It’s Blogging Against Disablism Day! There are many many awesome posts linked there, with more being added constantly! GO CHECK IT OUT.
So, as you may have noticed, I haven’t posted in a while. There are a few reasons for this–sometimes life gets in the way, stuff like that. Some reasons I’m pretty sure I haven’t even articulated to myself.
But there is one reason, one in particular, that I want to talk about in this post. And that is that I have, frankly, been nervous.
Here’s the thing. I am, very much, a small-time blogger. The most hits I have ever gotten on any one day is in the neighbourhood of two hundred and fifty. When you’re talking blogs? That’s not a big deal. Really. It’s not. But despite that, I have gotten some…pretty unpleasant backlash in response to some of the things I’ve written.
I’m sure those of you who are bloggers know what I’m referring too. I’m too sensitive. I’m obsessed with finding offense. Gratitude is obligatory. People mean well, I should just let it go. And more, that I can’t or don’t want to link to (on account of it not making through mod, or being something I don’t want to invest the energy to track down).
I’m not too badly hurt by these comments, and I know many other people have it far worse. But they do inspire in me a certain reticence; a certain unwillingness to engage with some topics. And [here is where I finally manage to get on-theme] a lot of these topics have to do with me personally, and with my relationship to disability.
Let’s take an example. Something I’ve been considering writing about, but so far have put off. Last week, my counsellor suggested the possibility of my being depressed. I actually brought it up to her, because of my chronic melancholy and a couple of other factors. She administered a questionnaire that suggests I am in range for moderate depression.
This is normally something I would consider writing about. It’s personal [I love personal!]. I can tie it to larger disability-related conversations [I love those!]. It’s interesting [Yay!]. However, I didn’t write about it. And I can tell you exactly why, too. It’s because I was afraid of the responses I would get. Afraid they would be similar to the responses I got from a couple of people I mentioned it too offline, responses like “oh, I get bad moods too!” or “I think these things are overdiagnosed” or “you want attention!”.
Because I can’t handle responses like that. I’m extraordinarily tired of them. They are not productive and they are not welcome, and they are, therefore, not something I want to have to deal with on my blog. And I was concerned that would happen if I wrote about certain topics. I still am, to be honest; I’m just trying to push through it.
Because, you see, I know what those responses are. They’re an attempt to silence me. Not necessarily consciously so, but that’s their effect. And they have been used to that effect against people with disabilities the world over, likely word-for-word. They are akin to tactics used against, to pick another group I’m part of, queer people. You can draw a direct connection between “you’re making it up for attention” and “I’m fine with gay people, but why do you have to flaunt it?”. You can see the similarities between “I know how you feel” and “I think everyone’s a little bisexual, really”. These are patterns that occur over and over again, used against every marginalized group.
They are a way of telling us our concerns don’t matter, our struggles are less real. They’re incredibly pernicious, as a lot of the time they can masquerade as genuine concern. And they’re a big part of the reason I haven’t been saying much recently.
Because when the things you say are used against you, the impulse is to say nothing at all. But that’s exactly why it’s so important to resist–marginalized voices are valuable. Our experiences matter. And given the enormous pressure against our speaking up, sharing our experiences can become a really monumental form of resistance. It doesn’t seem like much, but sometimes it’s the smallest battles that count.
Speaking up, that alone, is a way of fighting ableism. Of fighting any form of oppression. And I think it’s important not to lose that.