Another Facebook group inspired post?
I know, I know but with things being as they are, most of my interaction with the world is digital.
So I’m seeing a trend within the MD community, and others, where people are referred to as warriors. Sometimes it’s an attempt at instilling a sense of self-worth, sometimes it’s inspiration porn and at worst, a means to sell t-shirts, goodies and more recently, face coverings.
Personally, I’d rather wear this…
My opinion on the use of this word?
I don’t like it.
Whilst all people are capable of inspiring others, I am not by default of having a disability, an inspiration. I’m a person, dealing with things many others don’t but I am a person.
Words like this aren’t for my benefit, they’re for yours. Applying an expectation of strength is harmful.
My muscles aren’t always strong, neither is my mental health and this is 100% fine. We all need to take rest days, regardless of whether you have disability or not.
I’m not involved in a fight, or a battle, I’m simply living.
Another connotation of the word warrior, is the notion of bravery. Bravery is choice in the moment, a base instinct for some, but living with a disability doesn’t make you brave.
I spoke with my good friend Emma of Simply Emma on the phrase recently, this is what she had to say
I’m not a fan of the term ‘warrior’ just as much as I’m not a fan of calling disabled people ‘superhuman’ for being athletes or to anyone with a disability for that matter.
I believe the terms ‘warrior’ and ‘superhuman’ are similar and imply that disabled people have overcome their disability in spite of the odds. Calling disabled people ‘warriors’ also implies that they are fighters, that they have soldiered on despite all the battles they must face daily because of their disability.
This can also contribute towards the harmful stereotypes around disability that if you haven’t ‘overcome’ your disability to successfully achieve great things, then you are weak and lazy.
We are simply living our lives and should not be classed as inspirational with ‘warrior-like’ status for getting out of bed in the morning and carrying out our daily tasks like shopping, socialising and going to work.
Living with a disability isn’t bravery, it’s just living. If we start to refer to the basic act of existing as brave, does that mean the opposite is cowardice?
As a mental health advocate, I find this incredibly harmful.
Contrary to what the “man up” crowd out there may tell you, suicide is not a cowardly, or selfish act but often one of desperation. Imagine for a moment that things are so bleak that ending your life appears to be the only escape, and in that mental state you constantly see people cheering on others for their strength, for being warriors for nothing more than living, now imagine how would that make you feel.
Get my point?
I would like to ask that members of our community consider retiring this label, or at the very least thinking before using it. As for me, I’d request that you don’t ever describe me in this way.
I am not a warrior. I am disabled, and I’m content with that.
Thanks to Simply Emma for the contribution here. Please make sure to check out her blog, she’s an amazing writer who has been blogging for much longer than I have and covers just about anything you’d care to read.