Ramp Up debate & dating with a disability

The ABC Disability web portal Ramp Up is really fucking great – I’m really appreciating the articles and opinion pieces being offered up. Can I recommend this balls-out honest and funny piece – parts of it really resonated:

Dating, disclosure and disability

I left a comment at the bottom. In the article, Lara Irvine, a woman living with an invisible illness, that requires her to do all manner of things in the privacy of her home to regulate and maintain her digestive system (something that I know many people with physical disabilities have to do, even if their disability doesn’t directly pertain to the digestive system), writes about the conundrum of trying to decide when the appropriate time is to disclose to someone you’re dating, or a prospective date, about all that sort of stuff.

Obviously my disability now is highly conspicuous, so it’s probably (one would think) fairly obvious to anyone who has working EYES, and some life experience behind them, that my morning routine might be a little more labour intensive than it would be for some able-bodied chick. When I was a “walker” though (or walkie, or able-bodied), that disclosure thing did come into play. It also led to some rather mortifying misunderstandings. I remember being on a “date” once (I didn’t actually realise it was a date… but that’s a whole other yarn). We were in a movie theatre, and my poor companion, at some point, took my left hand. Only, I didn’t know it, because I can’t actually feel my left hand, due to damage sustained during spinal cord surgery when I was fourteen. When the credits rolled, I looked at my watch, said I had an early appointment the next day, and said goodbye – after offering a quick David Stratton-esque negative review of the motion picture we just watched. It was only later, after a phone call from a friend who’d heard the tale of my cold-fish behaviour and insensitive departure, that I realised the offense I had caused.

I still feel awful about that.

Speaking of offensive, the debates on Ramp Up are heating up, too! And they haven’t even unleashed the discussion boards yet. I’ve dipped my toes into some of the discussions that, at present, are far more civil than the melees occurring over at The Drum (despite my own generally offensiveness).  I did, however, GREATLY offend one woman who misconstrued a comment I made about a slogan for a NSW Government disability campaign, under Stella Young’s latest blog post.

Naturally, I responded:

“Amanda, I’m sorry you were offended, but my comment was actually a visceral reaction to the LANGUAGE, the SLOGAN, never the crew or even the substance of the campaign as Philip has echoed below. And Stella’s article was about just that – the slogans and language we use to promote the disabled, and the kinds of images, impressions and messages that language conveys to the broader community.

It was in no way meant to disparage the achievements and capabilities of the First Flight Crew.

And just to be clear, I have no real issue with anyone wearing hats backwards or rapping (except, perhaps, politicians – in fact the mental image conjured up for me was of a politician I once saw trying to rap in a vain attempt to impress a group of youths).

But it is wrong not to take into consideration how a campaign slogan is going to be perceived and received by the wider community that we are trying to communicate to – both positive and NEGATIVE.

Todd Winther has written a great opinion piece on this site in which he writes “I don’t want praise for my achievements. I want respect”.

A good slogan, I think, does just that: commands RESPECT.

And, sometimes, pun-filled language can do just the opposite.

That’s all I was saying, in a rather un-PC way (because, like Carl above, I’m not a big fan of politically correct language).

Thanks for your response, and, again, thanks Stella, for a provocative piece! Loved it and really enjoying this discussion!”

Sigh. I guess that’s the thing about expressing opinions or taking a side in a public forum: SOMEONE is going to strongly disagree or be offended. Sometimes because of something you intended, other times for something you DIDN’T intend.

Note to self: be SUPER clear about that shit in future.

I’m having fun 😉


5 Comments on “Ramp Up debate & dating with a disability”

  1. I loved Lara Irvine’s op ed piece. I highly identified with it.

  2. pjvetuna says:

    I saw your great comment at the bottom. Love both the substance of the article and the way it is written.

  3. Susan A. says:

    I have had misunderstanding of things I wrote before as well. It can be frustrating when you didn’t mean it that way. Something may seem perfectly clear to us and be construed another way by others. This can happen with written and spoken word, though written does not always convey the emotion you speak with. At least you had a chance to clear it up. I think the campaign is a great idea and hope it makes a difference.

  4. Hi Pauline,

    I agree with you – the discussion being generated is great! Bring on the discussion boards I say.

    Oh, I also really enjoy your blog!



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