Professor Janice Gallagher
The audiences for “Disability” by Nancy Mairs
Disability is written by Nancy Mairs, an author who wrote about various topics, including spirituality, women’s issues and her experiences living with a disability. Her unique writing shows in many of her essays, particularly in Disability which was first published in 1987 in The New York Times. In this essay, Mairs explains how disabled people are continually excluded, especially from the media in a world focused on the healthy people. She explains how there are more than just a disable person. They are still capable of living like anybody else and participate in society. The audience in this essay are all people who read the New York Times, on April 1987. Although, it seems that she was concerned mostly by the advertisers in the media. She wanted them to create a real image that represent her and other similar people fairly.
Mair’s writing lead to believe that she assumes, among her audience, most of them do not have a disability or have a valid understanding of it. This seems to be somewhat true, since most of the New York Times readers are usually educated, but probably not very aware of the effect of the disability. Addressing this audience was not directly clear or mentioned. In the other hand , it’s very clear that she is very interested in reaching this audience. Using a figurative language such as “But tell me truly now, if you saw me pouring out puppy biscuits, would you think these kibbles were only for the puppies of cripples?”. Through this comical and ironical yet charming thoughts, she captures the reader emotionally to support and create credibility for her idea . She continues to engage her audience by showing them how she, just like anybody else, does laundry, drives a car, eats pizza, and even consider herself a Great American Consumer.” I drive a car, talk on the telephone, get runs in my panty hose, eat pizza. In most ways, that is, I’m the advertiser’s dream: Ms. Great American Consumer.”
Although she seems like she was addressing the New York readers. Her audience can go beyond that, to reach people who are concerned or have experience with the difficulties of any illness . This mean that she could reach a larger population that include anybody who will read the essay and anybody of intellect due to her use of figurative language.
It seems like that the two audiences are connected. Mairs told her story to the New York reader and explained her anger and frustration about the way disabled people are represented in the media by advertiser, who were addressed, but not directly. The author wanted to address them, as they are the cause of her main issue. The author wanted to use her first audience to witness and maybe affect the second audience(the advertise) to change their misrepresentation for people with disability. She took advantage of one larger audience to affect a smaller one.
Mair believes what the advertiser display of handicapper people in the media is totally unfair. Robbing anybody with a physical or mental difficulty of their right to be equal and to be treated the same. She shows how this audience makes her invisible and neglected, which causing her a lot of pain.” This kind of effacement or isolation has painful, even dangerous consequences, however. For the disabled person, these include self-degradation and a subtle kind of self-alienation not unlike that experienced by other minorities.” This part deeply engages the targeted audience by describing the real effect of this isolation. It has made both audiences think about the consequences. Therefore, triggering them to sympathize and create a positive view but also keeps them reading.
I once asked a local advertiser why he didn’t include disabled people in his spots. His response seemed direct enough. ”We don’t want to give people the idea that our product is just for the handicapped,”. This example provides a great evidence for both of her audience, explaining how valid her point is. It shows how ridiculous adviser can be and lead the other audience to take her side since his response had no logic or sense. Showing their right to have an opportunity to appear in the media and represent these products.
“How can a woman identify herself as a Catholic Worker if she can’t even cut up carrots for the soup or ladle it out for the hungry people queued up outside the kitchen door”? This question is also used to help the audience understand how she lives and how hard for her a achieve her goals and be what she wants to be. Through a very specific reasoning with her audience, she shows how difficult her life is made to be, due to the stereotypes portrayed in the media by the advertiser.
This concludes this audience is not addressed directly, but it is as important as any other. Despite this, it’s very important to her to change their views and thoughts. This may be the whole point of her essay. She is not pursuing them to make the change not just for her, but for anybody like her.
Therefore, her essay is both intensely personal and conceptually abstract. She does not aim to be better treated in a special way, but she seeks equality, respect and sympathize with all disabled people. She also wants acceptance and to just be included and get the chance to be part of society.
Her writing is clear and reasonable, her examples were enough and detailed, and her tone and style provided a certain flavor to her essay. change is possible, but not easy, it needs a great amount of understanding.
Mairs, Nancy. “HERS.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 July 1987, www.nytimes.com/1987/07/09/garden/hers.html.