People with disabilities often don’t live in the metaphhorical troposphere. That is the world of dating, drama, gossip, parties, substance use, and, generally, the sweaty, dark, and blackllit world adults are stereotyped as living in. For many, it is a world of long periods of silence broken by the occasional oasis of a platonic coffee or lunch meet-up. That describes my life and it is quite awkward when I, being a left-wing activist and political worker, am involved in feminist discourses surrounding the creepy, scary, and dangerous paradigm they describe. That world, the metaphorical troposphere, is very alien to me. And it is alien to many of my kind.
My sober, chaste, life devoid of alcohol, drugs, pornography, and violence listens to them with intrigue since I am fairly innocent of the machinations of what happens at bars and in parties on weekend nights. Yet, translating their protocols and sentiments into the universe outside of the metaphorical troposphere is turning the dial to DEFCON 1 in low-earth orbit or Antarctica. There are a few nerdy scientists, they lack oxytocin or sexuality, and there is nothing except cabin fever and the elements to hurt you.
It is best to retreat into naivite and innocence since suspicion and being overly keen are just autoimmune responses in the crippled tundra. Upon arrival at their research station, the most apt sentiment is hygge and friendliness. Make that high-tech igloo a laughing good time over hot chocolate and warm discourse. Be interested in whatever it is they’re discovering and forge poetry from the mighty wilderness.
I entitled this piece “Boundaries in a Wasteland” because in recent years there has been an emphasis on how bad and scary relationships can be. Words like “toxic”, “red flag” and so on dominate the discourse. It fails to recgonize the reality that the world those words describe is not the world a large portion of the poopulation lives in. A lot of people don’t live in the metaphorical troposphere. Coming into a relationship with those sentiments and fears is often cruel. Immediately regarding someone as a potential creep or threat is emotionally very difficult, especially when someone is both harmless and alone.
Approaching someone with a disability and a scant social life as the potential villian in a true crime drama is very injurious to someone who probably knows what it is like to be a monster and a pariah. People with disabilities who live mostly alone need to be approached with positivity, friendliness, warmth, hygge, joy, and grace. The friendships I aim for tend to be coed and I will point out that being disabled makes the world especially scary, regardless of my genitals. Talk about abuse, I got urinated on and had rocks thrown at me by my bullies, I got my crotch groped, had exorcisms performmed on me after accusations of me being demonically possessed. Most women I have met have been vastly less abused than me.
This is not to say “not all men” are dangerous or creepy so much as it is to say that lots of men, myself included, are weak beta-males who are as vulnerable and afraid as many women. It is sad and cruel to be at any DEFCON level with regards to such weak, needy, and broken people. It is a pedestrian situation warranting a pedestrian disposition. If you’re going to a metaphorical research station in Antarctica, leave the mace and the sound alarm back home. Come in unarmed and with open arms. Make sure everyone feels welcomed and not feared. On the tundra, wariness leads to needless grief. Someone who has spent their life as an outcast should probably not be made to feel that more.