This is Why We’re Always on about Language
I’m not linking to the original source because the specifics don’t matter. This isn’t about the individual people or the individual documents involved. This is just an example of how the use of ableist language harms disabled people. Sometimes our posts on ableist language are on the abstract side, so here’s something real concrete. The ableist language is “insane” used to mean “this is bad.” The disabled people are me and everyone else who has been abused and has mental illness.
Some context is necessary, though. The first quote is from the comments thread of a post on intimate partner abuse. More specifically it’s about the way people outside the abusive relationship contribute to the abuse. Even staying “neutral” or “not getting involved” contributes to the abuse: when power is unequally shared among people in a relationship, staying neutral is siding with the person with the most power. But much of the time people don’t stop with that much. They actively side with the abuser. (The reasons for this is a subject for another post. Graduate degree dissertations. Books. I’m headed in a different direction right now.)
One of the commenters expressed disgust with the people who’d taken the side of the abuser and ended the comment with:
How insane is that?
Here’s my reply.
It is appalling, frustrating, disappointing. It makes me want to cry every goddamn time I see it because I know my abusers are fine upstanding successful people and I’m fucked up and broken and poor.
It is not insane.
I am insane. I have had delusions and paranoia and hallucinations. There are parts of me I do not talk about ever because I am deeply ashamed of them: what’s wrong with me that this is in me? How can I be this fucked up? I spend every day working on not killing myself because the parts of me that hate me and want me dead never shut up.1
I would like, please, to not have to be the metaphor for abusers and their abettors as well as their victim. I carry enough shame already.
This is why we talk about ableist language. It’s not because we hate fun. It’s not because we have no sense of humor. It’s not because we want to take people’s words away.
It’s because we shouldn’t have to be the metaphors for our own oppressions.
- Unfortunately, none of this is even exaggerated. ↩