Disability Shaming

Posted: April 28, 2015 in Disability
Tags: , ,

I’m sick at the moment (some sort of cold in addition to my usual illness stuff) and this is probably a factor in me not thinking super clearly at the moment and having trouble trying to articulate this issue. That said I feel like this is something that I need to comment on.

In my inbox today I had a number of replies to comments I posted on a 4 month old blog post over at the Militant Baker’s blog from some hateful troll.

One of those comments was:

you’re fat, disgusting and pathetic. You can’t even wipe yourself. Do you realize how incredibly unhealthy you are?

So I can actually wipe myself. Which is an incredibly awkward sentence to even write. Because I’m not sure how that is ever in any way the business of some stranger on the internet.

And yet while the first thing that comes to mind there is “actually I can”, underlying that is a few more important issues. Like, and so what if I couldn’t? Would that be any business of some stranger online? The answer is no. Would that make me any less a person worthy of the same dignity and respect as any other? Again, the answer is no.

The thing is, I’ve noticed this trend online in comments, where it seems comments suggesting that the other person is disabled in  such a way as to need assistance (either from assistance devices or another person) with tasks such as using the bathroom are used as a means of attacking people.

Why? Why is this a go to attack?

And it’s not even just fat people. I’ve seen this happen in a number of threads online over the years on a variety of topic, the only similarity being that this is used as a shorthand for saying that someone is completely worthless.

Which of course says a lot about how we view certain disabilities. That says that disabilities where a person requires assistance from devices or another person for certain daily necessities, especially things like using the bathroom, make someone less that a person. That suggest these types of disabilities are the worst thing imaginable. Just one of many ways that we feed into this narrative that living with severe disabilities is a life not even worth living, at least according to the able-bodied normative culture.

This is a really harmful message.

Needing assistance using the bathroom does not make a person any less a person, any less deserving of dignity and respect and it does not make their life any less worth living.

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