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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Everyday Ableism | #ShitAbledPeopleSay

Everyday Ableism #ShitAbledPeopleSay
I had another post in mind for the this edition of my Everyday Ableism series but sometimes something happens in the world of disability and gives you something else that must be addressed. A few weeks back now the hashtag #shitabledpeoplesay started popping up on my Twitter feed. I found myself nodding along in agreement to a lot of what I was seeing and soon began adding my own. I added one off the top of my head and it sort of snowballed from there. I didn't realise I had so much to contribute to the hashtag until they started pouring out of me. So I decided to compile them into a blog post. If you're disabled, I'm sure you can relate to some of these. If you're abled and you've ever found yourself uttering one or more of these in the past, I hope that you might think twice before doing it again in the future. If you're abled and you're already taking offence because you've never said a problematic thing in your life, then okay. I mean, even I've said ableist shit but perhaps you're the un-problematic unicorn. If that's the case, then congrats and this post isn't for you. Now we've gotten that out of the way, on with the show!

As I've touched upon a little, I think it's important to realise while this hashtag may have been #shitabledpeoplesay it was by no means directed at ALL abled people. We shouldn't have to say that every time this type of thing comes up. What we mean is that these things are said predominantly by abled people to disabled people. But still, even as a disabled person I found the #shitabledpeoplesay hashtag a learning experience. The disabled community is extremely diverse and that means there are a lot of disabilities I am ignorant of. I'm sure there have been many times I've said something ableist or acted ableist out of sheer ignorance. It's my duty to educate myself and do better. It's your duty too.


 While I found the hashtag to be a learning experience, it was also extremely cathartic. It was also a source of validation. The ableism we face every day is often isolating. We're made to feel that we shouldn't complain because people are just doing their best, regardless of whether that's actually true or not. We're told that good intentions mean we don't have the right to tell people when something is not okay. We have to put the feelings of abled people above our own constantly. This silencing leads us to bottle up a lot of what we go through and feeling like maybe we're being petty, maybe nobody else would have a problem with these things. This hashtag validated my feelings. It showed me that others do feel the same. I'm not alone in my discomfort or annoyance. I am not petty. 


At the end of the day we need to be able to speak out and raise our voices. We need to be able to educate people. That's how change happens. You may disagree with the hashtag and you may worry that the language alienates abled people. That using provocative language only serves to make people feel attacked and defensive. I may have said the same in the past but then I realised that you aren't going to wake people with whispers. You don't wake them up by tip toeing around them. You poke the bear. Shake it awake. 

If you read this post and the thing you take away from it is how it makes you feel as an abled person then you really need to sit down and take stock of your privilege. And I say that as someone who has had to do the same thing multiple times in different situations because we can all be a little ignorant and self-involved at times. The important thing is to work on it. Get yourself out of the 'how does this make me feel' headspace and really listen to what is being said. You learn so much more.

2 comments:

  1. Can't fkin believe some of these...
    ... Though I could totally see one or two being said by me before!
    ... Still, want to find some of these people and do some violence on them :p

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  2. Thankyou for sharing this post, hopefully people who've said ableist things before will realise how shit they are actually being and stop saying things like that. Following the #shitabledpeoplesay hashtag was pretty helpful for my mental health in a way because it reminded me that I'm not alone in dealing with ableist comments. Although, I was also really angered by some of the things people had said to other disabled people and thought it was okay to say those things!

    Sarah | Raiin Monkey

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