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Ableist Word Profile: I Feel Your Pain!

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12 responses to “Ableist Word Profile: I Feel Your Pain!”

  1. Rosemary

    THIS.
    .-= Rosemary´s last blog ..Media Consumption =-.

  2. Adelaide Dupont

    I was reading on the Dabrowski Discussion group about the way we are socialised to show concern.

    It all starts with broken toes or stubbed toes. And how if somebody was in the playground you would say something.

    If the person was otherwise happy and all right, like in their faces, I would feel nothing.

    Is it in any way OK to be able to say, ‘I couldn’t imagine …’. That would probably be ablist language, in another context.

    Wittgehnstein is really good at this pain thing, and especially how inexpressible it can be in words, along to other people.
    .-= Adelaide Dupont´s last blog ..Running sheet for Key Concepts and Development: prelim and first draft, with pics and sounds! =-.

  3. NTE

    I am so with you on this – I really loved the explanation of bodily autonomy… I’ll have to remember that for the next time I’m trying to explain it to the more stubborn people in my life.
    .-= NTE´s last blog ..15 years and counting… =-.

  4. Kaz

    This phrase has never bugged me that much, possibly because I don’t have chronic pain. I do find it extremely annoying when people use it about things that are related to my disability, but that’s not because of the bodily autonomy issue but because they’re claiming to understand, relate and have similar experiences themselves when they really, really don’t. Which isn’t really the same.

    Anyway, this has given me a lot to think about, and a phrase to banish from my vocabulary. Thanks very much for writing this!

  5. Renee

    This I could not agree more. I think it bothers me the most when someone tells me how they know someone with my condition who can do various things pain free or are able to push through their pain. First they have no idea if we have the same pain tolerance or if we are even experiencing the same amount of pain. You are right no knows but the individual who is living with the pain and no amount of sympathizing renders the speaker with the ability to truly understand.
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..Sunday Shame: Halloween Edition =-.

  6. Simplejewel

    I do not identify as disabled but I do suffer from chronic medical conditions and personally, I take the expression to mean empathy, not dismissal. From my experience, it’s either incredibly empathetic or something that someone says to me when they are really unsure what to say but want me to feel listened to and understood.

    Whether it’s accurate or not, is another issue, obviously. But of all the “look-at-me-dismissing-your-experience” crap that I hear on a regular basis, “I feel your pain” is not one of them.

  7. poppaalphalima

    I hope this is not crossing the line or seen as defending ableism.

    I can see how definitely when you are discussing your own body and your own experiences, the phrase ‘I feel your pain’ is coopting and dismissive. But the phrase in the profile is only discussed within this context. Let’s say it is used about something different (tough marking professor drops your grade for a mis-quote – ‘X prof did Y to me, so tough man’, ‘yeah, I feel your pain’. Is this offensive? I mean do you consider the coopting of the word ‘pain’ for this purpose to be an issue? So if you witnessed the conversation re the grading, would you be offended by the use of the word ‘pain’.

    My question is – is it usage of the word *pain* which makes it blanketly offensive or is it just when being used to dismiss/discomfort someone whose experience you do not have. I’m not being facetious – I’m asking because it’s not clear from your post.

    Some of the words on ableist word profile seem to be ‘words’ (like the r word). Others seem to be *conversations* or *phrases* in a context which become an issue. I would like to think that I’m not enough of an arrogant asshole to start telling people how to manage their conditions but I’d like to know if my use of a word is offending them in another context.

    In other words, (if this isn’t abundantly clear) I completely and utterly accept your AWP and thank you for sharing it. I’d just like to ask a follow up question to define some parameters that I’m unsure of.

  8. Ariane

    The first time I heard someone use this phrase (fairly recently) it irritated me, and it didn’t even relate to a circumstance in which the claim was unreasonable – it was in the context of childcare dramas or some such, so it was about stress and inconvenience, not physical pain. The next time it was about a hangover, equally inconsequential. Oddly, I then started using it, despite it having annoyed me. I’m pretty sure I’ve never used it in respect to anyone’s actual pain – more in the context of anger, frustration or indeed, hangovers – but I don’t know why I started using a phrase that had grated on me.

    I completely agree that in the context of disability it is not just grating, it is … disrespectful and infuriating and well, you already said. I can see no good reason not to remove it from my public vocab – in fact I said it somewhere the other day and after it was said I felt decidedly uncomfortable about it. I’ll go back to whatever it was I used to say before this one popped into my usage.

  9. Criss

    This is an expression I’ve used in that “I’m using this cheesy expression” way, but the cases when I’ve used it have been mental/emotional “pain,” more frustration than pain. I started writing this comment to ask if changing the expression to “I feel your frustration” would be acceptable, but in thinking of how to phrase the question I’ve answered it myself. Even if we’re not talking about physical pain, I cannot know how something affects you. The same principles apply: even though you and I are dealing with the same childcare drama (because our kids go to the same daycare and have the same teacher who just left/got fired/whatever), the way it affects you will be different than the way it affects me, because you and I are different people and our kids are different people who wil react to this change in different ways. Maybe you can afford to go elsewhere for childcare, but I can’t; maybe you disliked that teacher anyway, so on and do forth.

    I can feel my frustration, and I can imagine yours, but I cannot feel your frustration.

    Thanks for these posts. “The thing is…words mean things. And flippantly going about using them as if they don’t is messed up.” I was trying to explain this same thing to my step-sister-in-law (yes, there’s a reason I mark every degree of separation between me and her) yesterday on Facebook. Words have meanings, and words shape our thoughts, our paradigms, our ideas. They have power. If “ZOMG, I didn’t mean it like that!” then don’t SAY it like that. Say what you mean, it helps everybody out.
    .-= Criss´s last blog ..Dear Biblethumpers: You’re doing it wrong. And making the rest of us look bad. =-.

  10. Bene

    Thanks for the post, Ouyang. Even before this, for reasons I can’t articulate well, I’ve personally been trying to shift to ‘I hear that’, which is sort of Americanised as a phrase but just…makes more sense to me.


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