Which is ironic.
“Well, of course, not,” said the young man, “because you can understand why a parent would want to hit a disabled child.”
I was stunned.
He continued, “You raise normal kids, you feed disabled ones.”
Nothing about us without us!