Is it ever rude not to stare? — Scope | Disability forum
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Is it ever rude not to stare?

Cher_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger

As the Paralympics draw closer, promotion of Channel 4's upcoming coverage has been increasingly ramping up. Alongside this promotional trailer, posters with the slogan 'it's rude not to stare' have attempted to grab public attention through ironic messaging. But today we're asking, is this 'tongue in cheek' slogan harmful to disabled groups?

Man staring at camera pointing

Channel 4's coverage of the Paralympics is being eagerly awaited, following plans to make it the most ambitious yet.  With over 300 hours of around the clock viewing promised, the line-up of presenters and schedule looks set to be another big hit making positive waves for representation of disabled athletes.  See this news release for more on what to expect.

However, use of the phrase 'It's rude not to stare' in some pre-event publicity has been criticised for the, albeit ironic, suggestion that it is ever okay to stare at disabled people. 

For instance, this tweet from the Centre of Disability Studies highlights how the wording dangerously trivialises the everyday pain caused by staring, with better ways of grabbing attention.  

Over to you:

  • What do you think to Channel 4's 'It's rude not to stare' publicity campaign?
  • Have you ever been stared at because of your impairment, and how did that make you feel?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
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  • Cress
    Cress Community member Posts: 1,012 Pioneering
    edited August 2021
    I’m not seeing the irony really.
    just seems to me an odd and tbh crappy slogan.

    my son was born with a facial malformation and I can’t begin to put into words the massive impact this had on his confidence, self esteem and wellbeing.
    just imagine, never wanting to leave your home because you know you will be stared at, pointed at, commented on.

    people not realizing or just not caring that that behavior of staring or a nasty comment
    you knew would hurt your child so much…it’s heartbreaking.
    knowing it could be weeks or months  before they felt able to step outside the house again.

    made to feel guilty they even exist.
    Singled out for ridicule.

    I remember the first time he went out wearing a face mask he was pleased, saying nobody will be able to see me.

  • woodbine
    woodbine Community member Posts: 10,413 Disability Gamechanger
    They should change it to "it's rude not to watch"
    Seasons greetings to one and all 🎄🎅🏻🌲
  • cozyplants
    cozyplants Scope Member Posts: 43 Courageous
    I really don't like their adverstising this year. There's also another slogan they use "To be a Paralympian, there's got to be something wrong with you,", which doesn't sit right with me at all.
  • forgoodnesssake
    forgoodnesssake Community member Posts: 486 Pioneering
    Everything about the way the paralympics is marketted makes me very uncomfortable; it is almost always basically pandering to the "them and us" mentality (and of course with the added "superhuman" element!)  So clearly trying to make it appeal to non-disabled audience by trying to make it edgy and different.  Why not just assume that the regular olympic audiences will also want to watch other talented athletes, who just happen to be disabled?
  • Vidarsbane
    Vidarsbane Community member Posts: 18 Listener
    I hate being made to feel like some sort of sideshow and I'm just a obese guy who can't walk very far or stand for very long due to a lot of pain, swelling and other issues. I hate how on the rare occasion I do make it out I can feel peoples eyes on me. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for the rest of you. It makes me not want to leave the house. The athletes competing must feel awful when they see stuff like this, it's just not fair!
  • Jean Eveleigh
    Jean Eveleigh Scope Member Posts: 183 Pioneering
    we're going to end up with the same old -- "so and so in the xxxx Paralympics can do xyz why can't you?" again as if we're all able to do the amazing sports feets we will see on the TV.

    I hate it sometimes if I feel safe enough I will retort "well Usain Bolt can do xxx why can't you?" to show them how it feels but that really shouldn't be necessary.

    As to is it ever OK to stare, only if you are speaking to the person and they have asked you to look at them or a specific part of them. 
  • Lisatho11987777
    Lisatho11987777 Scope Member Posts: 5,911 Disability Gamechanger
    The question is what do the people who are  competing  think of the slogans ?? I havent seen anything about it  

    There are some conditions that people have cause people to stare  

    It also depends on how you take the wording its rude not to stare I take it as gosh that's amazing  wish I could do that its a play on words people stare at people who are different 

  • Cher_Alumni
    Cher_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks everyone for your contributions and I'm sorry to hear about people's negative experiences of being stared at in public. 

    Interestingly, staring is recognised as one psycho-emotional aspect of disablism. In-fact this topic reminded me of the work of Jenny Morris (1991) who wrote in Pride Against Prejudice: Transforming Attitudes to Disability,:
    ‘Going out in public so often takes courage. How many of us find that we can’t dredge up the strength to do it day after day, week after week, year after year, a lifetime of rejection and revulsion? It is not only physical limitations that restrict us to our homes and those whom we know. It is the knowledge that each entry into the public world will be dominated by stares, by condescension, by pity and by hostility’ 
    And yep @lisathomas50 - sometimes staring may be attributed to a person not having 'seen' a condition before and being unsure how to react.  While, not all disabled people may be negatively impacted by receiving stares.  But again - going back to my academic roots  :D, I think it's worth considering the words of Donna Reeve (2004) who recognised:
    ... the ways in which disabled people respond to the gaze of others vary and are affected by personal biographies and experience,  nonetheless the experience of being stared at can leave disabled people feeling ashamed, vulnerable and invalidated
    If anyone has any further thoughts, I'd be interested in hearing them.
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