Why I Introduce Myself as a Professor

My wife points out that often when I meet someone for the first time I often will announce that I’m a university professor before the conversation has gotten ankle deep. This drives my wife nuts, not because she thinks there’s anything wrong with being a professor, but because she sees me trying too hard to overcome the cultural bias that people with disabilities lack accomplishment. She’s right about this. Like so many people with disabilities I’ve overcome many obstacles both in acquiring my education and in the thing we call “the workplace”– as if the latter was a single location. And in turn I have some fears that my apparent visual impairment may mark me (to new acquaintances particularly) as being insufficient. What’s interesting about this from my perspective is that I know tons about cultural theory and disability; know lots about psychology and the importance of personal irony in the pursuit of professional and personal goals. But here I am, still working too hard (as my wife puts it) to hit people over the head with the ivory tower. The kid inside who had such a hard time with his disability still says over and over “take me seriously dammit!

Caught in this way you might not notice that people are taking you quite seriously– in effect you may miss the fact that you are properly understood.

In Disability Studies we call this the “Super Crip” phenomenon. It’s very hard to get out of in a society where 70% of people with disabilities remain unemployed.

If you want to get free, get free.

S.K.

Why I Introduce Myself as a Professor

0 thoughts on “Why I Introduce Myself as a Professor

  1. A visually impaired friend whom I have known long enough that we freely exchange insults with one another, also likes to announce very early on that she’s a school teacher when we meet people who don’t know her (since she’s learned that these people usually do not treat her with the appropiate level of reverence as those who are familiar with her work with visually/multiply impaired kids). I usually pipe up helpfully with, “Yeah, and her home’s a helluva lot cleaner than mine, too!” She then responds with some scornful remark about my housekeeping abilities, and says that that her comparative superiority is not that difficult an accomplishment. Heck, I could eat off of her kitchen floor. It really gripes me.

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