Pushing Back on Privilege – Ability.

While I do struggle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, I am very abled in many other ways. I’m able to access a variety of different resources or attend events because of the way in which our society is ableist and (usually unintentionally) makes things difficult for people with disabilities. And there are many forms of ableism that perpetuate society.

One of the ways to push back on your own privilege here is to realize the numerous ways in which places are often inaccessible for people who are differently abled. True accessibility is more than just wheelchair ramps – it’s quiet spaces if someone experiences sensory overload, medication, class note takers and recording devices for lectures and classes, having housing that is accommodating, among many other things.

Pushing back is realizing that Kylie Jenner‘s* Interview cover with a wheelchair is nothing short of exploitative because it reinforces the idea that people with disabilities are powerless and that most models with a disability can’t get work in the fashion industry but Kylie Jenner is edgy with that photo.

*Side note: Kylie Jenner is problematic in so many other ways, in part for how the media treats her but in her own way too.

Pushing back on ableism is also realizing that those questions we as abled people might ask people in wheelchairs are often inappropriate and invasive. And realizing that there is so much ableist language embedded into how we talk and interact with each other. It’s realizing that those infomercial style products like snuggies can be incredibly beneficial to those who might be differently abled and struggle with products meant for abled people.

This also means realizing that disability doesn’t always look the way we as abled people think it does. Disabilities come in various ways because there are many, many people living with different disabilities and not one experience is universal. Some of these disabilities are invisible – meaning that they might not look like the way we as abled people understand but that does not mean we get to judge people for using resources we don’t think they should have access to. We should work towards being allies, which includes respecting the privacy of others but also realizing that we aren’t experts in who is disabled or not.

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2 thoughts on “Pushing Back on Privilege – Ability.

  1. What really gets me about what you refer to as “ablist” society is the immense pressure people with chronic conditions (especially invisible ones that cause episodic pain, fatigue or similar incapacitating symptoms) to appear “normal” in order to stay in the workforce.

    There is no longer any safety net for US residents with disabilities and chronic conditions – if there ever was one.

    As a result, often an individual’s very survival depends on their ability to pretend to be normal. I personally have suffered from a chronic Claustridium Difficile infection (in my intestine) for 22 years. The main symptoms I experience are chronic diarrhea, episodic incontinence, insomnia and fatigue. Prior to my retirement, the struggle to turn up for work everyday (and appear normal) was pure hell.

  2. That’s so true unfortunately. We as a society (particularly the people who are abled) expect everyone to have the same sort of ability and shame in many ways when people don’t conform to that unrealistic expectation.

    That safety net needs to come back (or be created)

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