THOUGHT PROVOKER 60
Blindness and Gender
Last Updated January 19, 2003
To Provoke Thought Is The First Step To Beyond
It was cool under the trees, but the conversation got hot in a hurry.
“Blindness and gender appears to be the major issue here! Wait a minute... Wait now... One person talk at a time!” the peer counselor’s voice rode over the multiple volleys of shouted comments between the young people in the summer camp for blind teens. “For clarity's sake, let us outline the two sides of the issue by having representatives from each side give a short and to the point statement. Once we are satisfied we have the main elements outlined, then we can address the "why" of them and, possibly, the consequences and a resolution for each point.” Picking up a slate and stylus, the counselor said, “Jomoana, for the female side, can you sum up the first point you girls have been making?”
“Females have it harder in life if they are blind! I know this is a general statement, but look, less is expected of the female in our society, so if you are blind too, then that makes it all the worse. Because of these lower expectations, I have less chance for a full life than if I were a male, and,” the dark-skinned girl leaned forward to emphasize, "I have to work harder for what I get!"
“Yeah, but females get more help, for sure, so it's less hard!” piped up Johnny. “That's another reason blindness isn't as big a negative for a female.”
“Whoa, now! Hold the comments.” said the counselor, regaining the floor. “Now a statement from the male viewpoint. Pedro?”
"Obviously, males have it worse." Pedro thumped his cane to emphasize his point, “Going from the premise set down by the other gender half... Because in general more is expected of the male, then when blindness comes and you are disabled, it is seen as a larger handicap and so it is worse for the guys.”
“What century are you living in, Mr. All-powerful Male!” jeered a girl's voice.
“Give us a break!” said another female voice.
“All right now!” Tapping the stylus on the slate, the counselor got their attention, “We have a start to what could be a meaningful discussion. So one at a time, who has further input?”
**1. “From a traditional "male/female role" the man has a harder time being blind. Women Can fall into the role of being "loving daughter - wife - mother -homemaker" and many blind and sighted women still do this. Men are supposed
to be the "aggressor - bread winner." No one looks down on the blind women
who lives with her parents at 30 years old collecting SSI. The blind man in the same situation is called a Bum.”
My Web Site )
FROM ME: This is one guy’s view of the male view. Agree or does your view differ?
**2. (Following are several posts to Blindfam by a group of regular participants to the listserv; normally I do not collect them in this fashion) No one looks down on the blind woman who lives with her parents at 30 years old collecting SSI."
How do you know this? Maybe you should try being one before you say that so quickly.”
Sarah J. Blake
FROM ME: This lady answers the gentleman above. So here is one woman’s view. And for discussion’s sake, is yours different than her’s?
**3. "No one looks down on the blind woman who lives with her parents at 30 years old collecting SSI."
Sarah> How do you know this? Maybe you should try being one before Sarah> you say that so quickly.
I wasn't looked down upon because I was a woman, but rather because I lived at home. I was told by a former friend that I lived in a dysfunctional family because I chose to live at home.
As for gender making it more or less difficult if one is blind, I
think if you lose your sight later, it doesn't make that much of a
difference, but if you are born blind, then it's the guys who have the worst time of it. They're expected, (no matter how much
indoctrination we women have given them over the past fifty years), to be the strong ones the ones who make the first move and all that.
I've known a fair group of blind folks in my time, and frankly, I know more men who are blind that have hang-ups than ever I knew women that did. I can think of about six guys I know and knew who have had hang-ups, deviant behaviors, etc. I only know two women who have been really "weird" We women seem to be more able to live alone, we also
seem to have a better handle on what is socially acceptable than some guys do. These are meant to be generalizations, that's why I say some guys and most women etc. There are many exceptions to this rule.
Ann K. Parsons
ICQ Number: 33006854
FROM ME: Here is a second woman’s reaction to the gentleman in response 1.
**4. (Response 2 lady answers response 3 lady.) It was the living at home comment that punched my buttons. I feel the "bum” stereotype as much as anybody. It isn't ok for me to be living at home collecting SSI because I am a female. Adult females are expected to have careers and/or families. When people find out that I live at home and am not working, their first response is usually to assume that I am a teenager.
Sarah J. Blake
and Blindfam and Blindfam
FROM ME: when the web of life some people weave, when does it become confusing to you?
people begin to weave that social web of mistrust,
**5. (Here is the gentleman from response 1 again) I know it Sarah because I've worked with and been around hundreds of blind and visually impaired people. In general Society expects way more of men then women when it comes to: independence, being successful in landing a good job, etc. How many sighted couples do you know where the man works at Mc Donald's and his wife is a lawyer or banker. I know I'll get all the
women on this list mad at me but women's lib is a crock. We are still expected to be the strong bread winner. If we blind men expect to marry a sighted women we had better have a professional job or find a woman that wants to mommy us.
My Web Site
**6. I used to think that blind women had a more difficult time because they could be sexually abused more easily, but what Charlie said makes me think he's right..... in society men are expected to be the stronger, and the big
supporter for the family. Charlie I agree with you, is hard for men to be blind
Medellín, Columbia south America
**7. I agree with Sarah about whether or know people look down on women who live at home at an older age. I have had students who were introduced to me where one of the opening comments was that they still live at home with their family.
Debbie & Jesse
**8. Thought Provoker is put to the test this time.
It is tougher for the male than the female
The male has always been the protector, at least in this
society. that is not to say that it is Always true because nothing in
life is set in stone :-)))
This is my reasoning ....
**9. “ This is a most interesting issue and one which I have given a lot of thought to. Needless to say blindness at any age is one of the worst things to face. I sometimes think those that are born blind are much better off than those of us who lose our vision later in life since they do not miss what they have never seen and have learned from the start how to live with no sight.
As far as whether it is worse for male or female I think it is about the same when you are young and are trying to find your place in life, going to college, finding a job, possibly marrying and doing the things to prepare for a future. However if the blindness comes at a later age as it did in my case, after retirement, I can honestly say I feel it is worse for a woman, especially if she is married and still has a husband. Regardless of what anyone says most husbands are not good care givers. They expect dinner to be on the table, their clothes to be laundered, shopping to be done and the house to be clean and neat as always. This is a big responsibility for a
woman losing her sight. True many husbands will then help out and that is good. Let me tell you about a man who came just once to our vision loss support group. He had RP and said outright" I have very few problems with this! My wife fixes my breakfast and I shower and shave. Then she takes me down to the office where I used to work to visit with the fellows. Around 11 a.m. I walk a short distance to the YMCA for a morning work out. Then she
picks me up and takes me home and gives me lunch. I take a short nap in the afternoon, she reads the evening paper to me, we have dinner , catch a little TV and then go off to bed." This doesn't sound hard to me, does it to you. This man was in total denial of his vision loss and when he witnessed a diabetic in our group having a low blood sugar and we had to call the paramedics and he saw what this poor fellow was going through(who was very visually impaired) he got up out of his chair, excused himself and left. He
never came to another meeting. Perhaps what I am trying to say here is that the effects of losing vision varies according to gender depending on where you are are in life. I personally feel it is much harder for women and know there will be others who disagree.
**10. I would like to focus my comment on just one aspect of life: dating. Here I think men have it harder. I had my first date when I was 16. Even then I was expected to pick up my date. I didn't drive so my father drove me over to my date's house to pick her up--even though she had her driver's license. I stopped driving when I was 44 years old. Until then I always picked up my date. Even if I found her address with no problem and parked on the street, I had to walk to the front door. (My parents made sure that I would not be one of those guys who sits in his car and honks the horn for his date to come to him.) Sometimes the walk from the street to the door
was more challenging than the drive over.
And there are all these unwritten rules, such as the man leads the way to the table in a restaurant or the seats in a movie theatre. On the date it's perfectly acceptable for the woman to take the man's arm, but less so for
the man to take the woman's unless he's pulling her closer for a kiss or pulling her out from the path of a speeding car..
On a date, the man is expected to do all the leading. If he walks into a
light pole, he's a goof ball. But if she walks into a light pole, he's
still the goof ball for leading her into it.
Anyway, thanks for provoking me,
FROM ME: Do you think expectations of a gender changes over time? And, with many blindness groups trying to “change what it means to be blind,” do you think this too will change expectations for the blind male or female?
**11. I feel life would be hardest for blind men in drag. They don't get a lot of social reinforcement and they've probably been discriminated against in traditional independent living classes where blind women learn to apply make-up and such.
FROM ME: “This introduces a whole new real-life issue of being blind, being a male or female and Gay. Yes, how might gender expectations affect these individuals?
**12. It would be positive, even convenient, to believe that things have changed significantly over the decades, but sadly, we can see both sides of the issue.
In most parts of the world, men are still viewed as the protector, the provider, the ruler of the roost, the engineer behind the actions - this may be changing in the US. Therefore, blindness creates a situation for men which removes them from that supposed role. Women, on the other hand, still in much of the world, are considered the ones for whom care and caution must be provided. Blindness is just one more "weakening" factor in their case. Yet, in a world where it is also still considered more appropriate for blind people to marry sighted people (never mind any other negligible factors), blind
men can always find women who want to "mother" them. Now, people are no doubt feeling an adrenalin rush at the sight of this comment, so here's a qualifier - we know it isn't everyone. Women, on the other hand, who must make it through the marriage market, won't find it so easy.
Now in the more industrialized or technologized parts of the planet, women have it much better, because education and career are more equalized for them. I don't think there is one right answer on this one.
**13. As usual, this is an interesting and thought provoking topic. At one time, I probably would have replied that being blind and female would be tougher, because, being male, I may not understand women or many of the cultural and familial pressures they must deal with. As someone once told me, the worst thing in the world is the thing that you don't know or understand. To many deaf people, loss of vision would be far worse. To
a wheelchair user, who has learned to adapt for physical inabilities,
loss of vision might be a disaster.
On the other hand, I've come to believe that an individual's attitude
and drive have much more to do with problems and/or success than gender. Whether male or female, we have the power to permit our own expectations and those of others to influence how we react.
Doug Hall, Daytona Beach, FL USA
FROM ME: One thought is- Well, good point. Meaning think of the famous, successful blind people that are in society today or how about for all times. There have been both male and females, right? So were these people just exceptions to the rule? (Would we not have to look at both, being an exception to being blind or being what ever gender. and now the combination.)
**14. my feelings about this issue, is that men have it easier than women. as they do not have so much fear of being attacked no matter what ever city in the world they live in.
plus a male seems to get more respect than a woman. i.e. have you ever notice if you are in a restaurant or a cafe that a man get served before a woman, and this is the same if you are out with a man. I think this is sex discrimination.if you are young and good looking you get served a lot quicker, than if you are in your middle thirties and older.
**15. The main issues raised by this thought provoker aren't those which appear on the surface, but, rather, are the underlying twisted attitudes of our society which it (perhaps inadvertently) reveals. Neither gender would feel jilted if these foundationally sick attitudes were corrected.
First: Since we're people rather than animals, let's do away with referring to ourselves as "males" and "females". The correct terms are "men" and "women". Since the setting of this thought provoker is a teen camp, perhaps the correct
terms should be "boys" and "girls". Whichever it is, let's stop using
terminology which dehumanizes ourselves. Thinking of ourselves from the wrong perspective is a sure way to start going down a wrong path.
Second: Both men and women, in general, usually become spouses and parents. These are equal opportunity destinies for members of both genders, and, in the whole scheme of things, how we conduct ourselves in these capacities is far more important than what we do for work, how we handle ourselves socially, how much money we have, what we do for hobbies, how popular we are, or whatever
else might've been the stimulus for the statements made within this thought provoker.
Our society has, to its detriment, essentially totally devalued the
God-ordained positions of husband, wife, father, and mother. Both a husband and his wife have an equal amount of work to do in order to keep their marriage in tact. Both a father and a mother have an equal amount of work to do in order to properly raise their children. These very real, life long, selfless, total
commitments, rather than all those other artificial things, are what ought to be really expected of us. Were this the case, and were our marriages and children truly valued by our society, the attitudes expressed within this thought provoker wouldn't ever come up. While we may not be able to change our society as a whole, we can surely start by correcting our own perspectives.
Third: We tend to fall into the trap of assuming that what our fellow man expects of us is more important than what our creator expects of us. If we'd take the time to look into what He expects of us, we'd discover that both men and women, without exception, are held equally accountable for some very basic
and important things. Here, in His own words, are just four of them.
First: [Ecclesiastes 12:13]: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."
Second: [Mica 6:8]: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Third: [Isaiah 66:2]: "but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."
Fourth: [1 Samuel 16:7]: "for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."
Dave Mielke (2213 Fox Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Phone:1-613-726-0014, EMail:email@example.com, Web:http://dave.mielke.cc/
**16. From personal experience I think it is harder for the male even though I am a blind woman. Only because the man is usually the bread winner and I think they are more hesitative about it.
FROM ME: Here is one woman’s view of what it may be like for an individual of the opposite gender. What do you think, is it more interesting to read and is it more powerful, to have a response written from the perspective of what one gender thinks it is like for the other?
Or a response that tells it from that persons own genders perspective?
**17. I think we've all worse off for arguing about whose situation is worse, rather than working to make it better. The sex of a person has very little to do with the fact that all of us have had some extremely unfortunate things happen as a consequence of not being able to see as others can. Some more than others certainly, but there are tons of factors which contribute to that.
I think nothing will be gained by trying to blame society in general for
the bad treatment a few receive at the hands of a few others. I think even less will be gained by trying to explain away this treatment as some glorified battle of the sexes regarding which group of blind people have suffered more injustices.
Please all feel free to have me shot if I start suggesting we gather
'round the campfire and sing songs together, okay? *grin*
Joseph Carter <
firstname.lastname@example.org > and ACB-L
**18. I can't say that it's been particularly "difficult" being a blind female. It's had some challenges; like not feeling as cool as the other kids in school, finding alternative ways to cook, clean, shop, etc., and balancing my independence with my need for assistance. I think that the level of difficulty has more to do with one's self esteem. I think I have had more difficulty pretending "not" to be blind, than actually "being" blind. Does that make sense?
When I was in high school, and more so now that I am opening up and accepting my visual impairment, I have had an easier time "being blind." Having said that, I would think that it might be more difficult to be a blind male. Based on society's traditional gender roles, men in general have it more tough. Men have been the one's to ask for the date, pick up the girl, make all the decisions, etc. Now this is changing rapidly, so I wouldn't say this is totally true today. Okay, that's my two cents.
**19. I always thought that it was harder for a guy to be blind because passivity on the part of a woman is acceptable in our society. Many sighted guys are looking for a woman that they can take care of. When I was a student at the California Orientation Center for the Blind, and when I interned at
the V. A. Western Blind Rehab Center, I met many newly blinded men whose wives had left them because they didn't feel that the man could support them any longer, and because they feared a role reversal that they could not handle. in all fairness, I had a female friend whose husband left her when she went blind from type I diabetes. this happened shortly after the birth of their daughter, and she had to raise the child alone. i would also imagine that blind women have their battles, I. e. proving to those
around them that they can competently and safely raise children.
**20. I think that being blind is tougher for the male. One reason is
because, as another list member pointed out, he is expected to be the bread-winner. If he's unemployed most of the time due to lack of
accommodations, the thought is, "how can he support the family if he isn't working?" Thus, he is placed into the category of deadbeat dads. Second, when it comes to creating a family, society thinks of the possibility of the man's blindness being passed on to the children more than they think of the woman passing it on.
I've seen these occurrences more than I care to think about; particularly the latter.
**21. Whomever runs these provoker questions can forward my response to the appropriate website. I think this is a really good thought-provoker. I don't really
know which side has it more difficult--the men or the women. But I will say this: As a woman, I am more likely to be grabbed by men who claim to be "helping" me, and since these guys are usually a lot stronger than me, that can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience. I think that sometimes women have to be more assertive that we can do something b/c yes in some ways less is expected of us. So, what do the rest of you think? I'd really like to hear from some
of the men on this question, because like I said, I really don't know which side has it more difficult.
Nicole K. Gleason
The NFB CHICk from CHICago
**22. As far as the usual bread winner, that it use to be that the man was thought of as the bread winner, but it seems like
today that the women are doing it as much as men.
**23. While I agree with your general sentiments here Joseph (response 17) I do personally think that women and other minorities who are blind suffer duel discrimination. That sociological math suggests to me that they generally have a tougher row to hoe.
Regardless all discrimination is indeed wrong as you point out and should be rooted out of our nation.
**24. you raised some interesting points about gender expectations--hadn't thought about that really. Yes it is true that expectations are different in many respects for women from men. I guess we just have to keep on chugging along!
**25. well, I am male and totally blind, but raised 8 children. Oh how heads got raised and eyebrows curl when I took them in public places. It was especially interesting to hear the comments when they saw my girls, they are beautiful--a couple of them did modeling, but things came out like: how did he create them. OH well.
I actually don't look to bad either, and I have heard, a nice looking man, too bad he's blind. I guess the blindness makes us animals or something.
**26. I believe that there are some gender restrictions or biases when it comes to blindness. However I believe it is hard for both genders to adapt to blindness.
I have female and male friends under a ton of pressure, and I also think that the gender differences are rather fogged or misted, then in the past. Of course, females and males have different ways, and skills to acquire, applying make up, shaving, tying a tie, smile, but these are it. Most things make it harder. I do notice one thing though, it is easier, as a female to ask for help or directions. The male friends I am with, really don't want help till it is totally necessary, then they want me to ask, maybe it is because I look more blind. I am not sure. But these are my views on it.
Shelley Rhodes and Judson, my golden, guiding achiever.
**27. no I don't think that gender is an adjustment to blindness. female or male you go through the same things and it is hard on both sides so even though in the story the blind people think differently I think it is the same for both female and male.
**28. Blindness and gender, hmmm. Personally, I really don't think males or females have it any better when it comes to blindness. I can think of a personal situation when being male might be better off, but I strongly emphasize the word might. As a college student, I feel pretty uncomfortable walking at night. I do go a few limited places by myself, but they're not far walking distances from my dorm complex at all. I get the feeling sometimes that
people think that if you're blind and female that self defense is impossible. However, I know blind people who are female that have taken self defense classes and may be stronger than some males. Of course, our society in general, whether you're blind or not, has the stereotype that males are simply the much stronger gender.
Enough rambling on for now.
**29. “This sounds like a twist on the battle of the sexes! Blind or sighted makes no difference. Man and woman have been having these disagreements since time began. In my opinion both will have their challenges, no sex gets special treatment.
Diane dobson Victoria, British Columbia Canada
**30. “I think it is easier for blind women and girls to accept assistance gracefully. In previous generations we were expected to be less capable and in need of protection, so the grateful smile and thank you is something little girls learn from toddlerhood and we aren't forced to be tough unless we choose to be. That can be double edged though as it is easier to let others do too much for us and not challenge ourselves to achieve. Also, our generally slighter
stature can lead to us being perceived as victims and attract the predator type in our direction. It gets hard sometimes to judge when to be a bitch for our own safety and when its alright to be a lady. Things have gotten a little better over the years as gender roles are less strictly enforced by cultural pressures, but I think men still feel pushed to always be competent and in control. This is one of those questions there can't be a right answer too because
we are all different and meet the challenges in our individual lives in the best way we can. Age, sex, ethnicity, play a part in this but I think courage and determination are more important factors to adjustment than any of the elements I mentioned.
DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega
**31. Now, here's my gut reaction to the piece. I don't think blind men or women, as well as sighted men or women, totally have it easier than others. I think we all have our particular problems which are unique to us and our situation, so blind or sighted, male or female, despite social programming and all, nobody has it totally easier than the other. Nobody gets a total break. To me, the idea that people get a better life because of their gender or disability or economic status is a myth. Even the rich and famous have their share of problems. They may not be the same ones we have, but to them, they're problems.
Chris Swank Latuna California USA
**32. I have a question rather than a comment. I am a blind male. If I were female would I feel safe taking a walk , as I do each evening? I do not have a guide dog.
Alexandria, Virginia USA
**33. As we all realize; there are many considerations which factor into our personal adaptation to blindness and therefore, As Gender is but one facet of who we are as people it must be said therefore that it does indeed impact on the adaptation to blindness.
I feel that the question that this story raises is not if gender effects the adaptation to blindness but more Does gender magnify or compound, for blind individuals, those issues faced by our sighted peers within today’s society?
I am certain that each gender faces specific challenges along the path of adaptation but do not feel that one sex may indeed have it more difficult than another where adaptation is the principal concern.
**34. It has been a long time since I have participated in these discussions. This one caught my attention, because I think about this occasionally. I don't know if gender is necessarily a draw back, but I think ones talents are more a draw back. If a man is gifted with technical understanding, he is seen as "normal" and may be given an opportunity despite his blindness. There are successful blind engineers, but I am only aware of male, blind engineers.
If a woman is blessed with abilities to work with children, she may be given opportunities as a teacher or day care provider. What about the woman gifted with technical abilities or the nurturing man. It is definitely an uphill battle to fight gender stereo-types and blindness. Of course, this is only my opinion.
Marcia, Martin Michigan
**35. Gender & Blindness. How to react to blindness is as unique as the number of people who have the disease/disorder. Already there are divisions between some totally blind and the visually impaired. Opinions can divide. Now we look at blindness from another dividing angle...gender. Losing one's vision stinks and we
all agree there are lots of problems and issues to be worked out. We have common issues and we have individual issues. I do not feel that the gender issue is a major one....from my perspective. I think it is only an issue if we as an individual make it one. Like 2 sides to the coin, male./female, men are from Mars, women are from Venus....we all think differently...not that one has more issues than the other.
Men's evaluation of their self worth differs from women in many ways.
Another book I read about "Man are like Waffles, women are like
Spigot....this one I like. It says that men tend to put things into
compartments...like the waffle squares. Each compartment is an issue. The problem with blindness is that it effects all other compartments...like the syrup that fills the entire waffle. ALL issues in your life are affected in some way.
Women on the other hand are like spigot. ALL issues are connected and intertwined to all others. I guess being blind is like the sauce that
touches all areas of the spigot. Nothing goes untouched by the fact that we are blind or visually impaired.
Like reading, walking, preparing meals, transportation, work, etc. ALL of these things are done different because of the visual issue. Adjustment and changes are the norm for us.
Anyway, we all have opinions on this subject I am sure. I like to look at common areas for both male and female and help each other out as much as we can. Saying one side is more important than the other OR one side has things more tough is just being divisive.
My 2 cents. This Provokes does make one think about the differences and help each "side" understand the other better!!
Joyce Cass Pratt Gillette, New Jersey USA
FROM ME: Here is a thought- Just because I create a THOUGHT PROVOKER dealing with an issue or perceived issue, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is truly a significant issue to many. so, do you think that finding out if a PROVOKER is an issue or a non-issue is worth while?
**36. One thing's for certain: blindness doesn't discriminate in nationality, race or gender. But who has it worse - men or women? I don't think there's a definite answer to that. I think it depends on the person themselves. Personally, I've always felt - sorry guys - that in the sighted world more is expected of women. We have to hold down full time jobs, have babies, take care of the kids, the husband and the household, the relatives, and all that stuff. If
a woman is blind and has those same life expectations wouldn't she have it rougher than a guy who's sole responsibility is just the job end. A man's responsibility is a very big one too. And I'm not taking sides.
Patricia Hubschman New York USA
**37. This is a new twist on an old problem. I have often thought that gender bias and blindness bias could over shadow each other. When one is denied acceptance or participation, and when that one belongs to two or more oppressed groups, which minority is the target of discrimination? It is hard to tell at times.
As a child, I was denied the opportunity to do many things which my brother, six years my junior, was allowed. When I protested, my provincial, Ozark parents argued, 'but he's a boy and you're a girl'. I was usually indignant. I didn't believe it for a minute. It was blindness not gender bias that caused their discrimination. It never occurred to me to think that it would have been equally unfair if I were sighted and suffered the same indignities. I believed that if I were sighted, it would not occur at all. He was allowed to go here, run there and stay out later. And six years younger to boot.
How could it be anything other than blindness.
It wasn't until I got out and looked around me that I was able to observe the treatment of the sighted females of my age. It was easy to blame blindness and I still believe it was the larger part but it is easy to overlook attitudes which creep into our minds and shape our beliefs. It is all too easy to
be guided by such beliefs and to accept second class treatment as a woman so long as blindness is obviously not the issue. This is easier to notice among the blind than in the world at large. When among blind folks of ones own philosophy, gender bias is easier to see.
What I learned from my speculation was to question myself. If it isn't alright to exclude me from first class citizenship because I'm blind, presumably it is perfectly okay to exclude me for being a woman? Not for a minute. It taught me that discrimination isn't limited to blindness and people have many frontiers on which to struggle for first class citizenship. Sighted women don't have an easy ride for being sighted. There is nothing so great about sight as to secure first class citizenship in and of itself. Only that they are in the majority.
I also learned that being in the majority isn't all it is cracked up to be. Don't women out number men? Why then are we not the ruling class? And what of the sighted and their status as the ones for whose convenience the world is ordered? Ponder this. Only among the disabilities do we find a minority
which a practitioner of bias may find herself a member. We cannot change our race nor can our gender change through misfortune. Consider, does this make it easier for us than for the more concrete minorities. The Klansman cannot become black. While this may keep devils out of the African American minority,
there is no possible juxtaposition. On the other hand, that possible juxtaposition causes fear. Not of being overrun by supposed inferiors but of becoming them. Does this make it harder for us than for the concrete minorities? Of the thought provoker, one might say the same of blindness and race, gender and race or any other combination. Such a discussion serves to remind
me that we are not the only ones trying to establish our rightful place in society.
To those of you who would admit in your hearts that there is a group you deem not quite as important as the one to which you belong, ask yourselves this. Replace that group with the blind, is it still alright to feel that way?
**38. I do not believe blindness is made any more difficult, or otherwise, because of gender. Here is the evidence: I know blind adults, male and female, who still live with their parents, and who live on their own. I know blind adults, male and female, who are employed and unemployed.
Jeff Frye Overland Park,
**39. Being blind cuts down both chances of a either a woman or a man. But I’m thinking for a man in a man oriented society, where being tough and manly is the name of the game, then it is harder for the male to be blind. Get real, most societies in this world are run by men. A man that has an obvious handicap like blindness is not going to make it as well as the sighted man.
**40. Gender doesn't seem to make a difference anymore in the working world, or with anything else these days. I don't feel that blindness would make a difference. I think it would be just as hard in this world for a blind man as it is for a blind woman. I think it's just as easy for a woman to get what she wants in life as it is for a man. It's just a matter of motivation and going after whatever that is.
Peggy Dill (Hastings, NE)
**41. I think gender is a definitely a factor in adjustment to blindness and visual impairments. And, I also think that women do have a more difficult time. We are in "double jeopardy" as blind women. We have to be extra careful and more in defense of ourselves, even when we are asking for or receiving help---especially from men. We have to be careful with who we trust. Case in point: One day, when I was outside the University at the bus stop, I struck up a very casual conversation with a guy as we were waiting for our bus to come. I had never met him before. The bus finally came, but pulled way down the street, which meant we really had to hustle to catch it in time. I had my book bag over my shoulder and was navigating my cane with my right hand. The guy I'd been talking with asked if I wanted him to take my arm, to guide me. I said no thank you, that I was okay---which I was. But, a few weeks later I saw him again at the bus stop, and we got talking. I asked him what his major was, only to find out he was a professor! So I probably would have been okay to trust him when he offered to help me. But at the time
it happened, I didn't know, and didn't want to take any chances.
Another time, I was getting ready to get off the bus, and the strap to my book bag snapped off. So, as I was coming down the steps, I had my book bag in my right hand by a smaller handle, and the hand rail with the same hand, and was navigating my cane with my left hand. A man who had gone down the steps
ahead of me tried reaching for my book bag, and said, "Here....I'll take that for you, so you can get down easier." I pulled it in, and said no thank you. He got insulted and said, "I was only trying to be helpful." I told him I understood that, and appreciated it, but I was okay. The truth was, I could see him taking my book bag, and going down the sidewalk ahead of me, before I could catch up....and that would be the last I'd see of him. Besides my purse and books, I had a lot of important information inside because I was in the process of applying for some scholarships. Again, maybe I was overly
cautious, but I didn't want to take any chances. In a way, it's better to be too careful, than not careful enough.
Another issue related to gender and blindness, in which females are at a disadvantage, is in economics and the job market. Blind people are discriminated against to begin with, and although it is against the law, women sometimes aren't hired for jobs because of the "fear" that they may become pregnant and have to leave. Also, even when we are hired, we make only about 75 cents to each dollar men make. So, as blind women, we are in double jeopardy. As
we get older, we enter into triple jeopardy---being blind, aged, and female. And, if by chance, we are women of color, we someday find ourselves in quadruple jeopardy. So, our chances of ending up in poverty are so much greater than they are for men.
**42. I must admit that after reading about the current thought provoking topic, I had to ponder for many minutes to find my truly desired response.
In my view, there is really no difference between the struggle of a blind man or a blind woman to prove to succeed in society to the best of their abilities and advantages. I am a young black woman of Jamaican and Dominican descent. Though my cultural background makes me even more of a minority, I do not see it as a hindrance or hurdle which I must overcome in order to prove myself to the world. On the contrary, it is rather an addition to my the unique me. Instead of having the desire to fit in with the crowd, I strive to be different. all my life I have believed that the more unique a person is the more special and beautiful they are. With that said, I think that it is our job as legally blind individuals to acknowledge our lack of vision as being a quality which we can only enhance for the better. In doing this, we should try not to view or God-given situation as something which causes us to feel a need to prove ourselves equal to those of the sited world. In a sense we must see it as, "Because I am blind, I
will not do wee, but excel." Anyways, if there is anyone to really prove anything to, it should be ourselves. In turn, we will unconscientiously prove to others just how great we are. I have lived a pretty hard life in addition to my blindness, race, cultural heritage and gender, but this has all made me feel stronger and better about myself and my achievements thus far no matter how small.
I wonder if my belief is not actually that of many blind people who feel
confident within themselves and have excepted their blindness.
Why question who has it harder, if that is so?
We all have the same basic struggle to overcome as blind individuals, and because of this we should choose to fight it together. Now, I'm not saying we should only entertain the coming together of blind men and women by twos. All I am saying is just because society wants to totally judge the capabilities of men and women based on gender doesn't mean we have to fall into that trap.
Life is truly what you make it and so are your struggles.
**43> I am a guy and blind. I do think being blind and being a male is more of a handicap then being blind and female. I think this is true in most western cultures and from what I can see about eastern cultures it is worse. I believe this is because even today in most societies the male has stronger demands placed upon him. Though I se that being blind and being a woman is also a problem, though I think less is usually asked of the woman so it just doesn’t play out as a serious of a problem .
Robert Wiseman Texas USA
**44. Ok my take on this is that, weather you are blind or sighted I know of many in both situations who live with there parents. And some or most of them are men , sighted or blind. I know of lots of people who are blind male and fellow who live independent lives and work and are gainfully employed. just as I am. and so each person
no matter what gender possess good and bad skills that make them who they are. I as a sighted hi partial, see more blind men with more posture and grooming issues than women who are blind or partially sighted. Why this is I don't know. It has been told to me on more than one occasion that when you go to meat an employer or see someone for the first time how you look and the way you carry yourself, says allot about how they see a blind person. and if someone sees you as someone who can't care for yourself they will not think of you as capable of doing a job, and this is just how it works. if they see you as confident and have good appearance they will at least treat you with respect. now I know this is not always
a fair judgment, but we live in a sighted world. and we as blind or vision impaired persons need to work extra hard to make the grade when applying for jobs in the sighted world.
so all in all, in my feeling is there is no gender issue. it is the skills or lack there of that make the sighted world form there opinions.
**45. I think the main factor isn't gender, but rather the blind person's
skills. It's my opinion that blind people do have to work harder and do
better than their sighted peers. It's unfortunate that society as a whole
still has many misconceptions about blindness.
I don't believe my gender made a difference in school or in the job
market. Yes, socially there were some men who wouldn't date me only
because I was blind, but that wasn't under my control. I did get married
and have a child. My husband is sighted. We can argue about whether it's
tougher for men or women, but it can't be reduced to just that one
question. There are many other variables beside gender.
Jamaica Estates, NY
FROM ME: “Note how many times we have now seen “Skills” as being a major factor in acceptance! How can we recognize within ourselves if this is a factor in the response of others to us? And, if it is we who recognize this lack of good skills in a friend, how do we bring it to their attention and get them to do something about it?
**46. This one’s interesting. I was reluctant to reply at first when I didn’t have much to say initially. I can actually see things from several different angles, and will respond to some thoughts as I me across them in this provoker.
(1) First, I’ll respond to a statement made in Resp. (5): "If we blind men expect to marry a sighted women we had better have a professional job or find a woman that wants to mommy us."
Why is it necessary for "us blind men" to marry a sighted woman? I’m not saying Charlie is saying this, but it sounds a little to me as though he’s saying that marrying a sighted woman is better than marrying a blind one. I’m blind; I recently married a blind woman. I could easily have married a sighted woman (or man, for that matter), or not. If I married or partnered with a sighted person in some fashion, it’s not because I expect someone to parent me. I’ve
my own parents, and since I’m 37 years old, they don’t expect to mommy or daddy me anymore, although I suppose when you have kids, you always will to some degree, I’ve heard it said.
Second, in Resp. (10): "I would like to focus my comment on just one aspect of life: dating. Here I think men have it harder."
And so-on. This response I actually agree with in some ways, with some reservations. For while I think gender roles are changing, I think the process is more slow than we realize. We males, blind or sighted, are expected to make the first move. And dating/mating rituals are more sight-dependent and visually oriented than I’ve sometimes been willing to acknowledge. So if you’re a shy teenage boy or man, you’re a little less apt to make the first move to begin
with. When you add blindness to the mix, it just gets dicier.
Other aspects of Resp. (10), I don’t necessarily disagree with either, as far as their truthfulness is concerned. To wit:
"And there are all these unwritten rules, such as the man leads the way to the table in a restaurant or the seats in a movie theatre. On the date it's perfectly acceptable for the woman to take the man's arm, but less so for the man to take the woman's unless he's pulling her closer for a kiss or pulling her out from the path of a speeding
On a date, the man is expected to do all the leading. If he walks into a
light pole, he's a goof ball. But if she walks into a light pole, he's
still the goof ball for leading her into it."
It’s also still more acceptable for women to show their feelings than it is for men; it’s more acceptable for men always to pay the restaurant bills; it’s more acceptable for the man to call and ask a woman out. For that matter, the man is supposed to be the aggressor in sexual matters. But why does this have to continue to be true? Just because this is how men and women may have acted since the reign of Edward IV?
And Robert raises an interesting question in reply to Resp. (11). To wit, what must it be like to be blind and gay or lesbian? I think there are some general stereotypes which sometimes prove more true than we’d like to think again. With gay males, much of social interaction is based on the visual. If you go
to bars, you "cruise", or "scope" someone out (visually check them out). And eye contact is very important. So if you’re more used to social interaction on a less visual scale (you actually talk to people and get to know them instead of going to bars for the sole purpose of bringing someone home or being brought home by someone to get laid), well, you don’t get that social reinforcement from much of the gay male community.
With lesbians I’m guessing it’s somewhat easier because the dynamic may be very different. This may be something I have to ask some blind lesbian friends I do have. I do think it’s more likely that blind women seeking women have it easier in terms of finding a life mate, especially since (and I confess I
may get some responses on this point as well) lesbians tend to be more accepting of differences than gay men, at least as far as disability issues are concerned.
As for my own thoughts, I don’t necessarily think, over all, that blind men have it harder than blind women. Mostly I think, as some have said here, that the scales balance out overall, and that it depends on the situation you find yourself in at any given time. I will say, though, that there may be two situations which are unique. In the first, a woman’s blindness may tip the balance against her.
To wit, a few of you have said that women are expected to be more passive and demure than men, I think there’s a lot to be said for that. In that regard, I’ve seen one or two situations where the blind woman has a sighted partner upon whom she becomes extremely dependent. She doesn’t live near any major metropolitan areas, and so has some difficulty (sometimes a great deal of difficulty) traveling independently without someone having to drive her. Her
husband does that for her, and mostly everything else. He has the purse strings secured; he’s the breadwinner’ she takes care of the children and has more children every so often to take care of. Such may have happened pretty commonly with sighted women some fifty, forty, however many years ago. But women
aren’t as apt to put up with this kind of domination, except that I imagine that some blind women have been conditioned by their families to be more placid and accepting of such dominance. It doesn’t have to be this way, but I think it still happens more than we’re willing to admit.
The second situation is more troubling, since it seems to suggest that men may actually have it harder. E.g., both men and women can be raped, although statistically speaking, women, blind or sighted, are probably more likely to be raped than men. Also, the vast majority of people who rape, whether their victims are male or female, are men or teenage boys.
Having said this, if a totally blind woman gets raped by a stranger or strangers, she obviously won’t see the man or men (I’m sticking to clear gender roles for the point of my hypothetical) who raped her, and will have a tough time when it comes to criminal prosecution of her assailant(s).
But this is also true if a totally blind man gets raped in the same manner (no it doesn’t just happen in prisons). He won’t see his attacker, and again, he’ll have a tough time criminally prosecuting his attacker(s).
Thus it would seem that while women are again more likely to be raped than men, the individual blind female victim is in the same boat as her male counterpart.
But here’s the wrinkle: Again, women are more likely to be raped than men, blind or sighted. Also again, most rapists are male, regardless of the gender of their chosen victims. Thus, the man, blind or sighted, will likely be raped by a man. Which turns the gender issue completely on its head. To wit, the man, having been raped by a man, is going to question his own sexuality: "Am I gay and
didn’t know it?" This is especially true if he, like many female rape victims, has an orgasm during the attack. For now he has issues over his body betraying him, as it sometimes will do to all of us in many ways.
Also, he’s less likely to report the attack. For if being the victim of a same-sex attack makes him question his own sexual identity, he may have strong fears that unsympathetic people, most particularly men, will identify him as gay, notwithstanding he may have led a completely heterosexual life up to that point. A lot of people don’t want to be identified as gay, whether they are or not, because of society’s reaction to such identification.
Now if you add blindness to this, you get a different problem. Blind women who are raped may at leas t find therapy. But men, blind or sighted, still find it difficult to get help. So if the blind male rape victim already has a tough time being a male rape victim, and if he’s not so up on his skills in acquiring information, he can really get into a lot of emotional trouble.
I know I’ve rambled on quite a bit, but ultimately I think there are issues unique to both men and women, blind or sighted. As Betty Friedan might have said (she didn’t), "Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Get used to it."
John D. Coveleski, New York, NY (email@example.com )
**47. While reading the story and responses to update 1, especially the comments about women in their thirties living at home with their parents, I'd like to say that many blind people of both genders appear to think that the government, family and society has a duty to take care of them. It seems, both by society and many blind people themselves, that being taken care of is alright, regardless of whether the blind person is a man or woman. If a person without disability receives welfare (government checks and charity), that person is frequently considered to be a lazy bum, but if that same person happens to be blind, it is perceived as the job of others to take care of him or her.
Over the years, I've met and worked with many people who are blind, and who do little to help themselves or others by working, volunteering or participating in the community. Lets face it, relatively few blind people are involved in the consumer groups (ACB, NFB, etc.) that are largely responsible for the rights that we have today. An extremely small percentage of blind people exercise the right and responsibility to vote and the number who participate in civic organizations/committees is terrible. Perhaps this issue would make an interesting subject for a future Thought Provoker.
Daytona Beach, FL USA
**48. I don't think it is easier for either of the sexes based on blindness alone. It all depends on how the individual handles it. Unfortunately, society
does see it as the women being taken care of by the man. I don't believe that, but I do think that is the opinion of society in general.
Tom Rash, Executive Director AUDIO VISION Radio reading service
**49. I was not going to write in about this gender thing for I did not think I had anything to say. But after reading just the first 4 letters today I find I do have a comment to make.
This thing about the man being the one to work and the like hit home a few months ago. I had worked out for many years, had a college education and a Registered Nurse license. The other day at a meeting, my wife was asked if she worked out and what did she do. When she said that for now she did not have a job
this other person, a woman, made this comment. "Oh, you stay home to take care of him!"
I will add here only that I told her I was very capable to care for myself! I chose not to elaborate on what I did and that it was I who cared for my wife and did all the work when my wife had a broken hand.
Yet, in the same context we had an adult relative here for a couple weeks. I was most relieved and happy when at last he moved on. I can not tell how many times he said to me, "you can't do that, you are blind." When I did the laundry, including his, his remark to my wife was, "are they clean? My lands,
he is blind!"
I don't feel it is a gender thing but just how we are viewed in our own community/family.
The better we can face life being blind, the more we can ignore crude remarks and feel good about ourselves, the better others will think of us. But at times, we must let others know that we are most capable to care for ourselves and to do many jobs out in the world.
Just my thoughts.
FROM ME: well, how many times have we heard it, blindness is a bigger thing, than gender is?
**50. I think there was some very good opinions but personally I think men and women
have it the same u can't just say because you are a male u have it harder that
isn't right we all have it hard.
**51. While reading the responses to this thought provoker, I was reminded of an incident that happened one summer while I was in high school. That particular summer, my family was hosting a foreign exchange student from England named Peter. Peter was about my age and totally blind and I am partially sighted.
When Peter arrived, I had been taking a disco dancing class at the YMCA, which concluded with an actual disco dance. Needless to say, this was during the 70's when disco was very popular. Even though Peter was not familiar with any of the disco steps, he agreed to go with me to the dance.
On the dance floor, I tried to show Peter some of the moves I had learned in the class but because the music was so loud, we found it hard to communicate.
At one point, Peter finally said, "If we're going to dance, I think it would be better if you lead." Since I did not feel comfortable leading, I then
decided to give up dancing with Peter and since he couldn't mingle and ask other girls to dance with him, we both sat on the sidelines, watched the other
dancers, and listened to the music.
Of course, it probably would have helped if we had practiced the moves at home before we went to the dance. But if Peter had been a woman and I had been
a man, it would have been easier for me to lead in the dance. Or if Peter had been partially or fully sighted, he could have learned the moves by watching
me or he could have mingled in the crowd and found another girl who might have been a better teacher.
Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A. )
FROM ME: This struck me as an example of being the result of a down and personal affect and/or effect from gender. See what I mean?
**52. I don't know. Most of these issues seem non issues to me.
1. When David and I were dating, if it was a double date, he picked me up. If it was a single date, I picked him up.
2. In a restaurant, he takes my arm. We don't worry about who is leading who.
3. Originally, he thought if we were walking together, he could take my arm and put his cane away, as his family objected to his using his cane when with them. He found out abruptly that I wasn't as observant as his cane, and was as likely to walk him into a pole I didn't see as not. Also, we went to a convention, and he left his cane home because he was with me. I went to the ice follies (I wasn't as involved with the organization then as now), leaving
him at convention, and he walked into a waiter and nearly caused him to drop a wedding cake. Lesson learned.
That last may not be a gender issue. He has always been the breadwinner, as I determined my marriage was more important to me than my job, and left the
latter for the former.
I am the driver, yes, but so what?
Lori Stayer Merrick New York USA
**53. There are definite gender biases in our society which have already been mentioned here. Therefore, it seems to me that expectation of blind men and women would be similar to gender-specific expectations in sighted men and women.
The problems are multiplied, given our society's general beliefs about the helplessness of blind persons. Add that to gender biases and blind women come out more jeopardized than blind men.
I have observed that when a couple is composed of one blind person and one sighted person, there are predictable patterns.
Some sighted men marry blind women, expecting that they will be more helpless than a sighted woman, and quite a few sighted husbands of blind women seem to be abusive to their women and the women have fewer ways out of the situation because the sighted guy can find a job much more easily, and the woman
would have financial, transportation, and other problems. She would even have trouble keeping anonymity would she escape from the situation.
The cab driver, bus or train station attendant would remember, "oh yes, there was a blind woman here a few hours ago and she bought a ticket to ..." whereas a sighted woman could drive to the station, purchase a ticket, and possibly not be noticed enough to be remembered at all.
The blind woman would normally be the one expected to raise the children, but in some cases, sighted men have received custody rather than the blind woman.
Blind women are generally not expected to be able to raise their children.
I have also seen a pattern of blind husbands finding sighted women who are the caretaker type. I've seen this pattern a lot.
Again the female could have a harder time, even sighted. If her blind husband was abusive she would really be reprimanded by friends, co-workers, and family
for "leaving a poor, helpless blind man, how could you do that?"
She might not have the option of leaving if the blind husband happened to be the breadwinner and she depended on him for financial reasons.
Another pattern I have seen repeatedly is in the case of two sighted persons in a relationship and one becomes blind. Then there seems to be trouble and quite often, an unnecessary divorce. Our society actually has empathy for the sighted person in leaving the newly-blinded spouse because after all, he/she
is going to be a burden and you'd be better off finding someone who can see."
Another pattern I have seen is that when a dependent blind person is married to a sighted spouse and the blind person decides to become more independent, oftentimes a divorce will happen, again, unnecessary, but supported by the society who most often, never figures out that the blind person is able to or
has become more independent or interdependent.
One sighted person I know of was very angry when the blind spouse became more self-sufficient because that really messed up the power dynamics, and let me tell you when a controller is faced with someone who no longer wants or needs to be controlled, all you know what can break forth.
To those who say gender isn't an issue, just the blindness is, I don't know what planet they live on. And to one who felt that using terms such as male and female being less appropriate than man and woman, well, we're all animals and being an animal is not a bad thing. In much of my studies I have not
come across instances in which the terms male and female were seen as having more of a negative connotation than the terms man and woman. However, some
folks tend to want to have some interesting beliefs.
**54. Well, I am a woman, not politically correct, and blinded late in life. Life , it seems to me, is not what happens to each individual, but in his/her reaction to it. No two people experience the same things, nor can they be expected to "feel" the same about them. Christianity calls us to be examples to others within our experience. The expectation of this is that we turn the proverbial other cheek and smile at our circumstance. "Don't dream it. Be it." Frank
N. Further; The Rocky Horror Picture Show
**55. OK, I was going to leave this one alone, but let me suggest the following for consideration. Given the fact that the negative attitudes and stereotypes about blindness and blind people are so strong and the fear of blindness is so strong, I am going to take the position that the impact of gender in terms of expectations while it may exist, is of little consequence because the overall expectations and perceptions about blindness and blind people is so great.
To me its as inconsequential as asking about the impact of gender on attitudes toward and expectations of other minority groups. For example, While it may be true that there were and still are differences in attitudes and expectations of black people in society, certainly back before the Civil Rights movement (and now to some extent) the gender variable is minimal because the racial variable (or in the present case blindness) is so significant.
One more thing. I am one who believes very strongly that there is nothing wrong with "staying at home" if the person doing the "staying" is providing for the homemaking and/or raising of children. When I was in college and looking for work for about two years, I did the homemaking and shopping and yard care
while my wife worked. Today by choice we have changed roles. However, anyone who may think that simply because one does not have a job outside the home, or is not using the home as a source of income "does not work" is mistaken.
There are some blind folks who "stay at home" male and female who have not had the benefit of good training and do not believe that they or most other blind people can work or should have to work. Society has done a very good job on forming and perpetuating this perception. folks in education, rehabilitation
and in organizations need to change this perception through information, proper training and good education and by example.
Edwin Kunz Texas USA
**56. It has been quite interesting to read the various responses to this thought-provoker. I think there are several issues involved here. First, there are one's own perceptions about whether it is easier for blind men or blind women. Another factor is the perceptions of others about what it is like to be a blind man or blind woman. Generally, I have thought that blind men have it easier in the dating/marriage arena. I know a number of blind men who are married to sighted women, but I know very few blind women who are married to sighted men. (No, I'm not getting into the discussion about
whether it's better to marry a blind or sighted person.) I think it's
harder for blind women to find a life partner for several reasons. First,
men often have the perception that their wives will "take care of them." I mean the wife will cook, clean, mend the guy's clothes, etc. I think a lot of men think a blind woman can't cook or do those other things. Obviously, that isn't true, but I think the perception is out there. I also think that some sighted women have a desire to "protect" a blind man or "nurture" him. That's probably not a great motive for a relationship, but these perceptions seem to be out there.
As far as my perceptions go, I think we need to try to get rid of our
stereotypes. I think blind men need to learn how to do those "masculine" things, if they value them. For example, I have dated two blind men who made the effort to pick me up for the date, pay for the date, walk on the sidewalk nearest the street, etc. Their blindness did not get in the way of them treating me like a lady and I really appreciated it. Did it cost them a bit more to pick me up? Probably. It did make a statement, though. (Both of these men have since married sighted women.) I think men need to learn
how to be the protector and breadwinner if they see that as their role in a partnership. I know I am on the traditional side, so I do appreciate those qualities in a man. Being a protector, defender, and head of a family is a lot more about the heart and the ability to take responsibility than it is about being blind or sighted.
As far as blind women go, I think we need to try to learn some of those skills which can be hard for us. We need to learn how to cook for company, set a nice table, clean the house, etc. If someone can't do it herself, she needs to find a way to get some help.
Before everyone writes me off as a chauvinist, let me make my two main points again. First, whether it's harder for either gender and whether people think it's harder for either gender might be two separate issues.
Second, we need to not sell ourselves short just because we're blind. Just because we're blind doesn't mean we can't fulfill the roles we choose in society whether they be homemaking, breadwinning, child-raising or whatever else we decide to do. I want to make sure I check myself if I observe that I'm starting to blame blindness too much for any problem in my life.
**57. I find it very interesting that this would even come up for discussion. In present time, how many women are expected or can stay home and "raise the kids". Most women are working because two incomes are needed. Then there are the women who aren't married and who have been financially independent for several
years and then become blind. Who is going to take care of them? Is it easier for a woman to accept being dependent just because society says it is OK? What about her own personal feelings about her independence? In fact, if she has built a career and has a mortgage and raised her children on her own, she has the same fears of survival as a male does (maybe more because she doesn't make as much income). One person has already pointed out that this is
a discussion going on between "teenagers". Hopefully by the time these teenagers are adults they have learned to live for themselves and to judge themselves separate from the standards of society. On the subject of easier or harder even without the gender qualification, I have found that each person has his or her own limitations and fears. Who am I to judge anyone else?
Sandra Oliveira Los Angeles, California
FROM ME: This lady hit on several points. The one that hit me the hardest was- Does age change our perspective on blindness and gender?
**58. “I try very hard not to make everything in life a huge issue. However, one person's comment really got my goat, so to speak! This comment referred to never hearing of a female attorney being married to a guy working at McDonalds for a living. Well, I am not an attorney, but I am an M.S.W. and director of
an agency. I am on first name basis with other agency directors and occasionally have lunch meetings with them. I even know our Probate Judge's food preferences. Due to conditions beyond his control, my husband works in a metal shop. He spends the day unloading steel from trucks and has no idea who
to speak with about getting a food stamp application. Do we have a good marriage? Yes, we do! Neither of us understand the other's work, but we are paying our bills, keeping the horses fed and raising a foster child. In some ways, even though he is sighted, I think I have some things much easier than my husband. Thank you for the opportunity to vent!
Marcia Beare, Martin Michigan
**59. I would like to respond to responses 46 and 49, John and Ernie, respectively.
John, you commented on Response 10 in which the person felt that either the woman takes care of him as a blind man or he better have a lot of money. Whether the blind man has a lot of money or not is irrelevant. The fact is, when I enter a relationship, I'm entering a relationship in which both men and women are equal--have equal responsibilities, get equal respect, etc. Before my husband and I met, I was dating a totally blind man. While the fact
that both of us were blind was not the problem, he expected me to take care of him the way his parents took care of him--baby him, clean up after him, etc. I told him that I wasn't going to go for this, especially if we were talking about raising a family. Thus, the relationship did not work any longer than three to six months. You also commented on the fact that more women than men are heard as rape victims. Seven years ago, I don't remember where it was or where exactly I heard it, but there was a male victim of rape. As you pointed out in the notice of male rape victims, I don't think that there was much done about the man who was raped, as I did not hear anymore updates on the situation. Shortly after I heard that news clip, I was informed by a blind friend of mine that one of the guys from our clique (he's also blind) swore up and down to her (my friend) that I had raped him when he came over to talk after he'd just had a fight with his fiancée. Of course, I was dumbfounded at this, as I'd never touched him even though he gave me the invitation and permission to. Upon my friend informing me of this, I just about freaked in wait for the police to show up at my door with a rape charge filed against me. That state of limbo lasted almost a year. In short, if and when the day comes that male victims of rape are just as much heard as female victims of rape, then we women have just as much to fear of being charged just for looking at a man the wrong way and suddenly being accused of rape. In response to Ernie's further comment on the blind person being taken care of by a sighted person (Response 49), when my husband and I go places, shopping in particular, the first impression people get is that he is leading me around. Though he is a little above low vision, he still sees enough to be able to travel without a cane; thus, people see him as sighted and me with my white cane. It's not until I either stop to look at an item or actually pick it off the shelf and put it into the cart as I explain our need for the item to my husband that people start seeing that I'm just as much involved in what we're setting out to do as my husband is. If people don't see that part, it's not until we get to the counter and I pull out my credit card and actually sign my name on the purchase slip that people truly realize that I'm just as much independent as my husband.
**60. “IN response to the gender issue, I think the gender issue is one that lives within each one of us. I have an MSW and my husband is a business executive. We have both been out of work for short times during our marriage and have carried the other through those times. Nothing to do with gender but more the market place. I am the blind one and husband sighted I don't know how it would feel the other way around but I can tell you confidence and success comes
from within and is not specific to gender. Some of the responses were interesting and the dating rituals I can relate to being gender specific . IT is a much debated topic. I guess it comes down to how we each live our lives is unique, blind or not. The important thing is that we are living our lives and not being controlled by our individual circumstances.
Lisa McGauley Victoria, British Columbia Canada
**61. It is fascinating to read about so many people's experiences with the community in general. More specifically, I can truly relate to the responses that cited examples of people assuming that a sighted spouse "takes care of" the nonsighted spouse. I encounter many of these comments myself. I remember when I first began my work in our community. I was required to bring a gentleman to an agency to apply for rent assistance. The first question the receptionist
had was, "Why did you bring this young lady here today?" Well, he didn't bring me, I brought him! After that, I always wore a business suit when encountering the public. I sometimes wonder what the response would have been had I been male, and my client female. Would the assumption have been different? I will never know, but some of the responses lead me to believe that the receptionist would have responded in a similar manner. The exciting thing is to see how things have changed in the past two years. I can wear whatever I wish, and I am now treated as a fellow professional.
I can't even remember the last time I dragged that hot suit out of the closet. I firmly believe that sticking to my guns made a difference whether female or not.
Marcia Beare, Martin Michigan, USA
**62. It almost appears by responses in this forum that blindness and gender is has more of an impact on the male than the female. But to me, seeing this being said, I feel I can use their very same logic and turn it around and show that it is harder for the woman than the man. Okay, take any of these responses that say that society expects more of the man. Well, that is also saying “less” is expected for the female, so the woman is already thought of being less of a person than that of the man. so then look at blindness and admit to yourself that being blind is a major characteristic that makes a person appear to be “less” than anyone else. so put femaleness and blindness to together and then see what you have! A person that has a double strike against them. This is why I say blindness is more of a handicap for the woman than the man.
sherri Farton Midland Texas USA
**63. As for which gender has it harder. A woman is more likely to be able to find a place to "fit in" to any situation; for a male, it's tougher because more skill has traditionally been required of a man than of a woman. Women can always fit into household situations, but men must be trained for almost any position they wish to fill. Blind men are deemed less capable of gaining those skills. Women can always learn housework. And I almost hate to say this, but if their body parts are all in the right place, they're generally considered more welcom and useful in any situation than men are.
Charlie Dennis Chicago, Il.
FROM ME: Interesting point, the part about body parts. What do you think? If the woman or man is physically atractive, are they perceived as being more acceptable as a blind person?
**64. In response to whether or not looks affect a person's acceptance as visually challenged, I do believe that being attractive can make success come more easily. It doesn't matter whether man or woman. In the sighted world, it is normal to be visually critical of how you see people or things based on appearance. I must admit, myself, that for someone that has functional vision, I tend to be more attracted to men based on the way they look to start with. That in itself gives me my desire to get to know them to see if their looks match up with their brains. It's unfortunate, though that in today's society people go so overboard with physical appearance that it is unfair! As a woman, in this case, I once found it more difficult to be
accepted because we women have to go through so much more primping and prepping before we head out the front door. It's hard when you're a teenager, because you gotta watch your weight and make sure your hair looks it's best, and cover up those acne scars with concealer, etc. But from what I've heard, it's even more difficult to look your best based on what society wants, if you're much much older. A baby-boomer... or close.
Now men on the other hand, what DO they have to do. Let's see... shave, keep hair neatly cut, use soap EVERY time they shower, put on deodorant afterwards, use cologne-- if they like--, but DON'T cover up sweat with it... lot less than we do, but can you think of anything else?
**65. Yes! it is true women have it much easier, cuz I know from experience more people are not afraid to approach a woman and ask because in public, someone is always watching me to see if I need help, especially men.
Betty Banks (NFB deaf-blind listserv)
**66. I don't know if this comes as any surprise to you, but the blind and the sighted share a lot of the same problems in life. It is revealing to me how the gender issue crosses both, and perceptions are as varied.
Females have it worse in society in general, and I'm assuming this is true for blind women as well. It is a man's world, we hold all the
cards, few doors are ever closed to us. Rape is a male crime, even
against other males, and the scant few incidents of female rape is too
miniscule to make any statistic. A male needs an erection to rape or get raped, that is a mental/physical condition that is difficult if not
impossible to achieve without consent.
I arrested a woman for rape, but against another female, and it was her boyfriend who did the deed, but with her assistance, and she got charged along with him as an accomplice, and that is the only case of a female being charged with rape in my 20 police career.
Bill Heaney Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
**67. Interestingly, the field of rehabilitation is predominately made up of women. Likewise, the field of blind rehabilitation employs more blind people than any other field in my home region. It is therefore my experience that blind women have an equal presence within the working population. The current President of the Rehabilitation Services Administration is a blind woman, as is the Social Security benefits Coordinator in the Dallas Region. Hence, I cannot personally espouse the types of gender role assignments that have been spoken of among most of the respondents. I have witnessed more of the Mary Tyler Moores than the June Cleavers.
I am a blind man and my wife is blind also. We both work and both contribute to the household in monetary terms and as equal partners in daily upkeep. I often say that what I lack in sensitivity and patience, I make up for in outgoingness and boldness. though I am usually the one who initiates public conversation, it does not take long for the focus to shift to my wife. I think she feels very comfortable expressing herself when we are in public and likewise, I feel that she adds a tone of moderation and sensitivity to our duo.
Are there traditional stereotypes? Probably so. Do we strive to maintain those impressions? No. We contribute to our relationship and society what we can and when our circumstances call for gender-specific responses, she acts more like a woman and I act more like a man.
David Ondich Dallas, Texas USA
**68. No matter how much we would like to think we have made progress, males are still the head of the household. This is not ripped out of machismo, simply an accurate observation. The male, from his earliest years as an adolescent, is expected to provide for the female. When married, it is an unspoken rule that he be prepared to meet the challenges and have the ready resources to raise a family, and though he would not be disowned if the female ever had to
take charge of the home, he would not be looked upon as a "real man." When blindness is factored into the equation, one sees that the matter becomes even grimmer thereby forcing the male to work twice as hard to gain not only the respect of society but that of his companion's family. Looking at it from a parental angle, I would be quite skeptical about letting go of my daughter to a blind man. Of course I am affiliated with the Federation, but such is not always the circumstance. Just my thoughts.
Joe Orozco San Marcos, Texas USA
FROM ME: What other major societal foundational planks of male and female behavioral expectations are the blind also expected to meet? And/or, are there other societal expectations that the blind are not seen to meet? Do we meet them all; with alternatives or not?
**69. As for the woman or man being accepted more as a blind person if he/she is attractive, I think it would be partially true. I say this because when the public sees an attractive blind woman or man, they are caught off guard. Due to lingering ignorance about blind people and the assumption that they look a certain way (always blink their eyes, poke at their eyes, walk slouched, dress sloppy, etc), when they see a blind woman or man walking with good posture, not poking at their eyes, hear them talk confidently, etc., their assumptions about blind people starts to change. On the other hand, as the public gets to know more about that blind person, he/she is just as accepted as anybody else, and they tend to forget that that person is blind because of how the blind person carries themselves confidently and is always dressed appropriately. One of my previous dates was sighted, and such was the case. While were just friends, we just talked off and on, but he was afraid of pursuing me for
fear of having to take full responsibility for me. Well, when we started dating, he became more comfortable with me as time progressed to the point that there were times that he forgot I was even blind--asking me whether I saw that plane up in the sky, etc. Of course, we just laughed about it even though he was scared at first that he'd offended me with his forgetting that I was blind.
Linda Minnesota USA
**70. I need to respond to Charlie's comments about things being easier for women because the expectations aren't as high and anyone can learn to do housework. Does this gentleman know how to thoroughly care for a home? Does he know how to cook wholesome, attractive meals? Can he sew, decorate a cake, decorate the house, apply makeup attractively, watch three toddlers,
shop for groceries, baby-sit the neighbors' kids, teach his daughter to do all these things, too? (Said with some tongue and cheek.) Here's my point. Women who choose to stay at home and be homemakers and stay-at-home moms must be competent at an enormous amount of tasks. Men who don't participate in these things, on the other hand, only may have to learn to do the tasks connected with their profession. Most women find they need to not only have a profession outside the home, but they also need to do all the
"traditional female" things, as well. This is true for blind women as much as it is for sighted ones.
The real problem that needs solving is not whether blind men or women have it easier. That's just an opportunity to whine. The real challenge is to become a society which values men and women equally and is not ablest in its attitudes. We can argue about who has things harder. It may feel good for a bit. When that "bit" is over, I'd prefer to find a spouse who sees life as a cooperative effort whether either of us is sighted or blind.
Kathy McGillivray Minnesota USA
**71. In reading all the updated replies on this subject, I kept in mind that the Women’s' Lib Movement was passed years ago, so nowadays when a man says that
they are to be the bread winners in the household, I feel that it's they're ego talking . They're living in the past. There are a lot of 'stay at home
daddies' while the woman works and pays all the bills. And yes, there are situations where men have been raped. This day and age that happens to both genders, though it still does happen to women more often than men. Okay, now I feel that men and women have equal opportunities in life and also pretty much the same problems, so there shouldn't be any difference whether the men and women are blind or sighted. Either way, life is what you make it, whether you're a man or woman, blind or sighted.
Peggy Dill Hastings, Nebraska USA
**72. I live alone still because I haven't found a person I'd like to spend the rest of my life with. I get this scenario all the time:
"well who takes care of you?"
"You mean you live by yourself?"
I hate it when people do this!
I chose not to marry since I feel that a person needs to care for and
love a person they marry and that it's for as long as you live!
No one I have encountered has fit this description for me. I feel sad
sometimes because I am not like other people, but at my age, I simply don't know where to meet a potential mate. I am 53, and have not dated much, not because I was shy, but because in my growing up years, the man
was suppose to ask the woman out. Even though this has changed, now, I still feel a bit awkward asking a man out, cause first you got to ask him if he's married and hope he tells the truth!
So in my case, it's hard to be a single blind woman at 53 with no idea
how to meet and get to know men well enough to even date!!
I do get lonely and tired of carrying the whole burden of the bills the
house I am buying and not ever having time for everything, but at times, I also am really glad that I live alone, not having anyone that I will disturb if I wake up at three in the morning and can't go back to sleep! I am free to turn on my computer and read email, knowing I won't disturb someone.
Sorry this is not completely on topic, but I am sort of rambling about
how I got to be 53 without marrying, and do I really choose the single
life or was it easier to say I chose it than to admit that I would have
liked to marry someone? I sometimes say that I don't need to marry, I wonder if I truly mean that or is it blindness, after all, that's kept
me from finding someone or someone finding me?
Phyllis Stevens Johnson City, Tennessee USA
**73. I think that partly is true. Blind people don't see what people look like. However, they can discern ugly from pretty/handsome in different ways. For example, maybe if they hold hands with guys/girls, they can feel their skin. I do not like the smell of bad odor. If I can smell BO, I can tell they do not use proper hygiene. If a person smells nice with good-smelling perfume, then, they must be attractive in other areas.
Beth Kats USA
**74. You would think it would equally effect the blind just as the sighted. Gender, depending upon the culture, is seen either as a weakness or a strength and mostly around the world it is the female that is seen to be the weaker. Blindness, all around the world is seen as a weakness and when you add the two together you’d think the treatment would be equal from woman to man. Hmm, What puzzles me, is when you get into specifics, get into specific situations of human interaction where you have a blind man dealing with sighted men or with sighted women or with an employer and/or have a blind woman dealing with a sighted man or a sighted woman or etc, then you can see that some times the gender card weighs more heavy for one sex over the other. Here may be an example- A woman may get more assistance if lost in travel and that assistance may not be given so heavily on the pity side of things then that given to a man; because the woman is already seen as due a helping hand, where the male is more seen as expected to be making it on his own. So here it is a plus for the woman.
Here is an opposite view that I also hold, blindness and gender is a stronger factor: Here may be a specific example- In some cultures where the male is dominate like in the middle east or in a Latin type culture (meaning no offence here and talking in a general sense), going blind for a man is worse; going from strength to weakness. Yes, this is my read on it, but in those cultures the woman is already seen as less, so going blind for them is just more of the same, more weakness, status is the same.
People are funny, aren’t they! But always real. Interesting how different places and times can bring about what is.
Marvin Sanker USA)
**75. Here is my two cents on the subject of Blindness and Gender. I have never thought of blindness and pressure affecting one gender or the other. I tend to be somewhat neutral on the subject because I've
learned not to be critical of others' experiences as I have never walked in their moccasins. However, I thought it to be appropriate to share my own experiences growing up in the world of the American Indian culture, blindness, and being a female.
Back in the old days of the American Indian culture, it was taboo
for a family to have a child with any kind of a disability or
impediment. A daughter was expected to be married to a warrior, and her child was expected to be "normal" so that male children would grow up warriors themselves, and females could hopefully give birth to "normal" children. It was bad enough in some families if they had daughters to begin with. Only children who were thought to be "normal and healthy" made it. If their was anything "wrong" with the child, he or she was drowned, and the parents had no say concerning the welfare of the child. Even today that really bothers me.
Today is different of course, but children themselves in the Indian
culture can be cruel. Because of the way life has been for them, they
are insecure and picking on someone they feel is less of a person
tends to lift their spirits. When my youngest sister and I were in
elementary school after transferring from residential schools for the
blind, we both experienced this cruelty, and it hurt. Like other kids,
I wanted to be accepted for who I was, but the other kids weren't so
forgiving. Most of these people who gave me such a hard time were male, the same seemed to be true with my sister. Since I grew up in a culture that's known for defending itself, I grew up having to "scrap" it out to earn their respect. I certainly did that, and one day got into a fight with the school bully, and fortunately won that fight. My youngest sister also got into her share of fights. People on the reservation now respect us and know we both fight (not so literally anymore) for what we believe in, and take up for people who have been victims of such cruelty themselves.
Bonnie Ainsworth Laramie, Wyoming USA
**76. This response is late, but I hope that many visit the web page and read past provoker issues, as I do, when I have time to read and respond accordingly.
The blind woman, much like the blind African-American male o the blind homosexual male shares a membership status in two minority groups. Sometimes, I
must admit to feeling the strain of not being fully accepted in either, due to my status in the other group.
Until recently, the disabled or blind woman was not even considered when performing surveys with the disabled. There were blind male employees recognized
for their amazing feats before any blind mother and homemaker was shown. Some of the first strides for the blind and disabled started with veterans, who
of course, at that time were all men! Look at feature stories if you don’t believe me: blind computer programmers, blind disk jockeys, blind musicians,
etc. Where are the blind mothers and/or concerns about child care etc. After all is said and done, whether one wants to admit it or not, omen are
minorities and being a blind woman the minority status is double. One person was right when they said that men are raised to work or be employed and women
are raised to be a homemaker and mother. Disabled women were still sterilized as recently as the early 1970’s.and as a side note, most, if not all sterilization
was for the women, not men. What does that say about what people thought about blind women? we are kind of roleless. We can’t fit into the traditional
woman role because no one sees us as wives or mothers. Even today the disabled man marries (and stays married) more than the disabled woman. Statistics
concerning blind men and women parallel those found for disabled men and women. I would site, but that would really make this message long! We are
not men, but trained to act as the blind or disabled man because we have no other role. Yet, we really are not men and are seen as women attempting to
fill a man’s role. Men are largely critiqued on their ability and women on their looks. Many times men can carve out a niche of ability, but it is hard
convincing someone that disability is beautiful.
I could say lots more, but others have already written it more eloquently than I ever could. Hello Adrienne, speaking up on this one??
Check out such authors as:
Nancy Brook s
There are some good books about disability, the struggle and some theory, anyone read lately?
I’ll share what I have, if anyone wants to email me with the specifics privately.
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