Hello my name is Jill and I am an ableist

*Sighs.*  Yes I know, the title of this post is a major fail.  I’m pastiching (the cliché of) an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting introduction and so realistically I know I’m (yet, again) offending, trivialising, triggering someone…

…and whilst a deliberate attempt to catch your eye, I know that’s still not OK.

Regular readers may have noticed a blogging hiatus at the end of 2015.  Or not.  How flipping arrogant of me, (you were probably just enjoying the unseasonably clement weather and getting ready for Christmas).

I was doing a lot of reading and thinking.  Hard thinking.

For those of you who think I’m just a little late to the party, you’re wrong.  There’s the standard definition of ableism:

a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities

I have been taught by my parents and society, and guided by my own internal moral compass that we should make accommodations for people who need them, without a second thought, let alone without prejudice.

What’s a ramp up to a building, some braille on packaging?  No problem!

I don’t do that ableism!

Then there’s the more insidious side.

Whilst on one hand I would definitely not treat anyone differently because they were in a wheelchair, I suppose I did, maybe even still sometimes do, believe that deep down, given a choice, they would rather not be.

And that is NOT true.

That. Is. Also. Just. Ableism.  Ugh.

Few of us mean to consciously discriminate.  But we do, all the time.

I have been thinking about whether I should put trigger warnings at the beginning of all my blog posts and ensure that all the images I use are captioned with an accurate detailed written description of what the image is, rather than a snarky comment, but I actually admit that at the moment, I don’t really know how and I can’t be bothered to find out.

And I am sort of justifying that to myself with a very wan argument that I want my blog to be light-hearted and irreverent, aimed at the majority (or a very large minority) of overweight jolly modern life-juggling mummies (and other women) mostly around middle age.  It is THOSE people who I want to speak to about equality and autistic rights and the like, (not disabled people: no point a complete amateur trying to preach to the converted) and I don’t want to put them off with stuff like trigger warnings etc that they don’t identify with!!

An equality campaigner would tell me I am wrong but I bet there’s a few marketing strategists out there who could see my point.  Messy.

I don’t think there are many adults who aren’t at least slightly ableist, even if they are consciously trying not to be…  It is built into our language, this piece explains.

You really can’t say black people are less intelligent.  It is not true.  You really can’t say gays are not suitable parents.  It is not true.  You really can’t say that transgenderism is just attention-seeking or experimentation or mental illness.  It is not true.

You really can’t say that disabled people are inherently in any way lesser or requiring fixing (or worse, eradication via fetal testing and elective abortion).  It is not true.

Sadly, some people still think they can argue this, hold their own personal opinions about disabilities.  This is really not the case.  I have argued with people about their right to these beliefs in a way somewhat akin to arguing about their right to a specific religion.

(We will leave the whole disability as God’s gift for others to learn how to be better grateful people crap for another day too, along with the homophobes and racists).

Mental and physical difference, whether genetic or acquired, is not something we should pity or fear.  By identifying difference, we should never ascribe value.  Difference  deficit.

But we almost all do view it like that, to some extent.  I do did sometimes still do.

It’s really easy to be ableist without realising, when you think you’re being inclusive and nice.  It is so very deeply entrenched in society and culture, and especially Facebook.

Welcome to the awful reality of Inspiration Porn. Watch this video please – you don’t know better, trust me.

(If you cannot see the embedded video, click here to view)

…and be honest, didn’t you perhaps think, even for a split second before you corrected yourself, wow, hasn’t she* done well for someone so, you know…

Ableism catches you out like a reflex.

Could you talk to a big audience like that?  Could you hold their attention and affect them with your words?  Do you have that amount of charisma, eloquence or humour?

No, probably not.  You don’t have THAT ability.  One might argue that THAT ability is rare, it puts your commonplace typically-working legs into perspective.

But should we judge you for that?

It is with a great amount of irony that I quote from a popular song:

“I was blind but now I see…”

I’m becoming what I would have once jokingly (derogatorily?) called “a bit right on” and I admit, I’m questioning every single thought that goes through my head, every line I type.

I’ve got a lifetime of innocently “lame” and “dumb” attitudes to get over.  I temporarily lost my voice and I’ve still not quite rediscovered my full ‘funny’.

I hope you will bear with me as I try to find a way to express myself that is fulfilling for me, entertaining for you, but not at anyone else’s expense…

…and I hope you have the courage to come back and walk this harder path with me, waiting a little longer for the snarky jokes to pop up from the soul-searching.

Don’t worry, I’ll get there – I still think farts are fucking hilarious.  I am still preoccupied with tits (non-feathered) and I still really like to ‘boo’ people – (except those with sensory sensitivities and heart conditions).

*About Stella Young

6 thoughts on “Hello my name is Jill and I am an ableist

  1. Such a great post, I feel like this most of the time! I believe in the value of checking my privilege, but jeez, constantly trying not to offend people is exhausting… and even that last sentence is a prime example of a first world problem! In fact, you might like this song (it’s not about disability specifically, but pretty much sums up how I feel) https://youtu.be/6Ff-s14cAr4


    1. Hiya, long time no “hear”, happy new year 🙂

      I’ve heard that before… it is funny but argh, only to those with ultimately such huge privilege, I don’t feel so comfortable about it or a lot of stuff like it any more.

      As a blogger, or anyone who produces some kind of ‘output’ for public consumption, I do think there’s merit in content that is meant to make you question and use of self-mocking humour that actually speaks to a bigger issue; but where disability is concerned, I don’t think there is any room for anything but appropriateness.

      It sits at such a basic level of human respect, and is a prejudice that occurs across and within all segments and minorities (race, religion, gender).

      As someone smarter than me (who unfortunately I forget right now) said, being able-bodied is a temporary state, disability is the norm. The shoe will be on the other foot for the majority of us, as we age, if not before.

      So we should ffight for our own rights and with that action learn, and truly understand, that no one is of less value.


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