Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Book Review: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern: Chapter 10


Chapter 10:

Amy has decided to join Public Speaking, and says that the difficult part for her, will be standing fairly still during the speech.  This aspect, I think, is actually incredibly accurate.  What I'm curious about is why Amy needs to stand at all during the speech.  In high school, I used my wheelchair, and during my public speaking class, I took it up to the front of the room and remained in it.  Why can't a chair be moved up front for Amy?

Matthew offers Amy his arm to climb the three stairs to the stage.  Amy thinks that she "could have walked up alone."  How, exactly?  Last time I checked she is only able to take a few unassisted steps before grabbing onto something.  Add in the nerves she must be feeling and her spasticity would be kicking in hardcore right about now, and requiring that she at least use her walker, and would struggle, even still, to walk with Matthew's arm for balance.

When she gets to the stage, she stands behind a lectern, "holding both sides for balance."  That seems like a sure fire way to face plant to me.  A lectern is not steady.  Plus, it means putting all your weight ahead of you and between your shoulders.  A walker allows Amy to have stability around her as she walks, to focus all her energy and weight-bearing forward onto that lectern, she would fall for sure.  It just seems wildly irresponsible, not to mention, out of character, for someone with CP like hers to choose to use an unsteady lectern for balance instead of remaining seated in a chair, where she could give her speech and also feel secure.

Amy talks, in her speech, about how "some people are more crippled than I am" and that "some people handicap themselves."  That "many people have disabilities they must make their peace with."  Outing someone's status as a disabled person, even peripherally, felt disingenuous to me.  For someone who knows what it's like to be discussed behind her back, I doubt very much that Amy would unwittingly out Matthew in this way.


Chapter 10:

In her speech, Amy talks about "making peace with her disabled body" and then goes onto say that she must not only "get from point A to point B" but also "wear a face that says "Don't worry!  I'm okay!"  That is not about her body, that's about other people's ableist reactions to her body.

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