So, Daredevil Season 2 is out (I haven’t watched it yet, I swear I’m getting around to it eventually.)
But as a result there’s been a lot of Daredevil cosplay again, and y’all we need to have a talk.
My sources tell me that at Emerald City Comic Con this past weekend there were sighted Matt Murdock cosplayers with white canes. If you’re going to cosplay as Matt Murdock and you’re not blind, please don’t carry a white cane. Cosplay as Daredevil when he’s in his fighting costume when, according to the tv show, he ditches his cane in an alleyway anyways.
Look, when I’m on a crowded con floor that’s when I need my white cane to count the most. When I’m fighting against the tide of crowds, and complicated carpet patterns, I need to be able to be seen as I am – and that’s as a person who can’t see YOU. I need the cane to be taken seriously, I need the cane to stand for what it is: not just a tool but a symbol for my own safety.
It’s not just that the actual cane is a symbol though- it’s that a white cane is a tool, not a toy or a prop.
Before I could stroll along the street with my cane in hand, I had to learn how to use it. I had to learn the skills and techniques that come with a white cane, the tricks and the information a cane gives me. I took Orientation and Mobility classes for that. My cane has kept me out of a lot of trouble, from falling down stairs, to being hit by cars when I didn’t hear one coming, the cane is what stops me from getting hurt. Often it’s the difference between smacking face first into a metal pole and not doing that. (Ow. True story.)
All of that bundled up together brings me to a statement that might sound harsh, but I think is super necessary.
Not all things are for made all people.
A white cane is a tool for blind people. I don’t care if you’re sighted and you think putting on sunglasses and learning how to use a white cane is what makes it okay for you to use it: it’s not. You can cosplay Matt Murdock without using valuable tools.
A wheelchair is a tool for people who need them, not a prop to make you a better Oracle.
People with disabilities need to be taken seriously, we need our bodies and our adaptive devices to not be seen as public property – and by leaving adaptive devices as tools and not toys, that helps to create that line and that space.
Plus, let’s talk con management. If you have a white cane as part of your costume, you might be allowed to sit in a spot reserved for actual disabled folks, thus taking space away from an actual disabled attendee. I’m not going to police a disability when I see someone on a con for displaying one. When I see another white cane at a con, I want to run over and say Hi and make friends with other blind people who are members of the this nerdy world that I live in. I want to embrace them as a part of the community I work to build – and when someone tells me that they’re not actually disabled that’s heartbreaking – and it makes me angry.
Don’t take up disabled spaces. Don’t use canes or wheelchairs without needing them. Don’t police disability but not make it something we need to be suspicous of.
It’s bad enough that I get asked if I’m really blind every time I walk out my door, I don’t need people making it harder for me to say that only blind people can have white canes. I need people to respect that space. Because my safety, and the safety of other disabled people like me depends on it.