As the past two entries might cause you to surmise, last week I had more than my fair share of crap landing on me because I'm blind. I knew it was getting to me, but truly didn't understand how much until I bit someone's head off.
I went to a discussion group on transgendered women's issues that, from my previous experience, is essentially a fascinating discussion of gender with lovely servings of race, class, and sexual orientation politics added to the stew. The facilitator has always been extremely open to disability issues going so far as to send me an article ahead of time so I could read it and fully participate in the conversation.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe my frustration level was at the boil over threshold. Maybe I'm just human and like any member of a marginalized group sometimes want to not have to educate or explain, rather having everything simply be done the "right" way. Whatever the case, I lost it.
First, in trying to make a point about something being both intellectual and emotional, a person must have tapped their head and chest. It wasn't clear initially, but through context I sorted it out. Then someone made reference to how they look. I didn't understand her point because I had no way of knowing she has masculine traits. When the same person started telling a story using facial expressions that conveyed crucial information, I put up my hand and stopped her. The conversation then went something like this:
"Hang on a second. Could you please, please stop assuming everyone in this room is sighted. It's pissing me off."
She replied, "I didn't know."
"The dog under the table didn't tell you?" I asked.
"I didn't know what the dog was for."
I said, "I know I don't look blind, but still. You can't just assume everyone here can see."
She said, "My bad."
It was awkward, I was intense in how I presented my point, and the entire room was silent for that moment afterwards that tells you everyone is uncomfortable with how someone behaved. And by someone, in this case I mean me.
I'm not even going to explain why I was justified in being upset because clearly I had good reason. I did not, however, have reason to be rude. I simply lost my cool after a week of being hemmed in by a world that assumes sight and cannot manage to think outside that particular box. I wish my ire had been directed at those who truly deserved it. Then again, when it's an entire social structure to blame, how do you vent at the appropriate entity?