Entry inspired by this commercial:
Real men drink Guinness. And real men pretend to be disabled to make their actually disabled friend feel like he’s a real man too. Isn’t that cool?
Here’s the thing. While I would love it if everyone in my life understood what I go through on a daily basis, I do not want you to feel the need to get into a wheelchair and toss me around on a basketball court to make me feel like I am “one of you.” Want me to feel like one of the group? Be you while recognizing me as me. Don’t try to be me so we can relate.
While I think Guinness tried their very best to be inspirational, they made it awkward instead. What you’re really saying is, my dude friend in this chair couldn’t possibly play basketball with us so, Imma strap my legs together, get down to his level, and make him feel like a champ.
No. Just. No.
Stop trying to separate. I get it. We humans need categories. We need definitions. What happened here was confusion of the equality message. Instead of recognizing this man can clearly play basketball, despite being in a wheelchair, what you said was, he can clearly play basketball as long as his teammates are also playing at the same level. Hindered, as it were.
When I said I wanted a better representation of disabled people in the media I meant being among the masses, not being reminded how different we are. Strapping yourself into a chair to play basketball with your friend who spends his life in that situation does not make you a real man. It makes you a jackass.
I’m gonna get into this chair and challenge you to a game of hoops and then I am gonna get right back up and walk away while you still sit there – but we’re cool though, I’m still gonna buy you a beer.
Real men respect others differences, they do not accentuate them.