Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More Thoughts On Ableism

Paul Dodenhoff, Disabled World - November 6, 2014

Paul Dodenhoff, Disabled World - November 17, 2014

A lot of practical, everyday ableism seem to stem from beliefs about scarcity. Some people believe that everything is a competition, a zero-sum game where one person’s gain is always another person’s loss. That’s what you often hear when people do and say the most horrible things about disabled people, while trying to convince everyone, including themselves, that they are just being honest and realistic. It’s nothing personal, I like cripples just fine. It’s not their fault, but I have to look out for my own kid / family / neighborhood / job, etc.

On the other hand, there really are people who find disabled people just plain irritating, disturbing, disruptive, or distasteful. They really would prefer it if we were all in special programs somewhere, where they wouldn't have to see us or deal with us. Some of this is a sort of grumpy annoyance with anything that stands out ... a loud, restless child in a restaurant, or a customer in a big wheelchair taking up space in the grocery aisle. Sometimes, it comes from that very old part of our brain, down by the stem, where our fear of lizards and spiders resides.

Personally, I find the first type of ableism ... mostly defensive and transactional ... easier to deal with, and more common. The second, more instinctive ableism I find hard to believe, and becuse of that even harder to handle on the rare occasions when I do see it firsthand.