Irrational fears are a real thing.
But when your irrational fear targets an entire group of people for their race, ethnicity or other physical attributes beyond their control, who's responsible for changing their behavior? Can a person reasonably demand that a blind, deaf or otherwise disabled person be kept out of their presence because they "fear" disabled people?
Or should the person with the fear work on their issues and accommodate the other person's right to exist? A young man with dwarfism is facing just such a conundrum, so her turned to the "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
Redditor Usidore_ asked:
"AITA for calling someone's dwarf phobia bullsh*t and refusing to look after their apartment on short notice?"
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
"I have friend I met a couple years ago, and he recently helped me move apartments. To return the favor, I was going to be looking after his and his girlfriend's [Charlotte] place and feeding their cat while they take a trip away for a couple weeks."
"I've never met his girlfriend before."
"He's a very private person. Surprised he trusted me with his place, but they were desperate to get away, and they were new to the city and didn't know many other people to call upon."
"I was messaging him about coming over that evening to get all the instructions I would need, when he changed the day for me to come over to tomorrow. I asked why the change of plans, and after a pause he said 'Charlotte had plans this evening that fell through, so she's going to be kicking about here. So we just want a quiet night in'."
"Kind of weird. But I said fine, tomorrow it is."
"The next day I get a message from him saying 'I can meet you for a coffee and go over all the apartment stuff? That might be easier'."
"For me, this wouldn't be easier. I have dwarfism, so I'm 4ft tall, and any space I need to use often has accessibility issues for me."
"Part of the reason I wanted to go over everything at the apartment was to check if I would have any problems in accessing things in their apartment. Any potential issue doesn't take much to solve."
"Too high? We have a footstool. Not accessible even with footstool? We'll place this down in this cabinet, that kind of thing."
"I had told him this already, and I told him again."
"'That's fair. Charlotte will be working so as long as we don't go upstairs, that should be fine'."
"I joked 'Hey...is Charlotte real? I feel like I'm never allowed to see her. It's OK, I won't judge :P'."
"He responded 'I guess I should tell you. Charlotte has a bit of a...hangup around little people'."
"'I don't get it, but she's been scared of them since she was a kid, and it's developed into a full on phobia over time. She has said that she can't be in the same room with you, more out of a fear of being rude to you over anything else'."
"'She knows it's dumb, but it's like a knee jerk reaction. She can't help it. I'm sorry if that is really insulting, I promise that she just doesn't want to upset you'."
"I was stunned. I've encountered this 'phobia' before, and I've always considered it bullsh*t. I believe it's a fear that's only able to occur if you don't actually view little people as, well...people."
"I told him 'You're telling me your girlfriend is scared of me because of how I look and not to take offense? Offense taken. That's not a phobia, that is ignorance'."
"'If she can't stand to be in the same room with me, maybe I shouldn't look after her apartment'."
"After that he kept apologizing and asking me to please still come, that she just doesn't want to be a dick to me, and she can head out if she needs to. That's a no from me."
"AITA for dipping out of looking after my friend's apartment at short notice, if his girlfriend refuses to meet me first?"
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- NAH - No A**holes Here
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
Reddit fell heavily on the side of NTA.
A handful decided there was no one at fault and voted NAH. A few people said the OP was the a**hole because his existence makes Charlotte uncomfortable.
Other Redditors had little patience for those comments.
"NTA. Yeah, no, nobody has any business hiding behind a 'phobia' of another human being's existence—ESPECIALLY when the issue is something aforementioned human being can't control."
"If she needs therapy, fine, but the onus is on HER to deal and act appropriately, not on you to accommodate her." ~ 3Fluffies
"Despite what other ignorant, uneducated folk may say, there's no such phobia. So she's dressing her prejudices up as one in order to justify them." ~ BarefootJacob
"NTA. Replace little people with another marginalized group—gay people, Black people, Jewish people—and no one would tolerate her behavior. She'd be told to seek help and get over her bigotry or be shunned by everyone except her fellow bigots."
"Her bigotry against little people should be just as shunned and called out for the bullsh*t that it is. Yes, she may genuinely feel this way but it doesn't excuse her ignorant a**."
"If you found out she was a racist, no one would expect you to honor the commitment."
"No one should expect you to honor it when she chooses ableism as her favorite bigotry (that we know of)." ~ LakotaGrl
"However 'I can't spend time with you because I don't like little people and I might be rude to you' is a terrible way to treat your partners friends. It's so simple for her to just be nice and she's clearly not interested in being a decent human." ~ newaxcounr
"Not to mention OP was going to do them a favor! If she can't be bothered to do the bare minimum to be polite she definitely doesn't deserve a favor." ~ Eelpan2
The OP can be assured that his decision not to do favors for a woman who refused to even be in the same room with him, did not make him the a**hole according to most of Reddit.