Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern: Chapters 31-34

ABLEISM:

Chapter 31:  

Amy thinks about the first time she walked without her walker.  She remembers that she was eight years old and furniture had been spaced throughout the room so she could walk unassisted.  Her mother had made her favorite dinner and Amy was hungry.  Her mother urged her to "come to the table" and Amy had taken five steps of the six to the table before falling down.  Her mother picked her up and was happy she took those steps by herself.

Amy thinks to herself:  "How could she hate someone who had spent her whole life ensuring that Amy had one?"

This just frosts my cookies.  It's not bad that Amy's mom encouraged her to walk to the table, nor that she praised her afterward, but what irks me is just how poorly this segment is done.  Because it completely ignores the fact that Amy's mother has raised Amy to hate her CP.

There are so many other examples of actually harmful things that Amy's mother has done that could have been used to either demonstrate the long term damage to Amy's self esteem or that are used to illustrate Amy's unconditional love for her mom.

Also, the insinuation that without her mother, Amy wouldn't have a life is just offensive to me.  Amy feels indebted to her mother for, what?  Not institutionalizing her?  That's a pretty low bar.

Chapter 32:

After Amy's baby is born, Amy says she "shouldn't hold her" because she "might hurt her."

This is a common feeling in mother's of preemies from what I understand.  But I can't help but get the feeling that Amy's talking about her own CP and how it is dangerous for her to hold a baby because of that.  The reality is, this book is set in 2014, there are plenty of nurses and doctors around to ensure that if Amy wanted to hold the baby, she could do so safely.

I don't like the implication that we are dangerous.

Chapter 33:

After the baby's birth, Amy has people lifting her "poor, crampy legs" and wiping them down.  She thinks about telling people: "I'm a failure!  My body failed me!  It always does!"

Again, I get that she's post birth right now and very emotional but the level of internalized ableism here is stunning and gross.

Chapter 34:

Matthew is hanging out with Amy after the baby is born and he says he feels like he "always wants to be here.  Helping.  I feel like this should be my job or something."

Wow.  Way to make Amy feel awesome about herself, Matthew.  You don't want to be with Amy because you like her company or you love her.  You want to be with her because you want to help her.  So, she's pretty much an obligation to you.

SEXUALITY:

Chapter 34:

While recovering after giving birth, Amy tells Matthew "I wish I could feel your body on top of me."

There are pages and pages of Mathew balking at this and finally agreeing.  Amy says she couldn't take her clothes off or anything but she just wants to lie there with him.  So they do, and eventually he kisses her.

How maddeningly chaste and desexualizing.  If Amy were able-bodied you know Matthew would be all about being close to her.

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