Comics and disability: XKCD and dyslexia, Natalie Dee and Tourette’s syndrome [I strongly recommend checking the comments on this one]
I’m not an expert in either of these disabilities. But I know enough about ableist jokes to recognize it when I see it: jokes that appropriate experiences and conditions without thought, without care, without any kind of redeeming value beyond a short laugh from a likely mostly able-privileged audience. And that is what both of the above instances look like to me.
I like both of these comics, and I’ll continue reading them. But this synchronicity of ableism was pretty disappointing.
The pressure to be a “Strong Black Woman” plays a huge role in the way many of us were taught to deal with stress. Related to the concept of a “Superwoman”, the “Strong Black Woman” appears to hold everything in her life together seamlessly. Yet, there is often nothing further from the truth.
Disabilities that directly rule out paid work** involve not only medical identity questions, but material consequences, too. Under capitalism, for example, everyone in the working class who is “able” to work — able to try to sell their labor power — is forced to do so in order to survive. People who are unable to work may or may not be sufficiently supported by governments and families, but regardless are often seen as burdens (unlike non-working owning-class people, whose mere existence and proprietorship are supposedly essential to a functioning economy). And so “disability” becomes its own system of distribution and class organization under capitalism. Welfare services help keep permanently unemployed disabled people alive (at least the ones deemed “worthy”), while both stigma and artificial scarcity of benefits help ensure that everybody else keeps working.
Well, I am not internet famous, and I don’t particularly aspire to be internet popular. So I am just going to say this, and I hope you will say it with me: not seriously considering your white privilege when you are repeatedly called on it, and calculatedly using cultural appropriation to make yourself seem marketable and “glamourous” is racism. And deleting comments that call you out on this behaviour is unsurprising, but equally shitty behaviour.
Almost a month ago, Worn Journal posted a condensed version of this interview on their website. It caused quite a stir, being linked everywhere from Jezebel, to Bitch Magazine, to Sociological Images. Today, if you haven’t already seen American Able somewhere in the blogosphere, you can catch it on the TTC in Toronto. And you can read the entire extended interview and article here!
70 books on feminism – note for ableist language throughout the piece. *sigh* And, of course, no books about disability & feminism. However, there are a long list of books there, and I know “what books should I read to get a taste of feminism” is a common question.