I’m not going to answer your questions, and it doesn’t make me a bad person.
I do not speak for all women with Cerebral Palsy. I speak for myself. Every now and again, I will be approached in public and sometimes it’s uncomfortable. I don’t owe you any explanation as to what’s “wrong” with me. There’s nothing wrong with disability in the first place. There’s also the issue of disability being caused by a traumatic event. When someone is out having a good time, sometimes they’re not in the mood to relive something like that. The same can be said of me. I do not want to dwell on my disability. I want to order my gin and tonic, so unless you want to buy me my drink, I implore you to leave me alone.
One of the most impactful moments occurred last year when I was at the zoo. I was with my sister and one of her friends when a teacher approached with a class behind her. Instead of approaching me and goading children to ask me questions, she instead pointed out the backpack I had (with Edgar Allan Poe’s lovely face on it) and proceeded to tell them a little bit about how he wrote scary stories. Illustrating to them, knowingly or unknowingly, to approach me like you would any other person. It’s true that I don’t mind answering questions from children. I’d much rather answer their questions than have their parents use me as a teachable moment, or even worse, using their children to ask the questions the adult knows are rude.
I’ve even had people approach me and say that they really “admire” how I “don’t seem to care about my disability.”. The truth is, I do care a lot about it. Even so, I still don’t see what’s so shocking about me being out and about. Although my existence within itself is a radical act as is my journey in self-esteem (in that I actually have it now) so I suppose I can see the power in having been seen in public. In fact, sometimes I’ve seen it as an unannounced political statement. However, seeing me in public does not warrant you asking me private questions. At least if you’re staring without saying anything, I can assume you’re checking me out. If you open your mouth to ask me if I “actually” have a job in order to start a conversation you’re ruining a rather fun illusion.
I’m not going to answer your questions if I’m not in the mood and that doesn’t make me a bad person.