Question of the day.

What social stigma does society need to get over?

My answer:

As someone who is disabled and mentally ill, the most instinctive answer for me is disability/mental illness stigma, but since many of my readers also have mental illnesses and/or disabilities, I figured I’d leave that in case someone would like to write about this and I’d write about something else. Recently we’ve been talking with my Mum about stigma that mothers have to face, and if I were a mother, I’d be pissed off big time about it. Even when I’m not, I find it very annoying. Being conservative, Christian, traditionalist in a lot of ways, albeit an open-minded and quirky one, and all sorts of things like that I’m not necessarily a feminist the way feminism is typically understood these days, and neither is my Mum, but I think both of us still are, just in a different way. I suppose though that in this case the more modern feminists would probably agree with me. What I’m talking about is, when a man who has children goes out for a beer with his friends, no one investigates where and with whom he left his children, no one makes a tragedy out of it that a dad went out on his own without dragging his kids along. When a woman goes out with her friends clothes shopping and happens to come across someone she knows in the meantime, she’ll very likely be questioned about where her children are, as if her sole function was being a mother. Many will even procede to make such a “cruel” mother feel guilty or something. I’m not saying that a father can replace a mother, and there are definitely things that mothers tend to do better than fathers, and that fathers tend to do better than mothers, hence I believe that it makes sense that their respective roles in the family should be different, but their responsibility for children, and the right to have other identities and not just one of a parent, is something they both should share.

Also in the family department, the childless/single people stigma bites. I know a lot of young single and/or childless people and it’s crazy how often I hear people talking to them or about them how they should start looking for someone, how it would be super cool and cute and amazing and delightful if they became a mummy or daddy, how it would be good if they found another half to make them happy, ask them if they already have someone, or when they’re gonna have kids etc. etc. etc. Probably the most of that stuff that I witness is directed at my brother, who has no plans of finding a girlfriend any time soon and thus of having children either. I’m in a similar situation, but luckily I get way less of such bullcrap because duh, I’m blind so in most people’s brains it’s probably not even possible for me to be in a relationship and have children. 😀 Even my Mum, who is a very open-minded thinker and doesn’t like going with a life scheme and all that, and always tells us that she doesn’t want us to feel pressured to do any of the normal stuff that people do, she’ll still sometimes sigh how she’d like for Olek to “settle” and “find someone”. Thankfully she always has me to remind her of her no schemes philosophy lol.

The main reason why I’m so opposed to people imposing their relationship/children views on other people is not even so much because I don’t like schemes, but more so because I think not everyone is a good fit to be a parent. It’s a great thing to have a great family if you can and if you’re a good parent, but I think it’s a really bad idea to make it seem so that it should be the majority’s vocation to have children. My Mum and me have come up with that idea many years ago that people should be tested in all sorts of ways whether they’re fit to be parents and then be allowed or not allowed to have children. Obviously in practice there would be loads of problems and controversies around it that would be super difficult to handle in real life, and especially if you look at it from our Christian perspective, but in any case, parenting is a very difficult task, probably the most difficult in the world, and few people at the age of 20 when they’re often emotionally still much like children themselves are ready to start raising children of their own and the whole social pressure is an awful idea.

What is such stigma in your opinion? 🙂

Ask me anything about blindness.

I had this fleeting but reoccurring thought for quite some time already, to make a post where I’d give people an opportunity to ask questions about all sorts of things to do with what it’s like to be blind. My Mum and some of my penfriends also strongly encouraged me to do this, but I’ve always felt like I’m not really the best person to do such a thing. I felt that if I was to answer such questions, then I would be kind of representing the whole big community of blind people, and I am not really a very typical representative of it, or at least not in all aspects, so I was afraid that it could be potentially harmful to the community at large if people were to consider my answers something of a general standard for blind people, or that in order not to be harmful, I’d have to constantly explain in which ways am I different and try to answer the questions from as broad a perspective as possible, rather than just my own, which I feared I wouldn’t always be able to do in a competent way. For example, I don’t live on my own, but there are a lot of blind people who do, and I was afraid that by hearing that I do not, people are going to assume that no blind people do and that they cannot.

But I guess that over these almost four years that I’ve had this blog, I’ve finally realised that I have no obligation to represent the blind community if I don’t feel like it, just because I am part of it. I can just represent myself as an individual. If I don’t believe that all sighted folks like K-pop just because Sofi does, why should sighted people believe that all blind people read Braille based solely on the fact that I do? I think I must have gotten the idea from school, where one of our staff told us that we need to be able to eat with knife and fork so that sighted people won’t think that all blind people are not able to eat this way. 😀

In general, I see that people tend to be either very in-your-face or very fearful of asking disabled people and their families any questions pertaining to the disability. As much as the in-your-face attitude is bad, because I don’t live to answer people’s questions and I may choose not to (not because they hurt my feelings or anything but just because I don’t have to, and even if disability isn’t a sensitive topic for me, it’s still generally quite personal), the fearful attitude, though very often coming from good intentions of not wanting to offend someone, is just as bad because the brain doesn’t like emptiness, so in place of the unanswered questions you create your own conclusions, which might be incorrect, or even quite harmful.

So that is why, in the end, I decided to do this. Perhaps you’re a regular reader and you’ve always wanted to know something but were afraid to ask or simply had no opportunity to do so. Or you’re a total newbie here and just want to know what it’s like being blind. That’s what this post is for. Ask me your questions in the comments and I’ll reply there, or if any questions will require some particularly detailed answer or I decide it could be interesting to expand on I might do a separate post on it.

As I said, I’m not going to be answering collectively as a blind people’s spokesperson or anything, but rather from my own perspective, so what you’ll be getting here is simply one Bibiel’s personal experience. Some bits of my blindness experience may be the same for the majority of blind people, others not necessarily. Still, I know a fair bit about blindness and a lot of blind or visually impaired people, so if you have a more general question I’ll also try to answer it as best I can, even if it may not always be exhaustive. As I’m blind since birth, I’m really not easily offended or hurt when it comes to blindness questions, as I have no idea what it’s like to see, haven’t lost my sight in any traumatic circumstances, and therefore I have a distance to it.

Oh, and I’m going for a summer trip on Friday/Saturday for at least a week, so if you ask me anything during that time you might need to wait some time for a reply, as I’ve no idea if I’ll be able to reply on the go and how regularly.