Words and identities

We create and shape from our experiences and the contexts we encounter words in, but when it comes to trying to put it all within a word limit, an ‘in-house style’ AND giving a point of reference to Jo Blogs … I coined ‘permacrip’ which I’m sure some would LOATHE (and probably should) but it came from a context of being sick to death of that same assumption that we will somehow ‘get better’ with the right physio and also the sense of isolation when people demand things (even other campaigners sometimes) at the ‘normal standard’ that not all CAN do. Where’s the room for people on life support or tube feed in disability rights/community if ‘DO’=’value’? 

Label=forced identity. Someone was being casually abusive and using learning disability as an insult. You know, the rancid sort of thing that ought to be ‘disability hate speech’ but is generic for stupid’. I objected and got told I had no right to care because frankly ‘she didn’t see ME as disabled, just fragile’. I didn’t see that as a compliment even though that evidently meant she saw me as bright and ‘them’ as sub human. I’m not so proud of my intellgence that I’m scared to admit its damage too) I prefer ANY self-chosen label to THAT simply because no-one has a right to choose your labels for you or to reject your problems/barriers to minimise their feelings of guilt. If I were just fragile, I would make the tea slowly without spilling a drop but being brain injured in myriad ways I fight to ensure respect for all brain injuries whether or not others accept that_I_ would once have been labelled ‘retarded’ too. 

We only have to look at the damage done using labels by the press and govt to see that labels can clarify or be reference tools but are damned dangerous tools in the wrong hands. We’re never all going to be happy with everyone else’s definitions all the time and it’s just as well because if we do accept them passively, where are we heading? ‘Vulnerable’ and ‘genuine’ are two words that will never be the same for me… We all have so MANY identities too subtle to categorise and it is irritating to be labelled one particular thing. As an academic I mind not working, as a wobbly person I mind that the illnesses/ invisible stuff is a bigger issue for me but the wobbly makes others see me as ‘really disabled’ and write me off yet others refuse to see anything except a workshy scrounger if they see sticks etc. If only people could manage to accept the aspirations, the abilities, the limitations as not that far from their own and lose the simplification, assumption, glorification and vilification.

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