For those of you who followed it, we had quite a discussion on this blog regarding yesterday's post. There was a lot of differing opinion and several suggestions, some I liked as ideas, some I could never do. But there was a statement made about me and about what I like and don't like that leads me to want to clear up a misconception that I may have left with you as readers about me and what I need from the social environments in which I find myself.
The comment was about my 'helping' the woman in question and how I don't like unwanted, unasked for help - like with doors. It is very true that I don't like it when people insist on helping me physically when I don't need, or want their help. That is different however, from when I am in a social situation being stared at, laughed at, pointed at, or mocked because of either my disability or my weight. I see this as social violence and I am used to (as some didn't seem to realize yesterday) street harassment on a several times daily basis. It's about my body, it is aimed to hurt and I feel very, very vulnerable in those situations.
But when someone steps in like the guard at the ROM I am completely and totally grateful. The link here is to an article about Ruby, not the guard, but I wanted to mention that guard in the post because what she did is remarkable.
Do you know why it is remarkable?
Because it never happens.
I was in the same museum when a group of young teens were going through and I had to wait until they passed. A goodly percentage of them openly and loudly spoke of me, saying hurtful things. Their teachers heard them, the guards heard them, other people heard them. And no one spoke. Including me. I felt that the silence of others signalled their agreement with the ugly assessment of those teens. I got what I deserved.
I was on a street corner, crowded, waiting for the light to change. I was surrounded. There was a police officer there, waiting for the light with us. One person started talking about the 'ugly laws' and how people like the 'lazy, fat dude in the wheelchair' shouldn't be allowed out. His tone was mocking and it was clear he expected no one to speak up in my favour, to challenge what he was saying. He was right.
I feel alone a lot.
I like it when I don't.
This isn't the same as helping with a door when I don't want it.
Not at all.
Others may feel different, of course, but me - I am in awe whenever someone does something.
Like the guard.
Who did her job.
Because she thought I mattered.