Exploitation of Disability Goes Mainstream

I would be equally upset by this regardless of party affiliation or candidate who mailed this out.  My thoughts on the matter some may disagree with,  but I don’t speak for anyone as a populace, I speak only for myself.   Today is where I found a clear example of where the “poster child” mentality goes too far afield & awry. 

It took me quite a while to accept my disabled identity or identify as such. I’ve had a host of friends & family members who were & are over time, but for me it was different. I guess because often I could “pass” for healthy (which is an untrue statement, but double edged sword in & of itself) this is why I couldn’t self-identify (I had my own reasons for a very long time for not.).

However, even when my life took a different direction & I started advocating in my free time in the nonprofit world, I was staunchly aware & against tokenism or exploitation of any form.   I am not a prop, or a cause, or a disease, I am a person.

My disabilities are.  They are not unnatural,  something to be mocked, or even feared or shamed.  My life is not unfortunate or wretched, nor is the fact that I need oxygen.  I am not to pitied or used as a rallying cry of “Thank God my life is not as bad as…”.  Nor do I buy into the labels of “high functioning” or “mild” cases or classifications of my diseases.  Just because my TSC is mild, or my LAM is severe,  it doesn’t make my experience any easier or more difficult than another persons.   It isn’t a competition over who suffers more with the hand they are dealt.

That said, it deeply concerns me & pisses me off when people’s disabilities (no matter the circumstance) are used as a political pawn or to push a specific agenda.

The voting block of disabled voters are huge in number but relatively unacknowledged. Notice how we (as a marginalized group ourselves) are never mentioned in the same breath as class, race, gender, or orientation even though we are in fact marginalized.

Furthermore, disabled people are of every race, orientation, gender, & class status. Some of us may be marginalized in several different yet equally important ways.

Yet, we are only given credence or acknowledged for our disability marginalizing us when it comes to certain “causes”. Like how messed up the social safety net is, to point out abuses or flaws in various systems, fights over healthcare, or dare I say (in this instance) the issue of gun control (or violence in general).

Then & only then are we useful tools of reference as a group or as a people. Primarily to exploit or point out failures or shortcomings. (Disabilities in society are often perceived as such.)

We are an ace in the hole to pull out & reference when battles heat up & lines are drawn over taking sides on an issue.

That’s messed up!

So — this is why I am incensed today & why I’m talking about such things…

Everyone knows Gabby Giffords.

Perhaps she gave Hillary permission to use her in this mailing.

But every day countless disabled persons are used as props, memes, poster children, & tokens WITHOUT their permission to further several different agendas.

I think whether she realizes it or not Gabby Giffords is being exploited.  Her likeness & circumstances are used as a way to lord one candidate’s record & stances over another.

I find that disgusting & as a disabled person, I find it offensive.



Just look at the front of this mailing & the quote.  It’s an affront:

It is politically expedient to use Gabby Gifford’s story for political gain.

That’s the full reason why this mailing was created & tailored the way it was.

Now look at the back (apologies for the orientation):

FullSizeRender (1)

She’s basically saying Sanders is weak & not a champion of gun control.  But the way she’s proporting this message is lording over the circumstances of Gabby Gifford’s life event that lead to her disability for her own purpose & gain.

She’s appropriating Gabby Gifford’s life event for herself. She (Clinton)is using it for her own gain & to push her own agenda.  This is grotesque.

Bernie’s record is clear – we all know how to look up Congressional voting records (whether we agree with his record or not in the end is irrelevant).

Regardless of which side you land on in this debate about gun rights, there are 100 different mailings that could have been put together by the Clinton campaign to make these exact points instead of exploiting someone’s personal story & being patently offensive.

It could have just been sent with a different image on the front & been more appropriate.

I wouldn’t take issue even if I disagreed if that had been the case.

I take issue with Giffords being objectified as a convenient prop.

This IS political inspiration porn & I find it offensive.

Disability is not something to just be used as a pawn when it’s convenient or as an example of what’s wrong with the world or the consequences of a differing ideology on an issue.

People already are too afraid of such differences in life as is, why are we going to reinforce negative stereotypes & reduce people to pawns in a political chess match?

This would be equally repugnant if it was coming from the Republican party candidate & not a Democrat.

But essentially it’s almost the same message, different wolf, same sheep’s clothing.

It’s just wrong, period.

People, whether in the public eye or not, are not tokens. Nor should they be treated as such.



2 thoughts on “Exploitation of Disability Goes Mainstream

  1. I remember where I was when the Gabby Giffords shooting happened – mostly because suddenly my phone was flooded with people calling to make sure I wasn’t anywhere near it (I wasn’t). That being said, THIS particular flyer feels like a personal affront because if we don’t vote for HRC, then effectively we are also voting against Gabby and the terrible and life-altering crime committed against her. It’s exhausting. Gabby is actually a couple of desirable qualities rolled into one tidy package: shooting victim, female, former senator. What better advocate for a female candidate?

    Liked by 1 person

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