22 August, 2008

I AM Entitled, Actually...

First, a question: Is there something in the air that has brought the concern trollz out in full force lately around the internet, particularly in progressive and/or feminist blogs?

Cara at Feministe did a great job of analyzing this horrific story about a woman with MS who was forced to crawl off of the Delta flight she was on after it landed, due entirely to the incompetence of the airline's employees.

From the second comment, the faux-cern started:

However, you also hear about these things all the time, so can you really blame people for being cold and weary of being “called into action”? And it’s not like all disabled people are saints- I’ve encountered a few that acted like they deserved more entitlements than the rest of the world just because they happen to have a mild defect that puts them in a wheelchair.

Really? I can't remember the last time I heard about something so epically horrendous. Maybe it's because I myself have a disability and have seen (and experienced) the disrespect/hatred that some able-bodied folks level at PWDs. Such treatment happens on a much smaller scale most of the time, and that is why most people don't hear about it.

Truly, this comment sounds like it was written by someone with almost zero experience with disability, chronic and/or dangerous health conditions, or actual people with disabilities--except for, ya know, all of those people this commenter has met who were in wheelchairs and acted so awful and angry and entitled and what have you, all because of their mild defects. They must have a lot of nerve to suggest that they deserve to be treated like normal human beings!

If you are sick of being "called into action," then you have a choice: Stay in your house and avoid human contact altogether. That way, you won't have any of us pesky, entitled disabled people whining for assistance and special treatment!

Here's the thing: I have a disability. I am also human. Like most other disabled folks, I am not a saint. I am certainly not a Super-Crip--I'm not here to make folks like the above commenter feel inspired and/or grateful to be alive and able-bodied. Like other human beings, I experience complicated, occasionally "messy" feelings such as anger. Like most human beings, I also realize that there are times and places for these feelings. However, I am still entitled to my feelings, and I am entitled to being treated like a human being instead of a (sometimes) walking stereotype--whether that stereotype is the Saint Crip, Super Crip or Token Crip.

All of us disabled folks are entitled to human treatment. We are not here for your inspiration. We are not here to make you feel better about yourself, or more superior to others because you can count us as "examples" of human potential. We are not here to make you feel like a hero because you're "just trying to help" by pushing our wheelchair, or recommending some weird-ass treatment for our condition(s) that totally helped your co-worker's brother's girlfriend. You are not superior to us, and we are not superior to you, though you may wish that one or the other could be the case.

We are human, and many of us would like to be treated as such, instead of dismissed as too much of some human quality, or qualities--too angry, too entitled, too un-able.


Anonymous said...

People like that make me nine kinds of angry.

Yeah, I am entitled! I am entitled to take all the time I need crossing a street at a cross walk or at the parking lot at the fucking store w/o you honking or inching towards me. Somedays I even feel entitled to you not speeding past me b/f I get on the sidewalk. So sorry that I don't look like I have a hard time getting around. Maybe I should get a walker for those tough days!

Gah! Annaham, I am glad that I am not the only person who occasionally gets all righteously indignant. You rock the Casbah.

Jamie Bougher said...

Thanks for this post.

I am still in the need-to-lurk-a-lot stage of unpacking my abled privilege, so I'll not say anymore.