Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's Blogging Against Disablism Day, what can I do?

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day.  Feminists with Disabilities has a list of ways you can get involved.  "Disablism," which is synonymous with "ableism," refers to discrimination, derision, and mistreatment toward persons with disabilities.  Ableism can appear in our lives in many little ways, from commenting/glaring scornfully at the person who gets in to the elevator to go one floor, without considering that he or she might have a disability, to not recognizing the ways our work or living places may be inaccessible and hence unwelcoming to people with disabilities, to using language that makes disabled people uncomfortable or employs words previously used to deride disabled people to describe unrelated negative things.

Although I have always tried to be conscious of and considerate toward the needs of people with disabilities, I have only recently begun reading and thinking about the little ways I display ableism in my daily life, and what the implications of this are.  Feministe has an interesting post up on ableist language, which is one of the hardest habits for us non-disabled people to break.  These words are so ingrained in our descriptive lexicon, letting them go makes us feel unable to describe a loss for words.  The problem with these words is twofold: one, we're associating people with disabilities with negative behavior, and two, we're obscuring the real problem with the behavior--AZ didn't pass the anti-immigration bill because its lawmakers are crazy, they did it out of racism, oppression, and vote-pandering.  This comment from Kowalski on the Feministe post sums up the issue with employing oppressive language to (ironically) describe oppressive people:
Another thing I notice a lot on many feminist blogs is how often the words moron, idiot, imbecile, and cretin, etc are used to describe reprehensible and oppressive people.
These words have been used to dehumanize people with developmental disabilities like myself and it really is worth considering how obnoxious it is to use these words to insult misogynist, racist, or homophobic people.
And here at femonomics, we're guilty as charged.  Take a quick scan down our homepage, and you'll see we've described things as "crazy" and "insane" many times, just in the past week!  In my earlier post on advocating for others, I admitted to not being ready to give these words up.  Well, today, on Blogging Against Disablism Day, I'm challenging myself to get a thesaurus already, and stop using ableist language in my blog posts.  It's not much, but that's what I can do.  What about you?

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