Knowing and Passing

A forum for general discussion of the game: Open to all punters
Post Reply
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 12:20 pm

Knowing and Passing

Post by Saraquill » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:54 am

An LJ community I go to has a rather volatile thread at the moment.* The OP is hoping to do a panel at a con about adapting costumes for the disabled, and her inquiries for advice, suggestions and volunteers at the panel has NOT been well received. The naysaying falls largely under two categories:

1) (To the original poster, who incidentally has a hidden disability) Shame on you. Unless you have my exact physical disability, there is no way anyone can possibly understand what I have been going through. This panel idea is disgusting for there will be no disabled presenters, and the panel will only serve as a source of shame for us who truly suffer. People like you are incredibly patronizing.

2) (in general) People who have a hidden disability don't really count as handicapped. They are incredibly lucky to pass for normal and not have people harass them for their condition. Likewise, since they can pass, it must mean that there really isn't anything wrong with them.

The part that I hope is relevant to the forum is do these two ideas have any relevance? Must someone have Disability X in order to do a good job discussing/writing about it? Under what circumstances can disabilities be covered in a tasteful fashion? Secondly, why should people whose conditions are not immediately obvious be thought differently from those who are visibly disabled? Is passing really so desirable?

User avatar
Posts: 6059
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:44 am

From what I gatehred the OP is by a tailor or fashion designer who's been asked for advice on creating costumes for disabled people, and she's looking for information on the topic.
I didn't read all the answers, but I don't see how this could be taken as offensive by anyone. After all you don't have to be disabled yourself to tailor clothes for the disabled, nor to teach others how to tailor such clothes.
So both arguments don't really adress the original topic.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

Posts: 39
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 12:20 pm

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Saraquill » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:43 pm

To clarify, the two arguments presented were brought up by some very vocal commentators. Point number one in fact was reiterated quite a bit.

User avatar
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Roy-Kr » Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:24 pm

Meh, it all sounds stupid to me.
You don't have to be disabled to make clothes for disabled people.
Must someone have Disability X in order to do a good job discussing/writing about it?
KS exists for entertainment purposes, it is not some medical journal. That's all i have to say.
Hamachi ID: Melty Blood EU
Password: sugoisugoi

User avatar
Posts: 258
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:01 am
Location: 3rd rock from the sun

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Otakumon » Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:31 pm

Here in the age of political correctness people seem to enjoy being offended by something and will dig through and pick apart anything and everything looking for a reason to be offended so they can put on a public display of moral outrage in order to feel better about themselves and pretend to be better than everybody else.

Carelessly Cooking You
Posts: 2533
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:22 am
Location: Imola, Italy

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Silentcook » Thu Jun 23, 2011 6:19 pm


I have trouble believing in the degree of stupidity evidenced by responses 1) and 2) in Saraquill's post, so this time I'll have to assume malice instead. Not that people venting over the Internet is anything new either, but eh.
I'd like to articulate a response to the people stirring up that shitstorm, but it'd be vitriolic and I'm quite sure there's NO need for more Internet drama.

So, onwards to answering the questions.

"Must someone have disability X in order to do a good job discussing/writing about it?"
No. To qualify: someone with firsthand experience at ANYTHING will be better at discussing that subject than someone who can only rely on study and research, all other factors being equal. But writing skill is separate from subject experience, and it's the most relevant factor in this case. You can be a knowledgeable person and suck at expressing your knowledge.
So a good disabled writer will be better than just a good writer, which will in turn be better than just a disabled person, but minorities of minorities don't grow on trees. Taking that as the best case, the step below can still be considered good.

"Under what circumstances can disabilities be covered in a tasteful fashion?"
Arguably none. You can substitute nearly any word for "disabilities" in the above sentence though. Distaste flourishes like a rank weed.

"Why should people whose conditions are not immediately obvious be thought differently from those who are visibly disabled?"
Because the degrees of othering are many, close and narrow? Please allow me this irony.

"Is passing really so desirable?"
I've dealt with people who OUTWARDLY didn't give a fuck about "passing", and with people who OUTWARDLY agonized over it, so I can only make the obvious case of "it depends."
Shattering your dreams since '94. I also fought COVID in '20 and all I got was this lousy forum sig.



Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Censuur » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:17 pm

The concept of "passing" is also very relative to your own surroundings, if you're around people that treat you undesirably (people will always treat people to suit the circumstances, there is no such thing as "different" as there is no such thing as "the same") then the concept of passing becomes important to you, but people with a handicap should be dam well pleased that people can see their disabilities, imagine a world where visible disabilities were completely ignored, no more handicap friendly buildings, no more understanding for your shortcomings (handicap rather equals a shortcoming, though I'm sure something can be nit-picked out of my choice of words) and with that, no more help for it

People with hidden disabilities arguably suffer much more than people with a visible one, you get no sympathy for something that can be a major handicap (I'm personally type-one diabetic, though arguably not a handicap, the constant psychological stress alone is significant, yet I get no patience and no sympathy for it)

When speaking of "passing" people with a hidden handicap generally have a much harder time actually passing than a visibly handicapped person would, its much easier to fit in when people know about you and your problems, then when you have to constantly work to keep up an act of being no different

On the topic of your examples though, I'd say it just about proves the idiocy of some people, if the people who're talking as such have problems with "passing" I'd say it comes more from the fact that they're cynical assholes than any disabilities

In the end, everyone has baggage, whether that comes from psychological or physical problems. You can't ever really say one is more or less than the other without knowing a vital set of information: "context"

I could talk for hours about this, but I should probably stop :|

User avatar
Lilly Writer, Hanako Co-Writer, Producer
Posts: 1507
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:10 am
Location: Australia

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Suriko » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:50 pm

To Kill a Mockingbird was written by a white person.

You touch on some ideas that've been thought about (and talked about) extensively within the project, for obvious reasons, and stuff like this comes up within the KS game (in some ways, quite frequently). The fact above is something I've settled on in my head as a way of best defining my take on this. A disability is not only a physiological condition - it is also a matter of identity. Issues surrounding identity can be extremely personal, practically by definition, and cultures and subgroups often develop around certain conditions (the deaf community in particular has been oft-mentioned in various contexts). Different people handle their disabilities differently, with some identifying very strongly within a social group, and others preferring to avoid doing this. I think some of the behaviour in the linked page is perhaps one example of the former.

I would argue that the answer to the first question, as made obvious by the TKaM reference, is no. As SC said, those who are disabled themselves would have more experiences to draw from, but with appropriate study and research, one can learn about the point of view of someone who is disabled (just as can be done for someone who is another race, comes from a different time period, has different hobbies, et cetera).

The second is a difficult question. "I know it when I see it" is probably the only real answer; whether a subject has been covered tastefully is to my mind a very subjective measure. We tried, and the LJ poster tried, but some people have found KS distasteful, and evidently the same goes for the LJ post. Our approach was to treat the subject differently depending on the heroine's attitude and what happens at specific points within the storylines, with sometimes very frank talk about various issues - and that isn't covering the H-scenes. Will some find this distasteful? Certainly. Absolutely no doubt of that. But we believe that it is better to move forward with this approach than to make the work less interesting and, perhaps, less meaningful, to avoid treading on anyone's sensibilities regarding the topic. As the LJ post shows, some subjects are very likely to cause offense no matter how they are raised, and unfortunately, this is one of them.

One could draw an analogy to race with regards to the third question. How a person outwardly looks is often a very bad way to determine lineage, and yet, a person who is brown with very little foreign ancestry will sometimes be thought of as dinstinctly "other", whereas another with white skin and a rich African background who immigrated yesterday will be considered by some to be "more" native. It's an unfortunate Othering, and something which is very human. We're extremely visual creatures, and first impressions count for a lot in social interaction. Materially, whether a disability is external or not matters little - a mental disability can be much more difficult to deal with than a physical one, and there are many physical conditions not immediately visible to others (such as our friend Hisao has). Socially, though, there is an effect, however unreasonable it may be. Should they be thought of differently? The answer is obviously not (aside from instances where their disability means they require help, though this also means that those with hidden disabilities are less likely to receive it). How much a disability defines a person is something that can only be known by them, and is not something one can tell at a glance.

How much "passing" is valued is very much down to the individual in question. SC covers this better than I could, and it also ties in heavily with the previous question.

Posts: 238
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:59 am

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Sajomir » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:17 pm

Yeah I don't see how this even rose into an issue if it started over specialized clothes for certain disabilities. I've seen leg amputees who prefer to wear leg blades with suit pants. The things can make you TALL, which in turn, may need attention from a tailor.

No one will ever understand another person's exact situation as well as the person experiencing it. But who cares? As long as neither one acts like an ass, trying to understand as best you can should be good enough for both sides.
Animator for the Katawa Shoujo Fighting Game
We are looking for additional animators and spriters! Please PM me :D


Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by censuur » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:22 am

While I'm reluctant about the use of the term, it just looks like a bad way of trolling someone (though the word has so much ambiguity these days its rather hard to pinpoint its actual meaning)

They aren't adding to a discussion, they're not trying to improve the thing they apparently have an issue with, they simply condemn it from the get-go and try to drag it down because of it, rather than being constructive they're being exclusively destructive, which is never desirable behavior. Disagreeing with something is fine, finding something distasteful or even outright wrong is fine, but acting on it like this is never okay, they could have just calmly informed the OP of their distaste and its origin, suggested ways for the OP to avoid touchy subjects or just ANYTHING constructive, instead they opted to basically just flame the guy out of their own ignorance, which makes for some hilarious irony, which is rather pathetic at the same time :|

Posts: 70
Joined: Tue May 04, 2010 1:17 am

Re: Knowing and Passing

Post by Bringerof_D » Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:41 pm

surgeon - "i'm sorry sir but i dont seem to have the same flesh eating disease as you, so i have no idea what it must be like. So unfortunately i won't be able to operate on you."

helpful friend - "well gee i wouldn't want to make you feel inferior by having me push you around in a wheel chair..."

I'm pretty sure a man with working eyes and have seen eyeballs would do a lot better job making me fake ones if i ever need them. anybody who pulls the "You don't know what it's like" card is just trying to ride on a high horse to feel morally superior over someone who genuinely just wants to help. It's not patronization when you're just trying to come up with a way to make something aesthetically match a costume. clearly if i have a broken neck and am dressing up as a man from the 1400's i cant have a neck brace made out of composite materials, but i don't know how to fashion it up to look like anything else.

i find in most situations the people who say it's offensive to help someone with particular things are people who don't need that help anyways. a good example being how there have been women who swear at me for holding a door open for them. But you can be sure that that same woman would be swearing under her breath about how impolite it is if everybody just let the door slam shut in front of them.
~Hello there Kenji, I'm a psychic spy. But dont worry, I know what you're thinking. It wont hurt at all...~

Post Reply