There is a weekly Twitter informational tweet-a-thon of sorts called #SaturdaySchool. Last Saturday, March 11th, the session called to #EndAbleism. Merriam-Webster defines ableism as:
discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities
You’ll learn a lot about yourself if you Google the term ableism and read a few articles. And just in case you didn’t know, people with one disability can and often are ableist when it comes to other disabilites. They don’t think about it. It’s unintentional. Isn’t it all?
I see TONS of ableist language used by activists on-line. I need to do better calling it out. Most times I notice the language & I don’t share those tweets. However, sometimes I share because I don’t notice the ableist language being used. I’m working on it.
It is exhausting to check people because people use ableist language so frequently. It feels like very other post I read says “stupid” “dumb” “moron” “idiot” “psycho” “mental” … I did learn that using swear words is waaaay better than using ableist language… So in that respect, it was a relatively easy transition.
I was initially irked when, my now dear Twitter friend, @MxPhoenix would seemingly CONSTANTLY inform me of my ableist language. I spoke about it with people offline As I verbally defended my right to use ableist language, I saw how ridiculous I was being.
YOU don’t get to say what’s OK or what’s not ableist. Just like racists and misogynists don’t get a say on how their language offends us. Once people tell you how it harms people, who are not you, if you mean no harm, why continue the language use? There are other words to use. Even if someone is mentally ill, why do you think it’s OK to use that fact as an insult?
We have to check ourselves. I checked myself many times with @MxPhoenix appearing as a tiny being floating above my shoulder urging me to choose different language.
As I read the #EndAbleism tweets, it just seemed like some people weren’t as empathic or as understanding as I thought they would be. I was shocked. Because while I was irked at my Twitter buddy, I never responded to them or anyone that I had a right to use that language. Some of these people sounded like racists asking why they can’t say N*gg*r. We have to do better.
But for all of you who can’t grasp that ableist language can be harmful, let me put it into a way you can understand.
Above is the actual title of a recent article in the New York Times. Now, granted this is an op-ed column. But let’s change the ableist language to let’s say…. Misogynistic language:
Clinton vs Press: Cunty, bitchy love.
Obama vs Press: Nigger, monkey love
Anderson Cooper vs Press: Faggoty, no homo love
Not ok, right? Now I can write a racist paragraph or homophobic paragraph or misogynistic paragraph to prove my point, but I don’t think that’s necessary. #EndAbleism