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Normalisation vs Pride and Self-Expression

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  • Simon Stevens
    Dear all, My observations of the UK disability movement over the last few months and indeed years has shown a realisation which I wish to share with everyone.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 2000

      Dear all,


      My observations of the UK disability movement over the last few months and indeed years has shown a realisation which I wish to share with everyone. My concerns became focus when I witness the debate of the film the ‘Idolts’. It seemed many disabled people argued that it was the moral duty of all disabled people to hate this film because it portrayed us in the wrong light, we never make mess in public or wave our arms about.


      But the problem is I do make a mess in public and wave my arms about, that is a part of my impairment and therefore a part of me, and quite frankly I am proud of it! I am NOT normal and never want to be.


      So I realised that many disabled people, often those who have not faced oppression to any large degree, want to be normal and demand that all other disabled people should be normal, not in a biological way but in a social way. The social model, in its most pure form, is normalisation, it is the medical model for social normality.  I am not argueing against the social model since I do not believe it is as pure as it was and is now a symbolitic model for power, access etc. Plus it is developing and concepts of impairment, identity and pride have a place.


      So is the disabled movement about normalisation? Well, some parts are and I would challenge many disability academics to argue they are not into normalisation? My realisation is the disabled movement is not about structures and powers but more about a force (like Star Wars) and a change coming from individuals, groups, organisations etc. Email is playing a large part in building a stronger disability movement, this email may reach a large population of people active in disability.


      So as you guess I hate normalisation in all its forms. I believe we are seeing the start of a new element of disability/impairment politics…. pride and self-expression. I am not sure if this means the self-oppressive arts and poetry I sometimes see but something more positive. I am not proud of my oppression but I am proud of who I am and I wish to express to the world who that is, a bib wearing, helmet wearing dribble spastic that talks funny, waves everything about and makes a mess wherever he goes!


      I have met many people who share my proud in themselves and desire not to be normal, whatever that damn word means. I do feel a new stronger movement is being built right now, by me, by my friends and colleagues, by people I am yet to meet and by people I may never meet! I doubt that will never by a formal structure to the movement but rather thru email and personal contract, this movement will grow by not just having people but knowing people, sharing oppressive expressives and being open about who we are.


      Therefore the normalisation bible should be burnt as we begin to discovery ourselves and become true allies in achieving the right thing, which may include taking the piss out of ourselves at times.


      This is my waffle and just an opinion so no burst veins please!


      Best wishes




      Simon Stevens

      Enable Enterprises

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