Ableism is Alive and Well (How Positive Thinking is Not Enough)

 

Happy Wednesday Everyone,

This morning, I stumbled upon an "inspirational" quote on Pinterest that inspired me to be outraged. I commented on the post and wanted to get your reactions on both the quote and my response. Below is a screen shot, and the original post can be found here

 

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The main reason I wanted to write about this topic today is that as a person with a physical disability, I thoroughly reject the "Supercrip" narrative and how it suggests that persons like myself should “overcome” our disabilities. 

For anyone who's never heard of this term before, the “Supercrip” is the stereotype of a person with a disability who is “sunny, kind, overachieving, possesses a “can-do” attitude, and does AMAZING! and INSPIRING! things and can thus “overcome” his or her disability” (Annaham). Famous “supercrips” include Helen Keller, Terry Fox and Aimee Mullins. 

The problem with this common stereotype, is that when I fail to “overcome” my disability and request accommodation, I am considered “less than” or it is suggested that I should just try harder. In essence, these criticisms of my personal abilities are ableist. When you deny accommodation to persons with disabilities you are rejecting the logic of the social model of disability and the fundamental notions of accessibility and equal opportunity that activists fought for in the Disability Rights Movement. For anyone who has not heard of the social model of disability, the social model argues that persons are not disabled by the impairment of their bodies, but rather by societies’ lack of accessibility, inclusion and negative attitudes (Shakespeare 198).

So I hope this post gave you something to think about and I do hope you’ll share your comments below. 

Works Cited:  

1. Annaham, “The Transcontinental Disability Choir: Disability Archetypes: Supercrip,” in Bitch Magazine (December 18, 2009), http://bitchmagazine.org/post/the-transcontinental-disability-choir-disability-archetypes-supercrip

2. Tom Shakespeare, “The Social Model of Disability” in The Disability Studies Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, pg. 197-204 (New York: Routledge, 2006).