April 30, 2007 at 6:23 PM (Assumptions, Attitude Adjustment, Disability Blogging) (Ashley Treatment, Blogging Against Disabilism Day, Disability, Disability Activism, Disability and Stereotyping, Disability Rights, Disability Snark, Disability Studies, Social Model of Disability)
As we speak or type, or sign….
First the good news…there has been what I can only call an explosion of blogs by and for and about people with disabilities and their allies in the past year…it’s tough to keep up, but fabulous to see so many. They aren’t comfortable simple, easy ‘happy happy’ stories…but they matter, and they give a glimpse into the worst and the best that happens around us, to us, and because of us, a joyful, painful, scary, wry, complex story that needs to be written. We’re writing, speaking, signing, typing all over the Internet and beyond into the mainstream media a time or two.
But, as we become more ‘visible’ the social model of disability, that theory that says that architectural barriers, as well as negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices about people with impairments ‘disable’ us more than physical difference ever could. rears up and gives us a new version of an old standard.
The idea that because we’re physically different, or our thought processes might be different, or our method of communication different…We shouldn’t have had an opinion, particularly about the Ashley treatment. Those who agreed with the procedure were outraged at our outrage, angry at our anger, snarky at our snark, or just plain clueless. Many spoke their mind in such a way that indicated that us *having* an opinion was so obviously riduculous and wrong that a ton of slurs came our way.
We don’t *get* to have an opinion????
About *ourselves* or someone like us…What? We don’t *get* to have an opinion? We aren’t allowed to think? To question? To research? To try to explain to the able?
Why the *hell* not?
When the Ashley story broke, there was so much anger, even hate, that we would dare to wonder at what led to the decision to treat her in this way.
That almost bothered me more than the treatment itself. That it wasn’t just that the concerns of the disability community were treated as though we weren’t there…that was the old way, the pre-blogs-on-the-rise way…
The new way to “disable” our concerns was to be affronted, bitter, angry,spiteful that we *dared* to raise the questions that must be raised, if we’re to advocate for others of our tribe, the disabled, to be spared this… that we should just shut up and be quiet and be grateful that there were caregivers for us….
We’re not going to the back of the Internet.
There will be no wall built at some virtual “border” to keep us from writing.
There are no great flights of stone steps we must crawl up.
Our opinion has been hidden, limited or *missing* from discussions about medical treatment, education, employment,access, travel, architechure,institutionalization, for most of history.
It’s here now, and disagreement is expected, certainly. Examination of why we feel as we do. But not dismissal. Not abelist arrogance. (or worse condescension, the verbal equivalent of the pat on the head of a beloved pet…”That’s nice dear, now go sit back down.”)
*Listen to us!*
Before we’re gone and you can’t learn what you need to learn from us…
That there *is* *no* *normal!*
Just difference all ’round.
That we have an elegant and unique dignity all our own.
Before we and those like us are ‘perfected’ out of existence, or warehoused, or killed, or forgotten.
*Listen to us.*