By Siobhan Simper in The Mighty.
Author’s warning: This post contains experiences of gaslighting and abuse.
Recently, I saw an all-too-common meme on social media: the inspirational disabled person. The image was of a Paralympic horse rider, with the caption, “no excuses.” Much has been written about the problematic nature of disability “inspiration porn.” What shocked me was when I tried to explain the issue with this post, I was attacked as “angry” and “fucked up.” But being labelled “crazy” for having a chronic illness or disability is nothing new.
For centuries, it has been common practice to dismiss people who were considered “rabble-rousing” as being “mad.” Women especially bore the brunt of these attitudes. During the Salem Witch Trials, the women hanged as witches were likely to have epilepsy or dissenting views. In the 1800s, women who challenged the status quo were at risk of being declared “insane” and committed to a mental asylum. Their husbands, fathers and brothers were usually the ones to request institutionalization, whereby an unruly woman would learn to submit to male authority. Many opinionated women were silenced in asylums.
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