This section directly follows the first segment from this essay.
A few months ago, a similar thing happened to me. I was out at an event with some friends, including a guy I had a met few times, had lots of great talks with, and who was, that evening, flirting with me. To some extent he knew me, knew about my blindness, had seen me at several different events and get-togethers before this. That night, our group took a bathroom break and the guy asked me, “Do you need help in there?”
The crazy part? This was not a total anomaly. It’s happened before this particular instance. And will probably happen since.
He didn’t mean it this way, I’m sure, but it felt dehumanizing. I suddenly saw that though we’d had great discussions about science, censorship, and talked about our lives and our histories, he saw me as someone who couldn’t find her way around a bathroom. It made me seriously question his intentions in the flirting. Like many other women with disabilities, I get hit on by a lot of guys who want to feel like they’re your savior or the only one who’d want you so you’d always be indebted to them. Even though I don’t think this particular guy was consciously doing this, it did make me think back to times when it had been more clear and obvious.
I’ve tried to discuss this with sighted friends, about the power dynamics that come along with getting hit on by the types of creepy guys who are attracted not to individual people who happen to be blind or disabled, but to the disability, like they’re looking for someone, something, helpless. Some get it, some don’t. Some say we all get hit on by creeps. It’s true, everyone has experienced that, but it takes it to a new level of weirdness to be hit on by someone who thinks you need his help to use the bathroom.
This is the second installment from this essay. I worry that it’s too bitchy, but you know what? When you have to deal with ignorant shit on a daily basis, sometimes you get bitchy. This essay addresses the central thought that sometimes, as a blind person, I don’t feel seen as fully human. Funny, “3 Libras” by A Perfect Circle was just playing on my iTunes, with the line repeating line, “You don’t see me at all,” and there’s some ironic truth in that.
More to come.
P.S. Other excerpts from Blind Alien Nation: