Thursday, 10 October 2013

Keep rolling, rolling, rolling, rolling, what?

I wonder what exactly is going through someone's head when they're talking about their daughter's new boyfriend, and use the phrase
"He's a good guy. I mean, he'd have to be, to look past the wheelchair, wouldn't he?"
Because using a wheelchair is such a horrible disfigurement that only a Good Man would be willing to date someone in spite of it?

Because a physical disability makes someone so defective that they should settle for whatever they can get?

I can sort of see what he means - that most people have ingrained ableist attitudes and would automatically disbar someone from the privileged position of Datee once they found out Ms Undateable rolls rather than walks, therefore someone who doesn't take this attitude is, perforce, A Good Man.

But congratulating someone for not being ableist is like congratulating someone for not being a murderer. "Good on you! No senseless carnage at all this week! What a prince!" That's, like, the bare minimum standard of decency, not a shining stamp of approval. The fact that so many people fall short of that standard is not a reason to congratulate the exceptions for not being shits to their fellow human beings.

Because these attitudes are really fucking dangerous. People with disabilities are massively more likely to suffer abuse - commonly at the hands of their partners and/or carers. So assuming that the partner is A Good Man simply because he is willing to date a disabled woman - assuming that this woman is "damaged goods" and so should be grateful for attracting any romantic attention at all - is building a cage which will keep her in an abusive relationship.

I don't think the guy in question wants his daughter abused. He's not a monster. I think he just doesn't see the connection between these seemingly harmless attitudes, and the unwitting protection society affords abusers. Abusers seek out easy targets: assumptions like these are what make disabled people vulnerable.

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