the rambly Weld

Posts with tag: disability

Synonyms and Bigoted Language

by the partition Nemmy Nyms, Goddexx of names, witch of words & spoons

⚠ Content warnings: Discussion of ableist slurs around intelligence.

Hi! I’m Nemmy Nyms, witch of words. I’m a partition of Mx. Ace Fucking Jaycee, and I thought I should write a little thing about words.

I think some people, when addressing their bigotry, really don’t want to put in any effort to questioning themselves. This isn’t going to be about defensiveness, or aimed at people who refuse to listen about ableism. I’m fucking tired of that, and my only message is that if you care about us, stop being so fucking ableist. But really I’m here for the people who keep bouncing from word to word, saying “oh, i didn’t realize that was harmful” over and over.

When you’re told a word does harm and you want to fix it, there’s often this urge to just… Replace the word. In some cases this works! For example, I sometimes avoid calling partners of mine who are trans women “hon”, because there’s a specific harmful subculture that uses it as an insult. Swapping that in for “dear” or “love” or anything else that is a cute term of endearment for a partner that they like works out pretty well, because the issue isn’t being affectionate with our partner, but that we used a word for that which has been poisoned for some by a sarcastic usage.

There are also sometimes where slurs and acceptance come into play. As a disabled person, I will tell people not to call me “handicapped”. I dislike that term immensely, not because I want my disability ignored, but because “handicap” is a term for an artificial adjustment of play in sports, like putting guard rails up when bowling. Handicaps are a thing made to make games more fair, and that is a really uncomfortable way to think about disability.

But then there’s insults. This is where issues really crop up a lot. A lot. I’m gonna assume you know my position on intelligence as a measure of worth and how it carries so much oppressive baggage, but if not, this video on IQ is pretty good for the topic. I don’t plan on debating this.

So, let’s start on the r-slur. We used to use it in our early teens, and I still see it put on things as a suffix when not directly used outright. But for the most part, a lot of people at least left-of-center have really acknowledged that using it is bad. But… Why and how were they using it in the first place? “That’s so [slur]”, “Don’t be such a [slur]”, et cetera. The word being a slur against intellectually disabled people and used as a general insult is itself wrong, but what meaning does the r-slur actually take on here?

Luckily, everyone answers that for you by their replacement. People realized the r-slur was wrong to use, took that to mean that the word was the problem, and swapped it for intelligence insults like “idiot” that they were already using it interchangeably with. But, as this Merriam-Webster article points out, several of those words have a really shitty clinical history around disabled people, too, because the entire concept of intelligence has a really shitty history around disabled people. And then even they end the article suggesting alternatives to these, such as “driveler” (listed as a synonym for [someone who] “lets saliva dribble from the mouth”. Yikes?), and “chucklehead” (defined as “blockhead” which is then defined as… “a stupid person”!)

The problem with hunting for synonyms for insults is that you sometimes need to step back and ask: “What am I insulting this person for?” Intelligence is often a marker of some inherent, assumed-measurable amount of brain capacity. So you need to stop replacing the r-slur with “idiot” and then “peabrain” and then “dipshit” and start asking “why am I insulting this person based on some inherent measure of their being, rather than their actions of harm?” Maybe, when you’ve dealt with that, you’ll actually sort your ableist shit out.

Tags: , , posted on 30 September 2019

capitalism sucks for us cripples

⚠ Content warnings: capitalism and discussion of systemic ableism

okay so capitalism fucking sucks and we hate it. that’s like, pretty obvious about us. and we want to talk about another way to think about how it sucks, from the perspective of being a cripple.

we wanna also say that this is an idea we came up with mostly ourselves, but we also do think we aren’t alone in coming to this conclusion and that more than likely other disabled anti-capitalists have come up with this, and it’s really shit that we have not gotten to actually hear this from other people.

okay but basically the whole thesis here is: making exceptions for disabled people represents a flaw in how you structure your systems.

we’ll go with college because of just dropping out recently - you know how some professors don’t let you bring laptops or phones into a classroom? and pretty often they’ll say “if you need it for accessibility you’re an exception to the rule.” this represents a flaw in the design of the class, placing disabled people at a disadvantage unless they convince their professor to let them be on equal footing with classmates. additionally, it singles out disabled people with a very visible marker of disability.

the default is inaccessibility and even anti-accessibility, and disabled people cause an interruption to that default. but additionally, this brings with it the fact that disabled people need to prove their disability. you can’t just tell a professor you have a disability, you need a note from a doctor and paperwork from your school. even if, like us, you have visible physical proof of how your body is disabled, that isn’t always going to be enough to be late for an exam you limp to when the professor locks the door by default.

there are sometimes simple, sometimes less simple solutions to these things, too. like, instead of banning laptops, you can section a part of the classroom off for laptops-only to prevent distraction of other students. instead of expanding test times for disabled people, you can do away with the current form of timed tests and grading systems. or like, design your test better as a stopgap i guess.

so, where does capitalism come into this? for you, capitalism is all about work and wage labor (unless you’re rich and own means of production, in which case pay us). you must work to earn a wage from capitalists, unless they feel particularly charitable. and this presents a problem for disabled people, who may not have access or ability to work. if every job application says “must be able to lift 10 pounds of weight”, guess who’s not getting those jobs? if you’re in a wheelchair and the buildings have stairs, well…

so many governments implement a system for disabled people to earn money outside of capitalism to survive. now, ignoring for a second that at the least in america, this system does not actually do enough to keep disabled people out of poverty, fundamentally you have the same issue as laptops in a classroom. Rather than society being accessible by default, you must prove your need for accessibility. you can’t just not work, you must prove that you have a reason to not be working.

proving, here, involves both having a doctor define your disability to be bad enough not to work, and your government having a secondary layer of bureaucracy with government officials having to approve your doctor’s own diagnosis. people, including doctors, are ableist, and they hold the power over disabled people being able to live at all.

society should not be structured around being required to do things that not everyone can do. forcing work upon people fucking sucks. instead, we should uplift disabled people, and everyone, by giving to each according to their need, from the work of each according to their ability.

Tags: , , posted on 30 September 2019

a glimpse of zero

⚠ Content warnings: pain and medical stuff

we decided to write some poetry while we were in pain in the shower this morning:

“On a scale from one to ten,

how much pain are you in?”

what is ten?

“One is next to nothing,

and ten is the worst you have experienced.”

how can there be anything but one?

in what universe does anything even fairly reach one fifth of the most pain we have felt?

what is a scale from one to ten when you are constantly in pain?

when your baseline of a good day is when you went to the kitchen and it felt like you did 20 squats to get there?

what is zero? what does a lack of pain feel like?

we have forgotten that feeling.

we catch glimpses of zero.

our brain spares us.

dissociates from all bodily sensation.

we lose time, we lose focus, but, for a moment,

at least we lose some feeling of pain.

it’s a ghost now.

a pain like hearing muffled music

a glimpse of zero

Tags: , , posted on 12 April 2019