The best lift doors ever…
Snapped at the Technogym Wellness Valley. A message to employees and visitors to take get more active. Gotta love this.
Plus: Other oddities, amusements and fascinating things I’ve stumbled across being a slightly obsessed runner.
To quote an excellent article by Lesley Kinzel:
“[W]hat’s wrong with positively encouraging people to use the three minutes they’d spend in an elevator to exercise instead? Nothing, on the surface. Unfortunately though, these efforts don’t happen in a vacuum — they happen in context with a lot of other, less positive messages. They happen in the same culture that condemns any perceived laziness and less-than-perfect physical condition as moral failures. And that’s where things get a little more complicated.
“While stairs-encouragement may have some positive effects, it has negative ones too. Culturally, it places a heavy value on the ability to climb stairs in the first place, and marks this as both “normal” and the perferred state of things. It reinforces the idea that disabled bodies (or bodies that just aren’t in good enough shape to run up a few floors) are somehow broken, mismanaged or defective, and together with the plethora of other ableist crap we live with every day, this has a powerful and cumulative impact on their quality of life. In a world that sees good physical condition as a signifier of morality and good character, this is a problem.
“Disabled folks’ ability to get around is essentially being sacrificed in favor of feel-good cosmetic changes that let public institutions pat themselves on the back for being so forward-thinking. Ironic.”
So no thanks - The message here isn’t that employees and visitors should get more active, the message is that they should feel guilty for needing or wanting access to mobility aids. That’s not something that I can get behind or support.
As someone who is not disabled, I’m having difficulty getting behind the ableism call on this one. I am the abled person who takes the stairs if they’re right next to the elevator, who parks at the mid-back of the lot even if there are closer spaces, and the reasons on the doors in this example are basically most of mine- walking’s good for me, and I know I don’t regularly get as much exercise as I should, so when the opportunity comes up like that, I try and make it a habit to choose the physically more strenuous thing for my own health. BUT, I would never assume someone who is less physically capable than I am should do it? I would never assume those messages are aimed at someone for whom taking the stairs would be difficult or detrimental- and in fact I consider elevators to be better used as assistive technology than as a regular mode of transport. I park further away from the store because someone else might honestly need that closer spot.
I get that there are a lot of ableist messages out there and that being bombarded with them when people like me are less sensitive to them is sucky. But encouragement to take the stairs at what sounds from the name of the business like a gym isn’t really on my radar for ableism. On the other hand, I don’t watch people get on the elevator and think how terrible/lazy/inept they are for doing it either, so.
(Just looked it up… Technogym makes work-out and rehabilitation exercise equipment- the main images on their site are of treadmills and similar things. Presumably marketed toward people who are mostly-abled and/or working towards it… in which case encouragement to take the stairs makes sense, though I doubt they’d expect every person using their equipment to be able to do it.)
Little tip: if disabled people say something’s ableist, it’s fucking ableist. there is no alternative interpretation on the part of someone who isn’t fucking disabled.
So I saw this reblog this morning while I was busy and got to spend all day figuring out why it made me so angry. I’m not going to discuss whether the advertising in question is actually ableist or not. I could discuss it further, but I don’t know if the person who reblogged it after me will see it and I doubt they’ll care to discuss it in a rational manner anyway. We disagree at this point, obviously, and they aren’t interested in conversation on it as far as I can tell.
What I will say is that over the course of the day I figured out what made me upset about their words- not that they disagreed with me. That’s fine. As I said above, I know that there are a lot of ableist messages around and different people are triggered by different things, so if someone is bothered by something, I don’t expect them to magically not be bothered by it just because I say I don’t see how it bothers them. It doesn’t matter what I think- triggering is triggering, and it’s such an individual thing.
What bothered me was that in the conversation about ableism, my status as a non-disabled person apparently removes my right to comment at all. I am not allowed to be a part of a conversation about discrimination because I am not part of the group being discriminated against- according fumbledeegrumble, anyway. I don’t know this person. Literally, I know nothing about them. And they know nothing about me, other than the fact that I’m not disabled. But from what they know about me, they extrapolated that I cannot possibly have an opinion or join a discussion regarding this issue, because… why? Am I not affected? I interact with disabled people on a daily basis. Disabled people are not a foreign group to me. They are just people- friends, family, customers, pedestrians on the street that I walk by. They’re people I care about, in some cases. In other cases they’re people who piss me off, but not because of their status as disabled- just because some people are jerks.
Excluding me (and presumably everyone else who isn’t disabled) from the conversation about ableism, invalidating my opinion because I am not a part of the insular group of the disabled- what does that do for your cause? How does that educate me and people like me? How does it help in any way? And phrasing it as rudely as you did to someone you didn’t know… well, I’m going to call it a bad move, because the next time I see someone get on an elevator, I’m going to think of this post, and you, and how mad you made me, instead of just seeing someone getting on an elevator and thinking nothing of it because that’s what elevators are for.
In my angriest moment, here is what I wanted to say: Being disabled does not make you automatically right or an authority on anything but your own opinion. There are so many disabilities in the world, and your experience as a disabled person is so individual, that you cannot expect to never see any marketing or hear anything said that isn’t aimed at someone who can do something you can’t. And you can’t expect everyone to agree with you about whether certain things are offensive or not.
Those are my angry words. I hesitated to post them because I know I’ll probably get myself blasted for them, but I’m still a little upset, so I’m doing it anyway. But before I get blasted, here are my kind ones: I genuinely wish we lived in a world where no one would ever be shamed for their disability. Where this would be a non-issue because advertising like this would not be backed up by ignorant and judgmental people assuming that just because you look healthy you can do everything a healthy person can do. I try to assume that people do the best they can with what they have and if that means they make different choices from me, that’s okay. I try to assume that people’s choices are influenced by factors I don’t always know about, and the acknowledge that at the end of the day, their choices are their own, that I have to trust people to do what’s right for themselves, that I have no control over the actions of others anyway, and that voicing negative opinions about what other people do without knowing all the contributing factors is useless and hurtful. And I try to encourage the people around me to do the same. And I hope that if I ever do say anything shaming or triggering out of thoughtlessness or ignorance, the people close to me would be kind enough to let me know.
So, in closing, grumpy person who told me my opinion doesn’t matter: I hope your life is going okay. I’m sorry my opinion made you upset. I’m not sorry I have one, and I won’t stay out of a conversation that affects my relationships with others just because you say I should. But I’ll try to stick to my kind words instead of my angry ones- because those are the ones that matter. My anger over your response on this one issue may last for a day or two, but my kind words are about how I live my life