4 things Margarita with a Straw has taught us about Disability

4 things Margarita with a Straw has taught us about Disability

Margarita With a Straw was as a movie much ahead of its time. When it released back in 2014, it was one of the few films to depict Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) as normal human beings, with normal desires. It touched upon not one, but several taboo topics including the treatment meted out PWDs in our society, sexuality, and queer relationships. The slice-of-life movie gives an insight into the lives of PWDs and makes a good starting point for those aiming to be better allies. Here are 4 things that the movie taught us:


1. PWDs are people with complex emotions, like all of us

We can simply let Laila be a teenager trying to find herself and having hurt some people on the way. We need to stop either idolising or degrading PWDs for us to feel comfortable with their status in our society. They are just human beings learning to deal with complex emotions like love, lust, anger, etc.


2. Sexuality and disability can coexist

The movie shows that sex is not something ‘reserved’ for the abled to enjoy. Due to a lack of  proper representation, we often forget that Persons with Disabilities have the right to explore their bodies. They deserve a judgement-free experience to find pleasure with or without partners. Due to the taboo attached to the themes of sex and disability, PWDs do not get proper sex education to fully experience their sexual life.


3. Empathy over sympathy

Laila refuses to take an award given to her because she does not want it purely based on the judge’s sympathy.  It’s easier to sympathise as it does not require us to take any action – it is just a few moments of pity and ‘wishing’ things were better for them instead of doing anything to change the status quo. It is important to put yourself in the shoes of Persons with Disabilities and think about how you would like to be treated.


4. Accessibility is essential

We can clearly see the uncomfortable expressions on Laila’s face when she is being picked by strangers to reach her classroom in her wheelchair as the institution she’s studying at does not have ramps.

Accessibility in public places is often overlooked, and people have to rely on strangers or a constant caregiver to be able to carry out daily activities. The movie must act as an eye opener for us to start more conversations about accessibility in public spaces. We must make sure we are empathising with PWDs in the right way, and they get equal opportunities to live the way they want.



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