Subculture on Main: Brinna Rasmussen

Freshman Brinna Rasmussen.
Photo by Dani Massey.

Subculture on Main strives to raise awareness of the diversity of people and important issues on the Lawrence University campus. Care is taken to give equal platform to unique individuals and to listen to their stories with an open mind. Interviews are reflective only of the interviewee, not of their whole group.

Brinna Rasmussen, a freshman studying elementary education, shared her experience with being a part of the hard of hearing and deaf culture for this edition of Subculture on Main. She talked about how “there is such a strong embracement of being different, in being able to experience different things than hearing people. Going through the struggles and being able to relate to each other through those struggles is really empowering.”

Rasmussen explained her relationship with the hard of hearing and deaf community in greater detail, saying, “I identify with the hard of hearing subculture, but I think greater than that there is the disabled subculture. The deaf and hard of hearing umbrella are within the disabled [community],” Rasmussen continued, adding that, “What people don’t realize is that females are less likely to be hard of hearing than males, and so being a female disabled person is a very important subgroup.”

Rasmussen explained that from her experience, “This group represents overcoming adversity that is just thrust on you. You don’t have a choice. You just are hard of hearing; you are going to face difficulties with your education, learning to speak, learning to interact with others, difficulties being in big groups.” Rasmussen concluded, however, that overcoming these obstacles can help with personal growth and learning to enjoy social interactions more than you thought that you would.

Rasmussen discussed how she has life experiences that many people do not get when it comes to problem solving, communication and listening: “I have to work harder to learn and to understand the process.” 

For Rasmussen, it can be “difficult to connect and meet people who are hard of hearing or who have hearing loss.” However, she explained that Lawrence has helped her with this. She has been able to meet more people on campus with hearing loss or who are hard of hearing, helping create a sense of community that was lacking in her high school experience.  

She said, “At my high school there was no one and being here [at Lawrence] I’ve been able to meet people who are like, ‘Oh, I’m deaf in one ear’ [or] ‘Oh, I have hearing aids.’ Being able to even see those people and [know] I am not the only one is so reassuring and nice.”

When asked about hard of hearing and deaf representation, Rasmussen lit up: “Damn! I would love if there was more representation on campus. It would be cool to have a hard of hearing/deaf club where we can just like talk about it together…I think the most important message that the deaf and hard of hearing community can bring to people is the importance of understanding that a disability can affect people in [ways that are] not necessarily visible.” 

She emphasized the importance of listening to people when they ask you for help or ask you to do something because you might not see that they are deaf or hard of hearing, and they really need your help. 

Rasmussen talked about how little representation exists for hard of hearing people in media. She explained how when she was young, “There was a deaf character who is a fully deaf male…that I shouldn’t have related to because I am a half deaf, hard of hearing young woman, but because that was my first experience with a non-hearing person in media, I thought this was so cool.” 

If there had been better representation of hard of hearing people in media, she may have been able to relate to a character more like her. 

She also talked about the problems with how representation that does exist for hard of hearing people can often have a condescending tone. However, she said that representation is getting better. For example, the 2020 American Girl Doll has hearing aids.  

Rasmussen said,“We’re finally getting to a place where at least a few people are acknowledging the existence of strong, cool, powerful [and] not pitiful deaf and hard of hearing people. That needs to happen more in media. There needs to be more representation of disabled [people] no matter what the disability. I want to get that message out there. Put people in media.”

Brinna Rasmussen would like to remind everyone to speak up for your hard of hearing and disabled friends. They may not be comfortable asking for what you say to be repeated or said more loudly and clearly. Lend an ear and listen!

If you would like to represent your group, contact Dani Massey at danionlawrentian@gmail.com

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