STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.
WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility.
As the election campaigns wind down, I have, like many others, been struck, and turned off, by the uniformity of the white, middle aged, maleness of our politicians. Where are the women, people of other races and those of us with disabilities? Totally absent, it would seem.
Depressingly, even more than other minorities, those with disabilities have no unified voice to represent them politically.
Worse, I am not sure this will ever change whilst the entire disabled population has to compete for a share of the same limited government resource – not conducive to unifying our focus!
Even more pertinently, we are such a wide-ranging and disparate group that the sum of our differences in needs and interest may always be greater then the totality of our similarities.
And, if these factors alone were not enough to seriously undermine any possibility of a cohesive political voice, we also have to recognise that, implicitly, we are less well equipped than most minorities to actively agitate for political change on our own behalf – err, I’m thinking about illnesses, diseases, pain and personal difficulties as well as the more obvious discriminatory factors against our participation in the political process.
As if we didn’t know, but it sure sucks to be disabled, doesn’t it?
Our inability to find common cause, and muster political presence to argue for it, ghettoises disability, reinforcing the stereotype that we are a weak, fragmented and largely invisible population who are supported by the ‘grace’ of the majority rather than by equal right.
This makes me angry, and more so, as I feel the hurricane wind of ‘austerity’ cuts racing towards us whoever wins this election. With no united presence, power or profile, the ‘disabled’ are an easy – even popular – focus for cuts in the public purse. There is no one to refute the ‘benefits scroungers’ tag, to smash the begging bowl, to support our contribution to society and our right to a life not just existence.
Invisible in the ghetto of disability: Absent in the political process.