Recently, the world was rocked a little when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on live television. My husband told me about it around the time that it happened and I watched social media explore the issues for the next few days. There are many strong views offered up on all sides of the issue, many with personal examples and clear trauma underlying the posts.
And so I can’t help but put my own two cents into the fray.
As the disabled wife of a protective husband and with all of the information available to date, I would be proud of my husband if he behaved the same way.
Yes, you read that correctly.
I would be proud of my husband if he acted physically to protect or avenge me in a similar situation. While I don’t condone violence generally and we are raising our brown boys to use their superior negotiating skills prior to physical retaliation, my husband has shown me (and my father before him) that in the world of men, there are lines that cannot be crossed without a response. The longer I live with a terminal illness that causes all kinds of side effects that sometimes cannot be hidden and are often humbling and embarrassing, there are different issues that push different buttons.
The more I live with an often baffling, sometimes invisible and always changing diagnosis, the more I understand how much our culture and our interaction is based on ableist criteria. Before my diagnosis, this did not bother me very much because I didn’t often see or understand how hard it is to access so much when one is disabled in any way. Any issues I encountered during illnesses or pregnancies were rather easily adjusted to in the short term, but now I’ve been living with physical disabilities, some more visible than others, for more than five (5) years.
It sucks to be disabled in a world set up for those who are not.
It sucks when one’s disability is clear and visible to others.
It sucks when others comment on your disability without understanding it.
It sucks to be singled out.
It really sucks when no one stands up for you.
And so, while I don’t condone violence generally, when I see a husband standing up for his wife when she is being mocked for something she is struggling with, I don’t immediately think that’s wrong. And I think everyone needs to think a little harder about what it feels like to be affected by an illness one has no control over, something that affects your appearance as a woman, and then to be the butt of unkind jokes. We should all be standing up for those people in our midst who need help, who need the strength of others, who just want to be included.
I will close with one other phenomenon that I’ve noticed playing out on social media and in the people groups that I’ve observed. In the situation involving the slap by Will Smith, each of the people involved were black. It makes me wonder if the reaction, if the backlash would have been different if one or more of the people involved were white. Additionally, watching the responses, I found that many fell along racial lines, demonstrating that the concept of the angry black man is still embedded in our cultural psyche, whether we are aware of it or not.
What a tangled web of ugliness and ill-treatment and love. Love of a man for his wife was on full display, regardless of how any individual person interprets it.
For yet another perspective, please check out my friend and fellow recovering lawyer’s blog post here. While you are at it, check out her other posts and follow her musings about living with a chronic and debilitating illness that is not treated the same as cancer. It is enlightening, illuminating and oh so sad to see how badly those of us who are other are treated.