Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"He's just like Stephen Hawkins!"

First I want to thank you for migrating to my new web address. I know that is kind of annoying.

Ok, story time. This happened about 8 months ago. My aide and I were at a Starbucks just after a photography lesson. We were waiting in line when this guy comes up to my aide and proclaims that "Your son is magnificent!" (God knows why... I was just waiting in line.)
My aide replied, "Oh, well she's not my son. But thanks. And you can speak to her directly."
The man (not getting the pronoun hints)replied, "Steven Hawkins is the Einstein of our time! He is going to be just like Stephen Hawkins when he grows up!"
"Well she is 25 and has just graduated from college, so I guess she's on her way, haha (nervous laughter)."
Finally catching on that my aide kept saying "she" and that I wasn't a little kid, he realized that he might have offended me/ my looks. So to rectify this misunderstanding, he leaned in close, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL IN THEIR OWN WAY"

Like everyone else, he meant well, but no need to comment on my physique or compare me to other disabled people, thanks anyway.


  1. Wow.

    I love your blog, Eva. I read about it on the F Word and have just read the whole thing. Good luck to you, I'll be following.

    Mucho bestest.

  2. But Eva, everyone IS beautiful in their own way. You should see me sitting here in my underwear, perusing your blog while eating a sandwich. The crumbs are rolling down my chest. It's friggin' adorable.

  3. Oh Man. I hadn't heard that one before. WOW.

  4. HAHA! I just snorted and it woke up my cat. That's hilarious. Btw, I found your blog through Autostraddle, and I'm loving the premise. Secret video + people who *think* they're doing the nicest thing ever + snarky comments = best thing ever.

  5. I find your blog really interesting, it is hilarious too.

  6. It's hard for some people who have never known anyone with a disability to know how to behave

  7. Anonymous, here's an easy tip. Treat us like people.

    Meeting a disabled preson is not an educational opptunity for you. Try reading up.

  8. I disagree thetroubleisme, I think it is educational for them it just isn't our responsibility to make it so. I think that is the general philosophy that we as a community have a responsibility to the public and it's our duty to educate.

    My question is are other minorities required to rise to the occasion?

  9. Ahaha. I'm wheelchair-bound. I suppose by that guy's logic I'll grow up to be just like FDR? If only it worked that way.


  10. The troubleisme,

    I do treat you as 'normal', I have friends and family with disabilties and work with children who have them, But I also understand the other side of it, perhaps you should try.

  11. Eva,

    Just discovered this blog. It is AWESOME. Thanks and keep up the good work~


  12. What happened with WordPress? I am super nosy, I know.

  13. Yes, other minorties are expected to be educaters. I'm black, queer and disabled which apparently means I'm the spokes person for all those groups.

    I just want to live my life, I don't want to be your learning opportunity. I am not extending my trip to the store to get milk to chat with you about my service dog if I don't feel like it.

    I have friends who are black/disabled/gay doesn't prove anything. I know racists with kids of colour and ablists with disabled spouses.

    I've spent enough of my life pandering to the people on top and I'm sick of doing it.

  14. dude. ridiculous! that guy is the one with problems. that silly dumb head of a man.

  15. I think this blog itself educates people, plus I love that you approach these attitudes with a sense of humor rather than impatience. It's true that it's not our job to educate others--plus that requires extended conversations with every place that we go or everyone we meet--too exhausting and impossible, and people misread/misunderstand what we say. Asking someone nicely to stop bumping into me over and over because it was hurting me, for example, got taken as me "lighting into" someone. I certainly have to choose my "battles" and ignore a lot more than people think I do.

    I think one of the commenters above says it all: "I've spent enough of my life pandering to the people on top and I'm sick of doing it." I don't want to talk about my disability everywhere I go--several people recently have asked me why I need my scooter. I find myself giving a two word answer, then see them perched for more or asking questions.

    Be yourself no matter what they say. :)

  16. Oh man. Stephen Hawkins. That's a good one.

    I don't know whether to laugh or headdesk. Maybe both at the same time?


  17. At least he didn't mention Larry Flynt.

  18. @Ed: Perfect!

    Loving your blog, Eva! Keep 'em coming!

  19. Bah just wrote a very wrong reply then the box had the cheek to tell me i dont own the blog I said.

    Pffft. Anyhow the gist went - Im now a social worker but used to be an aide for many people with disability, majority with cerebral palsy. Ive come across comments from the innocently offensive to the nazi.

    I thought I was unshockable but was caught off guard when visiting Madame Tussards waxwork museum in London. Everyone was rushing to get pics taken with the celebrity wax works, I was waiting to take a photo of Stephen Hawking. Waited until there wasn't someone beside him, went to take a pic and someone leaped in. No problem, part of the game at a tourist attraction like that.

    What shocked me was when he squatted down to wheelchair height and began to do what I can only describe as a 'faux disability' pose involving lots of offensive shaking, grimacing and spasms. I was absolutely mortified and completely caught off guard. There were so many people I could not raise the issue with the man as you simply couldnt move, besides it was likely he did not speak English.

    I think because I wasn't in work mode, just having a bonding / reminiscing day trip with my mum, that I was completely caught off guard.

    Not sure what this comment is meant to say... suppose in agreement that there is still a LOT of work to do on public perception of disability.

    By the bind, Ive retold this story verbally to people and the people who work with me in various areas of social care, are astounded. But some that were not felt I was being over-sensitive or too politically correct, that the chap was just doing a mock pose, like you might pout next to Angelina Jolie. To anyone who thinks im of the PC brigade, I'm not. But his actions (which bare no resemblance to SH) lump a stereotype of disability, in with other illness and conditions... and twitching and grimacing aside, the next set is that people are thick, stupid, unattractive and smelly.

    Bah anyhow, much change to happen. Just discovered your blog few minutes ago. Fabulous!

  20. What can I say? I'm an idiot. At least I probably would be, doing or saying something stupid. Except for blogs like this one, where I can find out more about how not to be an idiot. Although I hope to god I'd never do anything as stupid as the Madame Tussards guy.

  21. Hi, I really like your blog. I have a disability too and believe me, I have many stories also. Keep on writing!

  22. Anonymous #1, there is no "other side" to this. You either instinctively treat someone like a human being or you don't, and if you don't, you're ignorant and wrong. That ignorance is more likely than not to stem from lack of education and exposure rather than malice, yes. But no, it is absolutely not our responsibilityto "try to understand" why someone is treating us and making us feel like crap. If we are in a good personal place to grin, bear it, and attempt to educate, we will. But the ultimate responsibility falls to the person who is ignorant. If they're not sure what to say, then they should either respectfully say, "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" or say nothing and go home and Google it. Someone who would suggest that a person should "try to understand the other side" of their oppression (would you suggest that to an African-American person?) is an example of someone who might want to do some self-education beyond "having disabled friends" and "working with disabled children" (you have no idea how many times I've heard that one). Try reading some books on the disability civil rights movement, perhaps. Because trust me, you don't get it yet.

  23. Why can't people just apologize, learn from the experience and move on? Acknowledgement of screwing up and insulting someone is a whole lot better than just ignoring the issue and trying to play off one's actions as something better...never works.

  24. Bwahahaha! This must have been terribly awkward for you, but the way you wrote it is hilarious. Good ol' little Steven Hawkins!

    I found your blog via the CP community on Livejournal by the way. Read through a couple of your other posts last night! Brilliant job. You have the best attitude.

  25. XD I'm still loling after reading that. WTF dude?!

    btw I came by from a link on The Curvature and really like your blog. The video camera thing is a great idea.

  26. Hmm. I wonder if there's some assumption out there in the "collective consciousness" that all AAC users are male for some reason?

    A friend of mine who uses a wheelchair and lightwriter got misgendered as male at a LGBT comedy night recently. She is a (self-identified) butch woman with a very short haircut, but *very* obviously has breasts, and a fairly "femininely" shaped face. Also, apparently Amanda Baggs gets misgendered fairly regularly (and her breasts are even more obvious). So, i dunno - maybe cisgendered/neurotypical people's perceptions of atypical (autistic, CP, etc) body language might play a role, but now i'm wondering if there is some "AAC = male" thing that i, as a genderqueer autist, am unaware of...

  27. Eva, you ARE magnificent! I have lots to learn from you. Thanks for sharing your stories with the world. I love them.