I’m re-watching the early seasons of “Downton Abbey”, the ITV / PBS series that takes place in England in the ten or so years after 1912. In Season 2, a main character has a spinal cord injury from fighting in World War I. He’s being pushed around the big estate’s grounds in his wheelchair, by his on / off, will they / won’t they lover.
He, the disabled man, says, “I’m strong enough to push myself.” She, the non-disabled woman replies, “I’ll be the judge of that.”
It’s a tossed-off line, not the start of an argument, not even a mild one. It’s just something they say. But what a pure, distilled example of one of the main forms of ableism.
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