Gal Gadot’s Stephen Hawking tribute sparks criticisms on Twitter

Gal Gadot has come under fire online over a tweet she shared which appeared to be insensitive following the death of renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who died Wednesday morning.

Gal gadot

 

“Rest in peace Dr. Hawking. Now you’re free of any physical constraints,” she tweeted. The tweet is being criticized as ableist, or discriminatory against disabled people.

Even though she most likely made the comment in good faith, Gadot’s reference to Hawking being “free” from “physical constraints” reinforces the ableist idea that disabilities are a form of suffering that can only be assuaged by death.

As a 21-year-old, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that led him to use a wheelchair and speech synthesizer to communicate later in life. As Teen Vogue points out, the idea that death made Hawking “free” contradicts how the professor felt about himself.

“My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics,” he once said . “Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in.”

Whether intentional or not, Gadot’s tweet and images like the one above dismiss the fact that Hawking did his work living with his disability, rather than “overcoming” it. Gadot hasn’t responded to the criticism, but hopefully this critique can open up a wider discussion about ableism.

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