Recently, my attention has been drawn by the disabled community to a BBC podcast Ouch. They held a series of interviews under the topic; Are disabled partners a burden?
Now I haven’t listened to the podcast because:
A) I avoid torture whenever possible
B) The answer is pretty obvious to me: NO.
But what bothered me most about this particular episode was the attached hashtag: Undateables.
Are disabled folks undateable?
How is this damaging for the collective imaginary who, most likely, will do as me and only retain the question and hashtags.
Only I know ableds may have a significantly different answer to that question. It may even reinforced their belief at a glance. The human brain is lazy, it takes shortcut and avoid being confronted in its core beliefs when possible.
Now you may ask; What is the collective imaginary regarding disabled folks?
Disabled folks, in the “mainstream culture”, are denied romantic storyline; rich and full sexual lives; the right to having a family of their own, etc. It can go further as to question their own existence through the capitalist lenses of productivity and eugenics.
Now, I know for a fact any of this isn’t true. Having limitations of any kinds shouldn’t prevent any body for leading the life they want. It may take adjustments; equipments; accommodations; but really that’s all logistic.
Unfortunately, the collective imaginary and messages are so strong; through lack of representations, misrepresentation and misinformations; that some disfolks internalize those messages.
They can’t see themselves as sexual beings. They hold negative body images. They confine themselves into the box society has built for them. It’s not their fault. Podcasts like this one only reinforces prejudices and stereotypes. It’s only a grain of sand in this big desert of lies.
At times; I even bought that message and felt a burden to my partner. Apologizing profusely for my limitations; for not being enough. His answer was firm; you are not a burden.
Any partners who have an answer that differs isn’t a good partner. Sure, we all have our limitations, but having any kind of disability is not an exclusion factor for relationships. Being a fucking jerk should be.
Some folks may be limited for a million different reasons, it doesn’t mean they have nothing to give to a relationship. Any relationship is an exchange; a reciprocity. A partner that can’t see that; that labels their partner as a burden, should seek a different partner and therapy. Always therapy. But that’s another topic.
I am tired to see disability associated with “undateability”. No one is undateable other than by choice. And that’s totally legit if that’s not your groove.
But feeding that collective imaginary towards disability hurt everyone. In the end, they are missing out on incredible individuals and rich lives.
Find someone who respects you. Find someone who loves and values you AS YOU ARE. Flaws and all. Right now.
You do not have to believe their lies and above all, do not feed into it.
You matter. You are worthy. I wish all my disfolks out there the happiness they want and deserve.
Until next time,
Catherine; the cynical mermaid