Opression framed as praising

Opression framed as praising

Sculpture, performance 2020

Video in a roundabout in Klaukkala.

Hero stories about disability are based on imaginations of what kind of activities are not possible for people with disabilities. These beliefs are formed when a person asks himself: ”If I became disabled, what could I no longer do?”. Most imagine that they would have to give up almost all of their hobbies and dreams.

When we meet an active person with disability living ordinary daily life, the contradiction between our own imaginations and reality is explained as an exception. The confusion bursts out in childish comments: ”It’s awesome that you came to this concert. It’s unbelievable that you have kids too. You play basketball, really, that’s insane! How on earth you can swim without your guide dog?

In Finnish, the term ”praise” (ylistää) includes a definition ”lift up”. Opression framed as praising means complimenting people with disabilities for basic things that we would not even bring up when meeting people without disabilities. It means unwanted positive attention to things that are self-evident. It’s oppression because the silly comments include an unspoken claim that the things mentioned shouldn’t belong to you.