It’s been a bit since I've ranted and a couple of things are pissing me off… I don’t know if you’re going to like what I have to say. Hell, I don’t even know if I’m right. But I’m going to try to kill three birds with one stone in this blog post.
If you disagree or have strong feelings towards what I’m going to say, for the first time I’m
going to encourage you to comment.
Here are the themes that we will be talking about:
Equality vs. Equity
Let’s begin. Let’s start with the definition of ableism. Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to be disabled. Ableism characterizes people as defined by their disabilities and inferior to the non-disabled.
There are two main forms of ableism.
First, there is physical ableism, which refers to intentional or unintentional discrimination of people with disabilities that people who are not disabled don’t notice. Why? Because it’s all about me, me, me; if it doesn’t bother Me, it shouldn’t bother anyone. The best example of this is physical space and how it is set up. If I had a penny for every time a friend suggests a restaurant, a coffee shop, or any other public establishment and replies “I didn’t notice” after I ask “did it have a ramp?” or “is it accessible?...” I would be filthy fucking rich. What also applies to physical ableism is assuming someone that has a physical disability is automatically less intelligent. I hate to break it to you, but mainly it’s actually the opposite. We are actually very bright, that’s why we’re villainized (search “Evil Cripple TV Tropes”) in most movies (insert smirk here).
Secondly, we have mental ableism and, like physical ableism, it refers to discrimination, intentional or unintentional, against people with mental illness, neurodivergent (don't be lazy, look it up), and those labeled as having developmental disabilities. For example, assuming neurodivergent students have to be segregated into a separate class is ignorant as fuck… and do I still have to explain why not to use the word retarded?
Lastly, my torment, what haunts me on a daily basis; if you are one of my readers with a disability, you probably empathize with the stomach turning feeling after some human interactions. You don’t know why, but something they said just didn’t sit well. It’s probably because they display some micro-aggressions. Micro-aggression is a term used for commonplace, daily verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups. This is what my people mean when they say “don’t tell us that we are your inspiration” or “don’t tell me that I inspire you.” Like I said before, we are actually very bright, we know when it’s a load of bullshit, and what you’re doing is making yourself feel better. I mean, I would love to stroll around saying “Wow, able bodied Susie, I’m so grateful not to be tied down to your ignorant, narrow minded, shallow, able bodied limitations . WE DON’T DO THAT! So, the fact that you think it’s OK to do so is minimizing!
“So Glow, how are we supposed to express how much we respect people with disabilities?”
Show it. Don’t say it, show it. If you’re interested in not participating in the systematic, institutionalized ableism, actually talk to me, don’t avoid me in the hallway or talk to my assistant instead of me. Get curious while still respecting when I say no (I mean, if you ask me how I go to the bathroom, respect me when I say “let’s not go there”). Telling how much you admire me and then treating me as if I’m furniture is absurd.
“But Glow, Don’t you want us to treat you as equals?”
It’s very hard to answer that question in a civil manner, so I would just say the following: equality versus equity. Perfect segway for the following Just Press Mode lesson. For marginalized people, equity and equality are a world of difference. Instead of giving you a definition, I will give you a well-known example. If you give a rich woman and a poor woman both a $100, are they both now in the same playing field? This is an example of equality because they were given the same amount of money. However, based on their previous economic status, the rich woman still remains better off. On the other hand, if you give the poor woman $200 based on her existent disadvantage, while only giving the rich woman $100, you are trying to reach equity. How does this apply socially to people with disabilities ? Well, I’ll use myself as an example. I have a slight speech impediment that branches out from me not being able to speak very loudly. Clearly, I also have mobility issues, which has led me to notice that whenever I spark a conversation with a stranger, it usually leads to them not understanding me or being able to hear me. That is my disadvantage based on my truth. If you wanted to be equal, then we both would have to put in the same amount of physical and emotional effort into our interaction (and honestly good luck with that). If we are going to be equitable, one of us, the one who doesn’t have physical limitations, would have to put in a little more effort. Therefore, I believe that abled people and disabled people should come to an agreement (I can feel my disabled followers rolling their eyes, but hear me out). Abled people should take the initiative to talk to us first and disabled people should promise not to bite their heads off when they say something stupid (which I’m sure they will… But it’s ok). Hence equity.
“But Glow, disability is a state of mind! You can do anything you set your mind to.”
No… just no. Toxic positivity is just that. According to Disability Together, toxic positivity involves dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurance rather than actual genuine empathy. In other words, the practice of toxic positivity comes from feeling uncomfortable with negative emotions, and even though it’s often well intentioned, it can come across as dismissive and cause a feeling of disconnect. Which, technically, is a You problem (I’m not accusing You as the reader, but rather using You in general terms…so chill.) because when you think about it, the person who says outrageous things like the quote above doesn’t know how to process the negative. If anything, they cover it up with a concoction of God’s will and passive-aggressive potpourri that smells like nothing but blame. I say blame because toxic positivity can impact anyone; however it is often used and weaponized against people with disabilities. When you say that disability is a mindset, you’re blaming the person with the disability of not having the right mindset. When in truth, disabled people have little control over their condition, the symptoms, and treatment options. We cannot make our bodies “be” better regardless of how much effort we put into it… just because I put “effort” into walking doesn’t mean it's ever going to happen. In addition, this mentality promotes not accepting who we are. The happiest moment in a disabled person’s life is when they come to terms, accept, and are content with who they are. The true Eureka moment in a disabled person's life is when they realize they don’t have to prove to other people that they’re doing enough as a disabled person… let that sink in.
Let it ALL sink in.