Today was a “Blech!” day in many areas I know I don’t want to talk about. So, what else?
I saw a 2007 film called He was a Quiet Man. It depressed me a great deal. It is about a quiet man who is stepped on in work and plans to shoot people; plans it every day and does nothing. Only one day, a co-worker DOES shoot people including what he thought was the office bitch, but instead hit Vanessa, who is described by everyone as “her smile could light up a room.” Only, that the ONLY description of her that is ever given....by everyone. When the shooter realizes that Vanessa is still alive he plans to shoot her and our ‘little man’ comes to her rescue (becuase she is the girl he fantasizes a relationship with...but never talks to).
I watched this film because it said it was about two people, from different worlds brought together by circumstance, and one was a female in a wheelchair. Only it turned out that this film articulates every spoken AND unspoken cliché about women in wheelchairs. Vanessa is a high level quad and thus hates the man who saved her; until he agrees to kill her. So, we have already gotten, in five minutes to Million Dollar Baby. But when he is to let her roll in front of a train, he stops her, and she gets so UPSET that her finger twitches. So....now there is hope and suddenly all the powerful men who loved Vanessa (and who she openly admits she manipulated and gave head to in order to advance) are interested in her again. Only our ‘little man’ HAS her, wants to be the only person she needs because it is the only way his dream can play out of beinging with her.
They go sing at a bar, and people look at her, and then don’t look at her, and then pity her. She is embarrassed and as she is wheeled out people turn to each other and say, “God, I am so glad I’m not in a wheelchair.” Which people who don’t realize how sensitive my hearing is have said about me. So this film takes a women who is a very beautiful woman but a manipulator and shows that life in a chair is only humiliation (including from former colleagues she stepped over pitying her), pity, and dependency. Meanwhile she is still being idolized and treated like a literal doll by the man who cannot handle her AS an able bodied person, or even as someone who disagrees with him. As for Vanessa, she learns nothing except that as more motion returns she can return to manipulate different men. So everything about women in chairs was reinforced: objects of pity, objects of desire, idealized women BECAUSE they are helpless, women clueless how embarrassing they are because they are still alive. The whole bag. No one seems to bring up that maybe it is who is IN the chair that makes a bit of difference. Nor is she ever in anything but a classic hospital chair. She never goes to rehab. Just, straight to fantasy land where she can be carried around and fed and her witty banter that kept so many men occupied now keeps this little man occupied. I would think it is not very affirming for guys either.
So nothing really about what being in a chair is like, nothing actually about the points OF feeling suicidal except the assumption that unless complete recovery is held out as hope, all people, and PARTICULARLY a woman would want to top herself. So I guess I am not giving this a high review. It was painful because I got to see in a blunt and unrelenting way for a few hours how many people see me. This was reinforced the next morning (today) as I was down at my wheelchair and medical equipment retailer getting my rental and taking to the new guy they hired while they had the chairs in the back. I explained how, for about 14 months I have looked for ANY work and he said, that I should try applying at Easter Seals and Queen Alexander Hospital (where I got my seating clinic done). I was irritated that again, the only place for crips is with crips but I listened. He said that the summer camps were doing their intake. He said that he was a counselor and while I couldn’t be a counselor I could be an “assistant” (he is 10 years younger than me). Oh, I can be an assistant? Okay, well, he worked there several years, how many people in wheelchairs did he see working there? He thought a bit and finally said, “well none, but there were people with other disabilities.” Quite frankly, I am really tired of this, the way that AB’s just don’t get that someone with acute diabetes and someone in a wheelchair are NOT the same – yes, both have a disability but NOT the same. So, while I refrained myself from screaming as this guy who knew nothing about my condition gave me career advice, I asked, "So how many CHILDREN did you help in wheelchairs?”
He stopped. “Well, they come in different weeks, like one week of autistic kids and one week of deaf kids.”
I said, “And what about kids with Spina Bifida? What about the kids with CP? What about Spinal injuries? Any kids in wheelchairs at all?”
He thought some more and then said, “Uh, no, none that I worked with.”
Okay, so here is a guy in a wheelchair store, talking to someone who is on the ground because her chair is being fitted and telling her how to get a job where he has never worked with or seen anyone in a chair in a camp for disabled children where he has never worked (or seen)any children in wheelchairs. Super!
It became so clear to me at that point how fucked and unemployable I was. Because these people have NO IDEA the amount of accommodation is required. They think that if they go, “Hey, I know you have a disability and that is okay” it is enough accommodation. They don’t realize they need doors, washrooms, special headsets, computer programs, keypads, etc. And why would ANYONE in a country where no one is given any incentive (much less idea HOW to do it) hire someone like me?
I went to Badminton tonight because I am having problems with two fingers which are losing circulation and getting frostbite (and turning funny purple and white colours) and I needed to sweat to improve my circulation. Only no one would play with me. Even with Linda with me. I put my racquet in the queue. But it was obvious when I went onto the court and all the people went on the other side of the net to me that no one was going to play with me. So Linda came with me. Our opponents wouldn’t even speak to us. They had a “I can’t believe I queued up to waste my time with this” attitude. So we warmed up and played to 15 points without our opponents saying a SINGLE word to us. Though we talked to them.
My fingers turned very dark and weren’t getting oxygen, and then my nerve cluster went and my hand was useless but I tried using my left hand to play. That didn’t go well so with my right hand locked in a fist Linda jammed the racquet into my fist and they lobbed a "take it easy on her" birdie at me which I smoked back so hard it appeared to hit one of them in the head. I looked across and said, “My SHOULDER works just fine, so don’t take it easy” (we were down like 12-3).
After we lost I left and went to talk to the director and explained about my circulation and decided to put my racket in a queue separate from Linda to FORCE them to play with me. I ended up playing two more games, both with mostly females so those were a better games. Afterward I talked to J. who is tall and takes no nonsense and she was my double partner and has been going to the Y for a few years. I explained that this was the second time I had come to have the guys do a “cluster away” thing. She said to go down and tell the Y because these people need to be reminded that this is RECREATIONAL badminton. Though there is one guy who plays here who plays for Team Taiwan (so kinda competitive!). I said, which is true, “Every time I come, people watch me, and EVERY time I come I have to bring a solid game because otherwise no one will play with me.” I didn’t mention that I was sick of it and that I will play anyone and lose any amount if they will just play the damn game with me and not act like it is a 'waste of time'. The last game I went with J. and no one would join us. Now, I was having a beaten down day but J. was having none of it and went and pulled some people on to make doubles. It if wasn’t for people like J. and boxing coach Ian I think I would have quit trying. I’m not a machine, and though if you prick me actually I DON’T bleed, but I still feel and there is only so long I will continue against opposition.
I get tired of people not getting it on such a profound level. Fuck, get to know me before you either write me off or assume all over me. No, I’m actually NOT 'exactly like you except I happen to be sitting down'; even if I WAS an SCI. And the wheelchair does not dictate what the limits or the attitudes of the person in it so WHY so often does the chair dictate the attitudes and actions of the people TOWARD the person in it?
45 minutes ago