Last night I got a private message on Instagram from one of my college sorority sisters to let me know that #AbledsAreWeird was trending on Twitter. I don’t spend much time on Twitter because I find it pretty useless as a social media platform, but my curiosity was piqued. I did a search for the hashtag, and what appeared was a VERY long list of all the stupid shit able-bodied people have been saying or doing to me since I started using a wheelchair five years ago.
Based on my personal experience, I always thought that most of these inane comments were made by seniors, and that the ignorance perpetrated towards wheelchair users was a generational thing. Going through the experiences of so many fellow wheelies, I realized that ableist assholery is relatively universal, totally immune to age, gender, race, or culture.
Here are some visual examples to help you understand the type of bullshit we have to endure every single time we go out in public.
To top it all off, plenty of able-bodied people are pissed at the hashtag being used to call out this behavior. This doesn’t surprise me at all, considering how many people have gotten upset with me for refusing their “help” or getting offended by their rude questions. Call me naïve, but even after five years, I don’t understand why some people feel entitled to my medical history and sexual abilities only because I use a wheelchair.
I think part of it is cultural to an extent. Have you ever been on a long elevator ride with five or more American tourists in complete silence? No? Me, either. I don’t understand why Americans find total silence in a group of people to be so awkward. And God forbid I find myself in this elevator, because I’m always the “easy out” for these people. The comments or questions are always the same: do I have a license for that thing, good for you, you’re pretty good driving that thing, you should get a horn…sign. See video below for more of this nonsense.
Anyway, if you’re on Twitter, I STRONGLY encourage you to scroll through these hashtags for a few minutes so you can get at least an initial idea of how society thinks it’s appropriate to have a conversation with us. Educate yourself. Understand that we’re people just like everyone else–we just look different.
In closing, here’s my video contribution to this conversation…