Monday, February 8, 2010

What Counts as a Disability?

image Just like any other identity, a disabled identity is highly disciplined. Those that are able bodied highly discipline the identity by attempting to decide who has the right to take this label, thereby justifying their disableism.  Last week I wrote a post entitled, “Disability when Accommodations are Imperfect”.  I am going to highlight a few comments on this post as an example of discipline.

There are countless millions dying of starvation around the globe.
This one American thinks she has it hard because her obesity (whilst I concede it is a disability, its a disability you gave yourself, sort of like if I were to cut of my legs little by little everyday, despite various health warning and people telling em to stop) makes it a little difficult to get on buses.
I know swearing is the sign of an inferior intellect, but seriously fuck you. Fuck you, and your bullshit.
You should be GRATEFUL that you live in a country where there is so much food, you can eat yourself to death. You should be grateful that whilst you are doing this, in the face of the dying millions, your government still has the heart to help you out as much as it can.
Again, I hate to be vulgar most of the time, but seriously, fuck you.

The above is but one of many that I received on that post.   We often look at an illness and decide whether or not we are going to have sympathy for a person based on whether or not we believe that they are responsible for their sickness, for e.g. few would have sympathy for a smoker who had lung cancer. While this position is extremely problematic, this is a subject best left for another day.

The Calvinism in our approach to health and well being is based on fear.   We believe that if we eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and somehow manage to avoid stress, that we can avoid disability.   No matter how socially accepting we claim to be towards those that are differently abled, our bodies are still understood to be irrevocably damaged and there is a real and concrete fear of a loss of able bodied privilege.  When someone is both fat and disabled, then fatness for many serves as a mitigating factor, even when the condition is not known to the person judging/disciplining.

When someone can point to fatness, suddenly it is believed that a person did not do all that they should have to avoid becoming disabled.  The fact that fatness is an indicator of illness is ignored to push a disableist Calvinist agenda.  We ignore the fact that medications like prednisone, which is a steroid can lead to massive weight gain no matter what a person eats or how much they exercise.  We don’t care that many anti-depressants will also have the same effect.  This is not a chicken and egg situation; the cure/treatment in many cases increases the likelihood that a spoiled identity will indeed attach itself to the disabled person.  Is it really better to be skinny and extremely ill than fat and healthy?

I suppose that having to exert yourself in a way besides using one of you fat fucking whale flippers to shove junk food in to your pig disgusting face is worst that the holocaust.
Eat heath you disgusting beast. You do not exercise and eat right and that is why you are a cancer to society.
I am an EMT and you fuck fat assholes break our fucking backs. Think about somebody besides yourselves for once. Plus you all have a shit-ton of medical complications which cost a shit ton.
For real, kill yourself, you're a plague on humanity.

When fatness and disability combine it is enough to make society attempt to force someone to closet themselves.  Fatness is perceived by many to be grotesque and disability reminds everyone that able bodied status is temporary for us all.   We hate because we fear.  The stark reality is that no matter how hard we work to achieve the mythical perfect body, some conditions are unavoidable. 

It is further ironic that cost is often cited as justification for hatred.  In a society that is based on consumption, it is quite ironic that when it is convenient we will discipline based on this factor.  The cost of dealing with the medical complications of obesity or even disability pale in comparison to those that we willingly burden ourselves with to support the ruling bourgeoisie.  This is not about real cost, this is about denying certain bodies the right to take up space.  If we were truly concerned with cost, our current predatory mode of exchange would long ago have been dismantled.  The fat person does not impoverish; however, the boss that daily pays you less than the value of your labour week after week most certainly does.

One of the most pervasive false rights that we daily act upon is the right to oppress another.  In so doing, we reify a hierarchy of bodies that traps us all into supporting the idea that those with privilege are necessarily valuable bodies.   If we engage in ‘othering” and false identification, it is most certain that these ideas will continue to flourish, thus ensuring that each person in time will be subject to some form of social discipline.  It is quite simple really, karma awaits for us all.  That which you send into the world will certainly be visited upon you.