Tuesday, June 17, 2014

#TEDTalkTuesday: Inspiration Porn and the Objectification of Disability: Stella Young

Its a Tuesday so it must be time for another TED Talk. Now, don't be alarmed (or excited) by the word 'porn" in the title of this post. This post is definitely not about sex.
Today's featured TED Talk has been circulating throughout the disability community for the past couple of weeks. In this TED Talk Stella Young discusses how the objectification of individuals with disabilities as inspirational devices is dehumanizing. 

I first heard the phrase inspirational porn when I started to connect with more people within the disability community.

Inspiration Porn or Disability Porn is when disabled people are deemed exceptional for just existing. Yes, just existing, not for anything that is profoundly exceptional. Abled-bodied people using phrases such as "moving", "amazing" and "brave" to describe disabled people for doing mundane things such as taking walks or just simply being alive.  

By calling people exceptional for doing simple things is like saying you don't expect anything more from them. Further excluding them from society. 


Now the above criticism might sound a little harsh but I do have compassion for abled-bodied folks. When I started this blog it was a way for me to understand my new circumstance of being legally blind but I have to admit that I was still coming from the perspective of being an abled-bodied person. Still not yet self-identifying as disabled just dealing with this new identification. 


I feel like in one of my early posts I committed an act of disability porn by featuring a blind toddler using her white cane to get around. Maybe I'm being a little harsh on myself... I wasn't trying to be objectifying. It was a way for me to deal with my potential future dealing with progressive vision loss. I saw this child who was being given independence which helped me to see a feasible future for myself.


That's why the term inspiration porn was initially confusing for me. Is it still inspiration porn if the person doing the objectifying is also disabled? I'm not trying to downplay the problematic nature of disability porn just wanted some feedback on this.



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