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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
CapriUni BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales (228* d) RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales 16 Sep 11

Morwen -- It's been so long since I read Heidi, I had to go back and remind myself of the plot in Wikipedia. ... Now, I know why I put it out of my mind!

Ack! So much ableism! So much Fail (and not just paralysis, but blindness and epilepsy, too). I think Johanna Spryri just wanted to give Clara something tragic and heart wrenching that she could be cured from, so the parents would be grateful to the titular heroine, without any regard to what these conditions are really like.

(All she needed was to have her wheelchair thrown off a mountain, and be forced to walk! She could walk if only she tried hard enough! She was only an invalid because her parents were too soft on her!)

As I'm writing this post up, I'm coming to the realization that, in the late 19th Century, at least Disability in literature was like Sci-fiction or fantasy today -- actual people with actual disabilities were so secluded from society that they might as well have been elves, or little green men from Saturn. Writers could make stuff up and throw it into their stories as metaphors and plot points and there was no expectation to be factual in any way about it.

The problem is, these stories are still being read, today, and unfortunately, people still think these fantasies are realistic. And people still come up to me and insist I really could walk, if I just tried hard enough.

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