Anonymous asked:I heard that disabled people dislike getting sympathy, and I had trouble understanding that. But then later I was somewhat disabled, and received some unwanted sympathy, and I found it really horrible. I had a very strong feeling, maybe it could be called humiliation. So then I understood; but I don’t know how to explain that to people who haven’t experienced it. My theory: people like sympathy if something bad has just happened, but if it’s long-term then it’s normal for them.realsocialskills said:I think the main problem is that people offer disabled people sympathy for all the wrong reasons.They want to tell us that our bodies are awful, and sympathize with what they imagine it must be like to be in such an awful body. There’s not a lot of respect there. Or willingness to listen to what we actually experience or how we actually see things.People like that want to offer sympathy that it’s hard to understand without captions, but no sympathy for how frustrating it is that no one ever provides them. They want to offer sympathy for people’s inability to walk up stairs, but no sympathy for how awful it is that people decide not to build ramps. They want to offer sympathy that someone is dying for disability-related reasons, but no sympathy for the fact that they are being denied treatment by ableist doctors.People with disabilities are, first and foremost, people. And people who ooze sympathy are not interested in recognizing that.clatterbane said:
There is also the difference between empathy/compassion and the sort of top-down pitying sympathy. In the first case, you’re recognizing that the other person is a person like yourself who is having a rough time. In the second case, there’s more condescension toward somebody and their situation that you can’t/don’t want to understand and identify with—too often to boost your own ego by setting yourself up as superior.
Some significant differences there. :(
I agree with … well, pretty much all the above from both realsocialskills and clatterbane, but what I wanted to comment on was the bit about how people oozing sympathy are more interested in pitying us for the disability than they are in empathizing with our frustration around issues that are actually far more relevant and important in our lives like lack of accessibility in the environment. I have had the experience of patiently explaining to people that the reason why I couldn’t do certain activities was because those responsible for coordinating the activities had completely failed to provide captions, sign interpreters, etc., only to have people twist this around into meaning that I’m not doing the activity because I’m deaf. NO. I’m not declining the activity because I’m deaf. I’m not declining because deaf people can’t do the activity. I’m declining because someone failed to design the activity with the needs of a more widely diverse population in mind.
People who ooze pitying sympathy are focused on impairment as the only actual problem in the lives of people with disabilities. And typically fail to acknowledge the role of the environment and non-disabled people—including themselves—in creating unnecessary barriers to full participation.
When the OB I got rid of, who was, as OBs go, relatively non-horrible, commented that things would be “so much easier if [I] were ‘normal,’” I wanted to roll my eyes right out of my head. My navigation of healthcare systems is not fraught because of my physical and mental disorders. It’s fraught because doctors routinely treat me like a thing instead of a person. It’s fraught because people who are supposed to work FOR me routinely reject the idea that I have autonomy and agency.
My disorders are a problem that we have a pretty good idea how to address. DOCTORS are the problem that is sometimes damn near insurmountable.
And doctors who persist in believing that MY body and brain are the sole issue are directly harming me whether they understand that or not.