The Danger of Flame Wars
I have been on fire for days now, arguing my case.
I am a feminist blogger, and a disability rights blogger. What does that mean? more or less, that I have a very autistic inability to let.things.go.
And, I should have. I should have let it go days ago. Most of the disability rights people trying to get a word in edgewise from the torrent of hate towards disabled people (in a thread about prenatal testing of all things) fled long ago, knowing that the infectious garbage people have been spewing would only lodge in their hearts, sap their strength, and make life more difficult. One would think that those involved with fighting sexism in all of its pervasive and subversive forms might be a bit more prepared to question their own assumptions.
Not so much.
Here is a summary of the 700+ reply thread that happened when Rick Santorum said “Women shouldn’t be able to abort or get prenatal testing because disabilities“, and Feministe decided to reply with “Women SHOULD be able to get abortions and prenatal testing because disabilities” and the outpouring of hate and silencing that followed:
What is Ableist Discourse According to Feministe?
Here is a wee example of some of my wasted rage:
I didn’t “make up” the billions of fundraising dollars diverted from services for actual living people with autism and funneled into research for a prenatal test for autism. There is a huge problem with the idea of “curing” autism, the infantilization of autism in “charitable” organizations and the media, and the medical model of autism and other disabilities that is incredibly harmful to real, actual people living with disabilities.
To have these degrading perceptions of disability parroted in what I’d like to consider a center of progressive and open thought is incredibly painful to me. To be told I’m inherently somehow disconnected with reality-gee, never heard THAT one before! Just because I refuse to accept that living with a disability renders me somehow outside the discourse on reproductive rights, just because I’m calling out some pretty damn ableist comments, does not mean that I’m making things up.
MY LIFE IS NOT AN ABSTRACT PHILOSOPHICAL CONVERSATION. MY LIFE AND MY HUMAN RIGHTS ARE NOT ABNORMAL, OUTSIDE THE REALM OF “REAL” EXPERIENCE, OR INVALID.
OTHER POSTER: What about aliens of human level sentience who can communicate with us and be like totally normal?
THAT is an abstract “angels on a pin” red herring derail.
THIS is a real thing that happens to real people in their real lives:
Ableism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities that is characterized by the belief that these individuals need to be fixed or cannot function as full members of society (Castañeda & Peters, 2000). As a result of these assumptions, individuals with disabilities are commonly viewed as being abnormal rather than as members of a distinct minority community (Olkin & Pledger, 2003; Reid & Knight, 2006). Because disability status has been viewed as a defect rather than a dimension of difference, disability has not been widely recognized as a multicultural concern by the general public as well as by counselor educators and practitioners.
Laura Smith, Pamela F. Foley, and Michael P. Chaney, “Addressing Classism, Ableism, and Heterosexism in Counselor Education”, Journal of Counseling & Development, Summer 2008, Volume 86, pp 303-309.
It is WRONG to frame a conversation about prenatal testing this way. It is WRONG to say, “women should have access to prenatal testing because children with disabilities=burden for women.”
Women should have access to prenatal testing because we ALL have a right to make FULLY INFORMED DECISIONS, whatever that may mean to US.
I’m really at the point where it is becoming clear to me that most people would much rather pigeonhole me as a “forced-birther” than examine their own privileged assumptions.
My problem is that it seems like so many people are stepping onto Rick Santorum’s dancefloor: HE wants reproductive rights to be about the (relative) value of human life, and it IS NOT. Arguing in favor of abortion access in those terms is just as bad as arguing against it in those terms.
THAT IS WHY HE BROUGHT THAT SHIT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.
AND I AM SO COMPLETELY ENRAGED TO SEE ALL OF YOU ARGUING ON RICK SANTORUM’S TERMS.
Now, I’m probably going to have to drop my Spanish Literature class. I was already 2 weeks behind, and planned to spend my weekend catching up. Instead, soul-crushing existential worth-questioning arguing with people I OTHERWISE AGREED WITH.
There are so many times that I feel torn between options. One option is to keep my head down, let people use me in their supercripple narratives, take what people are willing to give, and be a little mousey mouse who never says boo to a goose. The other is to waste my life arguing with people will will never take a damn second to question their own privilege or their vile assumptions about my worth as a human fucking being. People who can’t understand that THEY are the ones equating a fetus and a disabled person, NOT ME. THEY are the ones talking about a “potential child’s potential quality of life” as a factor in a woman’s PRIVATE AND PERFECTLY VALID reason to have an abortion. THEY are the ones saying “a woman should be able to have an abortion because disabled kids are such a burdensome pit of misery that never goes away, and how terrible is it that women are stuck with that instead of men?”
I am the one saying “women should be able to have abortions for ANY REASON SHE SEES FIT” and YOU ARE THE ONE SAYING SOME FETUSES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS.
I was told I was denigrating “real women’s lives” and “real women’s experiences” and that in the “real world” women have to make these choices-that I am trying to silence “real women”; also that I was “making things up about Autism”. I said that I hated the framing of the conversation, and that it was incredibly painful to me, to which I got “life isn’t all black and white, you’re trying to silence me, real women, real issues, blah blah.”
There is only one conclusion I can draw from that. I didn’t realize it, but I am neither a real woman or a real Autistic. Good to know.
It’s kind of like when Rush Limbaugh said that Feminazis(TM) “just want to be able to have sex without ANY consequences.”
Yeah, I do. I do want to have as much sex as I want, or as little, without any “consequences”. We’re in total agreement there. The problem is that we don’t agree at all.
Basically, Feministe pushed Rick Santorum out of the way so THEY could shit on my face instead.
Ironically, the title of the article that I was posting in was entitled Absolute Truths.
And what am I left with, really? A unbelievable tension headache, not a lick of writing (at least not towards my degree) done, and a sinking realization I haven’t actually eaten anything today, other than the disdain of the privileged for the oppressed.
I’m speaking on a panel on the 19th for a Women’s History Month Event (subset) Women With Disabilities. I hope to synthesize this emotionally painful mess into something that can reach out to people and change their minds. Because real life is not the fucking internet, and I’ve been much more effective in my ACTUAL activism, as opposed to my internet activism. I think I just need a break.