It seems that this blog is turning into a record of things that are said to me or around me which I later cannot get out of my head. I cannot stop analysing them, dissecting the consequences and wider implications.
Over Christmas I was at a meal with some family members – two other adults and a 7 year old child. Inheritance somehow came up and one person said “well hopefully but you never know what social care we will need in the future”. In full knowledge that I will need social care in the future the other adult responded along the lines of “If I ever need social care I’d rather be bumped off”. As usual I did not challenge this at the time, I kept quiet, a straight face, I did not want to cause a fuss especially as there are issues going on already but to be honest even if that wasn’t true I doubt I would have spoken out because I’m sure I would have come across as just looking for an argument or being a “touchy” disabled person. An argument would have ensued and the meal ruined for all instead of just me.
What I have been running over in my head since is how these seemingly off hand comments, probably not thought about again by the non-disabled participants, shape understanding of disability and the need to have a 3rd party help you to live your life. I should have said something, I probably still should (although I know that I won’t unless it comes up directly) if for no other reason as to disrupt the messages the 7 year old child was getting about being disabled, or dependant. Each time we speak of disability and frame it as negative, burdensome, worse than death, word by word we are contributing to the stigmatisation of disabled people and the devaluing of disabled lives. That comment, especially if joined by other everyday little comments could be internalised in that child so that they view any disabled person including me negatively – including themselves if they ever become disabled later in life. What’s more is that it makes it clear that however nice that person is to me, underneath they view my life as lesser.
I suppose what is bothering me about all this is that I didn’t defend myself and other disabled people. I didn’t argue or point out how inappropriate that comment is to make in-front of me or the child, I was, and continue to be, complicit in the oppression of disabled people.