Skip to main content

I Woke Up! Praise Me..

The Double Edged Sword of Cripple Inspiration Porn
Published: 01 January 2013
First a definition: Cripple inspiration porn is the portrayal of the lives and imagery of ordinary people with disabilities doing ordinary things as an amazing and noteworthy achievement.

Things like graduating from school, riding the bus, being outside.

Whether it's on tv or online, real accomplishments of people with disabilities are ignored in favor of stories and images that promote the lowered expectations of society, accentuated by patronizing, belittling commentary, openly, as though we either don't see it, or they don't care if we do.

"Look at that handicapped person SMILING, how WONDERFUL they can do that".
The pictures are usually of mundane activities like smiling or petting a dog. Something completely average, but the presence of a wheelchair or other visible disability instantly changes it to something profound and instructional. "Look at that handicapped person SMILING, how WONDERFUL they can do that".

Of course, the captions don't say things like that, they're considerably more thought out like "what's YOUR excuse" or something equally pithy and inane. The call to action of "like and share if you support this person" causes hundreds of thousands of people to show how evolved and inclusive they are by clicking a button. Yup.. Whew.. Every time I see one it makes me teary eyed envisioning all those people clicking away in support. ☺

From my point of view, what they really are saying is "hey, seriously, this could be you and we all know how much that would suck so just be thankful you're not this person. Click if you are glad you're not them. It will show that you understand how fortunate you are."

If I don't know you, why would I care about your opinion about my disability? Unless it is wrapped in a $50 bill, you can keep it to yourself.
Some of the biggest offenders are the talking heads. The ones who babble on and on about whatever the magic screen in front of them says is important.

Topping the news tonight is the heartwarming story of a boy who graduated high school. Wait till you see how he did it. You'll be amazed to hear he did it while WHEELCHAIR BOUND.."

It usually includes things like "inspirational" and sometimes even has a little back and forth chitchat between the bobbleheads in an effort to show how truly important the story is.. a hushed "wow, that's great to see isn't it Burke?" "Yes Diane, it is amazing, makes me want to go home and hug my kids".

The problem with this is these things really ARE achievements and people SHOULD be inspired but not for the reasons they think.

To patronize someone and compliment them for something that is not notable is condescending and is telling the person on the receiving end that they have nothing of value to offer.

They are social position statements spelling out the expectation of people with disabilities in society. Sincere compliments are shared between equals and have depth. Like when I see a great display or a fabulous outfit and I say "I love your outfit" it means I've noticed your outfit and it's really cool, cool enough that I have to say something. Now, this implies that I think what that person has done is something a step above and I've noticed it. When someone takes that step to dress up and go out, it's on purpose and a compliment to notice the extra effort is appreciated.

When it's a comment about my disability from someone who doesn't know me or what went into my being at that place at that time, like "I'm so proud of you" it's offensive and it's self serving.

If I don't know you, why in the world would you think I care about your opinion about my disability? Unless it is wrapped in a $50 bill, you can keep it to yourself because the very fact I AM skiing, getting groceries, visiting friends or whatever I happen to be doing at the time is in SPITE of the barriers society has built and maintains.

To compliment me for overcoming them is arrogance at it's height.