How is ableism shown in media and books for children? Characters with disabilities are often portrayed as the villain and a living being who is thought to be dissimilar to characters without disabilities.
Disabled characters in media tend to be seen as mentally and/or physically “different” than those who are not disabled. The disabled characters usually work a lot harder than not disabled characters. An example of this can be seen in the Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Quasimodo, the main character in the movie lives in the bell tower of Notre Dame and is trapped there because of his job as a bell ringer of Notre Dame. He wants to associate and socialize with other people down in the city but cannot because he is “trapped.” Maybe this is implying the fact that there is distance existant between disabled and not disabled individuals? In other words, this scene can implant an idea on the viewers that disabled people can only LOOK at not disabled people but not socialize with them. With this in mind, disabled characters generally work harder than any other characters. This is because these characters tend to have goals they want to accomplish in their life but takes extra time compared to others due to their disability. Additionally, Quasimodo’s name means “half-made.” Does this mean that disabled people are “half-made?”
On the other hand, ablelism shown in children’s books illustrate to the readers that disabled people should be treated “differently” and “gently” because they are “fragile.” The book called, My Friend has Autism by Amanda Doering Tourville and Kristin Sorra informs the readers about autism. This book illustrates certain things that people with autism cannot do instead of things they can do. Therefore, it limits the readers into only being informed of the things they cannot do. Although this book informs the readers on the different symptoms and incapability’s for people with autism, listing down things they cannot do emphasizes that they are “different” and need special care. This is because people without autism can do things people with autism cannot do. What does this teach children? Does it teach them that disabled people need help from not disabled people ALL the time or that disabled people are capable to fight for themselves and assistance is needed only when asked by them? Race cannot be strongly related with these ideas because disability can technically happen to anyone anywhere around the world.
I think gender differences are present based on ableism as well. Disabled male characters tend to be violent, aggressive, “monster-like”, and uncontrollable. However, disabled female characters usually have weak, fragile, and independent images. Why is it that women have such delicate and breakable related images while male characters have the complete opposite ones? Gender stereotypes perhaps? Why cannot female characters be independent and strong like male characters? Society says that is not “possible.” For this reason, society today should reflect back on what kind of images and/or ideas they have had for disabled individuals and stop discriminating against them.
Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie