Pet Peeve

            I have a pet peeve.  It qualifies, then, as something annoying, not infuriating.  My pet peeve is the use of terms of disability as metaphor, such as “blind to his faults” or “deaf to advice” or “crippled emotionally.”  One of the most common metaphors is to refer to someone or something as “so lame.”

            These clichéd phrases reflect prevailing attitudes toward disability.  Occasionally, people define our impairments in  positive terms, such as challenging or character-building.  But more often, people perceive disability falsely as a life sentence of tragedy.  That’s not been my experience or the experience of many with disabilities.  Aldous Huxley’S eye troubles, for instance,  prohibited a medical career.  One could argue that without them, he might never have written his classic novels.  So tragic?  I don’t think so.

            I advise my students to avoid these platitudes and say oblivious when that’s what they mean or close-minded or weak or insensitive.   Because the world of literature persists in using stereotypes, the negative view of disability perpetuates.

            Now I’m thinking this might be more than a pet peeve.  I’m growing prêt-ty angry!  

 

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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