SHOULD DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED MEN GET A PASS?
History hasn’t always been kind to people who are developmentally disabled (I use this term only after looking for the most appropriate one possible as I by no means want to offend anyone.). They have experienced unspeakable injustice and I am the first person to educate others about their own disableism. Given the treatment of the developmentally disabled in our society I often give them a pass when it comes to understanding some of their behaviors as they aren’t aware of all the social rules and cues as that the rest of society might be operating under.
Today while waiting for my 4:45 class to start I took a seat at a computer in the on campus library. Sitting next to me was a developmentally disabled young man. This was my second time encountering this young man as I had seen him on another occasion, and the only reason why I am writing about this young man now, is because of the way he related to the young women who came in the library.
The way this young man got a young woman’s attention was by snapping at her. If he succeeded in getting the young woman’s attention he then told her what year he was (he said freshmen) and began to question what year she was.
He asked the young women could he have their number. His exact word were, “Yo baby can I get yo digits.” He told each of the women that he wanted to go on a date with them and that he was single.
I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and let him know that a young man should not solicit a woman’s attention by snapping at her and that he should speak to her without calling her “baby” or “sexy,” but I didn’t.
I consider myself well versed on a lot of issues and I try to keep myself abreast of the latest information in terms of relating to all humans and showing them dignity and respect, but I was stumped with this young man. It’s obvious to me that he has picked up on how to relate to women from the men in his life or the images he sees of men relating to women on television. His snapping and demeaning language was learned somewhere.
I guess the question I was left wondering was if it’s important to teach the developmentally disabled to be respectful of others. Should this young man know that its inappropriate to speak to women in certain ways? That women are not sexual objects?
I plan on doing some research tonight so I can help myself answer these questions.
Update: I asked the young man his name and took the time to tell the young man that it wasn’t cool to snap at a young woman. He also asked me how to spell “mp3 player” and I helped him spell the word and helped him type in the rest of the word.