Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"you go, girl"...it's still a thing

Part of the reason I started this blog, 498 entries ago, was to discuss disability/wheelchair-centric stuff from a realistic open mind without being a martyr or wet blanket. I wanted to approach certain things with honesty and make them easily accessible for even those that had no accessibility issues. [Tangent: If my blog was a building, I imagine it would have both ramps, slides, elevators and even completely ridiculous spiral staircases.] Hopefully, this post is gonna be one of those.

This past weekend, something popped up while I was downtown that begged to be blogged about. Going into the depths of downtown on a Saturday night on the first warm night of spring is something that makes me incredibly anxious. [Tangent: As I creep headlong into my 30s, and get more responsible (yawn...), my capacity dwindles for the antics of obnoxious drunk strangers on the lower Broadway/second avenue area.] However, it was a bachelorette party for my friend Alex, whom I love dearly, so I left my prejudices at home and decide to have fun!

 Despite our group of girls being flanked with hoards of strange youngins in midriff tops and a gentlelady wearing a blazer emblazoned on the back with a picture of her family, I was just having fun celebrating my friend and getting really excited when "Party in the USA" was pumped from the speakers. [Tangent: Truly, it's the little things.] All was going swimmingly until the first of many women approached me...patted me on the back and uttered the same three words: "You go, girl."

This glitter graphic is everything that is wrong with the world

Whew...the phrase epitomized on glitter graphics and Myspace pages from here to Timbuktu is still alive and well in downtown Nashville. Unfortunately the incident was not an isolated one, because it was said to me upwards of 4 times by DIFFERENT strangers on Saturday night...growing more and more tiresome with each occurance. [Tangent: When I texted Jamie to tell him about, his reply was that it was refreshing to see that sassy lady office lingo was going strong. He assumed they all owned hunky firemen calendars or "hail to the queen" coffee mugs.] I got it every time I attempted to let loose dancing or having fun, which kinda made me stop dancing...and having fun. Having a peanut gallery is annoying. Here's the thing, I appreciate the acknowledgement...I really do, but DON'T!

Before I start to come off as one of those disabled folks that is a complete cermudgeon and never pleased with anything, I'll admit that these drunken commenters probably mean well, and I guess if I can show them that disabled people come in all shapes and sizes and can be outgoing, fun people- then it's a good thing, right? Well, I guess.

I only wish they would keep their inner commentary to themselves instead of grabbing my shoulder and ruining my vibe with outdated catch phrases,  basically boiling down my having fun into some kind of weird inspirational PSA. The fact that it happened more than once in a span of a couple hours proves that the behavior is a bit rampant. [Tangent: After watching this video this afternoon I realized these utterances "you go, girl" are basically only slightly less patronizing than handing me a red balloon.]

There's the old adage "If you don't have any thing nice to say, don't say it at all." but I almost feel a parenthetical addition needs to be made: "(...and if you do have something nice to say, consider on a 1-10 scale how appropriate it is to the situation, how it may make the recipient feel and why you are making the comment in the first place.") What do you all think?

25 comments:

  1. I will never know exactly how it feels but I imagine that I would be MEGA annoyed. Mainly because I've always hated that phrase (WHY do people still use it?!) and also because I really hate having strangers touch me while being a condescending jerk. I think you are correct in assuming that they are well intentioned but let's face it, the mass majority of folks that frequent Broadway are ignorant - and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. hahah. well I also got twerked on by a fella standing on the street...it takes all kinds.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think, with the rare exception, that particular phrase is inherently condescending - particularly when it is accompanied by a pat. It came from a well-intentioned place but multiple times in the same evening shows a creepy pattern. I admit that I would feel weird if even one person said it to me....

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's really bad in the south because by a culture we are an invasive people

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mary Evelyn SmithMarch 13, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    Thanks for sharing this story and I really enjoyed the video you linked too. Seems like that kind of comment would take the swing out of my dancing hips too. Sheesh. If you wouldn't say it to a typical person enjoying a night out, why would you say it to someone using a chair? Even though it's well-intentioned, it highlights differences at a very inappropriate time. Glad you wrote about this. You go, girl!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am really glad you weighed in. I was nerdily waiting to hear what you had to say because I was 99% sure you would have my back. I'm not so much offended as annoyed because i never really know how to respond. Does that warrant a "thanks" or a "yep" or a "you too, girlfriend!"? I am not sure.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yeah, that red balloon video is very interesting. I saw it yesterday when someone I know who works closely with the disability community posted it and said she was on the fence about it. To some it seems like one of those "damned if you do...damned if you don't scenarios." I think the main point is, don't treat people with a laserbeam of "special/I will cater to you and put you up on a pedestal" kinda behavior.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It never fails to amaze me what some people think is appropriate! And that goes double for drunk people.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yeah drunk people commentary is the best/worst!

    ReplyDelete
  10. i'm sure all of the people were saying it to be nice, but they were really saying to feel better about themselves. like, look at me, i can acknowledge this girl in the chair, i'm a good person. the video was interesting, though I don't think smiling at a person on the street is that bad, i usually smile when ever someone makes eye contact with me.
    also, i will probably say you go girl every time you get a trivia question right now, along with a sassy head move. or maybe i'll try to bring back "you da bomb" instead.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yeah I think the video was a little overdramatic. I smile at everyone too! Smiling is good I think. I do like the red balloon part though bc stuff like that has happened to me in my adult life

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mary Evelyn SmithMarch 14, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    I don't think you sounded offended-- definitely more annoyed and with good reason. I think it sounds like something you would say to a child or a sick person. Not a sassy lady out for a night on the town. And I always love to read your input on my posts too!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have to disagree with you. I'm a paraplegic and I get that all the time and I actually like it. It's a way for the able body community to acknowledge us and our struggles, and girl you know we have struggles. Today at church I saw a young girl walking with a walker and in my head I thought, "You go girl!" because I know what it's like to live with a disability. Maybe these able body people have friends or relatives that are disabled and are familiar with what we go through, or maybe they are just trying to be nice. Well whatever it is, I'll take it!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You were acknowledged, admired, and embraced by four different strangers in one night! I would have smiled back and given a thumbs up. That's what makes the world go round in a beautiful way... (and it certainly beats people averting their eyes and pretending they don't see you).

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love to see different perspectives. I guess on my end, I just found it to be condescending when these strangers did it. I think it would be different if it were someone I knew or even was any way aquatinted with...it's more drunk strangers two cents that makes me uncomfortable. It is never my intention to come of curmudgeonly, but my blog is my honest feelings and that is what I shared.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Different strokes for different folks. :) I don't really care about these people's admiration. One of the main themes of my life is that pedestals based upon disabilities make me uncomfortable. I know how one angry disabled person can sully the name for everyone, so I was in no way rude to the people who approached me. I smiled and feigned a laugh. I think there is a huge happy medium. Hold a door. Share a smile. Just don't break up my dance party to drunkenly gush about me just because I'm doing exactly what everyone in the room in doing. I'm sorry if you got the wrong impression of me from my blog. I call myself a lazy advocate. I use humor and hyperbole a lot to bring light to different issues...and sometimes I don't even discuss my chair...I talk about my boyfriend or some new phone app I'm obsessed with etc.

    ReplyDelete
  17. IWhen I see someone overcoming adversity, I inwardly admire them and think, "You go girl!" or something to that effect. But unless I feel like they need the pick-me-up, I choose not to interrupt their daily life.


    What resonated most with me was what you said in the comments about pedestals. I honestly feel really awkward when people thank me for my military service (which is often done to make the person giving the thanks feel better, IMHO), or refer to me as a "hero" because I went overseas. I'm sorry, but the entire military doesn't need to be put on that pedestal. We aren't all heroes. The ones who didn't make it back were the ones who should be recognized. The ones who went above and beyond deserve it, like the Medal of Honor winners. I feel very awkward on Veterans Day when people I barely know who don't really know other veterans just walk up to me to shake my hand to check their block for the day. I know they're being kind, and I'm proud of what I did, but I guess I don't want a constant reminder that I'm different in some way.

    ReplyDelete
  18. That's a very good point. My dad was a vet and indirectly lost his life for a disease he acquired from his service. I think even he was uncomfortable with the word hero.

    I think the gestures come from a good place...I just think often they need to be saved for a worthy cause...or even if it is something that I impress myself by doing. When I finally learned to drive and got my car, I would let you "you go girl me" all day and night because it was hard and a challenge and something I was proud of. It might make me feel awkward. Being out in public should not be something that warrants a high five...and the fact that it is kinda sets the whole disabilities movement back a ways. Would you give someone of a different race a high five just for being out and social. NO. that would be crazy.

    I also think it's unfair for strangers to assume I am a good person.(I mean I think I am...but how would they know!?!?) I know lots of folks with disabilities that are total assholes. (as you probably know soldiers who fit that description.) They are not ALL heroes...some of them are dicks. People perceived Oscar Pistoris to be an amazing person just because he had no legs...and look where that led.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love that you seem just as annoyed by the outdated nature as the condescending nature of the comments. :) I'm trying to think what a more up-to-date equivalent would be... Would "get it, girl" be any better? Maybe telling you that you have swag? Um, I feel like I should have a better idea what kids today are saying.... Whatevs. :)

    I also think you're waaaay kinder than I am when telling these stories! (In the moment, I'm usually smiley and nice. But when I've had time to think about it and tell the story later...) Like you've already said, save the praise and admiration for actual accomplishments. Just existing in the world, outside of your house, isn't much of an accomplishment. If you feel the need to praise me for being out with friends, what I'm hearing you say is, "Wow, you look like somebody who should be leading a craptastic life, so I'm impressed that you're making the best of things," possibly accompanied by, "this mundane activity is a praise-worthy accomplishment for you, since I'm sure it's the biggest thing you accomplish in your meaningless life." None of these implied messages need to be shared! Please don't ruin my evening with your close-minded view that doesn't allow me to be just another person in the background. However, if you'd like to interrupt and tell me how great my hair looks, or ask where I got my shoes, or talk about a sticker on my chair that grabbed your attention, that's all acceptable. :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sometimes I wish you would get out of my mind!!!! Seriously. That was incredibly well stated. I will admit even little everyday things are super hard. TRUE! FACT! But they are kinda all I know. I don't know what it's like to get up and have everything go super smoothly so my expectations are different than most. Everyone has their own shit they deal with everyday. That's just life. No praise or commendation needed.

    ReplyDelete
  21. OH YEAH. I knew some pretty terrible people in the military. Major assholes. People might call me something bad for admitting that but it's true!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'll admit that I quietly blog-stalked you long before I actually started commenting, because you were that girl who might as well live in my head. ;)

    And yes! Little everyday things are all kinds of hard in ways that other people don't get, and I reserve the right to complain about them whenever I deem it appropriate! :) But only my nearest and dearest have any clue about what things really are super hard in my life, and yet none of them feel the need to give me an "attagirl" for existing. So it's definitely not welcome or socially appropriate for strangers!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm very glad you stopped being a quiet stalker. Your comments are always appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi! I would like to share this great online resource for anyone seeking a wheelchair: http://www.medicalexpo.com/medical-manufacturer/wheelchair-2081.html

    ReplyDelete

I thrive on comments, so what do you think?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...