史黛拉·杨:我不是你的励志楷模,谢谢

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Stella Young是一名喜剧演员,残疾人士拥护者,Ramp Up网站(一个网络平台,专门发表有关澳大利亚的残疾人士的新闻、讨论和评论。)的编辑。本文是2014年4月,她在TED悉尼巡讲中的演讲稿。 Stella Young is a comedian, disability advocate and the editor of Ramp Up, an online space for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia. This article is a transcript of her talk at TEDxSydney in April 2014.

中文字幕

史黛拉·杨:我不是你的励志楷模,谢谢

我在维多利亚州的一个很小的村镇里成长。我接受很普通的,可说是有点保守的教育。我去上学、跟朋友出去玩,也会跟我妹妹打架。一切都很普通。当我15岁 时,一个来自当地社区的人跟我爸妈说,希望把我提名为社区成就奖的候选人。而我爸妈却说:“哦,那实在太好了,但是这里明显有个问题。她根本一事无成 啊。”(笑声)

他们是对的。我只是上学,拿到好成绩,在老妈的理发沙龙里,干着很普通的课后兼职,还有花大把时间看《吸血鬼猎人巴菲》和《恋爱时代》。对,我知道这两部 电视剧很不搭调。爸妈是对的,我一直在做的都是常事啊。除了身体残疾,我一直没有达成什么成就。过了好多年,我当上老师,在第二次巡讲的时候,我到了一家 位于墨尔本的中学。那时,我为某个11级法学班上课。开课20分钟后,有个男孩举手问道:“嘿,老师,你什么时候开始你的演讲?”我说:“什么演讲?”此 前,我已经跟他们讲了足足20分钟的诽谤法理论。可是他说:“就是那些啊,那些励志的演讲。一般来说,坐轮椅的人来到学校,不是都会说些鼓舞人的东西 吗?”(笑声)“通常是在大堂那里吧。”

因此,我意识到:这孩子只知道把残疾人当作励志的楷模。不是的,对于这孩子——这不是他的错,对于我们很多人而言,这是真的。很多人都相信,残疾人不是老 师、不是医生、不是美甲师。我们不是真实的人物,我们是用来激励别人的。实际上,我现在就坐在台上,坐在这轮椅上,你们可能也会有点期待我激励一下你们, 对吧?“(笑声)

各位,我马上要让你们失望了。我来这里不是为了鼓励你们,我是来告诉你们,关于残疾,你们都被耍了。我们一直宣传:残疾就是不幸,不,幸。残疾是不幸的。身体残疾的你与众不同。但是事实上不是这样的,残疾不会让你变得特别。

在过去的几年里,我们通过社交媒体宣传这种愚弄人的想法。你可能看过某些像这样的格言:“人生的缺陷在于消极的态度。”或者这句:“缺陷不是借口。”又或 者是:“要屡败屡试!”这些都只是些例句,周围还有很多体现这想法的励志例子,你也许看过一个没有手的女孩用口执笔画画,看过用碳纤维义肢跑步的孩子。这 些励志故事到处都是,这就是我们所谓的励志意淫。(笑声)我故意用“意淫”这个词的,因为这些例子是依照一个群体的利益,把另一个群体想象成他们想要的样 子。这就是说,我们为了非残疾人的利益把残疾人想象成这样子。这些励志故事是为了激励你们,鼓舞你们,从而使你们想到:“无论我的人生多么糟糕,一山还有 一山低。我有可能沦落到像他们一样。”

但是如果你就是他们的一员呢?早在我还没于公众面前开展工作时,不少陌生人过来告诉我,我是多勇敢,多励志,这已经发生过无数次了。他们只是一味地祝贺 我:早上成功起床了,还记得自己的名字呢。这就是他们的意淫。这些例子,东一个西一个,都是对残疾人的意淫。正因为它们的存在,你才会觉得自己的处境也不 是很槽糕,可以正确面对自己的烦恼。

生为残疾人确实会面对某些困难。我们也确实需要努力去克服它们,但是这些困难并非你所想象的那样,跟我们身体有关。我有点故意用“残疾人”这个词,因为我同意残疾的“社会模型”,这模型表明了,不是我们的身体和疾病,而是我们住的社会使我们变得更加无能。

我用了这副身躯很长时间了,我挺喜欢它的。我确实需要克服它带来的困难,我也因此学会把它用到极致,就像你们一样,而那些例子中的孩子也是如此的。他们没 有做出超越平凡的事,他们只是把他们的身体用到极致。所以,把他们想象成我们想要的、分享这些励志故事,对他们真的公平吗?各位,当人们说:“你是个励志 人物。”他们意在表扬。我知道为什么会这样,这都是拜那个想法——残疾会让人与众不同——所赐,我们也已经在宣传了。可是,事实上不是这样的。

我也知道你们在想什么。我来这说的跟励志一点都不沾边,你们肯定在想:”天啊,Stella你就没因为某些事物而受鼓舞吗?“我当然有。我一直从其他残疾 人身上学到东西。不过,我得到的才不是因为比他们幸运而产生的安慰哦。我学到:用BBQ的钳子捡起你掉了的东西,很不错的点子吧;(笑声)还有一个小窍 门,用你的电动轮椅为手机充电。厉害吧。我们从彼此身上学会彼此的长处和能耐,以此对抗的不是我们的身体和疾病,而是把我们区别开来、意淫我们的世界。

我真的认为我们宣传的想法是很不公平的。它让我们的生活更艰难。还有那句格言”人生的缺陷在于消极的态度。“简直是鬼话,因为它是假的、社会上的残疾人楷 模都是假的。再美丽的笑容也不会把一段楼梯变成斜坡吧,完全不可能。(笑声)(掌声)聋人对着电视机笑,也无法变出字幕。在书店里,再怎么高声宣扬正能量 也不能使书的文字变成点字。这根本就不可能会发生。

我真正想生活在一个世界:在那里,残疾不是特别的,而是平常的;一个15岁女孩不会因为坐在卧室里看《吸血鬼猎人巴菲》而被认为很了不起;大家不会只指望 残疾人做到早上能够起床、能够记得自己名字之类的事;大家会重视残疾人的实质贡献;来自墨尔本中学的11岁孩子不会因为他的新老师是坐轮椅的而感到惊讶。

残疾不会让你变得与众不同,但是思考你对于残疾的想法就会使你改变。

谢谢。

英文字幕

Stella Young: I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much
I grew up in a very small country town in Victoria. I had a very normal, low-key kind of upbringing. I went to school, I hung out with my friends, I fought with my younger sisters. It was all very normal. And when I was 15, a member of my local community approached my parents and wanted to nominate me for a community achievement award. And my parents said, "Hm, that's really nice, but there's kind of one glaring problem with that. She hasn't actually achieved anything." (Laughter)

And they were right, you know. I went to school, I got good marks, I had a very low-key after school job in my mum's hairdressing salon, and I spent a lot of time watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Dawson's Creek." Yeah, I know. What a contradiction. But they were right, you know. I wasn't doing anything that was out of the ordinary at all. I wasn't doing anything that could be considered an achievement if you took disability out of the equation. Years later, I was on my second teaching round in a Melbourne high school, and I was about 20 minutes into a year 11 legal studies class when this boy put up his hand and said, "Hey miss, when are you going to start doing your speech?" And I said, "What speech?" You know, I'd been talking them about defamation law for a good 20 minutes. And he said, "You know, like, your motivational speaking. You know, when people in wheelchairs come to school, they usually say, like, inspirational stuff?" (Laughter) "It's usually in the big hall."

And that's when it dawned on me: This kid had only ever experienced disabled people as objects of inspiration. We are not, to this kid -- and it's not his fault, I mean, that's true for many of us. For lots of us, disabled people are not our teachers or our doctors or our manicurists. We're not real people. We are there to inspire. And in fact, I am sitting on this stage looking like I do in this wheelchair, and you are probably kind of expecting me to inspire you. Right? (Laughter) Yeah.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you dramatically. I am not here to inspire you. I am here to tell you that we have been lied to about disability. Yeah, we've been sold the lie that disability is a Bad Thing, capital B, capital T. It's a bad thing, and to live with a disability makes you exceptional. It's not a bad thing, and it doesn't make you exceptional.

And in the past few years, we've been able to propagate this lie even further via social media. You may have seen images like this one: "The only disability in life is a bad attitude." Or this one: "Your excuse is invalid." Indeed. Or this one: "Before you quit, try!" These are just a couple of examples, but there are a lot of these images out there. You know, you might have seen the one, the little girl with no hands drawing a picture with a pencil held in her mouth. You might have seen a child running on carbon fiber prosthetic legs. And these images, there are lots of them out there, they are what we call inspiration porn. (Laughter) And I use the term porn deliberately, because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So in this case, we're objectifying disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, to motivate you, so that we can look at them and think, "Well, however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person."

But what if you are that person? I've lost count of the number of times that I've been approached by strangers wanting to tell me that they think I'm brave or inspirational, and this was long before my work had any kind of public profile. They were just kind of congratulating me for managing to get up in the morning and remember my own name. (Laughter) And it is objectifying. These images, those images objectify disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. They are there so that you can look at them and think that things aren't so bad for you, to put your worries into perspective.

And life as a disabled person is actually somewhat difficult. We do overcome some things. But the things that we're overcoming are not the things that you think they are. They are not things to do with our bodies. I use the term "disabled people" quite deliberately, because I subscribe to what's called the social model of disability, which tells us that we are more disabled by the society that we live in than by our bodies and our diagnoses.

So I have lived in this body a long time. I'm quite fond of it. It does the things that I need it to do, and I've learned to use it to the best of its capacity just as you have, and that's the thing about those kids in those pictures as well. They're not doing anything out of the ordinary. They are just using their bodies to the best of their capacity. So is it really fair to objectify them in the way that we do, to share those images? People, when they say, "You're an inspiration," they mean it as a compliment. And I know why it happens. It's because of the lie, it's because we've been sold this lie that disability makes you exceptional. And it honestly doesn't.

And I know what you're thinking. You know, I'm up here bagging out inspiration, and you're thinking, "Jeez, Stella, aren't you inspired sometimes by some things?" And the thing is, I am. I learn from other disabled people all the time. I'm learning not that I am luckier than them, though. I am learning that it's a genius idea to use a pair of barbecue tongs to pick up things that you dropped. (Laughter) I'm learning that nifty trick where you can charge your mobile phone battery from your chair battery. Genius. We are learning from each others' strength and endurance, not against our bodies and our diagnoses, but against a world that exceptionalizes and objectifies us.

I really think that this lie that we've been sold about disability is the greatest injustice. It makes life hard for us. And that quote, "The only disability in life is a bad attitude," the reason that that's bullshit is because it's just not true, because of the social model of disability. No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp. Never. (Laughter) (Applause) Smiling at a television screen isn't going to make closed captions appear for people who are deaf. No amount of standing in the middle of a bookshop and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into braille. It's just not going to happen.

I really want to live in a world where disability is not the exception, but the norm. I want to live in a world where a 15-year-old girl sitting in her bedroom watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" isn't referred to as achieving anything because she's doing it sitting down. I want to live in a world where we don't have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning. I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people, and I want to live in a world where a kid in year 11 in a Melbourne high school is not one bit surprised that his new teacher is a wheelchair user.

Disability doesn't make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does.

Thank you.

(Applause)

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