On the flipside

I met an armless girl. She had flippers, anyway. She dropped her notebook at one point.

Flippers, huh?  Would you rather be svelte and have a birth defect such as a flipper for an arm, or would you rather be a chubbo mcChubbo but have all your limbs normal sized?

It seems like it could pertain to disenfranchised grief. Some disabilities like deformities are recognized, but then people don't know how to deal with them. Like this chick seemed awkward, then she dropped her notebook and looked like she didn't know what to do. I feel really badly that I didn't offer to pick it up for her -- that's the sort of thing I normally do. It's been haunting me a little bit, which is why I mention it, I think.

Deformity is concrete, but so is overweight, but the latter is more disenfranchised, people aren't sympathetic. 

Bipolar is really bad, but people don't get it, and since it's an emotional disability, it undermines others' ability TO get it. So they can be sympathetic in principle but not in practice. 

Alcoholism is like overweight, AND it's a mental illness. So it gets no sympathy and it's invisible. 

So flipper chick makes me wonder about her inner life and feel badly that I didn't help her. She may have less inner pain than people think, unlike fatties, maniacs, alkies, and codependents, all of whom have more and fewer people to share it with. 

Making an emotional connection with flipper chick makes you feel good, like you're doing good, like you're becoming a better Person. No so much with the others. Associating with those affected with disenfranchised grief tends to make One feel like an enabler. They should just get over it, be glad they have all their arms and legs, get up and do something constructive. Society doesn't acknowledge their problem, so why should anybody else?  Everybody feels like that once in a while, so what makes you so special?

To say anything other than that feels like coddling. 

Hard question though. The disenfranchised ones feel less "permanent" than flippers, but that's probably just a feeling. "Just" a feeling. 

Of course, there's circumcision, which is probably horrible in its own separate way. It's also disenfranchised grief, but society also did it too you, it's not an act of G-d, not your decision to do it to yourself, and definitely not something that you're faking just to get attention (like bipolar or ADHD).

No, society did it to you, and your parents did it to you, and the medical establishment did it to you, and they maintain their right to do it to you. Even if you disagree, feel wronged, nobody is going to agree with you, sympathize with you, and you have to go through the whole process of placing the blame where it belongs, not on the innocent baby who was victimized, like with the person born with birth defects (not their fault, either), and that's hard.

How do you go on trusting, loving, these people afterwards? It feels empty, and also terrifying.
In this sense, women, mothers, are uniquely positioned, as are all allies (if women as a group ever actually decide to be allies to men...!), to step effortlessly around all of these love and trust issues since they do not apply directly to themselves, and rescue the victims.

Perhaps victimization by racism and sexism is a similar example to disenfranchised grief. If one is disenfranchised, not allowed to participate equally, then one by definition feels grief and regret at that disenfranchisement, and in a beholden position, a position of envy, towards those who are included.

The recognition of one's own fundamental equality contrasted with the fact of one's inability to enjoy that equality.  With physical disabilities the reason for that frustration is readily visible, for what it's worth, and that can invite sympathy and help if society is so predisposed.

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