The ability of assumption

Joseph Phelan, Worker Justice Fellow

February 2015 - Today we have a repost from CSS Fellow Joseph Phelan's personal blog Occasional Everything. 

Inspiration Porn – the second best thing about the internet
The other day I threw my back out while visiting DC, a painful three hours of travel from my home in Brooklyn. After two days laid out on a friend’s bed, unable put on my own socks, I took a handful of Advil and got on a plane.

The trip was full of all sorts of scary problems: How would I take my shoes off at security? How would I get my luggage from the apartment to the cab? How would I walk to the gate? Etc. These once invisible challenges made me question a lot about my own assumptions about society and disability. With a the last week of very limited mobility I turned to the internet for some answers and inspiration.


The quote is from Olympic Figure skater Scott Hamilton, someone who is not disabled.

Stella Young, a comedian, a writer, an advocate, and a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer referrs to the above image as “inspiration porn” in her in her 2014 Ted Talk . Inspiration Porn is the objectification of disabled people and their experiences for the benefit of others. This objectification, according to Stella, dehumanizes disabled people turning them into objects to be admired for feats non-disabled people do often without thinking.