Ted Shiress

Independence Masturbation

Posted on | May 29, 2016 | No Comments

I’ve said in the past I don’t have an issue with ‘inspiration porn’, people who get ‘inspired’ by disabled people doing the mundane- and I still feel those people are harmless albeit misguided and not worth fussing over. However many know pornography comes hand-in-hand with masturbation and I think we need to talk about the concept of ‘Independence Masturbation’ – the idea that disabled people use independence as a form of self-pleasure.

An episode which illustrates this perfectly took place in the gym recently where I was about to adjust the machine I was on, someone started to offer help then a regular punter lent in and said “He likes to do it himself”. To his credit I didn’t think I could be so angered by a handful of modals and pronouns but there is so much here that jarred. There is an implication here that a norm is being broken – usually someone would come running but Whacky Radical Ted does it his way – this is not true nor do I want it to be true. Disabled people cannot rely on random acts of kindness, yes there are a few things I ask when I’m out and I’m grateful when they’re done, but these are optional things not essentials. Everywhere I go without my PA I know I can be self-sufficient – that’s not to say a few tasks won’t be improved without help but that help is always optional – so helping me isn’t a mandatory task.

The word ‘likes’ also struck – and this is where I hope you’ll realise the masturbation analogy was appropriate. Here there was an implication that the task was being executed purely to make myself feel good, and it is true that independence is important to a lot of disabled people. However once we get older we realise independence is about the bigger picture and it doesn’t matter if that involves you doing small mechanical tasks or someone else. (Ironically I would like a random member of the public walking around setting everything up for me but I am fully aware this is an unreasonable ask.) There have been things I’ve done independently I have got pride from, but these are all big things – like traveling to NZ with no-one I knew bar my sister or the first time I went to a gig in another city by myself, whether I had help with the micro-tasks involved in these feats simply doesn’t matter.

I perform said tasks merely to continue being a functional member of society, doing things we consider should be done. It’s that simple.

(I guess I should stop thinking about wanking in the gym.)


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