August 26th, 2013

red panda eating bamboo

language matters: "disablism" vs "ableism"

This is about how the word "disablism" makes more sense to describe "oppression against people who are labeled as disabled and/or the idea that disabled people are not as good as to non-disabled people."

The main way it speaks to me is in the bit about the continuity of life as ability changes. I still go back and forth about whether to call myself disabled because I didn't have a sudden change in what I am capable of; I feel like the same person except in certain "metrics" (how far I can walk, how much of certain meds I need to take, etc.).
ableism implies that this oppression is somehow related to ability – which it is not. Disability is a social category and its label is imposed on certain groups of people because of their perceived characteristics as un(der)productive.
using ableism makes it really easy for people to equate ableism with discrimination based on ability.
Words like "paralysis" and "disabled" are often used in disablist ways to talk about full stops but this is far from the way disabled people live our lives. If someone becomes disabled, their life continues and their body, while different (and possibly even painful or frustrating) is what allows their life to continue.
We all have able bodies. If we don't have able bodies we are dead.

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