September 16, 2012

Why not Textual Practices of Exposure?

After reading Barton's article, I'm not sure I agree with Barton's idea that charitable organizations like United Way use a discourse of disability to "erase" the experience of disability in children and adults. I also don't agree that pity and fear motivated people to donate to the disabled. (What about that fact the some people are inherently good-willed and willing to help?) In fact, it seems the complete opposite. Organizations dedicated to helping the disabled are not erasing disabled people's independence or treating them as "Others", these organizations are just raising awareness and spreading information about the disabled. Yes, some of the ads might use a slight shock value, like the Pamela and Arthur ad or "what if this wheelchair was yours," but it's not meant to cause pity or fear or specifically isolate the disabled. Barton says that "the textual practices establishing these representations draw upon and maintain the powerful stereotypes of the able-bodies that disabled bodies and disabled bodies are separate, Others in body and therefore in life. The experience of living in a disabled body, the experience of living in an able-bodied society, the normalcy of a life, particularly an adult life, with a disability- all of these complexities are erased" (Barton 188). It's the opposite. These ads are drawing attention to a problem that could benefit from aid. These textual ads are exposing an issue, not trying to hide it. In some time periods, it was seen as embarrassing to have disabled family members and as a result those people were socially isolated. United Way and their ad campaigns did the opposite. They took the term "disabled" from out the shadows and brought it into a public forum. "Textual Practices of Erasure" seems a complete misnomer.

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