The Controversial Name that Bran was Given [Game of Thrones Spoiler Alert]

The last season of Game of Thrones was written poorly and rushed and interestingly boring and full of nonsense. There were so many things people complained about.

Daenarys was made evil all of a sudden without a believable, proper transition. People weren’t convinced she could kill thousands of innocent people and the writers failed to set that up well. But this could have been done way better if they simply gave more time for that instead of squeezing everything in six episodes that were also full of slow-paced scenes (and I know this show liked to do that a lot but I feel like they wasted so much time that they needed to use more efficiently).

Gif of Daenarys in a blue robe saying, "Dracarys" via Giphy.
Gif of Daenarys in a blue robe saying, “Dracarys” via Giphy.

People were so pissed off that there was a petition to remake the last season. Yet, won’t take the time to understand why others found Bran’s new given name problematic as well.

I found that #DisabledTwitter was also a bit in disagreement over his name.

Bran the Broken.

So… who gets to decide if Bran’s name is problematic? Is it the writers? Is it every fan? Hmm… who would you ask if a disabled character’s name is problematic?

Hmm…

HMMMMMM???

If your answer is not disabled people then you are just wrong. Simple as that.

Don’t make decisions for things that won’t affect you without considering who it harms potentially. You don’t get to decide if something is harmful if you are not part of that identity. You can support and be an ally.

It is up to disabled people to decide if his name is problematic. Even if we disagree with each other on this.

Abled people often label disabled people with terrible euphemisms like differently abled, specially abled, handicapable, etc. (and I will eventually do a full post on these given names that no disabled person came up with).

Bran had his moments I suppose? He became the Third-Eyed Raven and is all-knowing and then suddenly became very emotionless without having any kind of character development towards not being able to connect his feelings or to others as much anymore.

His story quickly was finished and he was just around giving vague remarks and making “IDGAF” faces to everyone (and to be honest I was HERE for that because he gives no shits anymore).

Screenshot of Bran in his wheelchair with a comic bubble saying, “IDGAF (I don’t give a fuck), Jon Snow.”

And to be fair, Winterfell isn’t accessible so I would also probably just wander around and eavesdrop on people. Because what else is there to do? Also, WHY DIDN’T THEY MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE? I hope they King’s Landing accessible now that they need to rebuild it.

That moment when Jaime Lannister arrived in Winterfell and they locked eyes was brilliant. Bran gave that face and it’s a face that I would love to use to people who annoy me.

Gif of Jaime Lannister and Bran, in the last season, encountering each other for the first time since season 1 via Giphy.
Gif of Jaime Lannister and Bran, in the last season, encountering each other for the first time since season 1 via Giphy.

At the end of the last episode, Tyrion gave this fancy speech about who will be king. Everyone agreed that it would be Bran because he knows the kingdom’s past and could potentially use this information to learn from past mistakes and be a good king.

When he uttered the words, “Bran the Broken,” I was just like… Um…

WHAT?

Bran just accepted the name but I’m not surprised. Abled actor. Abled writers. No shock here.

Apparently, he takes the name in the books. But the difference there is that I believe he names HIMSELF broken and NOT by another person. Even if that person has dwarfism.

I could understand this as a way of reclaimation and feeling empowered to do this but this could ONLY be done if you are the one who takes the word back and use it to empower yourself. I feel like this isn’t what happened.

I know some people like the term, differently abled, and I wouldn’t tell anyone how to identify themselves if you let me know your preference. It’s the same thing with Bran. He was told how to identify himself but never considered the alternatives.

The problem with the disabled community is that we are so ableist as well. Internally. Externally. So, a lot of times some do latch on to the euphemisms because of internal ableism or because everyone around them is ableist.

So, it can feel like you don’t know who to listen to within the disabled community because ableism is everywhere.

Bran in the beginning of the series talked about how he hates his life now after losing his mobility. I can relate to the disdain and self-loathing and internal ableism. Especially when everyone around you is ableist and so you grab on to those ideas as well without question.

It is heartbreaking to see this on TV and notice that Bran never learned how to deal with his internal ableism. I ask what does this teach disabled kids? Especially those who use a wheelchair?

They don’t let Bran grow into self-acceptance. I don’t think he ever gave any signal that he is doesn’t view himself as a burden.

At least he wasn’t “cured” somehow. Damn! That would have been terrible.

It’s not surprising to me that he accepted being called, “Bran the Broken.” He views himself as broken because he doesn’t learn any other way of thinking.

But that’s because the writers don’t know any other way of thinking as well.

Let me explain why the term “broken” is disliked by many disabled people.

Too often are we viewed as something that need to be “fixed” and “cured.” A lot of us don’t want cures. Some of us do want cures.

If you don’t want to be “fixed,” you are shamed by everyone. Abled people believe that nobody wants to be disabled. But that is NOT true.

Some people can have a choice and some people don’t have a choice.

Only a disabled person can decide for themselves (and ONLY themselves and not other disabled people or anyone else) to be referred as broken.

What would they have named Bran instead? Let’s see…

  • Bran the All-Knowing
  • Bran the Shifter
  • Bran the Wise
  • Bran the Sage
  • Bran the Scholar
  • Be not creative and just say, Bran the Third-Eyed Raven

There are plenty of names they could have given him.

Screenshot of Bran with a comic bubble saying, “Bitch, please.”

This name also puts him only to be defined of his disability. Not his abilities like warging, seeing the past, and whatever else he defines as.

What’s that abled people ALWAYS say to not be only defined as? Oh? Our disabilities? Don’t let disability define us? Yet, they go back and define us as ONLY that?

Disabled people are aware that we are not just our disability. Of course, we are more. But you have to accept that we are disabled too. It’s part of our identity, BUT ALSO accept that we have other identities as well. Like parent, teacher, engineer, pianist, artist, and in this case, an all-knowing being that can control animals.

Another problem is that just like Bran, the writers, every other character in Game of Thrones, the AUDIENCE is not aware that calling a disabled person, broken, is harmful. Everyone believes it’s fine because society is very anti-disability.

People liked to make the excuse that it is set in medieval times so that’s why it’s okay for Bran to have this name.

But these people don’t realize society’s awareness of this issue.

Everyone should know that mistreating women is bad. That sexism is bad. So, when the show portrays sexual abuse, inequality, and other forms of mistreatment, everyone is informed that this equal BAD.

But because nobody seems to know that calling a disabled person broken is problematic, it only fuels ableism.

This only promotes to use the word towards disabled people. I remember reading a tweet by a disabled person that they were very upset because they are being called, “broken,” now.

This is why it’s more than just a “word.” It’s more than just language. It actually affects real people. It’s used to shame us and represents users’ point of views.

Also, a show depicted in medieval times doesn’t mean it has to be ableist. It’s also a FANTASY show. You can do WHATEVER you want. Meaning, it would have been awesome to portray and bring awareness to ableism. And it did do that a bit with Tyrion. But why not with Bran, too?

I sometimes wonder if there was a disabled writer on the show and how different Bran’s story could have been. A lot of people said he did nothing and maybe a lot of his story is lacking because the writers, including George R.R. Martin, (I have heard the book is a bit better but I have my doubts) have no clue what to do with a disabled character besides have them hate their disability.

Can we get a disabled character that accepts themselves? Or have a character who we follow to self-acceptance and points out internal ableism?

I am still waiting.

But hey! A disabled king is a thing now. At least we got that.

Detective Pikachu’s Villain Makes No Sense [SPOILER ALERT!]

I feel like I’m always late to the abled party but I am about to switch the music and make all the abled people feel uncomfortable and Pokemon fans feel outraged.

Gif of CGI Jigglypuff from the Detective Pikachu movie, looking over and glaring with a microphone in their hand via Giphy.
Gif of CGI Jigglypuff from the Detective Pikachu movie, looking over and glaring with a microphone in their hand via Giphy.

You probably want to read my past posts about disabled characters and media representation of disabled people first before continuing this. But I’ll summarize those posts a bit. If you want clarification, go back to those earlier posts.

First of all, I always say to hire a disabled actor to play a disabled character so we get accurate and authentic representation. Abled people perceive disability as something different than disabled people and often portray it into something it’s not. And you are also giving a disabled person a job and it’s difficult for a lot of us to get one because of discrimination.

This goes the same for writing disabled characters. You probably want to hire sensitivity readers or get some kind of input by disabled people for your character to not be full of stereotypical BS.

You could also hire disabled writers for your blockbuster movie.

Detective Pikachu has PLENTY of resources to reach out and hire the right people. So, I don’t want to hear about how they can’t find anyone because disabled actors and writers exist EVERYWHERE.

That about sums up those posts.

Anyway, there are MAJOR SPOILERS UP AHEAD!

Before I continue, I want to say that I am ALL for disabled villains. Anyone can be evil, including disabled people. That is not my issue with this movie at all.

Screenshot of Howard Clifford looking away from Pikachu and Tim.
Screenshot of Howard Clifford turned away from Pikachu and Tim.

It’s the way disabled villains are portrayed because abled people have no fucking clue how to do these kinds of characters without promoting harmful stereotypes.

The movie introduces you to Howard Clifford, a wheelchair user (because of some sort of degenerative disease), and the DESIGNER (and this part is important af) of Ryme City and is super rich. He is a big deal pretty much since he helped create the city.

Now, I think only disabled people will get what I am saying right off because this just is SO RIDICULOUS to me. I laughed in the theater when I watched this and I was the only one because nobody else understood just how silly this is.

Howard says he is “confined” to his wheelchair. Language is important to how we perceive things. This kind of mentality is popular among abled people and how THEY believe we think about mobility devices.

BUT…

A lot of wheelchair users see their device as FREEDOM. The former is an internally ableist way of thinking because wheelchair users wouldn’t be able to leave their homes and participate in activities without the device. Hence, why it is FREEDOM to them.

The issue with using mobility devices like wheelchairs is that places are inaccessible (even though it’s against the ADA law that is almost thirty years old now).

But imagine actually having more accessibility. Mobility devices would become less about being “confined” and even more about having “freedom” to everyone. But abled people can’t have that. It’s seen as “charity” to provide access.

“We are free when using a mobility device but the lack of access gatekeeps us from having equal freedom like abled people do.”

Is this addressed ever in movies? No. Every disabled character has this way of thinking.

And it especially doesn’t make sense in this movie.

This brings me to an old tweet of mine when I found out about this character.

My tweet: Why is it that rich, disabled villains always want to find a "cure" but never put money into making things accessible? YOU'RE FUCKING RICH! YOU HAVE THE POWER TO BRING ACCESSIBILITY. Like WTF? This is what happens when abled people write disabled characters.
Screenshot of my tweet: “Why is it that rich, disabled villains always want to find a “cure” but never put money into making things accessible? YOU’RE FUCKING RICH! YOU HAVE THE POWER TO BRING ACCESSIBILITY. Like WTF? This is what happens when abled people write disabled characters.”

If you feel so confined, WHY WOULD YOU BUILD AND DESIGN A CITY TO BE INACCESSIBLE? Did you just forget to do that? WHY NOT DO THAT NOW? YOU’RE FUCKING RICH!

Gif of James from Team Rocket petting a Persian and sitting on a throne that is surrounded with stacks of gold via Giphy.
Gif of James from Team Rocket petting a Persian and sitting on a throne that is surrounded with stacks of gold via Giphy.

Howard built a whole hologram system so he can “experience the world” even though he could use those resources to ALSO build a kickass mobility device and city or design and build other cities to be more accessible.

It doesn’t make sense to me. This feels like lazy and clueless writing by what abled people believe a disabled person would do. It doesn’t feel like a “justification” to be evil because it comes off so fake and unreal.

I know it’s a movie and this character is supposed to be selfish, but a selfish person would spend everything on themselves. At least they would have a kickass mobility device. I don’t understand.

His wheelchair just looked aesthetically different but was not any different than standard wheelchairs. WHY? If you’re upset that you can’t access the world, why would you have a standard wheelchair? Why would you build an inaccessible world?

He’s rich and has a shit ton of resources. But he wouldn’t HAVE to be evil if he could make his world accessible, right? He would need ANOTHER reason.

It’s as if the writers looked at a checklist of harmful disabled character stereotypes and followed each one.

Why is it that every disabled character is written this way? We all don’t hate our disabilities. We all don’t want cures.

Yes. There is internal ableism and we all struggle with it, but to ignore that this is the main issue that is NEVER addressed in movies and TV shows is problematic.

I know it is supposed to be a kids movie and you don’t want to write something too complicated but did you have to write this character like this still?

NO!

If you want them to be disabled still, at least make it make sense. Maybe add another disabled character that calls out the villain’s internal ableism and mistake on not creating a more accessible world.

What about his son? His son could have been that other disabled character?

Or just make him not disabled at all if you can’t do these kinds of characters justice and promote harmful stereotypes.

This is a kids movie. What will kids take from this? That disabled people need to be cured? That using a wheelchair is a bad thing? That we will become evil if we are not cured?

This movie would have been fine, otherwise.

I watched this movie with a few other people and even they didn’t understand why I didn’t like it at first. They saw nothing wrong with it when I asked before mentioning my issues with it. Ableism is so ingrained.

But this is why I created this blog. I am not allowing this BS to go on for much longer. I will not be complicit.

The only good thing about this villain is that yes… rich people are evil.

What Does Shazam Teach Disabled Kids? [SPOILER ALERT!]

A few weeks ago, I watched Shazam. There were many moments that were very enjoyable and the movie isn’t terrible or not worth watching. However, it did almost NOTHING new with disabled characters and only used the typical stereotypes of Hollywood’s harmful representations.

There was an opportunity here and it was smashed into oblivion.

If you missed the spoiler alert in the title, here it is again.

I’m just tired of it all. But there was SOME merit to their representation. Was it enough?

Quick summary. It wasn’t. The end.

But if you want further clarification…

I’m going to talk about the right things they did first so y’all could not just think I’m just “hating” but these things are worth highlighting too I guess.

The GOOD! YAY!

Screenshot of Shazam in a gas station store with a grin and a wrinkled nose.

This certain conversation had some bad parts but I will discuss that later. Freddy, the disabled character who uses a crutch, was talking about how Billy was taking his Shazam power for granted (and possibly his abled-bodiedness) and how Billy doesn’t know what it feels like to be disabled. Freddy feels invisible everyday and treated like he doesn’t belong.

A lot of what Freddy said did resonate within me too. As a disabled person, I have felt like this. Like the outcast or the person who is the burden to everybody.

I wasn’t disabled as a kid, but I’m sure many disabled kids could relate to what he said. Especially since disabled kids are sent away into “special ed” in which sets them apart already from the abled kids (and I don’t believe in this kind of separation but that’s another post).

I appreciate a lot of what he said, because these kinds of things aren’t talked about on movies often. Let alone a superhero movie. I’ll give it that credit. But I don’t know if I should applaud it.

I like that this movie has a disabled character, but–

If you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that I hate that disabled people aren’t cast to play themselves.

Anyway, Freddy had his own personality and was a major part of the movie. He was given as much screen time as the main character, Billy. Maybe because he seemed more interesting of character than Billy? I don’t know. Billy’s story is a bit boring and typical-troublemaker-but-I’m-actually-a-decent-person-thing going on.

Gif of Alice from the Alice in Wonderland 2D animated movie of her looking up with her hand on her cheek and tapping her fingers via Giphy.
Gif of Alice from the Alice in Wonderland 2D animated movie of her looking up with her hand on her cheek and tapping her fingers via Giphy.

I like that Freddy had a lot of time to show that a disabled person is human too. But we don’t really need to do that anymore, right? I mean, that doesn’t need to be the focus of things? I don’t think that makes “good” representation either but because I have decent standards as a disabled person. I know better than to accept anything lower as fine.

I didn’t mind the bullies picking on him. Well, not that the bullies should be doing that but it’s that they actually treated him as if he wasn’t disabled. This was surprising to me. Nobody ever mentioned they shouldn’t bully Freddy just because he was disabled.

It was wrong because bullying anyone is wrong.

I can’t remember why they were being bullies to him or if Freddy brought this up to adults, but it was refreshing to see.

And now, for the BAD THINGS!

Screenshot of Shazam in mid gasp with eyes and mouth widened.

Okay. So…

I am going in hard on this movie because I feel so much that it could have addressed something that SHOULD BE TALKED ABOUT in movies like this especially.

Internal ableism.

This movie had so many times it could have gone in this direction. But it didn’t.

I’m going back to that specific scene where Freddy pours his feelings out to Billy and how invisible he feels in society. He was full of jealousy and resentment because he felt that Billy didn’t want the powers anymore or use them the way he thought Billy should. Freddy wished he could have the powers instead.

And I don’t know. The context of this whole thing seems to me that it gives off the wrong message.

That disabled people can’t be heroes unless they give up their disabled body. A part of their identity. It’s more apparent later on.

Freddy didn’t acknowledge to himself the help he gave to Billy or maybe it was that he didn’t perceive it as valuable. This is often a thing within a lot of disabled people. Whatever work we do isn’t seen as valuable by anyone and even by ourselves because of the influential nature of society.

When most people are ableist, you are taught to hate your disabled self. Some people can get past it without needing to train their minds that they aren’t a burden. It took me YEARS for me to acknowledge my internal ableism. And I still am working on it.

I wish Freddy had to opportunity to acknowledge these kinds of things because a lot of disabled people struggle with this. And I feel like they just left it as it is. That you can’t be useful as a disabled person. That you have to change a part of you that is impossible to change. Change a part of you that there is nothing wrong with.

This further was amplified when Freddy was also given Shazam’s power in the final battle. And they spent so much special attention to him when he got it. All the foster kids got the powers as well, but they made sure that because Freddy is disabled, it’s EXTRA special for him.

Maybe I’m being too hard. I know some disabled people didn’t mind this movie that I follow on Twitter. But this bothers me.

I don’t accept half-assed representation. So, I’m going to keep addressing these things.

One thing that didn’t make sense to me is…

WHY IS HE NOT DISABLED ANYMORE in his Shazam form?

Gif of Marge Simpson at a doctor office looking to the side and saying, "You know, what? I'm cured" via Giphy.
Gif of Marge Simpson at a doctor office looking to the side and saying, “You know, what? I’m cured” via Giphy.

Why did Shazam’s powers “cure” his disability?

They didn’t permanently “cure” him after he changes back at least. But this doesn’t make that much sense to me.

I feel like it would have been profound for him to still need his crutch to walk in his Shazam form. That being disabled is valid and you don’t need to change that part of yourself to be a hero.

Imagine watching Freddy flying around and beating the seven deadly sins monsters with his crutch. THAT WOULD BE FUCKING AWESOME!

What I love and relate to about some superheros is that some of them are disabled and their disabilities aren’t just erased by superpowers. Oracle and Xavier are wheelchair users. Daredevil is blind. Iron Man needs his machine-thingy on his chest (and I don’t remember what this is exactly but that keeps him alive). Dr. Strange has limited use of his hands.

The main problem I encounter with superhero movies and shows is that all of these characters are played by abled actors and the writers are also abled. Disabilities are manipulated to be whatever abled people want them to be.

In most cases, disabilities are erased with the abled gaze.

I just imagine how cool it would be to have Daredevil cast as a real blind person. It could be done! If superhero movies are willing to add superpowers to abled actors, then they could do the same for disabled actors.

They erase disabilities constantly because SUPERPOWERS THO!

This keeps the narrative that disabled people aren’t valid.

When will we get a disabled superhero played by a disabled actor? WHEN? I am waiting. The disability community is waiting.

Also, the whole bumper sticker at the end of Shazam was so pretentious. You are not “special” or have “superpowers” just because you are a foster parent. Nope.

[Trigger Warning: Suicide, Depression] When Religion Views Disability as a Punishment

I grew up going to different Christian churches. I sang in a choir as a kid and participated in activities with other children. I went to Sunday school and was so bored during regular church gatherings whenever I got stuck going to one.

I was told I would go to hell if I didn’t follow the word of God. If I did bad things. And when bad things happened, it was because I deserved it or I was being tested.

I would sit and pray and beg for something sometimes. I wouldn’t say my childhood was easy but we all have our struggles. My mom did her best after she divorced my father (who chose to leave us shortly after I was around 12). I didn’t want to burden her further.

Gif of Homer Simpson at a bowling alley telling his baby daughter, Maggie, “Good girl, Maggie! You knocked down all the pins!” via Giphy.

So I was a good girl and tried my best to excel in school and stayed away from trouble. I did my homework. I did what I was told mostly. I never talked back to my mom when she scolded me for something I did.

In many churches, you are supposed to pray to be healed. To not be disabled. Because a lot people view disability as a horrible thing. They view it as a punishment. They label it as evil.

I have been told that I deserve to have chronic pain for something that I did.

I have no idea what that something is supposed to be. I have tried my best to be “good” all of my life. Why would this happen to me when there are people out there who don’t become disabled and are murderers? This way of thinking doesn’t make sense to me.

I have been told if I just prayed more I would be healed.

I have no idea how much prayer that would be. How many hours of prayer will it take for it to work? How many people need to pray? In the meantime, do I just wait for my life to change the way it was when I was abled? What happens when I spend so much time praying and nothing changes like it has for many others?

I have been told that I am being tested.

How long will this last then? It seems really damn cruel to inflict pain onto someone for a test.

I have been told to not accept being disabled.

I have tried this and it only put me in a horrible mental space. I hated myself. I pushed too much and was in more physical and mental pain than I needed to be. I felt like a burden. I became suicidal.

How can I live with myself if I keep trying to push away something that affects me everyday?

I thought that maybe I should just die so I wouldn’t be a burden anymore. So the pain would go away finally. I felt useless.

I had doctors pushing me away too. My original PCP wouldn’t guide me through what he thought I had or any tests he did.

I had one doctor tell me I need to seek treatment for my obvious depression when I was telling them my struggles that no doctor was helping me manage my chronic pain.

Everyone around me played the guessing game of what was going on with me. But at least they tried more than many other doctors that dismissed me without guiding me to the right doctor that could help me.

But at some point, it was tiresome. I felt like a hot potato being passed around for the next unqualified person to tell me they know better than me.

Gif from The Devil Wears Prada of Miranda (played by Meryl Streep) saying, “Is there some reason that my coffee isn’t here?” via Giphy.

There always has to be a reason for something. People need a reason. People search for a reason. And, of course, there is always a reason for something. But that reason sometimes cannot be found or is unimportant.

People want to justify things that they view as “good” or “bad” in some way. They want to make themselves believe that good things happened to them because they deserved and earned them.

But don’t we all deserve to have food and a home? Healthcare? Love? Friends and family?

Bad people have done all of these horrible things and end up living a fulfilling life. But they are going to hell? What if there isn’t a hell? Why aren’t they being punished for doing horrible things now like I supposedly am?

We can’t continue to justify having amazing things compared to others who probably do all the right things AND MORE but are still in terrible situations because of our broken systems.

This leads to a lot of people staying content because they believe they earned what they have (and especially ridiculously rich people like billionaires).

I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. Things just happen.

Becoming disabled was just a random circumstance to me. It just happened. I don’t know if I was “meant” to be disabled or not. But here I am. It’s not going anywhere that I know of. I have been this way for about five years now.

I have no idea if it could have been something I did to make it happen? Not sure if I would have become disabled if I didn’t hurt my back when it all started.

It doesn’t matter anymore.

The more I accept it, the more I have a clear mind and in a positive mental space. I can only do so much. I can’t depend on others to “save” me but I can do my best and fight for my rights and receive the care and accessibility we all deserve to have.

I’m not sure what I am regarding religion. I am more spiritual in a way but not religious. I have a different life than I did and that’s okay.

Disability is not a punishment. It’s not a test. It’s not a burden. It’s not that teaching moment for abled people.

It’s a valid identity.

I do not want unsolicited prayers. Not like that situation I had with a stranger awhile back. Not only was it uncomfortable for me, I felt like I was in danger. And who was this person to think I wanted to be “healed?” They had no idea who I was.

If I was alone that day, I don’t know what I would have done. But now I may just have to pretend to “be healed” so the person leaves me alone if I feel in danger.

And an even worse thing you can do is substitute health and accessibility needs for prayer instead. This leads to more harm.

If you would like to pray for me, pray without telling me.

If you believe in prayer, there are no rules that say you have to tell the person you are praying about for it to work.

Don’t use disabled people to make yourself feel better about your life. We do not exist to make abled people feel better. We are not subhuman. We are not the token to make you feel like you did something good for the day. We are not the good deed.

If you ask someone if you can pray for them, be prepared to take “no” as an answer. Why are you asking a question if you just force prayer onto someone anyway? Is it more that you are going to pray for them anyway even if they refuse? Why can’t you pray on your own? Why is consent not important to you?

Gif of Neil Patrick Harris pointing to you with the text, “not today” via Giphy.

You are only a decent person if you treat a disabled person with respect.

But that isn’t the norm, is it? We are treated like we don’t deserve the same opportunities like abled people.

This is where fakspiration comes from. Oh, look! An abled person did something nice to a disabled person! THIS SHOULD BE NEWS!

NO! THIS SHOULDN’T BE NEWS AT ALL! Why is this on the TV news?

But I digress.

If you notice that your church prays just to make themselves feel good for the day, maybe you need to rethink how you view disabled people. Maybe you need to ask yourself why you pray.

Are you doing it for the person or are you doing it for yourself?

And not every disabled person wants to be “cured” or “healed.”

Personally, I would like a cure but I respect others who do not want that.

I would lose a part of myself though at this point because I feel so connected to my identity as a disabled latina.

It’s not my disabilities that make me angry or anxious most of the time. It’s ableism.

It’s the mistreatment. It’s the judgement. It’s the accusations of faking. It’s the telling me I am not doing enough when I know I am doing my best. It’s the inaccessible spaces.

Religion can be wonderful to have as a disabled person. I don’t know how that would be like because I’m not religious. I’m not anti-religion though. It’s just not something I can connect with my experiences of my disabilities. It puts me in a negative space.

I just know that it’s not my fault. I’m not a burden. I don’t need or have to be healed. And I am fine just the way I am.

If I am somehow “cured” someday, that’s cool. But if not, that’s cool too. I have learned to adapt.

Others can either accept my reality or pray on their own about me.

All I want for people who are religious in my life is to be there to support me on my good and bad days. Be there when it’s fun. Be there for support to fight for rights and accessibility. Be there to call out the abuse of disabled people. Be there to amplify the voices of disabled people.

Most of important of all, be there to listen to us and admit that we have a systemic issue of how we are mistreated.

Self-Care. Exhausting for Disabled People but Optional for Others.

I’ll start off by saying that this is my experience with self-care and heard from many other disabled folks. But I’m sure there are some that feel differently about it.

I used to be abled until I was about 23 years old. A life without chronic pain. I don’t remember it anymore.

Gif of Minions from Despicable Me singing together, “It’s time to partyyyyyy!” via Giphy.

I could get away with so many things and avoid self-care like not drinking enough water, standing/walking for long periods of time and not resting very much, skipping showers, working out and biking to school, sleeping six hours or less a night, drinking a lot of sugary drinks, having more than one alcoholic drink, eating a shit diet, working a double shift at a restaurant, and pulling all-nighters to study.

All that sounds impossible to me now without suffering consequences.

Self-care isn’t a choice anymore because it’s more that I am forced to do it.

I can’t just sleep poorly one night and expect it to not affect me at all the next day. I could have more pain from multiple conditions. I can’t stand on my feet for more than an hour without a very long break afterwards without developing pain in my ankles. I can’t focus on something to study on all night without getting a HUGE headache and feeling extremely tired and unable to focus. I can’t bike very long distances because my knees flare up. I can’t do most workouts unless it’s my physical therapy exercises. I can’t skip showers because my dermatitis will flare up if I don’t keep clean. I need to take my medications.

At some point, abled people do have to do self-care too but not until getting away with avoiding it for a longer period of time and recover much faster.

If I avoid self-care, it could take the whole week or more to recover and have things go back to my most tolerable state.

This is why I can’t just walk or stand for as long as I want. The pain will just get worse and worse until I am found crawling around my house and not be able to prepare food, go grocery shopping, go to doctor appointments, shower, and etc.

When my ankle pain started, it was so bad I used pillows to get around my house because it had tile for the living space and hallways. I didn’t have a wheelchair. And the pain STILL can get like that after five years.

Some people tell me just do it anyway.

BUT I HAVE TRIED SO MANY TIMES!

I end up being in excruciating pain every time and not be able to function at all. And then, they expect you to not be so “negative” when you are having a high pain day.

Gif of Regina George from Mean Girls changing her eyes from upwards to downwards with a worried expression via Giphy.

Okay, Becky. I am supposed to be positive when I can’t prepare myself a meal or go to the bathroom?

Balancing how much I stand and walk is a form of self-care. I protect myself from physical pain and I only have gotten better at it. But there are days when I can’t stand or walk for as long for no apparent reason. Even if I do my best to balance.

Using a wheelchair is a form of self-care as well. I can go out and do things still without putting myself in pain later or if I am in pain already.

Eating healthy has become a lot more of a priority because I can’t do all the cardio anymore. That’s one reason why I went vegan (besides animal rights and environment stuff) and started supplementing too.

Physical therapy, voice therapy, vision therapy, and doctor visits are also all forms of self-care. I had weeks this past year of having all of the above every week. Averaging 3 to 4 appointments EACH WEEK!

At this point, I am so exhausted of doing self-care that it feels like NOT doing it is a form of self-care.

But then, everything would start to go downhill and I wouldn’t be able to function very well or at all.

I also have to remember to bring bed sheets, towel, toilet paper (because I can’t be exposed to scents in all forms), and medications when I travel.

And I need to plan out how I am going to do activities. Do I need a wheelchair? How much walking is involved? Will there be seating available? Is it accessible so I can get in with my wheelchair? Will I have to carry my wheelchair? Will there be scent dispensers? Can I avoid taking Ubers because they are often scented? Is there a place I can go and rest for an hour? Oh, yeah. Don’t forget there might be people asking what’s wrong with you if you are using a wheelchair. Prepare a response and script for that kind of stuff.

All of this is a form of self-care. Physical and mental.

Self-care is a huge priority in disabled people’s lives because there is no negotiating it most of the time.

Gif of the TV show, Scrubs, of Turk waving, “No.” in the background and Carla looking forward to the person off-camera via Giphy.

If you’re an abled person, I am not saying this to make you feel better about yourself. It’s to inform you of the realities of a disabled person.

If they state they need a wheelchair for an event, don’t question it. If they state they can’t walk for that long or are in pain, don’t be the asshole that says just get over it or if they can do ten more minutes (and it’s likely they have been in pain for awhile and it has become less tolerable now).

If you tell me to not do my own kinds of self-care, you are denying me from functioning.

I used to but probably still struggle with internal ableism because I want to get stuff done but push it too much. I have realized that self-care is not something I can choose to ignore. And I have to accept it. So does everyone else.

Maybe I need to talk about the toxic “work” attitude that people have. People work so much they neglect so many things and put down others who can’t do as much. But that’s a post for another day.

The Power of True Representation and Relatability

About a month ago, the Oscars happened. Every rich actor worked with a team to dressed up, put on some makeup, and prepared speeches for any awards they might win.

I never really relate to most of these people. They are just in the movies or shows in which I NEVER relate to anymore either (except for One Day at at Time in which Netflix cancelled so FUCK THEM).

I was browsing my Twitter feed and I saw her.

I saw a cane. I saw a woman standing proudly with it in the sea of flashing camera lights. She wasn’t sulking. She held her cane like a fucking queen.

That moment affected me so much. I was shocked. In the crowds of abled actors who take disabled roles, there was an actual visibly disabled person.

Selma Blair.

This made me realize how much VISUAL representation truly matters. Especially when you feel like you can’t relate to anyone around you. Not in real life. Not on the screens. Not in books.

Because all this media is made by abled people who create stories that fit in the box of what disabilities are like to them. Not from the realities from real disabled people. They can’t draw from experience, so these stories aren’t relatable or real. It’s probably another reason why they hire abled actors for disabled roles so they can play disability by whatever stereotype they wish to fulfill.

I watched a Good Morning America segment with Selma Blair and I was also shocked it wasn’t drenched in fakespiration. It was just her talking about what her disability is like. Her speech was slurred. Doctors didn’t do shit for years until she was finally diagnosed with MS. Neglect and carelessness from doctors most (maybe all at some point) disabled people experience.

Watching the whole segment made me feel so validated. Seen. Heard.

YouTube video of Selma Blair talking about her disability on Good Morning America.

Here’s a person who experiences things that I have. Selma spoke about how getting ready for the Oscars was difficult and took a lot of energy. AND THIS IS SO TRUE! Going out for events is EXHAUSTING and takes a lot of planning for a lot of disabled people.

I know Lady Gaga deals with fibromyalgia too and people forget that she is disabled. It’s invisible but we need disability to be visible too whether they use a mobility device or any other medical device. We need to see that it’s OKAY TO USE THESE DEVICES.

Screenshot of Lady Gaga’s performance via Youtube of her song, Shallow, during the 2019 Oscars. She is sitting on a piano wearing a black dress and a sparkling necklace.

If Lady Gaga one day showed up in a wheelchair, even more people just might think that hey… maybe using a wheelchair isn’t so bad after all and is NOT A NEGATIVE THING!

Bonus points if she ends up using one and then the next day you see her busting out some moves to show that disability can look different depending on the day.

Obviously, I’m not saying invisible illness isn’t valid unless you use a mobility device, but I’m saying we need both kinds of representation and MORE!

Is Selma Blair brave?

Gif of Diana from Younger saying, “So brave” via Giphy.

A lot of media has put this “bravery” label on her. But I think for the wrong reasons. At first, I was taken aback by this because I knew most of these places were calling her brave because she left her house while being disabled. Just existing as a disabled person because we didn’t give up and die isn’t inspiring or brave.

But using a mobility device and facing ongoing ableism does take courage. It’s not our disabilities that cause us to be brave, it’s facing discrimination and inaccessibility that we have to put on a brave face.

Using a mobility device causes me a lot of anxiety because random strangers want to pray for me and ask me intrusive personal questions. I don’t want to deal with that when I just want to get a damn coffee or groceries. So I am forced to put on a brave face. To face these fears. To either tell people to fuck off or let them pray if I don’t feel safe or if I read the situation that a “no” is not a valid answer and put me in danger.

So, yes. Selma Blair is brave. She decided to use a lot of her valuable energy to attend the Oscars and possible face scrutiny by millions of people. I know if I were her, I would be terrified. What will people say? Will people think I’m faking? Will people think I gave up by using a mobility device? Will people believe me when I say I am disabled?

But in these situations we sometimes have a choice if we have the ability to either seclude ourselves or come out with a kickass cane and dress to show that it is okay to be disabled and use a mobility device if you need one.

Now I just wish I could use a cane but my upper joints wouldn’t like it. But hey! I will be planning to get a kickass wheelchair and other mobility devices in the future.

Selma Blair inspired me more to be unapologetically disabled and to come out as I am. I am not going to hide who I am anymore. I will not be sorry for needing certain accommodations. I will not be worried about being negative when I am being honest about my disabilities.

I finally feel like I can start relating to people again. Maybe.

How We Use “Good Intentions” to Excuse Harmful Behavior and Why

In my last post, I talked about how people excuse or reason why others are bigoted and it being because they must have a disability or some kind of mental illness or lack intelligence. I explained how this is simply not true and harmful to those with all kinds of disabilities.

So, I would like to remind you again. Bigoted people are bigoted not because of the lack of intelligence. Calling them intelligence-based insults only stigmatizes those with intellectual disabilities. They know what they are doing. Call them what they actually are. Racists. Sexists. Assholes. Ableists.

Now I can also dive into why good intentions don’t matter when it causes harm. I feel like TV shows and movies excuse a character’s bad behavior with this pretty often.

Screenshot of Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. Sierra is hiding underneath a car to spy on the date her and the popular girl in school set up to continue to catfish the other male main character.
Screenshot of Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. Sierra is hiding underneath a car to spy on the date her and the popular girl in school set up to continue to catfish the other male main character.

“They had good intentions tho!”

“They didn’t MEAN it!” So that totally justifies them catfishing that guy whose only personally trait is that he is sweet.

“They were only trying to help!”

One of the major things that has made this topic a reoccurring problem that comes up in my experience is watching YouTube. At least I encountered this often or accidentally hear about such YouTubers.

GIF of Carol from the TV show, “The Last Man on Earth,” saying “I’m so sorry.” via Giphy.

If you watch a lot of YouTube, you probably have found those apology videos of YouTubers who did something bad or harmful.

You rarely find a YouTuber who admits they were wrong, don’t make any excuses (they don’t bring up their past or any kind of mental illness), and actually apologize and explain why what they did was harmful.

Most of the time, they make excuses while also stating they are not making excuses. WHAT?

I think it’s important to evaluate yourself and be willing to criticize yourself or take criticism from others. I get that in the social media world, everyone criticizes you for everything. But the difference is being willing to take criticism for something harmful you did and change. And LISTEN too.

Looking for intentions that justify bad behavior is ingrained into society. People search for the reason why a terrible person did horrible things and want to link it to anything like mental illnesses.

There isn’t something inherently wrong with this I feel like. But often mental illnesses are stigmatized along the way. Nobody wants to admit that they are “crazy” like those other people. There is a lot of shame.

But mental illnesses don’t “excuse” harmful behavior. It is important that we take responsibility and seek help which is why we need to provide healthcare for EVERYONE. How can we get better when access to healthcare is impossible too many times?

I have been able to go to a therapist for months now but not everyone will be able to. Why does everyone have to prove their value as a human being so we can get some damn healthcare? WHY IS THIS SO HARD?

GIF of Neil Patrick Harris aligning a stack of papers with a yellow one at the end saying, “hopes and dreams” and tossing it up via Giphy.

I still struggle with saying, “I didn’t mean it” when I feel like the simple answer is “I’m sorry. And I will work on being better.”

I’m not perfect that is for sure. I am also calling myself out in this post. I’m not “better” than anyone else. Hell, I still find myself using terms I don’t like because ableism is so ingrained.

The main statement that I want to address is:

“Good or bad intentions don’t matter if the action(s) cause harm.”

Intentions can be deemed good or bad depending on the point of view.

GIF of The Beast from the animated Beauty and the Beast movie switching his gaze onto an opened book via Giphy.

I feel like the level of someone’s intelligence can be different depending on someone’s point of view too. You have people calling each other ableist slurs (idiot, moron, etc.) all the time because they think they are smarter and those other people are not. But maybe that’s something I need to explore on a different post.

Point of views are the factor in this. It could be coming from a bigoted person.

For example, people who are anti-LGBTQ believe people can just simply just choose to not be who they are. And a lot of them are also religious and say how it is against the Bible (although it’s more complicated than that because one can interpret the Bible in MANY different ways to fit their views).

These people believe there is a hell and being gay will get you there. So in their point of view, it’s a good intention. Does it really matter when LGBTQ people are sent to conversion camps and are abused because people believe they can be changed?

People also love to say they don’t support LGBTQ rights but state it’s just their “opinion.” It’s more than just an opinion though when they vote for taking or keeping away rights for LGBTQ people and it affects them in a harmful way. It’s more than just an opinion when they abuse others.

What about those who are trans? People accuse trans woman of wanting to be able to use women’s restrooms to sexually harass cis women. They are afraid and want to protect others in false pretenses when trans women are just there to pee too and have no motive to sexually harass other women.

Although, I do think that often “good intentions” are actually fear of the unknown or those who are different and not having empathy for others. In my point of view, a bigoted person can’t have good intentions. They prefer that everybody just be like them. No. They demand it and force this onto others.

As a disabled person, I have experienced the “good intentions” excuse many times before.

When I was using a wheelchair and waiting at a bus stop with my husband, a male stranger came up to me and asked if he could pray for me.

I had no idea who this person was or if he was going to touch me (because for some reason you need to touch others physically to make prayer work sometimes?). I didn’t know what to do.

Since my husband was there, he immediately shut it down and told the stranger to go away.

I don’t know what I would have done. As a disabled woman, it can be scary to interact with a man you don’t know. Especially when there is no one around.

I might have felt forced to follow up and just let him pray for me so he wouldn’t get mad at me and potentially hurt me.

I was terrified.

He walked away after my husband told him to leave me alone. Would he have done the same if I told him? Not sure. But this situation still scares me.

But after that occurrence, it got me thinking. Why would he even approach me at all? Does prayer only work if that person knows you are praying for them? Or was it because he wanted to feed his ego? To know he did a “good deed” for a disabled person?

None if this matters because this encounter caused me a lot of anxiety and it still does. I try my best to avoid such situations. I wear headphones. I don’t go out at night alone. I avoid spaces that are deserted. It’s another reason I have been putting off getting another mobility device since I don’t have one currently.

I have been set back on doing things I want to do like searching for an apartment since we are looking to move. But I can only do so much because I can’t walk everywhere for long.

I don’t want random strangers or anyone at all telling or asking me about prayer either.

Religion can be a problematic thing for many people who are different and don’t fit into society’s standards. And I’ll talk about it more in a later post.

Then, there are stories of strangers pushing wheelchair users WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. A mobility device is an extension of our bodies, you can’t just touch one without consent.

This is also why airports need to stop treating these mobility devices like shit and just STOP LOSING THEM and DAMAGING THEM.

And then, there are people that tell you to “get over it” and a lot of the time they just want you to move on but further accidentally move you from facing your problems whether that’s a mental illness or something else.

Telling my OCD to just “get over it” NEVER has worked. It actually makes it worse because trying to just “get over it” and have that not work makes me more anxious.

More so-called good intentions are people in the beauty community doing blackface and conditions like vitiligo for makeup looks. A lot of the time, they excuse doing this because they only want to “celebrate” dark skin or other conditions. So it’s all good. It’s totally not blackface… (obvious sarcasm).

Why not just share your platform to someone who is black or has vitiligo instead? Do a makeup look on them.

There are people not vaccinating their kids because they think they are protecting them from becoming disabled or autism (even though there is no link with autism and vaccines). They hear about many anecdotes from parents who’s kids never have been vaccinated and they turned out fine. So they should totally be fine too, right? This doesn’t put others with low immunities at risk at all (also sarcasm).

This is why any kind of intentions don’t matter. If our actions are causing harm, we need to find ways to change things to not cause harm as much as possible.

Obviously, there are some situations where you do something and you didn’t intend to cause accidental harm. I’m not saying every situation is the same. There are situations that your intentions do matter but they shouldn’t excuse you from acknowledging that you might need to change something if you are causing harm.

This is more on the situations that people tend to easily excuse themselves and don’t do anything to change because they had good intentions.

And now you know why I have my quote on my side bar there.