Monday, July 13, 2009

What empowerment is not

There's a list over at Disability Prejudice and Civil Rights Watch of what empowerment is not. I can relate to a number of things on it.

It includes:

when you ask [someone] a favor, having done them a favor yourself, being told it would be empowering to do it yourself

On the subject of favors, I've noticed how differently that works now since I've acquired my disability. I can help a friend with a resume or a ride or any number of things, but if I ask a favor back, I am often told that it's my aide's job. Or, as the writer says, my commitment to being independent is questioned. Needing a loaf of bread when you have the flu is no different for any of us. It is not empowering to go to the store sick.

It also includes:

Denying my physical or other disabilities and pretending I can do things I can not do

This happens at times. I'm astonished at the number of people who "get embarrassed" when I ask for help cutting up food, for example. The truth is if I pretend I can do it, I'm likely to wind up shooting my food across the room. (Once I landed a sticky cornish hen against a wall, but that's another story.)

What's behind this, however, is not funny. So often I see people with disabilities pretending to do things they can't. They fall or injure themselves. They deny their hidden disability and wind up with larger life problems. It is not empowering to deny who one is.

Great post. Hope more people comment on it or blog about it.


Meredith Gould said...

Oh thanks SO much for getting me re-started on this issue which I plan to have apoplexy over on my blog.

Your aide,


Wheelie Catholic said...

I'll be watching for that post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I finally have accepted my neuropathy of hands and feet almost a year after my kidney transplant when my hands did not magically get better and saw the neurologist I was referred to many years ago who diagnosed neuropathy in hands and feet. But still I laugh off my trouble with my hands with stupid jokes or requests for male help most of the time instead of just saying my hands don't work well--but working on it and writing it out helped. Maybe I'll go for those accomodation lessons from the very nice occupational therapist finally...

Also applies to being the "overcoming" psychiatric disabled person, finally fed up with expectations of emotional strength from me from others that people without PTSD would not be expected to show. Trying to learn to say when I can't do something because when I don't I pay for it with nightmares, disturbed sleep and extra benzos...

Wheelie Catholic said...

Thanks for putting that post up - I'm sure it will help a lot of people.