Last week some fellow Spoonies shared something with me that really ticked me off, and I’d like to open up the topic of consent to a level some of you might not have thought about before.
Those of us who use mobility devices such as walkers, rollators, and wheelchairs—to name a few—not only consider these to be vital to our quality of life, but many of us also regard them as extensions of our own bodies. And just like our bodies, we take strong issue with people who manipulate them against our will.
Now, I haven’t personally had anyone take hold of my rollator while I was using it. You would probably have heard or felt my cursing around the globe if anyone had tried. However, I can say that I would have felt just as if someone yanked my arm and shoved me. It’s potentially dangerous to pull a stunt like this. A person I know got injured because someone had the gall to rotate their rollator while they were using it, causing them to fall and get hurt. It boggles my mind why anyone would think moving a mobility device that’s in use is a good idea.
Another person told me that they had their wheelchair pushed into an elevator when they clearly expressed that they didn’t want to enter it. Hint: if we say no, then NO MEANS NO! The same rules of consent for our bodies apply here.
Hey, it’s really easy and not rocket surgery—unless we clearly ask for aid, hands off! I might allow an exception if you’re trying to save my life. You know, like if a giant locomotive suddenly appears in the corridor and you don’t want me to get pulverized.
Many of us Spoonie authors attend conferences and we’d like those spaces to be safe. Whether we’re geeking out over words with other writers or just geeking out at fandoms, we want to enjoy ourselves. Sure, events can be crowded, but pushing us out of the way is unacceptable. Even if you think you are trying to be helpful, don’t act without asking. We claim the right to say yes or no to your assistance, and if we need constant assistance, we’ll have our own human to help us, who understands exactly how and when to do that.
And speaking of fandoms, I am reminded of the slogan on signs at some cons:
Cosplay does not equal consent.
I agree with that sentiment whole-heartedly and would like to add signs that read:
Disability does not equal consent.
Be a decent person. Don’t assume anything. Always ask. If we truly need your help, we’ll be glad you offered. But many times we don’t require it.
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance), which is about a little green guy who’s on an adventure to save half the person he loves. Cait has recently submitted the prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers—the origin tale of legendary warriors Xax Knightly and Viv Tirowen.
Her short story, A Night at the Rabbit Hole, appears in the Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland anthology (Colleen Anderson, Exile Editions). Another short story, The Hilltop Gathering, will be included in the We Shall Be Monsters anthology (Derek Newman-Stille, Renaissance) in the fall of 2018.
A bit of a social media junkie, Cait can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. She also has an author website and is the creator/editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. If you need editing services, visit her biz, Dynamic Canvas Inc.