Josh Dehaas, CTV Toronto - November 8, 2014
It's an interesting comparison I kind of wish I'd thought of ... catcalling or "street harassment" of women, and the staring, gaping, and weird comments disabled people get out in public.
I suspect that both stem from roughly the same thing ... the unregulated impulse to look at a person who "stands out” somehow and blurt out a variation on, "Wow, look at that!" I chose those words deliberately. I think that when this happens, to women and to disabled people, we are not hes or shes, we are THATS. We are pieces of scenery, curiosities. That's what makes it galling.
One key difference is that in catcalling, the man usually wants the woman to hear, while most people who are rude to disabled people in public spaces try to hide it. No matter. It feels shitty either way.
To be clear, it doesn't matter what people say. The problem is the presumption by total strangers that it's okay engage with us in a way they wouldn't with other strangers. It's much the same with men catcalling women. "Smile, honey!" is friendly on paper. In person, tossed at you by a total stranger, it's creepy at best. So is, "Hey, little man!" from someone you've never met or even seen before.