[nabs-l] Prejudice, ignorance, and sighted domination

sarah.jevnikar at utoronto.ca sarah.jevnikar at utoronto.ca
Thu Jun 18 02:53:44 UTC 2009

Hi Jim,
You raise some interesting points as usual. <grin>

I am probably the last person, (or one of them) to scream sighted  
domination. I get what you're saying though. I think, for me  
personally, it depends on the situation. If someone asks me a  
question, I will always be polite. Even if it is the drunk guy in  
residence asking me to teach him Braille once he's sober ... yes I  
didn't actually think that would happen either <another grin> Even if  
someone doesn't ask for proof, I still try to either demonstrate a  
skill (if possible) or explain explicitly how I complete that skill. I  
think you're right in not taking someone's word for what they can do,  
and hopefully all the proof anyone needs will come through actions as  
you go about your daily routine with that person.
I'm sorry if that made no sense whatsoever.

Quoting Jim Reed <jim275_2 at yahoo.com>:

> Hey all,
> I wanted to start a slightly different topic as to how ignorance   
> leads the sighted domination.
> First of all, sighted domination occurs because sighted people are   
> ignorant of what blind people can do, or how they do it. Therefore,   
> education is one way to avoid sighted domination. The other way is   
> to actually do whatever it is the sighted person thinks you cant do.  
>  Part of the problem is that some blind people are so quick to  
> scream  "sighted domination" that ignorant sighted people are afraid  
> to ask  questions; this does nothing to reduce ignorance or to  
> improve the  public preception of blindness and blind people.
> Second, like it or not, blindness does play a role in defining   
> relationships; it defines how people interact, how they share   
> information, and what activities they participate in. How is a   
> sighted person who has never interacted with a blind person supposed  
>  to know what is appropreate to do or say around blind people unless  
>  they are free and comfortable enough to ask questions and make   
> mistakes?
> Much sighted domination occurs because the sighted person does not   
> have the confidence (or the necessary information to be confident)   
> in the skills and abilities of a blind person. I am sorry, but I am   
> not just going to take your word for it that you can be independent   
> until you prove it to me. I am not going to put a blind person   
> through an obstacle course just to decide if I want to be their   
> friend, but it seems like it would be awfully hard to treat a blind   
> person as "one of the guys" until they first prove that they are   
> indeed capable of being just "one of the guys". Similarly, I am not   
> going to go hiking in the wilderness with a blind partner   
> until/unless I knowhow their vision limits their function, and how   
> they have overcome this limitation. This is not a sighted domination  
>  issue, this is a practical issue with potential life and death   
> consiquences. Before I break my leg five miles in the backcountry, I  
>  need I know if and how my blind partner can
>  handle the situation. If my life is potentially in their hands, I   
> have a need and a right to know that they can do what needs to be   
> done, and I am sorry, but in this situation I am not just going to   
> take your word for it.
> I guess the bottom line is, in my mind, that equality, confidence,   
> and acceptance, much like respect, are earned, not given. This is   
> not an attitude that I only take towards blind people, sighted   
> people must prove themselves as well.  If you don't want to be   
> dominated, then you need to prove to me that you can handle   
> yourself; until then, try as I might, I am always going to be   
> somewhat doubtful of your abilites, and try as I might, my doubts   
> will be reflected in my actions.
> One last note on equality. It is common knowledge how sighted people  
>  accomplish tasks, and sighted people are routinely required to  
> prove  that we do indeed have the skills we claim to have. However,  
> it  seems that the sighted are just supposed to accept the blind   
> person's word that they can do the task.  It seems to be one big   
> secret as to how blind people do task, there are laws preventing an   
> employer from asking how the blind person would do the job, some   
> blind people get pissed when you ask them if, or how they can do   
> something, and, god forbid you ask them to prove it.  As a sighted   
> person, everyone knows (with a fair amount of certianty) what your   
> basic skills and abilities are, and they know (with a fair amount of  
>  certianty) how you accomplish your task. So, if blind people want  
> to  be treated as equals, why shouldnt sighted people have the right  
> to  know if, and how you can do something? And, why is it that blind  
>  people feel they have the right to
>  get pissed off if I ask them if or how thay can do something,   
> whereas I can ask any of my sighted friends the exact same questions  
>  without them thinking I am dominating or custodializing them? If  
> you  trueky want to be equals, then you all need to put up with, and  
>  handle, the same crap as everyone else, and in the same manner as   
> everyone else. Personaly,  if someone doubts my skills and   
> abilities, I don't cry domination or discrimination, instead I   
> either attempt to prove them wrong, I ignore them, or I tell them to  
>  piss off. If I am truely an equal in society, I don't defend myself  
>  by crying discrimination, and I don't justify my actions based on   
> the fact that I am "different".
> I don't know, I guess this is the sighted side of me talking, but   
> these are some of the things I have been thinking about as of late.
> Jim
> "From compromise and things half done,
> Keep me with stern and stubborn pride,
> And when at last the fight is won,
> ... Keep me still unsatisfied." --Louis Untermeyer
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