The BBC documentary "The Undateables" appears to have spawned quite a bit of controversy.
Non-disabled people seem to treat the issue of undateable people at once and simultaneously as...:
- (a) outrageous; how can a person with visible disability (that no one - practically speaking - wants to date) call themselves "undateable" - after all, the sovereignty to decide who is or is not dateable resides deep within the realm of non-disabled people [link]
- (b) absolute non-issue; " you only need to wish to date someone and it will happen" - with this and other statements, the disabled person is tagged as the guilty one to blame when dates don't happen or do not work out
- (c) voyeuristic attraction as freak-show; the BBC is using the tag "undateable" to increase their rating (not because they are particularly nice) with their "The Undateables" documentary
Neither of these attitudes takes real experiences into account that one makes as a person with a visible disability. From where I am standing, these issues contain (but are not restricited to):
- a daily or weekly real experience of non-disabled people repeatedly verbally and explicitly rejecting me and my presence
- a weekly or monthly real experience of non-disabled people staring, not respecting proper distance and asking intrusive questions
- a weekly or monthly real and repeated experience of really really weird dates
- a weekly or monthly real and repeated experience of real rejections even when trying to just befriend people
- a definite and distinct difference to others in their treatment in that treatment is derogatory, belittling, discriminatory, respect-less or otherwise indicative of me being part of a lesser class of humans
- reactive mood swings towards the low not only but also due to all that
With that, I do have an angle on the BBC television series called "The Undateables".
1. The title - which actally is a label or stigma - of "The Undateables" is not at all a problem. When I will say that I could tentatively match the personality of a female person with a frequency of 1/2000 (before this disability I would say that 1/2000 was about reasonable), and when I can reasonably estimate the acceptance of a below elbow amputation in a partner at 1/200, the likelihood to find a match for me when walking down the street is around 1/400'000. With particular attempts to narrow down social encounters systematically, I may get down to a meet & match probability of 1/4'000. This means that if I want to meet three women that are a good match, I need to make sure that a number of 12'000 women get the chance for short but meaningful interaction with me - under already heavy constraints. If I attend a party with 50 selected guests every weekend, I will have to work my way through all these guests for 16 years. With an expected fail probability of over 99,9% for any given party that I'd attend in terms of meeting a match person, and with an expected success probability in terms of fun and entertainment of near 100% for any given sports training or event that I participate in, it is not hard to understand why I withdrew from attending too many parties a while ago. The odds are not at all in my favor given society as such.
From Salon.Com: Lisa Egan, a Brit who blogs about disability issues, says, (...) “The reality is that I am undateable,” she says, adding, “I am undateable because we live in a world where disablist prejudice is ubiquitous.”
From Lisa Egan's lisybabe blog: Then I read the results of the 2008 Observer Sex Survey in which 70% of respondents said they'd never shag someone with a "physical disability". And that's only the people disablist enough to admit it to the man from Mori with a clipboard. You can be sure that, actually, many more people would never do one of us but they're too ashamed to admit it because they know that being prejudiced isn't cool.
While I then risk to not meet anyone at all that falls into the category of a "match", at least my mood is significantly improved. So that is what that spells out as. In other words and quite practically speaking, I am undateable or hard to date, I am not a match or a person difficult to match - whatever you call it, it is not pretty. I am a disabled person, a handicapped person, a person with disability, a person with handicap, a person with visible disability. The precise wording is really secondary given that non-disabled people's attitudes are so far out that there is no common ground with respect to the subject matter at all. That is the real problem. If anything it is relevant to name things by their name. Being "undateable" has the rough charm of authenticity appeal.
2. The issue of being a person that finds it hard if not impossible to date is extremely real. It is frustrating, painful, rarely is there involuntary humor. With that, the BBC documentary is not at all bad - in fact, they start by labelling people that are undateable "undateable" which is spot on. What follows are tender and heartfelt, warm and polite, funny and gripping portrayals of actual dating scenes with people that have handicaps or restrictions of some kind. Their real problems become clearly visible when watching them interact. The notion of dating being a non-issue for disabled people is dispelled quite visually and perceptibly, and on television. With visible or manifested disability, dating is a real problem. Point blank. But it is certainly the merit of the BBC crew to have recognized and exposed this so very clearly on TV. The trigger of some particularly hard to overcome problems is a disability, but the real problems that follow are deeply human and affect humans. To show that so clearly is the merit of the BBC crew.
3. Our problems are massive and hard if not impossible to overcome within the disabled communities as such. But problems of that nature affect everyone. There is no point in staring hard.
Increasingly, people orient themselves along the lines of a virtual body ideal.
Increasingly, a man is a man (in the eyes of a woman) not when he can and does act like one, but increasingly, a man first and foremost has to lo0k like the quintessential handyman. The difference appears to be subtle but runs deep.
People risk to become hollow shells, uninhabitated puppets, that serve as tennis court or haunted mansion for relationship fantasies for their significant others. Increasingly, people lose the concept of them being a full human with clear boundaries - instead, many aspects of people risk to become prostheticized. As that, disabled people are less than sufficently filling expectations of others as full humans - if at all (and my experience also shows that) we are regarded as hollow shells for others' somewhat weird fantasies. But such is not restricted to the disabled, the Amber Case issues nowadays risk to be taken very far.
As there are no concepts to guide, console and help any lost soul within the "Lost Boundary Framework Under Permanent Reinterpretation", there seems little guidance or help for that type of derailed consequences of materialism. May I express my heartfelt condolences.