The internet is saturated with viral media featuring disability; from video clips of a food service employee feeding a disabled customer, to the story of a high school electing a teen with Down syndrome being elected to prom court. This phenomenon is known as “inspiration p*rn,” a term coined by the late disability activist Stella Young. It refers to the objectification of people with disabilities in the media, which serves the purpose of making the consumers, namely people without disabilities, feel good inside. The message, either implicit or explicit, can range from, “If this disabled person can do XYZ, what’s your excuse?” to “Look how compassionate this able-bodied person is for offering basic human decency to this poor disabled soul.” It can imply that disabled people are to be pitied, portray an unrealistic view of disability, or that disability is simply a mindset. However well intentioned these stories may be, they cause harm to the disability community. This presentation will focus on how to identify objectification of disabled voices, how to center disabled voices in order to prevent perpetuating these problematic messages, and interrupt the systems of oppression towards the disability community.
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