I must admit, it’s getting to me. A trail of news media coverage coupled with personal experiences of detrimental portrayals of individuals with disabilities is nagging at something deep rooted within the garden of my psyche. People with disabilities do not often appear in mainstream media, so, my attention was drawn to a recent example. The synopsis of what I took away from this story was entirely skewed with my own perspective about disability and identity. A woman was so humiliated and “shamed” by her use of a prosthetic arm, she promised herself to never let her new baby see it. Instead, she struggled significantly using only one arm to care for her child.
Like a flaming arrow, this agitated me; the humiliation internalized by this woman, I could empathize with. The projection of shame to the point of trying to hide her disability from her newborn, however, I could not. This and other examples of disability as defining, negative and even sinful characteristics are spewing like droplets from a rogue sprinkler as of late. They drench my conscience and propel me onward, compelled to discuss the climate of disability, internalization and socialization.
When I was in college, I organized a research project delving into the individualized topic of physical disability, dating and sexual identity. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll summarize the description by sharing with you all of that calculated, tedious interviews took place between myself and the other individuals that I prescreened. The narratives were analyzed and translated into my undergraduate honors thesis. More importantly, however, were the unprecedented, raw and illuminating experiences that emerged. Providing a voice to individuals who have been systemically silenced about topics that have been historically taboo was unprecedented in the research field.
In an effort to provide context, cultivate understanding and perhaps impact your perspective,I am debating about sharing excerpts of my findings. Please, let me know, would you be interested in reading these posts? Your commentary would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!