Friday, December 21, 2012

The Power of Choice

With the next episode I watched, Star Trek disproved nearly every statement I made about the show in my last post. And then it got real personal.

In The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2, Spock goes rogue, losing his crown of sensibility, and every woman is treated as respectfully as the men (though one is still particularly scantily clad). There's even a female first officer, who is lauded as being the most experienced officer on the ship! (This is the future Lwaxana Troi of TNG, FYI.) Kirk is minimally featured, as the episode is predominately flashbacks to Spock's experience with his former captain, Pike, who is not at all grabby of women or smarmy with his crew and I wish he could be the captain forever.

But no. And also, he's a paraplegic now, unable to communicate save for a light on the front of his "futuristic wheelchair" that blinks once for yes and twice for no. Despite that method of communication, most of the people around him treat him as though he is unreachable, as if there's no possible way for the man to have a life.

Spock figures out a way for Pike to have a more able-bodied life, but instead of asking for Pike's permission, he KIDNAPS HIM, and the whole time Pike is blinking twice for NO NO NO, which I found horrifying. The disabled man has no agency, and his able-bodied friend thinks he knows what's best for him and there's no reason to consult the disabled guy anyway, what, is he going to blink at us? RAGE.

Of course, it ends happily, and Spock's deception is mostly used as a fuel for dramatic effect, but that drama is at the cost of a man's dignity and freedom of choice.

My partner is my caregiver, and sometimes we have to have conversations about agency. He has to make some decisions for me, I'm not always capable of higher reasoning in a moment, but even when I am, there have been times when he's forgotten to consult me. At a doctor's office, he and the doctor have agreed on a plan of treatment, were pleased as punch with themselves to have solved the next few months for me, only to look baffled when I disagreed vehemently. As if they forgot I might have a say in my own life. Luckily, my boyfriend has recognized when this happens and always immediately backs me up. It's a rare occurrence, but it's still rather frightening in those moments before my freedom of choice is acknowledged.

Our choices are so easily taken away, and it's terrifying how quickly the opinions of people with disabilities or illness** can be silenced and ignored. Just because we don't fit the default mold of a white, able-bodied, cis, male, bootstrapping capitalist, doesn't mean we shouldn't have absolute agency over our own lives, no matter how different we may seem.

** also, this stands for people of color, people of religious and racial minorities, women, and those of the lgbt etc persuasion. We should all be able to choose for ourselves.


Migrainista said...

Our choice can easily be taken. Good for you - standing up for yourself.