In this article for The Guardian, disabled people shared their stories of using online dating services and apps, specifically Tinder. They share different options on when it is best to tell their potential partner about their disability. Some believe that it is best to get to know a person before mentioning your disability, while one man stands by his decision to include his wheelchair in his profile pictures. However, neither choice guarantees success. Having the conversation later leaves opportunity for hurtful and ignorant questions and comments. Being upfront seems to prevent anyone from speaking to you at all. The narrative of negotiating when to out oneself as disabled reminds me of the decision trans people must make when dating. While waiting until a face-to-face meeting to present as disabled caused the people in the article to be ridiculed and called liars, trans women are murdered for not disclosing that aspect of their identity. This similarity in problem and huge difference in consequence represents the different perceptions of trans women and disabled people. Disabled people are often infantilized and desexualized by ableist cultural assumptions. However, trans women are demonized and cast as predatory. While I find it completely understandable that neither trans people nor disabled people feel entirely safe while dating, this disparity is one that I had not yet thought about.
In this Buzzfeed article titled “Disability Advocates Aren’t Happy That A Man Standing Up From His Wheelchair At The Australian Open Was Called A ‘Miracle’,” author Brad Esposito describes the reactions on social media that followed a man standing up from his wheelchair on television. The man in question rose from his chair to celebrate a shot made by tennis player Roger Federer at the Australian Open semifinals. The post includes screenshots of many people on twitter sharing images and videos of the man, saying that Federer’s shot caused a miracle. It also included screenshot of tweets from people challenging the assumption that the man is paralyzed, citing it as ignorant and ableist. What is very interesting about this article, which is not immediately apparent, is that it is a second draft. Under the title, the date stamp reads “Originally posted on Jan. 28, 2016, at 4:20 p.m. Updated on Jan. 29, 2016, at 4:25 p.m.” Also, when reading the comments, the complaints of ableism are not directed at those who tweeted about the “miracle shot,” but at Buzzfeed and the author of the article. It becomes clear that the article was rewritten to focus on the ableism surrounding the event, but it originally shared the sentiment of the ableist people on social media. At the very end of the article, there is a statement that reads, “This story has been updated to include comment from disability advocates and to reflect BuzzFeed’s editorial standards for reporting on disability.” The link leads to a list of guidelines to refer to when writing about anything from race to disability to lgbt issues. It also includes grammar and spelling clarifications for topics unrelated to any identity. I did not know that this list of standards existed and would like to know how it is enforced. Why is it that the author of this article changed the focus after many angry comments from disabled people and their allies, but did not credit their emotional labor or apologize for his ignorance? Why do these standards exist other than to protect those who claim to follow them?
We will bring in printed copies of this handout for class as well as project the questions on the screen. Feel free to start taking notes on or using the questions before class.