Were you a little infuriated by last week’s post about the Let’s Cure CP Facebook page or about the pleas for prayer to heal CP – or any disability?
Jessica Kramer, Disability Studies graduate student, wrote a wonderful reflection on how the world continues to want to cure or fix disabilities.
Eye roll. Major sigh. More evidence of the world not getting it.
When you live with a disability you unfortunately become accustomed to hearing inane remarks from strangers who still believe antiquated societal myths about disabilities.
What happens, though, when this form of subtle and insidious oppression comes from people we know and care about?
In Jessica’s second part of her reflection on the damage curative thinking can do, she talks about an even more discouraging segment of people who want to “fix” our differences. Since in doing so, things would be so much better for them, under the guise of improving our quality of life.
Here’s a recount from Jessica of someone she was dating who thought he was doing right by getting out his toolkit.
My next encounter with the curative attitude came from a former partner.
I always struggle with disclosing my disability to a partner. I wonder how they will act or if they will treat me differently. I get the usual questions about what it is and how it affects me. These questions I do not mind because I want my partners to know me; Cerebral Palsy (CP) included.
Sadly, in this case, not only did my partner want my complete medical history, he continued to badger me to get “cured.” He did not want to hear that I was happy with my body; it limps, spasms and spontaneously falls but that is “normal” for me.
Even after I reviewed my medical history in way more detail than I really wanted to, he continued to believe I had not done enough to make my body “normal.” Again, putting the onus on the person with a difference to become “like everyone else.” For example, he wanted me to go into physical therapy, so I could get rid of my limp, even though I’d had physical therapy for most of my life.
I finally realized he wouldn’t be satisfied until I walked without a limp. He wanted my body “cured” of my disability even when I told him I liked my CP because it is essential to who I am because ultimately, that would be easier for him.
That is the crux of the issue I have with LetsCureCP from last week. The name, the mission and the Facebook Page all send a message that acceptance is conditional. The mom fighting for a cure for her daughter can’t accept the disability as an integral part of her daughter, and instead separates CP from the child. The logo of LetsCureCP is a man standing up from a wheelchair as if walking is the only way for social acceptance.
Serious, we don’t make this up.
Living Fully With Disability requires looking at the many ways ableism continues to run rampant in our society and is held in the hearts of people we care about. The latter hurts the most and can present serious challenges to maintaining self esteem, confidence, and empowerment. It demands a constant vigil of “coming out” (yes, think LBGTQ – we have much to learn from them) of claiming your difference and the value your diversity brings to this often broken world.