Lines are still blurred when it comes to disability


Everyone saw the ‘Defined Lines’ parody that blew up this week. I thought it was brilliant and I loved everything about it.

The lyrics told everyone that women actually want to be treated like human beings. Then there was the video, which was probably the best part about it. That role reversal showed just to what extent women are treated as if they’re not even human in most music videos out there.

But then the video got taken down and shit officially got real. What was meant to be an addition to the huge number of Blurred Lines parodies in the internets became the nail in the coffin for people who still want to maintain that the feminist movement is no longer necessary.

Of course we’re not all equal. We shouldn’t have to prove that to anyone. But the fact that it got taken down shows that no one likes it when you criticize the dominant discourse.

In terms of the content of the video though, the whole message was that we have a voice and we have something to say. We’re not just there for show. Don’t treat us like we’re there but not there at the same time.

This is the case for people of the disabled community. I hardly see people like me in the media and it’s annoying that we seem to not be included in this movement to make the media diverse and inclusive of all communities.

The only show I can think of that includes someone with a disability being ‘normal’ is Walter Jr from Breaking Bad (keeping in mind there could be more shows that I don’t know about). Artie Abrams from Glee does not count. Why? Because unlike the actor that portrays Walt Jr, he does not have a disability in real life. The inauthenticity of that is so transparent and any high schooler living with a disability can see that, making it all the more non-relatable.

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Much like women in music videos who are only wanted if they are there purely as part of the decor, people with disabilities are not there at all. Just like how young girls need to see positive representations of people they can identify with in the media, young people living with disabilities need to see themselves in the media too to promote a positive self-image and the fact that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with them.


  1. I’ve spent my entire life dealing with ‘disabled resources’ designed by abled bodied people, administered by able bodied people fighting for funding from able bodied people who were taught what disabled people need by other able bodied people. All telling me what I need rather than asking me.

    It doesn’t surprise me that disabled people aren’t represented in the media and I have a feeling that if we were it would be an able bodied writer’s perception of disabled people and that is actually something I prefer not to see.

    I don’t really claim to be normal, I only claim to be me. Hopefully one day that might be enough.

  2. That video was anything but promoting emancipation, it was actually playing along the lines of generating some sensationalised attention to “sex”, “sex appeal” and a bit of a “stir up” by applying reverse role playing.

    In my view it was not even really serving the cause of women wanting to be treated as human beings first, it was just a parody on roles, and kind of trying to “reverse” discrimination, which is a very immature and silly way to send a message about equal rights and treatment.

    There should not be any need for such silly messages, women, young or old just need to be themselves, and not allow themselves to be trapped into meeting expectations of being “models”, of being “barbie dolls”, of being sexualised human “objects”.

    Perhaps the participants just wanted attention and many “friend” requests on Facebook or “likes” on YouTube? Well, we all have different ways to raise attention, I suppose.

    Most modern, younger men are actually rather “insecure”, or at least respectful, and not the traditional chauvinist type, so I wonder what all this really was meant to achieve.

    As for disabled, very fair point made here, I must say, as disabled are not shown much in movies, in TV shows and whatever media. Disabled are also often patronised by governments and some private enterprises and employers, claiming they have only their rights and well-being at heart, while in reality, they rather just tell them what they should be doing, or should be “bloody grateful for”.

    We have one such nasty government in power at present, and it is one Paula Bennett, who dares to claim she is so concerned for sick and disabled, as she says, they are “locked” into welfare trappings, are not given a chance and fair go, while most want to work.

    Yet her “prescription” and solutions are based on one ideology, or theory, by a UK “professor” of sorts, called Mansel Aylward, who has perverted an older “bio psycho-social model” of assessing, treating, rehabilitation and “helping” disabled and sick, to get better and to participate in life. His recipe is WORK, and this government says it is WORK on the OPEN market, that is paid work, that is only found on a job market where employers discriminate against disabled already. Instead of addressing the social issues and discrimination, Aylward, same as his faithful “disciple” Dr David Bratt, Principal Health Advisor for WINZ, blame lack of success on the sufferer, too often just adhering to “illness belief”.

    So the pressure is put on, and hefty rewards are paid for outsourced “service providers” to “usher” sick and disabled into whatever jobs, mostly part time, casual and low paid, rather unfulfilling and insecure, as they have no way to compete with the “fit” and “healthy”.

    To get a true grip of what it is all about, read this here, perhaps:

    And this is how selected “experts” were hand-picked by Paula Bennett, some going to earn big from outsourcing, and some from the “UK”, where some affected were driven to self harm and suicide, following a totally wrong approach:

    But thanks four your post here, it pays to raise awareness to the challenges of disabled, and to demand fair and respectful treatment, and support for fair and secure participation in work and whatever else.

    • How do you address the social issues and discrimination faced by the disabled then? Making the point is all well and good but is vague unless you have specific policies that you think need implementing.

      • Gosman

        A start would be a proper government campaign raising the very social discrimination and other issues that disabled and long term sick face, to raise awareness in the wider public, including employers, who have many reservations to employ any such person suffering disability and longer term illness (particularly also mental illness).

        Proper treatment and rehabilitation programs must be offered, not just wholesale GP based mass medication of sick and disabled with incapacities. What the present government is proposing is more band-aid solutions, and then applying pressure on doctors and sick and disabled, to get “work ready”, without giving sufficient consideration to conditions that patients and welfare beneficiaries have and suffer from.

        Some treatments and other needed support may need to be ongoing, not just a swift, short intervention. Also some financial incentives to those with disabilities or long term illness is needed, which may in some cases need to be longer term, if not permanent, as disabled and seriously ill face greater barriers to work than healthy have themselves. So employers will always have second thoughts of hiring and keeping employed people with such handicaps. Incentives may be for employers and the affected sick and disabled.

        It is also necessary to accept that some will never really cope with any work, for psychiatric, serious psychological and certainly many physical conditions and illnesses, and they must be given a benefit and further support they can live decently with. Some may benefit from ongoing treatment and support to cope with their conditions.

        I sadly see this government do very little to next to nothing in this regard, and they seem to have fully embraced the UK professor Mansel Aylward’s and his colleagues ideas based on very flawed theory of a perverted “bio psycho-social model” that sadly the wider medical professions appear to have been hijacked with.

        At least in the UK there is much debate about all this, and it is time to happen here too. Media and even medical professionals do not seem to be prepared to question, examine and challenge this new approach being adopted by the social welfare sector here in New Zealand.

        Yet there is ample evidence of the corruption and self serving interests that brought about these supposed “findings” that “work is good for sick and disabled”. The supposed “experts” often referred to used selective statistics and other information, to suit their own agendas, and to serve the interests of governments and insurers, to reduce costs by off-loading people with sickness and disabilities off benefits and claims.

        I suggest you have a read of the following to get more of an idea about what is going on:

        The medical profession and the public are being misled and manipulated on a huge scale.

  3. An interesting post, and one that deserves more consideration.

    May I just give some props for the local show “Gone Fishing” – on at 5pm on Sunday on TV3. It’s not drama or comedy – just a classic Kiwi fishing show. Host Graeme Sinclair has MS and uses a wheelchair – he’s been making this show so long he’s the Allison Holst of NZ fishing TV.

    It’s been on forever and sticks pretty closely to a trusted formula: the telling of stories, someone catches a fish, the scenery is great, and they’ll probably cook and eat something.

    From what I recall from years back, the show hasn’t changed all that much from when Graeme transitioned into a wheelchair, though now he might not be the person filmed underwater picking up giant crays. Even if you don’t care for fishing (I don’t), it’s worth watching once just to see a person with a disability making a pretty good outdoor lifestyle TV show.

  4. I stopped watching the Telly ..some years ago.
    EVERYBODY needs to do the same.
    That way you learn to discover your own mind.
    Your OWN mind should NOT be given up freely to enable being filled with “outside opinions”. Which is what happens when you watch TV…= your mind being taken over.
    Very refreshing to discover one’s OWN mind! Yes YOU have one of those.
    And guess what? You regain ownership of your own mind when you shut out TV, commercial Radio..etc.
    You find out how much your own mind exists!
    (Oh, sorry this might not be directly relevant to original post.)
    But GOOD to own ones own mind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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