Ableism is not a list of words
I know. This is a very controversial topic right now but hear me out. Because I am disabled and I am frustrated with what this site has turned ableism into. Nothing more or less than a list of words to be avoided . Tumblr informs me that that is all I have to face and struggle with every time I leave the house. I really wish a simple list was all ableism was. I do. But Why aren’t we focusing on the real culprit here?
Ignorance. Ignorance that tumblr is spreading because they refuse to talk about the real issues. How about the unheard of concept that people with mental disabilities are not stupid! And you know what? Not one single time in all of these lists floating around have I seen someone say that. No, instead we are told that you should not use the word because the mentally disabled should find it hurtful and offensive. Excuse me? These lists have spread all across this site and back. Lists informing everyone that the first thing you should think of when you think of the mentally disabled are the taboo words “stupid” and “dumb”. And no one seems to understand how problematic that is. How you all have single handedly put that label on people by claiming to fight against ableism. Let me instead give you something new to think about. People with mental disabilities are NOT stupid and that word has NO place being used that way. Trying to turn it into a slur? That will never happen. It is a common part of our language. It’s not going away. All you have done is told people that they have a new set of words that should hurt them every time they hear it and made an association so that the first thought when someone hears that word is now the disabled, creating new prejudice and more ableism than before.
Why are you focusing on words instead of teaching that not everyone in a wheelchair is paralyzed? Every person who has ever needed a wheelchair knows all too well that this is a very serious problem that tumblr surprisingly shys away from. And what about the fact that just because you see a person walking in a store or down the street, you cannot assume they do not have a chronic and/or invisible illness? These are some mind blowing topics right? Things that might really educate some people about what ableism is help help limit the prejudice and fear that people face every single time they leave their house.
Ableism isn’t a list of words that some able bodied and minded people put together to inform the disabled what they should and should not find offensive. Ableism is maintaining ignorance and ignoring the real issues.