This article, assigned in class, discusses how the term “disability” should be questioned and how we should take the time to look at this term in a different way. People with disabilities are said to be disabled because they are not capable of doing things in the same way as what society views as normal. The authors of this article ask us to focus on their abilities and their desire to be wanted and accepted, rather than focusing on their disabilities and how they’re different. “People with intellectual disabilities seek to be recognised as human: ontologically, materially, and politically.”
If we start to focus on individual’s abilities and what they thrive at, rather than focusing on where they struggle, I believe that we will have a new respect for people who are different from us. “The Charity Model declares disability to be a tragedy, a misfortune, that must be tempered or erased by generous giving.” (Clare) However, everyone faces challenges and is unable to do some things, and if we took the time to recognise that different doesn’t mean bad, or broken, or unable, people’s view on “disabled” people would start to change.
The dominant group consists of those who are mentally, physically, and emotionally capable to take part in everyday activities, because this is the norm, things are catered to us and we take advantage of this, often forgetting that others don’t always have the same privileges. “Sometimes we who are activists and thinkers forget about our bodies, ignore our bodies, or reframe our bodies to fit our theories and political strategies.” (Clare). We forget to be courteous to people who look, believe, dress, and act different from us because we are so used to what has become the norm, which often leaves people to be afraid to express themselves or be different. If we took more time to be aware of ourselves and thankful for our abilities, we would then be able to better accept and appreciate the abilities of others, even if they don’t appear in the same ways.
Gender roles play a very prominent part in society, and more often then not, it happens subconsciously because it is what we expect to see in people is create by the media and what we expect to be the norm. There are so many standards regarding how the proper girl or boy should look, dress, and act and these ideas are created in peoples’ mind and are forced upon people at a very young age.
In my own self story about gender, I expose the normative narrative around how, as children, boys and girls are expected to act and play differently. A toy’s a toy discusses how little girls are expected to play with toys such as doll’s and boys are expected to play sports and have boyish toys such as cars. Adults in particular have become so used to this norm that it is strange to them when a little girl wants to play with the “boy’ toy. Just as the woman working at McDonalds thought and stated that, a boy wouldn’t want a necklace, and because I wasn’t a boy, I shouldn’t want a sports toy. My mom informed the lady working that, “it shouldn’t matter. A toy is a toy.” However, this is often hard to see as sexism is built into society in ways that we don’t even recognize. Is Everyone Really Equal by Robin DiAngelo gives the example of how, “cooperate-produced toys amplify rigid gender roles, socializing girls into femininity (nurturing, caring, beauty play) and boys into masculinity (aggressive, violent, physical play).” (DiAngelo, p 1 06). My classmate, Amber Sadden, had an experience that was not that different from mine when playing with her cousin, who happened to be a boy. Jonas, the cousin, was caught playing with dolls and a pink puppy by his father, who, as a result, become enraged and lectured the children on how, “the colour pink was only for prissy princesses and dolls for girly girls, but since he was to be a man that he shouldn’t be anywhere near those toys.” Girls, who are supposed to grow up to be nurturing mothers are expected to be the ones playing with dolls while boys are supposed to grow up to be hard working and strong and instead should be sports or more hands-on games. In reality, the father should play just as important of a role as the mother and both parents should be hard working, capable, and motivated. Both Amber and I are arguably very lucky because we both grew up with parents who didn’t look at toys this way and who helped us to understand that it’s okay to play with whichever toys we wanted. However, Amber said that she felt ashamed to be holding this pink toy that got her in trouble; it seemed as though her uncle thought that the pink toy was a sign of weakness. Amber says that her mom worked hard to remind her that, “’a toy is just a toy’ and ‘a colour is just a colour.'”
Another classmate of mine, Aiden Hugg, wrote a story about how the stereotypical man’s evening should go. This includes driving around late at night, smoking in his car with his friend, drinking, and playing pool. “When we got sick of cigarettes, we broke out the pipe and tobacco. We continued to converse, and after we had finished a bowl, we went inside. Once inside, I poured myself a scotch on ice, and Tyler prepared himself a gin with orange juice. Once are drinks were prepared, we went down to play a best of 7 in pool, as we often did.” These are all habits that are very typical of young men and what society would expect to see. Aiden and his friend do these sorts of things all the time and no one thinks twice about it. However, if two young women were to get together, get drunk and high, and hangout in a pool hall smelling like cigarettes, people would most certainly judge and probably refer to them as trashy because that is not how society things girls should behave. Behaviour such as this is something that a young women’s parents would disapprove of her doing.
In comparison to this, Esther tells the story about the time that her and her friends went to an older girl asking how to be a “girly girl.” The girl they go to, Briana, describes herself as being more a tomboy, shows the younger girl what a “girly girl” looks and acts like. The girls play together, and spend time dressing and acting like girls, in an almost mocking way. They learn how to dress, talk, as well as how to do the cat walk, some wearing heels, but then laugh at each other for looking ridiculous. This goes to show how society and the media has created an image of what girls should look like and how they should act. This image is not realistic and often times not even real. Regardless it is something that young girls look up to and aspire to be. They hope to grow up to be pretty, and thin; they aim to be perfect as far as appearance go but learn little about mentality.
Society feels the need to stick to these gender roles and individuals often struggle with being who they really want to be because they are afraid to stand out or be judged. Danielle chose to write about her view of gender and gender roles. She tells that she would love to run around outside and play in the mud with the boys. She later realized that her female friends didn’t want to join her because it wasn’t what girls usually did. Even though she sometimes doubted her behaviour, she didn’t really care. “It baffled me, since it was so fun! Who wouldn’t want to join in?” She just wanted to have fun and be herself, which is what more people should aim for. Danielle informs that reader that her boyfriend doesn’t identify as either male or female, and dresses however they chose and doesn’t, “blink twice if people defy them.” Individuals should be able to dress and act however they wish, and sometimes this takes some exploring, but they shouldn’t feel pressured by society. It is important for us to have this freedom. “Gender is not one or two things; it can be as many things as you want it to be. Meeting them, learning about them, and in turn loving them, changed my perspective of gender.” When meeting new people, we need to have this type of mentality. One should be able to identify however they want and without judgement. overall, one’s physically appearance really should not affect our opinion of them. It’s their personality the should make the difference.
Furthermore, Jocelyn King’s story really inspired me. She described her morning routine for her first day of grade nine. She gets up early in the morning, excited to get ready and to make herself look and feel beautiful. She spends a long time on hers makeup but feels strong and empowered by doing so. When she looks at herself after she’s finsihed, she states, “I feel as stunning as I look.” The makeup gives her confidence and makes her feels ready to take on the day. “My mom tells me I look beautiful and I felt my nervous slightly calm.” Many people see being a woman as meaning that all you care about is your looks and that you are weaker gender. However, Jocelyn lets the reader know how being a woman and putting on makeup made her feel strong, capable, and ready to conquer the day.
Just as being born a female doesn’t make you weak, being a man and choosing to play with a “girls” toy doesn’t make you any lesser of a person. Children should be given the option to play with whatever toys they want and dress how they wish. As they grow and mature, the standards to confide to society’s view of gender should not be forced upon them. People should be free to express themselves in whatever ways they want as long as they’re not doing harm to others. Whether they chose do to this through the length of their hair, the way the dress, or what games they like to play, that is their choice and they deserve to be respected for it.
The lunch bell rings in our grade 3 classroom. I quickly push open the top of my desk to put my note book, math textbook, and my pink pencil case inside. We all rush out to the hall where our blue lockers are lined up against the wall. I open mine and pull out my square pink lunch bag and head through the very crowded hallway to my lunch room with a couple of the kids in my class. Our lunch room is the grade 6 classroom and also where French class is held. The desks in this classroom are taller than the ones in my classroom. The walls are a very pale-yellow colour and are covered in posters with how to pronounce French numbers, letters, months, etc. There’s a big map hung up on the white board at the front of the classroom that the younger kids are very interested in. The lunch room has about 5 kids from each grade in it and we all move the desks beside each other to sit closer to our friends. I pull a thermos of vegetable soup out of my lunch kit and start eating it.
The supervisor today is Mrs. Dobson, she was my teacher last year and was my favourite. She comes in our lunchroom to check on us and yells at a couple of the older boys in the back corner to sit down and put the ball away until recess. I watch as Mrs. Dobson then goes up to one of the younger girls, crouches down and talks to her for a minute, and then leaves. I continue to nibble away at my soup and excitedly talk to my friends about who’s going to be it for our game during recess.
A couple minutes later Mrs. Dobson comes back in and tells the boys again that they need to sit down and eat. This time, Mrs. Dobson is carrying a pizza pop, cheese and crackers, and a juice box. She takes the food to the younger girl that she was just talking to. The girl quietly takes the food and starts eating. When Mrs. Dobson starts to leave, I go up to her and ask if I can have a treat too because I don’t like my lunch. She says no and I ask her why the other girl got food. Mrs. Dobson crouches down beside me and talks softly. She patiently explains to me that some families aren’t as lucky or as smart as mine and reminds me that when I forget lunch, my mom or dad leave work and bring me food. She says that this girl didn’t have a lunch today and that sometimes parents get busy and forget to buy groceries or pack a lunch for their kids and they aren’t able to bring them food. Mrs. Dobson also tells me that the teachers keep extra food for emergencies like this because we all need to eat, and she says I’m lucky that my parents always give me such good lunches. I think for a minute and then tell her that I get what she means and go and sit down and think about how good my mom’s homemade vegetable soup is.
My little brother Alex and I excitedly ran up to the McDonalds to the heavy doors that we weren’t strong enough to open. Mom follows closely behind and pulls the door open to let us in. We hurry inside and go to look at the display case that has all the new toys in it. Mom comes up behind us and asks what we want to eat. I told her that I want a grilled cheese sandwich happy meal with fries and a mayo packet as well as a 7-up; Alex says he wants a plain cheese burger with ketchup, fries, and a Root Beer. I look around the McDonalds, there are square white tables with red chairs in the main part of the restaurant. There is also a big red Ronald McDonald statue. In the toy display case, they show the girl toys and the boy toys. The girl toys are plastic Barbie jewelry: a green plastic wrist bands with a pink heart shaped charm with a picture of Barbie, a yellow plastic ring shaped like a big diamond, and a necklace with plastic white beads and a big blue circle charm with another picture of Barbie. The boy toys are mini sport video games. There is basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball, and tennis. Alex and I excitedly talk about they toys and point out which ones we think are the coolest and the ones we want. I decide that the mini video game looks way cooler so I run up to the counter and ask my mom to ask the lady working if I can have the other toy instead, and she does.
Once we get our food we go back to the play area; back here the tables are white with booths that are purple and green. The play place is so many different colours: red, yellow, blue, green, and purple. There are 2 slides and many sections with windows and nets. Alex picks a table close to the slide. Mom hands us each our red happy meal boxes, we open them and instantly dig for the toys. Alex pulls his out first, he got the basketball game. When I look at my toy, I’m upset because it’s the Barbie necklace, I look at mom and then look at Alex’s toy. She tells me that it’s okay and takes me back up the counter where she asks the lady working if we can change my toy for one of the video game toys. The woman looks at me and then looks at my mom confused. She explains that this is the toy that they hand out to girls and that the other one is for boys. She says that a boy wouldn’t want a necklace and I shouldn’t want a sports toy. Mom says that she understands this but that it shouldn’t matter, a toy is a toy. The woman looks very annoyed but ends up switching out the toys and I get a tennis game. I say thank you and excitedly run back to the table to show my brother what I got.
The school bell rings and we all run to the doors. I huddle with the other kids under the big brick arch that shelters the door. We crowd in, accidently bumping into each other as we take our boots off and search for our indoor shoes in our assigned spots on the boot rack. Everyone in my class is very excited because on Friday Mrs. Dobson said that we would be getting a new student today. After getting past all the kids in the doorway, I go up to my shared locker where Hayley is already hanging up her ski-pants. I join her, and we talk about our weekends and then walk into the classroom together.
I talk with my classmates, playing a quick game of “Cat’s Cradle” as we wait for the final bell. Once it rings, Mrs. Dobson gets us to be quiet by clapping her hands and when we’re listening she calls the new student to the front of the room. Mrs. Dobson says her name is Honeylene and that she moved here from Regina. Right away I notice that she is very different from the rest of us. She has dark skin, long, straight black hair and is very thin; she is very pretty. Honeylene sits down and we all go around the classroom and say our names and what our favourite class is. After, Mrs. Dobson starts the day, talking about what we’ll be doing that week and then she starts class.
When the recess bell finally rings, we all hurry out of the classroom, rush to our lockers to put our ski-pants and jackets back on and then crowd by the boot racks to switch back to our winter boots. When I get outside, I wait for Hayley and then run out to the field where Honeylene is building a snowman. Some other kids in my class already joined her and we work together. I tell that we should push the snowman towards the back of the field, so the other kids wouldn’t mess with it and we can work on it more at lunch time. When we’re talking, I notice that she has an accent and sometimes is hard to understand, but she’s good at explaining what she means. We made a huge bottom ball for the snowman and are all struggling to lift the middle section up onto the bottom one when the bell rings.
Again, we all run to the doors to push our way inside. As I’m taking my boots I hear three of the girls from my class talking about Honeylene and how she looks weird. A couple of the boys join in with these girls and are making fun of her accent. “That’s not very nice,” I think to myself as I walk passed them. My eight-year old self recalls the people that my mom and dad work with and became friends with who are from different places. I know that some of them have even bigger accents, so I don’t understand why these kids are making fun of her. I think her accent it actually pretty cool.
We go inside and again Mrs. Dobson quiets us down and starts going over how to plus and minus numbers. We all sit in our desks as the rest of the morning drags on. When the lunch bell rings, we go to our lockers for our lunch kits. During lunch, I sit with Hayley, as always, a couple of the boys throw a little green ball back and forth until the supervisor yells at them to stop. I look for Honeylene and see that she’s sitting with two other kids as they tell stories back and forth. Most of my classmates are very nice to her, just like we always are with any new kid and want to make new friends. I’m still confused about why the kids by the door earlier were being so mean just because she was different, but I try not to think about it. When the bell rings to go outside, I go over to Honeylene and along with our friends, we hurry outside, excited to finish our snowman.
It’s 8:30pm on a school night, Mom and Dad have been fighting with my younger brother Alex and I to go to bed for quite some time. School had just started a couple of weeks ago, we were very excited, and energetic, plus, we wanted to finish our show. Mom finally urges us into the bathroom, I pull out my pink electric tooth brush and bubble-gum toothpaste and brush my teeth beside my little brother. Then I go to my room, get under my purple comforter, and cuddle up next to my giant lady bug teddy bear. Beside my bed is a purple barbie lava lamp and I roll over and watch it. Mom and Dad each take turns coming in and saying goodnight. When Mom goes to leave she turns around and says, “I love you more.” I giggle softly and look at her, “I love you all the way to the moon and back.” She smiles and counters saying, “I love you more then the entire universe” and she quietly shuts the door and leaves.
What feels like hours later, I still can’t sleep. I’m laying in my bed when I hear Alex up and digging for food in the kitchen. I open my door and check to see that my parents are both in their room; they are. I sneak into the kitchen just as Alex, who has jumped up on the counter, is pulling the purple snack box out of the cupboard. The box is filled with goodies such as gold fish, handy snacks, and gushers. Alex and I begin to dig through the box when Dad comes around the corner, startling us. We both begin to explain how we are hungry and can’t sleep. He gives us his disapproving look and sends us back to bed.
I lay in my bed, now convinced that I’m hungry. A little while later Dad comes back in to check on me. When he sees that I’m still up, he sighs heavily and then gestures for me to get up. We walk together down the hall to Alex’s room. His room is bigger than mine, has a dark navy-blue carpet and blue bedding that matches. When we walk in, Alex is sitting on the floor playing with his monster trucks and looks terribly guilty when he sees Dad. Dad laughs softly and tells us to sit down. Thinking that we’re in trouble, we quietly sit on the floor as he walks out.
He’s only gone for a second and when he walks back in he has cheese strings and one of each of our shoes. He sits down cross legged beside us and hands us each a cheese string. Then, after handing us each our one shoe, he grabs his own and begins to explain how to tie our shoes. “Grab the two strings and tie a knot.” He demonstrates and then waits for us to do the same. “Good. Now make one bunny ear with this hand,” he says as he points to our left hands. “Now take the other shoe lace, wrap it around, and pull it through.” This step takes a lot of practice, but Dad is patient and helps us work through it. After what feels like hours, Alex and I are finally tired, and feel very proud and rebellious. Dad has just taught us to tie our shoes and we even got to stay up late and have snacks. He sends me back to my room and comes in to say goodnight a few moments later. He gently kisses my forehead and whispers, “I love you more.”