There’s this sense among the privileged that those who do not share their privilege are just going out of their way to get attention. As if the fuss they cause about accommodations or safety is all in fun. Any experience other than their own is some kind of Hollywood myth. If somehow the disadvantaged are not faking it for the lulz, then the Lutheran devil kicks in and, clearly they’re just not trying hard enough or otherwise are of poor moral character, because why else would they be in such an absurd condition?
“Well,” grunts Joe America, “obviously you brought it on yourself, or else the universe in its wisdom has judged against you, so why should I respond with anything other than contempt? (But clearly you must be pretending. For reasons that I can’t articulate at the moment. It’s got to be a scheme. And I’ll show you.)”
I feel like “I Won’t Let You Win” should be the national motto.
This mentality also more or less defines hard Internet culture. The worst thing a person can do, by Internet Law, is suggest they have something different or remarkable to contribute.
We could double up by printing “You Think You’re Better Than Me?!” on back of the dollar bill.
And that’s the thing. A disability, or a marginalized identity, sets people apart, therefore drawing attention, therefore making the less privileged seem in some small way remarkable, which draws suspicion and anger from those who feel a regular need to demonstrate a worth that they’re paranoid they can’t perform.
We’ve got these strong markers as to what makes a person a success. What makes a real man, a proper woman. A true adult. You gotta win, gotta earn more, do better. Gotta collect all the pieces on the board and earn the praise. Maybe get famous? A winner deserves fame, after all.
Our whole culture is competition—and a competition has standard rules. So what are these people doing on the margins, if not cheating by setting themselves apart? That’s not even a real lane! How does this fit into the game I’ve been taught? Well, got to police that. Just because I don’t understand the grift doesn’t mean I can’t see when someone is playing by different rules. And in the unlikely event they’re not faking it… well. They lost. That’s how a game works. Why are we wasting time here?
In sum, ha, ha, the driving myth of our society is garbage.
Horatio Alger can go hang himself with his bootlaces.