At work the other week two of the women on my team were discussing a book they’d recently read: “The Rapture”, by Liz Jensen.
First off, this book is AWFUL, do NOT read it.
That aside, they foisted the book on me because they wanted my opinion about it, as the main character was paralysed from the waist down in a car accident and thus uses a wheelchair. Notwithstanding the reams I could write about how ridiculously over-generalised that assumption is (and I have decided it is just not worth my energy to get riled up about this every time it happens) I read the book and drew some surprising conclusions from what was said.
So generally I have an issue with the way disability is portrayed in the media. I’m not saying it’s portrayed in an overwhelmingly negative way, but I don’t recall ever seeing a programme or reading a book which featured a disabled person who wasn’t entirely defined by their disability. The woman in this book spent the entire time angsting about how tragic her life was and how nobody could ever love her because she was so crippled. You watch soap operas and the disabled character always has storylines relating to their disability. It’s just, like, there’s MORE to disabled people than the multitude of difficulties related to their disability,
Maybe I’m being a little hypocritical here. After all, I am to a fairly significant extent defined and limited by my disability – it controls what I can and can’t do far more than being a woman, or being white, or any of the other neat little ways we have of putting me into a box. And for entertainment purposes, there’s very little “drama” in my life that isn’t due in one way or the other to being disabled. So if someone were to make a film about my life, then yes, a lot of the key features would admittedly be disability-related.
But I expect more.
Well done, you wrote a book about a disabled person. Have a pat on the back. The author’s not disabled herself, but research reveals the character is based on a friend of hers who’s in a similar situationl. So she does, to an extent, understand disability. Why not write something NEW? Something DIFFERENT? I’m SICK of it always being “oh being disabled is so hard, but look she has overcome her demons.” I get it. It’s a personal journey. And yes, I’m not denying that being disabled isn’t exactly an emotional walk in the park, but I don’t need it shoved down my throat to quite such an extent. Let’s be positive. Let’s have a disabled role model – just one! – who gets ON with their flipping life instead of hating themself and bemoaning their useless crippled limbs. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Can we move on now please?