10 responses to “Today In Journalism: Do You Feel Special? Well? Do You?!”

  1. Astrid

    I was most annoyed at the depiction of institution life. You’re led to believe that the institution is really the best “home” for disabled people, regardless of how in reality most people in institutiosn lead empty lives and may not even get the basic care they need.

  2. Cat

    Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. PLEASE, could someone write an AWP on “special?” That word makes my blood boil.

    The extent to which people automatically associate “disability” with brokenness enrages me. To give a personal example, I’ve had a bit of an issue trying to get my own parents to accept me calling myself disabled. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my own problems with the term and its assumption of a default state for humanity, but it’s as if my parents have never heard of invisible disabilities—they outright rejected it at first, claiming that my combination of autism + OCD isn’t enough to truly merit the word, and they used scare tactics to claim that I’d never get a job if I defined myself that way. (And even though they rejected this notion when I brought it up, I couldn’t help but sense that they wanted me to regard myself as different from “real” disabled people—that is, what people traditionally think of as disabilities, such as limited bodily or sensory capacity.) After having finally found an understanding voice yesterday in my therapist, I’ve reiterated what she said to my mom and gotten her to come around more to it, but I don’t know if my dad will ever accept it. I mean, I love my dad, but I think he just has this sense of inflated pride about me since I’m his only child, and he doesn’t want to see me as anything “deficient,” I guess. And I understand how the modern phenomenon of diagnoses popping up like mushrooms is somewhat scary to Boomers like my parents, but I hope they can overcome their fear of the unknown.

    But back to what you were addressing, s.e.—of course such language makes disability activists do an automatic facepalm, but to think that the vast majority of our population (which I’m sure included myself before I became aware of my mental state) has no problem treating disabled people as means to ends. It’s more than infantilization—which I find to be kind of an ageist term anyway—it’s objectification, pure and simple.

  3. codeman38

    Tangentially, there’s a slightly better-looking version of the bingo card thanks to yours truly. That post also includes a nice printable PDF version for those playing at home.

    (I’m amazed that that article doesn’t actually manage to score bingo, given how many squares get filled by the first paragraph alone! Oh, if only the card were rearranged… :-p)

  4. Zoe

    What immediately infuriates me about this article (and the accompanying TV news clip) is that the journalist assumes there are no disabled people in her audience. I don’t have to “imagine for a moment what it would be like” to have a disability. I’m sure that blind people and wheelchair users, whose disabilities are specifically mentioned in the first sentence, would be still more offended, since the journalist explicitly excluded them.

    Also, Mindy Hopkins, the actual person being profiled here, doesn’t get to speak very much. If you watch the clip, the reporter asks her what movies she enjoys, but directs all of her questions about Mindy’s life, disability, and institutionalization to her mother. Why didn’t she ask Mindy how she feels about living in an institution?

  5. codeman38

    @Zoe: What immediately infuriates me about this article (and the accompanying TV news clip) is that the journalist assumes there are no disabled people in her audience.

    YES. THIS. This is something that irritates me in a lot of discourse about disability— the implicit belief that nobody with a disability is actually participating in that discourse.

    For another example, I’ve seen several autism experts who give speeches, yet who don’t even consider the fact that any members of their audience might themselves be autistic. (No, I don’t need any help imagining what it’s like being on the spectrum; however, I could use some help imagining what it’s like to be neurotypical!)

  6. Cat

    Thanks, s.e.! It’s not that I’m some babies-are-everything pro-lifer (heaven forbid) but ever since I was a little kid I’ve always resented people who don’t respect younger people’s opinions, particularly since with my late birthday I’m often the youngest person in a lot of situations. (Now I have to be really careful not to start gloating and being a general jerk when I do have the opportunity to speak with people younger than me.)

    And Zoe, I really think that situation is damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You see, if the interviewer were to do the exact opposite thing and only ask disabled people about their disabilities and nothing beyond it, we’d accuse that person of oversimplifying and we’d show as a counterpoint that ALL people with disabilities have lives beyond their mental/physical limits. You’d think they’d want to address both sides of the coin in interviews, but no, the vast majority of TAB/M folk really haven’t caught on to that.

  7. Kaitlyn

    I know a particular cringe-worthy phrase around here is “xie suffers from…”

    I do suffer from the pain. I do have fun at times, I laugh and do stuff I like. They’re not mutually exclusive. I think that if I were profiled, my watching Bollywood (reading those subtitles!) despite the pain would be *sniff, sniff* inspiring.

    Of course, “suffering from” would be less problematic if they talked to us.

    K and X met at their school’s disability center – both are majoring in French. X has z, and says zie doesn’t think of zer disability as something to xie “suffers from – it’s just a part of my life.” K says “Oh, I suffer from y, but my main problem is trying to get X to watch Bollywood with me!”

  8. R.T.

    “Imagine for a moment….” those are words to loathe. One cannot imagine the depth and scope of what living with a disability is until one becomes a disabled person, and even then it is hard to imagine living with disabilities you don’t have.

    People need to get it in their heads that they don’t need to imagine what it is like to be disabled. They need to pay attention to what a disabled person might tell them about the world that they live in and respect us as fully human as they.

  9. Jordan Opalanie

    I admit I used to use the word “special” too, but I’ve learned to stop using it, as it would make my blood boil too.

    And I’m sick of glamorizing institutions and thinking that we don’t deserve anything (such as decent benefits, but that’s another post altogether.