I hate falling. It serves as reminder to me that no matter what I do or what I accomplish, my body will at some point let me down, and that pisses me off.
If you`re reading this and thinking there`s a lot of internalized ableism in there, you`d be right.
So why do I feel so crappy about falling? I would never shame anyone else when they fall.
I know the answer to this. There was a time in my life when falling meant somebody was going to get upset with me, roll their eyes at me, yell at me, accusingly ask me “What’s wrong with you?” etc.
So naturally, when I fell in a movie theater the other day, and the staff had to come unlock the door so my partner could help me back up I expected some kind of negative response, or at least embarrassment.
All he said was “Why would I be embarrassed? People fall.”
And in that moment three things came to mind: 1) I wish I had a time machine to go back and say that to my childhood self. 2) I have an awesome partner (I knew that already), and 3) I still have a lot of internalized ableism to get rid of.
Falling is good, it teaches us it’s ok to fail, and you will get back up. Metaphorical falling anyway, real falling can hurt, so we should still avoid it, but the feelings of shame don’t have to be there.
I’m reminded of a quote I posted on facebook the other day: “Feminism doesn’t know WTF to do with disability, because disability throws a huge monkey wrench into the gears of the feminist notion that we’re supposed to be strong, independent, and accomplished beings, healthy and full of power.” from http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/2013/07/30/why-this-disabled-woman/
On that note, I’ve decided to write an article for an anthology on the conflicts between feminism and disability, and would welcome any suggestions. 🙂