Posted by prideinmadness
If you don’t know about Oscar Pistorius already then I am sorry to say but you must be living under a rock!
Oscar Pistorius is a 25 year old man from South Africa who is competing the men’s 400m and men’s 4 x 400m relay. He has yet to race the relay and he made it as far as the semifinals in the men’s 400m!
Oscar is a double amputee, having a prosthetic on both legs from the knee down. He has caused much controversy in the Olympic world because he is competing not only in the Paralympics but in the Olympics as well. The concern is in his prosthetic, J-shaped carbon-fibre prosthetics called the “Cheetah Flex-Foot”. Olympic officials were worried if the prosthetic would give him an advantage in his running. They decide on, no, that Oscars prosthetic puts him at no advantage in running so he is able to compete in London 2012!
All over the world, people know that Oscar Pistorius is an inspiration but I think they see this a little differently than I do (or I’m a little bit of a pessimist). When I hear the media talk about Oscar it seems to be in the “Aw wow, look what he can do!” mentality. They typical ‘babying’ that I’m sure people with physical, mental, development and mental health disabilities are used to hearing when they do something (this is key) that they were not expected to do…which is pretty much everything!
Everyone means well and the acknowledgement is still great, but I look at Oscar and see a man that has said, “Screw what you think! I’m racing just like any other person!” This is about Oscar not letting societal perceptions of disability limit his own ability.
In the beginning of my blog on WordPress I posted about the social model of disability which says that disability is created by society. Oscar is believed to not be able to compete with men who do not have an amputation , that is society disabling him. Once this belief is established, if people like Oscar want to do the things that people without an amputation can do, they need to jump through hoops to show that they are capable. People will complain about the accommodations that may have to be made and sadly accommodation is sometimes seen as not being fair to those without a disability (so stupid).
Oscar Pistorius proved that disability is in the eye of the beholder. This is a case where his failing to come in first or qualify shows that he does not have an advantage but has PURE SKILL! He is fast because he trained and trained and oh did I mention HE TRAINED?!?!?!?! Well, he trained!
I hope in the future, and not just in the Olympics, we can see how we contribute to a person’s disability.
A note to my followers with mental health issues. This applies to you also. We are told what we can can’t do as a result of our disorder. We do in fact set those limits. We decide what we can achieve. I don’t care if it’s a “small” accomplishment, everything you do proves to people that you are able and it proves to yourself that you are able! I call them “fuck you moments”. They are my favourite moments. There is nothing better than showing people that what they thought of you was WRONG!
Posted by prideinmadness
This is one of the most empowering models I’ve found to view not only mental health but disability. It is called the Social Model of Disability (SMD, mix them up and you get DSM WHOA!) and I’m so pissed that I was never taught it while in school for social work! I didn’t learn about SMD until I began working with The Madvocates (follow on Twitter @TheMadvocates) and it became one of the base theories for our research.
SMD is beautiful and I feel a no brainer: Society makes disability disabling by creating a disabling world. Meaning that if society broke down the barriers facing those with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities the whole notion of someone being disabled could be erased! SMD also recognizes the important role society plays in creating the difficulties faced by those with disabilities and does not blame the individual.
Not enough people know about this model! In my 4th and final year of university I took a sociology course that looked at social inequalities in film. I brought up SMD during a class where we were looking at disability. My brilliant professor hadn’t even heard of SMD!
If there isn’t a ramp into a building, if there isn’t braille on a sign, if there aren’t chirps at crosswalks then we are forcing the individuals who need these aids to remain in their homes and not participate in society despite their capabilities to do so if the aids were in place! We are disabling them!
The same goes for mental illness. I have taken to saying in the past few years that I have no problem with having borderline personality disorder, it’s everyone else that does. I can only do so much in my life if society is pushing down on me.
We all need to recognize our roles in making life difficult for those with disabilities but more importantly our roles in making life better. We have so much to offer that can make life easier that to withhold that and blame it on the disability is outrageous! Everyone has a right to reach their full potential by whatever means is necessary.
It’s about speaking and listening to the needs of others AND THEN DOING WHAT IS NEEDED!!