Defining Disability and Societies Stereotypes
Society is always searching for a way to define or generalize what constitutes being disabled. Some would say disability is nothing out of the normal and that one’s who are disabled are still on a level playing field with abled persons. In contrast though, some argue that being disabled is something that totally hinders your life and will never allow you to fit in with the “social norm”. The focus of this paper is not to define disability, but to use educated points of view to help better an understanding of what disability may be, in order to form one’s own definition of being disabled. Information from three different authors will be used to help better the understanding of what society views as disabled and what their contributions to the stereotypes created are. Colin Low, a blind filmmaker, article called Some Ideologies of Disability will be used. In addition, Disability and Representation written by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, who is a specialist in disability studies, will be used to both agree and argue points involving the disabled. Finally, a TED talk discussing prosthetic legs, given by Aimee Mullins, who is a leg amputee as well as a former Paralympic athlete will be used to state her self-imposed views. Through comparing and contrasting along with analyzing these authors uses of rhetorical appeals, including pathos and ethos, and the materials they use to defend their information, hopefully a clearer definition or idea of what disability is, begins to form. Throughout the course of all three articles, the authors use pathos to help support what they see as defining disability. In Low’s article he uses an excerpt from the play “Children of a Lesser God” where he uses lines from a deaf characters script in which she speaks, “Until you let me be an individual, an “I”, just as you are you will never truly be able to come inside my silence and know me” (Low,110). Similarly, Garland- Thomson uses pop culture references when expressing her thoughts on the subject. She uses examples such as Finding Nemo, A Beautiful Mind, and Superman, all who have some form of disability. In both cases, the authors are reminding the reader that even famous people or characters, who many people may see as above normal society or as heroes, can even have disabilities too. This provokes emotion from the reader because like stated, these are people or characters that society often looks up to and like both writers are trying to say, their disabilities do not make them abnormal, and if their disabilities do dictate their life they do so in a positive way, unlike the negative stereotype that society has created.
When Mullins uses pathos in her speech she refers to disabilities as being able to be looked at as being “super-abled” if it wasn’t for the stereotypes already created by society. Mullins states that whenever children approached her they looked at her with a complete innocent state of mind that has yet to be altered because of society. Low supports the discrimination by society that Mullins discusses in her speech when he states that in the pseudo-radical observation of the disabled they view them as being defined by their disability. They believe that both their individuality and humanity have been lost and that the fact that the disabled get treated so different from other humans leaves society with no choice other than to be discriminates (Low, 111). The emotion drew out in these examples leaves the reader questioning if they in fact discriminate against the disabled? Do they perform the generous acts for someone that is disabled in a purely genuine matter or does the idea of their disability sway the person’s personality to pity?
The materials used amongst the three authors to support their ideas of discrimination of the disabled in society along with trying to define disability both agree and contradict with each other. For example, Low uses a story about a giraffe and an...
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