In the latest edition of Scavenger, Ciare Xyerra discusses what it is like to live with a disability — and to have people with no bloody clue make really hurtful comments about how grateful they should be for getting assistance etc:
‘I had a pretty difficult conversation recently in which a good friend told me that she is jealous of the security my disability money provides… Her main point, repeated over and over, is that it’s a privilege for me to be able to make ends meet without sweating my next pay check (though I’m always cognizant of the fact that the government could pull my benefits any time they want, and I am subject to regular, extremely arduous, review processes).
Is it a privilege for the government to provide a basic income to people who cannot provide an income for themselves? I honestly wouldn’t call that a privilege. I think it’s pretty much the least they could do. I’m not one of those people who thinks “privilege” is a dirty word and freaks out if someone says I have it in some way…but considering that I get this money because I am disabled, and my disability is a pretty huge detriment to my life, for which I have faced some very clear-cut examples of prejudice and oppression…I definitely think “privilege” is the wrong word to use.
In my years of experience being on disability, I have had several people in my life that seemed jealous or resentful of my guaranteed monthly income. A few people voiced their opinion that I am squandering my money if I buy myself a treat with it (i.e., cute shoes, a decent computer). I see this as paternalistic nannying bullshit. What, a person can buy whatever the fuck useless or frivolous doodads they want if they go out and earn their money every day at a job, but someone like me should grovel and be grateful for whatever dregs they can get?
These are usually people with a fair chunk of money and financial security, and some unchecked ideas about what poor people deserve. Key word: deserve. These people tend to be very hung up on who deserves what. The other kind of person in my life has been the person that is struggling to make ends meet themselves, maybe by hustling away at some self-employment, or at a low-paying retail or food service job.
These people are jealous that I make just as much money as them (i.e., not much) without having to leave the house. They seem to think I have a pretty sweet gig going, and sometimes they passive-aggressively congratulate me on “snowing” the government into giving me money.’
Lordy! Every now and then I still manage to be amazed by shit like this. I mean, I KNOW what people can be like, but somehow I can sort of kind of at least for a little bit forget/repress knowing it… usually only until I leave the house or start wandering around the internet or turn on the telly though. Bah.