My definition of ableism: the mindset or assumption that everyone that has something that society categorizes as a disability is in fact (fatally?) disabled by that something.
are a few things that we talked about in class that struck me, probably
because in crafting my personal definition of ableism, I thought of
these things. First, I specifically chose "mindset" and "assumption"
over ignorance. I know that was brought up, but I am a big believer in
the three things you can know: things you know you know, things you know
you don't know, and things you don't know you don't know. I feel like
the term ignorance has a very negative connotation, thus implying that
you know you don't know something and actively choose to not educate
yourself. When discussing disability rights and ableism, I feel that
ignorance is the wrong term because most people don't even know that
they don't know what's going on. In all honesty, unless someone is
actually faced with a "disabling" position on a regular basis, chances
are they have no clue what (isn't) going on. On the flip side, there are
those that actively do choose to ignore and not educate themselves on
this topic, and those people I believe one can term as ignorant.
also felt it was important to describe disability as a social
construct. We didn't really touch on that topic in class, but I am sure
it will come up heavily in the future, so I'll sit back on those
thoughts until we come across it more directly.
The third thing that got to me while
thinking about this definition is that having ableist thoughts (I admit
readily that I know I have them from time to time) automatically makes
the disability a fatal(?) thing. I'm really not sure that fatal is the
word I'm looking for, but it's about the right strength for such a
description. Obviously, being physically, mentally, or emotionally
"disabled" in some way does not kill you, as fatal would imply, but is allows
the ableist person to believe that that person does not matter or is
dead to the issue. I really hate to think that this process occurs
within my own mindset, but I know it does - and I also know it's from
years and years of conditioning to not care. Society, family and friends, and media do this with many, many topics, but the active disclusion of disabling
conditions and fearmongering definitely is something that must be
actively battled. Just as battling the mindset that we are not doing
damage to the earth and that global warming does not exist - is there an
-ism for that? Geoism perhaps?
But the battle for
conservation is a public battle.. it is taken up in boardrooms, at
public rallies and protests - with heavy media presence, and at political
scenes including within platforms for elections. But ableist thinking,
reasoning, and actions are not battled publicly. There are definitely
battles going on, but in the background, and I think our discussion of
how the ADA was passed is a perfect example: things are being done to
advance an anti-ableist society, but it is being done in hushed
whispers, which allows ableism to continue because it's still something
that we shouldn't talk about. Talking only in whispers actually condones ableism because we're saying that although it might not be politically correct to act in certain ways (maybe), it is
okay to think that way. And that thought process condones and expands
ableism. Until we can disrupt that cycle, ableism will continue and we
will continue to fight battle after battle, putting band-aids on an ever-expanding virus.