Disability Stigma Series 1: Destroying Harmful Privilege

G’day friends and welcome to another week and another blog!!

After trying to come up with things to write about this week, disability stigma is such a wide topic that to do it justice in needs to be a series. So welcome to the first Living Abled Series!! Feel free to cheer and clap away like you would at a Footy Match.

ANYWAY! Lets kick things off this week with a question:

Have you ever heard or believed in the term Disability Privilege??

I am sorry…. Disability Privilege?

still love this photo!

Did the record pin just get pulled out of the record as you read that?? mine did too!! So this one is absolutely hilarious but also disturbing

I have read comments by about a well-known interabled couple in the Youtube realm say that the man only had money thanks to his disability privilege, and that the woman was using him because of it.

I am sorry, but what on earth?! Are you just as shocked as I am?! Even I had to stop and think that one over, because I had never heard that term before.

I had to sit and contemplate the term for a few minutes to try and figure out what the person was implying. Then it hit me like a Mac Truck. She thinks that because he has a disability that makes him privileged, and above everyone else thanks to ‘government handouts and assistance’. As soon as I realised this, I had to laugh.

To save you the trouble I attempted to google the proper definition of disability privilege. And guess what it came up blank!  So that means the term is open for debate. Let’s start that then shall we??

Disability privilege to this person, meant that because of government assistance, this man was considered to be more of an issue than seen as someone who is not accepted in society and needs government help to provide for him and his wife. That could not be furthest from the truth.

Don’t get me wrong though! Do I believe we are privileged??? In some way yes. We have awesome car parks in great locations and large private bathrooms that we don’t have to worry about awkward conversations with the person in the stall over! And yes there are government schemes and financial handouts…. But that is where the buck stops I feel.

Which is why I laughed at this person talking about disability privilege.

Let’s chat Able-bodied privilege.

Now able-bodied privilege on the other hand, you will find definitions galore!!! Isn’t that lovely?  In general this version of privilege basically means that people who are not disabled, gain an unfair advantage in society because they are not limited by physical or physiological impairments.

If you are thinking this sounds awfully a lot like ableism, that you would be correct. It is much the same thing.

How many times have you organised a dinner out and failed to consider who among your group of guests may not be able to access it? How many of you have pushed ahead of an elderly person in a frame in a line? How many of you have mocked someone who is psychologically at a ‘disadvantage’ to you in whatever way that may be?

Here is the kicker though. How many of you have been rejected from a potential job because you are considered in a ‘minority’ group. Whether that be race, disability, or yes even gender.

You see, privilege is everywhere when you stop and look. It comes in all shapes and sizes. Privilege discriminates on those who are on the wrong side of it.

Would I say able bodied people are at more of an advantage than disabled folk? By all means yes. There are things in your day that you don’t have to stop and think about. You don’t have to second guess climbing a flight of stairs when the lift breaks down. You don’t have to worry about how uneven the turf is at festivals. Not to mention being able to ask for directions or even to obtain a job based on your experience.

The job isn’t to shun or be angry about privilege. It is about raising awareness of it. It would be lovely to live in a world where everyone has a fair go.

I hope that education, homes, hospitals, events, shopping centres, JOBS, and society as a whole is equally accessible to everyone.

There is no worse a feeling that going into a job interview know you are being rejected because you are seen as a problem for them to deal with and a potential work cover hazard.

The idea of Privilege starts by the misconceptions parents provide their children, government to their people, strangers to another, and employers to their candidates.

Isn’t it up to us to start bridging the gap of privilege? What ever the form that the privilege presents itself. We are all entitled to a fair go and equal opportunities regardless of disability, race, gender, sexual orientation.

What about this…

Here is another food for thought for you.

We can also choose to be angry about how tough it is for us. How we are getting the short end of the stick.

However, there is always someone worse off in the world. They would think your life is perfect.

We can choose to use our privilege anyway we choose. That is the benefit of privilege. However, to decide to use your privilege to benefit someone else means the world of change right there.

For example, if you are wealthy, choose to use your money not for your own social gain or to increase the houses or cars you have but to provide safe drinking water, housing or meals to the less fortunate.

If you are abled bodied and see someone on the street trying to get into a venue, use your privilege to help them.

Share the love and use your privilege to start creating a movement of positive change, not for yourself but for someone else.

So, Let me ask you this. Will you start to create meaningful change and join us to end ableism based privilege? Not only ableist privilege, but privilege as a whole? Will you use your privilege to impact the lives of the lest fortunate? What would you do for someone less fortunate than yourself?

-Rhi xo

fancy a laugh after such heavy reading?? then you better check out this post! https://livingabled.com.au/4-hilarious-life-lessons-about-being-disabled/

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