And, yes, this is brought to my attention, though not at all for the first time, by that one post earlier that I am actually considering going back and making a legit response to it.
I understand that there are many cases where tumblr SJers can be a bit out there, can be seen as…
So, here’s the thing about ableism: it comes in a lot of flavors. It comes in the ignorance, pointing and staring, and rudeness of people in the physical world. It comes in the patronizing, warm and fluffy condescension, well-meaning way as well. It is refusing to call someone in a wheelchair an asshole because they’re in a wheelchair, even when they’re being an ASSHOLE. It is presuming that people with disabilities are non-sexual, or speculating about their sexual activity in a creepy fetishized way. It is people ignoring that that just because you can’t see a disability, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It is a lot of different things.
So, here is the biggest tip I can give the world: treat people like people. People with disabilities are not automatically either good or scary, nice or mean, martyrs or saints. Treating them like they are, is ableist.
Treating a disability like it imparts some magical level of wisdom is massively screwed up, treating it like it doesn’t make someone’s everyday activities different in execution is also massively screwed up.
When the whole mommy-war crap around Mrs. Romney broke out, somebody brought up her disability as a defense for her class privilege. I called that out because that was not the conversation. The conversation was her class privilege, as the stay-at-home mom and the wife of a rich man, and the ways in which that privilege ignores that many women who would like the option to stay at home can’t, as well as the way that the benefits afforded by money make her experience different from that of stay-at-home moms without it.
It was no one’s place but hers, to bring up her experience as a person with a disability, and it was derailing.
Similarly, I once viewed a comment thread on Jezebel, where the male commenter was being spectacularly misogynistic and other commenters had stepped in to defend him with the fact that he had terminal cancer.
So what? Having terminal cancer does not give you the right to be a jerkass, and trying to hand-wave being a jerkass with the terminal cancer diagnosis on behalf of someone else is a jerkass-ableist move. Having terminal cancer neither means you are incapable of jerkassery nor your own defense in the face of being called out, but I can’t imagine someone trying to pull a guilt trip on other people because of would make me feel good about my own capabilities and agency, if it were me.
A disability is not a reason for pity. It’s a disability. The only person who gets to determine what it means to their lives, or explain what it means to their lives, is the person who has the disability.
So I’ll say again: treat people with disabilities like people. End. Of.