You’re Frightening Me

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We would like to thank Philippa ( incurable hippie) for allowing us to repost this brilliant article.

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The image is a photograph of handmade print next to one of the stencils. They read "FEAR MORE HOPE LESS". It started with a blog post, where David Gillon challenged 38 degrees about why, despite a disability benefit cuts campaign receiving lots of votes, it never reached the ‘call to action’ stage.

Then there was an article (now amended) which described an athlete’s move from Paralympic to Olympic competition as a “move up”.

I then read in Jezebel about a sex worker who is awesome because she works with disabled clients, which apparently makes her intriguing.

And I started to wonder, what do you think of us? Of me? In these three stages, the mainstream, and the left-wing, tell me that I am inferior, and I am other. So very, very other.

Then Lisa Egan wrote a post (trigger warning) about suicide, and her despair at the lack of support from even campaigning organisations, and I still, somehow, didn’t cry.

Then, finally, the article that did make me cry, in which I learned that 2/3 of people avoid disabled peoplebecause they don’t know how to act around us. In addition,

A third of those questioned demonstrated hardened negative attitudes towards the disabled. Reasons cited for this ranged from disabled people being seen as a burden on society (38%), ill feeling around the perceived extra support given to disabled people (28%), and the personal worries and sensitivities which rise to the fore during a recession (79%).

It went on,

Some 60% of Britons admit to staring at disabled people because they are different, with more than half of people (51%) admitting they feel uncomfortable when they meet a disabled person for the first time, with more men (54%) admitting to being uncomfortable compared to women (50%).

At a time when cuts are actually killing disabled people, we are also experiencing more negative attitudes, perceptions of being a burden, an additional cost, especially during a recession. How very inconsiderate of us to not wait to attain crippled status until the economy is fixed.

If you’re questioning whether this is a feminist issue, then the point is being missed. I am a woman who 38% of people polled consider to be a burden. I am a woman who 2/3 of people polled admit to avoiding for reasons of prejudice. I am a woman who 50% of women polled admitted to being uncomfortable to meet. I am a woman who is witnessing her friends become more and more afraid to leave the house, for fear of government- and Daily Mail-inspired abuse in the street. I’ve experienced it myself.

There are so many issues at the moment which are putting us all into a state of crisis. This is one of many: people are starting to frighten me. Is the person I’m talking to one of the 38%? Or the 50% Or the 65%?

Given that women are the hardest hit by spending cuts, and disabled people are the hardest hit by spending cuts, disabled women are being overlooked, avoided, resented, marginalised and othered. It takes non-disabled people, at this stage, to make some of the changes that need to happen.

(Originally posted on 4th Dec. 2011 Cross-posted at The F-Word and Where’s the Benefit?)

[The image is a photograph of handmade print next to one of the stencils. They read “FEAR MORE HOPE LESS”. The photograph and artwork are by Ben Murphy and are used under a Creative Commons Licence]

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4 responses »

  1. Philippa, I really appreciate this article and would like permission to post it on my

    thewomankindparty.com site. Excellent writing and the message needs to be heard. I’d like

    to help spread it on my site.

    In Sisterhood,
    Blue

      • Hello. Please tell Philippa that her article was posted today at:

        http://thewomankindparty.com/womankind-web-wanderings.html

        I’m pretty sure I correctly gave credit where credit is due. But just to be on the safe side, please check out the page and let me know. You can e-mail me at

        rudyblue02@yahoo.com

        and please pass on my e-mail address to Philippa. I have a “hidden” disability of being hearing impaired. For me, that means people don’t realize I have it but after spending time with me they frequently begin to consider me a bit stupid because I don’t always respond to them correctly due to my not hearing them correctly. I try to remind people to please look at me when they’re speaking to me, but because they can’t see my hearing aid they’re always forgetting and I’m constantly asking, “Would you repeat that, please.” LOL, that’s when the stupid bit begins to creep into their minds, silly people.

        In Sisterhood,
        Blue
        thewomankindparty.com

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