I don’t want this to come off as me doubting Gill’s experiences, but reading through this list of things she says are generally assumed about people with disabilities, I know how every sighted person who has ever said to me “People don’t really do that, do they?” feels. I am bemused, befuddled, and probably several other things if I sit here and think long enough by some of these. Others? Yeah, people really do those all the time.
We all make judgements about people, whether from experience, media, or what we have been told as our lives plot course. In my nearly four decades of living, and living with disabilities I have been pre-judged, sometimes in ways unexpected.
Over or under sexualized – This is more common than you think. Many people assume that sexually nothing’s going on with a disabled person. The flipside of that is something called devotees, these people get turned on by people or objects relating to disability. There are also some disabled people who E.G. for reasons of brain injury or something similar may be legitimately addicted to sex.
That we all like the same things – Some of us do, for many years I belonged to a ski team, but to say that just because your sister’s boyfriend’s cousin who happens to have Downs Syndrome and likes bowling doesn’t mean they all do.
That we’re racist – I must confess racial slurs or racist jokes not only boil my potatoes, but make my skin crawl. So next time your out with oh let’s say your blind friend and you feel that Mexican joke coming on, just pause.
That we’re all super-inspiring – I sing the hymns at church just as well as my friend Nicole, so don’t make a deal out of it. The term today is inspiration porn, and in case your wondering that boils my potatoes also.
We all live with our parents or in facilities – I actually live around a hundred and twenty miles from where I grew up, and I love my folks, but I like my privacy and the option to plot my own course.
We all know each other- Of course I know your cousin Diane, she slept with my boyfriend twenty years ago! No, we don’t all know each other.
All disabled people are obese – Well it is true in some disabilities it may not be the fault of the person. Medications and underlying conditions may be a contributing factor.
We all have bad hygiene – People who show severe levels of discomfort around especially mentally challenged people say it’s the odor most of them give off. Some, in my case have accused us of bringing bed bugs in. That’s wrong, anyone could have bad odor from work or running.
We all like each other – That’s the furthest thing from the truth, in fact we back stab and in fight just as much if not more than our able bodied counterparts.
We’re submissive and compliant – Not true, now we’re finding our voices, and expressing our wants more than ever. Gone are the days of the so called “model handicapped` who did as they were told.
We only want to be around others like us – Not so much, depending on how a person was brought up and experiences they had it’s dead even. Some choose to integrate fully, others one foot in the other out, and others stay with “their own kind.`
We’re perfectly ok being called special or handicapped – Wrong! Wrong! A million times wrong! As a child in the mid 1980’s the term special got tossed around like a football, in the media and in life. I would hardly consider myself special, I consider myself rather average. Ok, I’m going there, I think the term handicapped is similar to someone walking up to my friend Shaneaka and using the N word.
That it’s ok to stare or even take a picture – This picture taking actually happened to my friend Jeff, someone so inspired by his story of surviving the Kmare Rouge pulled out their camera phone and started snapping photos. My friend, not to be out done got his phone took some pics, and told the person, “it’s amazing that your village hasn’t located you yet. It’s inspiring to see an actual village idiot up close.`
We’re all child molesters – This goes back to the whole over under thing I mentioned. This also pertains to blind or mentally challenged people, this myth could have started because of several mentally challenged men arrested for sexual offenses, and because blind people do a lot of work by touch.
We don’t mind if you manhandle us – The flipside of that is this, when people try to help especially blind people they may not be versed in how. Some people have actually walked up, touched me, sometimes on my butt, and asked if I need help. FYI nowadays as at anytime no still means no.
That we’re all suicidal – Now depression rates vary from disability to disability, but just because your brother’s girlfriend’s cousin with cerebral palsy was depressed, doesn’t mean we all are.
We’re perpetual Polly-anna’s – The flipside of that is the constantly cheerful face some people just expect. Granted some are very cheerful, but not all of us. FYI until I have had my coffee I relate more to a bear than anything else.
We all like certain types of music – One common misconception is we all like oldies from the 1950’s and 60’s, or we like old country. Not true, I like some very obscure stuff, but I also like modern music.
We’re all slobs – This again is mostly a misconception about blind people. I must say that I’ve seen some snazzie stuff on people with disabilities, and some ables who could care less.
We’re extremes – People will meet one person,E.G. a blind person who wants to blow up their parents home, and assume we’re all like that. Or on the other side is the blind or any kind of disabled person so afraid to watch anything harder than Disney Cartoons. I must admit that I can’t stand violent TV shows or movies, but that has more to do with the fact that I was prohibited from watching them in the home.
We’re all musicologists – Applying to certain disabilities it is assumed by lots of people E.G. even my own parents, that especially blind people know every song ever written.
We don’t date or marry – Some do some don’t, but a sad fact of it is many of us will die single.
We’re obsessed with tragedy- This could be as a result of how we grew up, or who we hung out with. Not all of us, however, talk about death all the time.
If we do date and marry it’s to someone else with a disability – This sits on the hinterland, and greatly depends on one’s experiences.
Women stay with abusive partners – Having been engaged to an abuser I know first hand of the shunning I received from other people with disabilities for not “taking what I could get.`
All relationships between people with disabilities are abusive – There are increased control issues some of the time, but most are your average garden variety relationship with ups and downs.
What assumptions have you heard? What assumptions have been made about you? Have you pre-judged someone without truly knowing them? What’s the craziest question you’ve been asked?
Gill has an idea for the world’s nicest superhero.
Over a decade ago I thought about starting my own comic book. The main protagonist was going to be a mysterious individual named Dr. Cool. He/she would be standing up for all things good, kind, and right. Sort of like other heroes in other books, TV shows, and movies he/she would have a secret identity, and blend right in with whatever they were doing. Recently I got to thinking, is there a real life Dr. Cool? Here’s what I honestly think. There are many, all around. You might just sit next to one on your bus ride to work, they could live upstairs from you, or they might just be someone in your circle. What are they doing?
1 Helping others – It might just be saying hello to someone, or buying a homeless person a sandwich and coffee.
2 Getting their children involved – This movement should start in the home and start out while the kids are young.
3 Standing on the side of love – Not being intimidated, and showing that love can destroy hate.
4 Getting the word out – That you don’t have to have webslinging abilities or be able to jump tall buildings, all you have to do is what’s right.
Do you know someone who embodies these values? Or is it you?
We’re all human beings, but we’re all different. Here’s Gill to talk about some of those differences.
Have you ever traveled to another country, or maybe you were born in one? Have you noticed that what may be ok somewhere is frowned upon or offensive somewhere else?
50 Shades Of Gray – What do Indonesia and France have in common? If you said that they are both located somewhere in the world your right. A few years back when the first in the 50 shades trilogy came out France allowed people as young as twelve to watch it, while Indonesia banned it outright. Why is that? France is rather liberal when it comes to sexuality and Indonesia has religious and moral codes that tend toward the strict.
You can’t name your child that – You’ve just welcomed your little bundle of joy into the world, and now it’s time to give them a name that may or may not get them beaten up in school. In countries like Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and Iceland naming your child something weird is frowned upon. Denmark and Iceland have lists from which you can choose. So think before you name little No. 4 Express.
Get a room but be sure to be married – In India along with other Middle Eastern countries public love festivals could get you jailed. It is illegal to share a hotel room unmarried in UAE.
Slurp it up – In Japan it’s considered extremely rude to eat your noodle soup quietly. Slurping is a sign that you appreciate what the chef has prepared for you.
Norway – Never ask someone if they go to church, most of the population does not attend, and asking will at least get you stink eye.
Germany – Don’t wish someone happy birthday before the actual day, it is considered bad luck.
Siera Leone – Don’t jog in groups, people may think your up to no good.
Chile – Eat your fries with a fork, it is considered untoward to eat them with your hands.
New Zealand – Don’t joke about the Queen or rugby, they take that seriously.
Germany – Being fashionably late there is unfashionably rude, if the party starts at five, get there at five.
Iceland – The tip is in with your final bill, this also includes gratuities.
Turkey – This is just common sense, but more so because alcohol is harder to come by public drunkenness is considered low class.
Kenya – Never make mock of someone’s religion, no matter what they practice Kenyans are very devout.
Russia- Don’t give even amounts of flowers to your date, even numbers are reserved for funerals.
Spain – Don’t add condiments to the food, your host will frown on that, and think his/her cooking isn’t flavorful enough.
Thailand – You were always told to clean your plate growing up, but in places like Thailand, that is considered rude, because it basically tells the host they didn’t feed you enough.
Caribbean/Africa – Depending on where and when you grew up you may have called your friend’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Petrouski. In many places such as Uganda, Jamaica, and Trinidad an older woman not necessarily a blood relative is called “Auntie.`
Cambodia – In keeping with the respect for the elders we look no further than Southeast Asia. When I first met my friend Jeff, and we were talking about our grandmothers I told him my family had put mine in a nursing home. He got rather mad, and explained that his upbringing encouraged elders not only to be respected but revered. His grandparents, well grandmother, now lives with his family, and is seen as someone to go to for issues and advice.
What cultural customs did I miss, and what is considered frowned upon or in bad taste in your culture? What is a cultural custom that has survived generations in your family? Have you been to another country, or maybe you were born or raised in one with some unique customs?
I’m not sure to what Gill is confessing here exactly, but we certainly wish her and everyone else the best.
Last week I felt sad. Now as you know I have bipolar disorder, and am prone to feeling extreme moods. Sometimes I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m crying or laughing a lot. It got me to thinking about things, and sometimes my mind would go to some rather dark places. I also found out that my friend might need brain surgery, so my already fragile mood was driven closer to shattering. I considered for a moment avoiding making friends, because especially if the people have disabilities there are other issues going on health wise. It also didn’t help that I phoned someone who had a very negative outlook on life Sunday night. When my friend called me to tell me he was ok for now, I breathed a sigh of relief.
To answer Gill’s question, I think the strangest thing anyone may have ever said to me is the time my dad told me that they had him “runnin’ around like a fuckin’ raped ape.” He was explaining how busy he’d been at work lately, if you’re confused.
Have you ever been somewhere and said a phrase or word and had people look at you funny? Here are a handful of words that confuse and amuse people.
1 Wellies – Short for Wellingtons this is a British term for boots, mainly rain boots.
2 Buggy – This can mean shopping cart, or sometimes car. Buggy is used as shopping cart in the Southern US or interchangeably in rural areas like I grew up in.
3 Scramble meal – More often a potluck or covered dish meal this is generally used in Illinois.
4 Real goin’ over – Basically a lecture or scolding. My dad and his contemporaries would often use this saying when they would talk of lectures from parents or ones they had given to children.
What’s a common regional saying or word used to describe something where you are or where you grew up?
On the heels of yesterday’s foreign restaurant suggestion, Gill has what are apparently some of the rules of dining around the world. You enjoy this while I try to remember if I’ve ever seen a British person eat a banana.
Here are some tips and tricks that will wow your friends and impress your hosts overseas.
1 Tanzania – If the dinner starts at six social custom is to show up fifteen minutes to half an hour late.
2 China – Although most places frown on this burping at the table is a sign of appreciation for the meal.
3 England – Eat your bananas with knives and forks.
4 Korea – Accept a drink from an elder with both hands, and always wait until the eldest male at the table starts eating before you do.
If you are from another part of the world originally, or have traveled, what are some dining customs you have heard of?
Gill has a restaurant recommendation today. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat this weekend and you’re in the area, perhaps this is your place.
If you’ve ever wanted to have delicious high end food with out the snobbery this is the perfect place. About three blocks from my house is La Luna Lebanese Restaurant. You go order and pay, and they bring your selection out to you. I had fatier which is a pastry with spinach and some other items in it. They also brought over some falafles to try, I’ve had falafles before, but these ones were quite delicious. If unsure what a falafle is it’s a ball of deep fried chickpeas and spices rolled in doe. I admit that they weren’t lying when they said they had the best Lebanese food in Hamilton.