SMA News Forums Forums Our Community Adults ​With​ ​SMA Columnist Writes About Internalized Ableism and Belonging

  • zicari

    February 4, 2021 at 9:14 am

    I hope I’m not ruffling any feathers or being too controversial here, but I think one of the biggest problems we have in the world today is a tendency for people to shut out views that run counter to their own or to the prevailing view of a group with which they identify. So I’m just going to offer a different perspective for people to chew on.

    For the sake of the argument, let’s substitute “sexism” for “ableism”. Now let’s say some some gender studies professor writes a paper that declares something – it doesn’t matter what it is so we’ll call it X – some action, word, social phenomenon, whatever, as sexist. If a man disagrees with this on its merits and offers a counterargument, he will invariably be accused of protecting his own privilege, and not having an opinion worth considering simply due to the fact that he is a man. This allows the proponents of the “X is sexist” theory to avoid defending their idea to a full half of the population. If a woman disagrees with the thesis, though, it’s a bit trickier. In order to avoid debate, you have to accuse her of suffering from the equivalent of a type of battered wives syndrome or stockholm syndrome, that she has been so traumatized by a lifetime of oppression that she has come to identify with her oppressors. Therefore her opinion is compromised. This leaves nobody left to argue – nothing to debate. X is sexist, because we say so.

    So, to me, “internalized ableism” is a convenient way to dismiss the perspective of people with disabilities who might have a nuanced or dispassionate view on a controversial subject having to do with disability – especially one with political overtones.

    But this is probably just my internalized ableism speaking…

    • brianna-albers

      February 17, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      Hey! Thanks for sharing. I can definitely see where you’re coming from – it can be frustrating when people invalidate your feelings by labeling it as an internalized ism. Personally, I believe isms manifest in vastly different ways, so it’s always important to prioritize what people think and believe about their own experiences. One of my favorite sayings I retained from grad school is we’re all experts on our own lives, which feels applicable here. Any sort of internalized ism requires nuance and the ability to respect other people’s point of view so I’m glad you brought it up!

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