Monday, July 20, 2015

MEMO TO MEN: 5 Questions to Never Ask a Woman with a Disability

TO: Men all over the planet
FROM: Melissa
RE: Stop! Don't ask that!
DATE: July 20th, 2015
I'm a curious person (that's probably why I became a journalist...), so I've grown pretty fond of the Big "Q" -- questions, questions, questions! I mean, what better way to find the information you seek, right? What better way to become enlightened? Even I'll admit that I've been known to ask a lot of questions in my day -- some questions were productive, some were redundant and some were just plain wacky!

But as a woman with a disability, my heart sort of sings a different tune. Especially when I find myself on the receiving end of some, well, very interesting questions. Now, I suppose I should preface this by saying that my feelings do not come from some deep-seeded bitterness from being spurned in the past. And of course, I don't mind it when kids ask me questions. I actually welcome that because I feel like I'm educating the next generation to be more accepting and compassionate.

The buck stops there, though, boys! There are just some questions that YOU SHOULD NOT ASK if you're over a certain age. Well, I guess you technically could ask them if you're looking to create one heck of an awkward situation. Plus, you don't want to see me on the offense, do you? So, take note, and pretty please, avoid asking these five questions (read: especially on the first date)...

1. Can I order for you?
And no, I'm not talking about the romantic gesture here. I've encountered people who look at my wheelchair and think they have to "speak" for me. I'm sure they do it with the best of intentions, but it's those sorts of assumptions that will get you into trouble every single time. If I have a question about the menu, trust me, I'll ask.

2. Wow, you really have a job?
This one always gets me, mostly because it leaves me wondering what you think I do all day. I've always wanted to be as independent as possible, and I never once thought that my life would be defined by my disability. Maybe that's why this question would come as such a shocker. Would you ask this to your able-bodied date? Exactly.

3. Can I push you?
See the question above. Nevermind the fact that I have a motorized wheelchair, but this questions just goes back to the whole independence thing. I've worked hard to get to where I am, so it's a great feeling when I get the sense that someone is in my corner and wants to be supportive.

4. It must be horrible to be in a wheelchair, huh?
OK, you're probably not this tactless and tasteless, but I thought I'd just include this one for good measure. This would be akin to me asking you if you liked having brown hair or freckles. They're just one part of you, not your entire being. In fact, they really have nothing to do with your deep-down soul and thinking they did would really be selling yourself short.

5. Are you going to run me over?
This is meant to be a joke, and I'm sure you think I've never heard it before. I have. And I didn't really find it funny the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Do you see where I'm going with this?
Here's a good rule of thumb, boys: Unless I specifically ask, assume I can -- and will -- do things on my own. That's really the most empowering, sexy thing you could ever do as my date. Follow these rules (or would they be anti-rules...?), and I'm sure we'll have a wonderful date. I mean, it can't get any more awkward than potentially finding yourself memorialized in my blog post-date, can it? Ahh, there's the question, boys... xoxo

P.S. 3 frustrations of the friend zone, 10 reasons NOT to dump someone, 5 questions I'm too scared to ask, 3 things you should NEVER post on Facebook, 5 first-date questions and 4 things more important than looks. :)

[Photos via We Heart It]

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