exor674: Computer Science is my girlfriend (Default)
[personal profile] exor674
I apologize if this offends anyone, it is not meant that way, I promise...

Why is there an expectation to avoid subjects that might bring up somebodies disability?

If someone has chronic pain, why is it expected to avoid slang like "it won't hurt to..."
If someone can't walk, why is it expected to avoid subjects like "I took a long walk in the rain today"
If someone is deaf, why is it expected to not talk about the new music artist you found or the concert you went to last night?

If somebody has a disability, why is it expected to treat them differently in the way you would converse with them? (by converse I mean communicate in a way the person in question can parse and understand)
Why is it expected to treat them differently? (yaknow, except accommodations like not requesting somebody in a wheelchair to grab a box off the top shelf -- that kinda "treat differently" makes sense)

It seems to *me* that this kinda a form of discrimination against people with "disabilities"... Treating them differently just because they have X. I get if the specific person asks you to avoid the subject... I just don't get it as an up-front expectation.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-25 08:07 am (UTC)
sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)
From: [personal profile] sophie
(disclaimer: I don't have fibromyalgia, nor am I deaf. I have friends who are, though, and so I'm drawing on what I know.)

Other than the first example you gave ("It won't hurt to..."), I agree. I actually didn't know it *was* expected to do that.

With the first one, though, it could *very* easily show your privilege if it was aimed towards the person in question ("Oh, c'mon, it wouldn't hurt for you to try this."). Not having chronic pain means not having to worry about that sort of thing, and it comes across as "Well, everyone *else* can do this; why won't you?" without realising that something *might* hurt for them.

It's different if you're aiming it towards yourself, of course - "I guess it couldn't hurt for me to try." In that case I agree; don't stop yourself from saying it because it contains the word 'hurt'.

As for the third, while I agree that, as stated, it's fine to talk about the concert you found, it's probably subject to a few caveats. I think it's possible that a lot of deaf people would probably get sick of the assumption that they can hear (another function of privilege), and as such, somebody might be on the edge if you start talking about a new artist, for example. So unless they knew me well, I probably wouldn't talk about it.

Of course, it differs based on the mode of communication. If you're signing to someone in real life, it's a lot more obvious that you *know* they can't hear, so I probably wouldn't have any qualms in signing it. It's in text-based modes of communication - text messages, IM, IRC, etc - that would be worse, since text has a way of making these things disappear, which can be both a blessing and a curse. (To anybody who feels differently - please let me know, as I'm not deaf and thus can't know this for sure.)

What do you think? Is *my* privilege showing here? (Hey, I make mistakes.)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-25 09:09 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
I don't have much insight about those things. But I do know that if someone a good hundred or more pounds lighter than I am stands next to me and wails about how fat she is, I really want to stab her in the face a bit.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-25 05:37 pm (UTC)
zorkian: Icon full of binary ones and zeros in no pattern. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zorkian
I spent a while being poor as a teenager. For a while, my family of five lived on $18,000 a year, we all slept in one room in a falling apart house with little heat and no insulation. We bought 50 pound bags of oats and other beans and 6 out of 7 days, we had oatmeal for breakfast and some sort of lentil soup or other stew for dinner. Go out to eat? I think we did three or four times that year.

To this day, I have issues with people who have lots of money and take it for granted. Really. I don't want to hear about it. It may be "just normal conversation" but if someone were to stand there and bemoan that their yacht broke down again, I am very likely to, as Azz said, want to stab them in the face. Even though now, I'm fairly well off, and that part of my life is but a small memory.

I always expect it's the same. Sure, it's probably OK to talk to your friend who can't walk about how you were running the other day... but there's pretty much no way that your friend will be able to avoid thinking about "if only I could run". IMO anyway...maybe some people are better at it than me, but I can never stop from thinking "if only I had grown up different" and that just puts me in a sad mood.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-25 06:36 pm (UTC)
leora: A girl in a garden on a swing. The setting is dusky and somewhat fantasyish. (reveries)
From: [personal profile] leora
I think there are a few key issues.

First, it's annoying when people make assumptions, so the rules are different when discussing yourself versus talking about someone else. If you're talking about yourself and saying, "it won't hurt me to do that" or "it's easy for me to read that sign from here" or whatever, that's less likely to be annoying than if you tell someone else what they can do. It's really annoying to be told what you can do when the person is wrong. So, if someone else says, "you'll easily be able to see the building once you get off the train" well, that can be an obnoxious assumption. And even worse if they have no vision at all. Likewise, telling someone else that a place is easily affordable rather than telling them the price range is really annoying as "easily affordable" is highly variable.

Next there is rubbing someone's face in it. This isn't likely to be an issue if you just say something like, I'm really enjoyed my trip to the art museum. But if you're regularly discussing the stuff you do and the other person can't, well, then you may want to ask them how they feel about it. Personally, I just accept it, because if I asked my friends to not tell me things about their activities that I can't do, then there would be hardly any communication at all. Sure I get envious now and then, but I can handle it. And my disabilities are so extreme that it would destroy most ability to have a conversation. For example, you couldn't talk about school, work, sports, going for a leisurely walk, working through interesting math problems, playing on swings, riding most rides at an amusement park, leaving the house on a regular basis, etc. It just becomes ridiculous. I accept that life goes on for other people, and I don't want to be entirely cut out of it, although I don't really have the energy to be much a part of it.

Finally, there are metaphors. Different people with disabilities have different feelings about this. Most blind people will find it more annoying if you avoid expressions like, "Nice to see you again". But most other disabled groups seem to dislike these. So, saying that something is "lame" to mean it's bad or pathetic is disliked by some people. Similarly calling someone or yourself a "spaz" or a "retard" is often considered rude (unless you actually are spastic, but don't call someone who is a "spaz"). Me, I turn a blind eye toward most of those things. But some people dislike using disabilities as metaphors for badness or ignorance.

Honestly, I'm going to think, "if only I weren't disabled" whether you actively state things you can do or not. So, I'm not too worried about being reminded that I'm disabled. I'm really not about to forget. And I do try to focus on the good aspects of my life. Disability sucks, but it didn't remove all of the goodness from my life.

On a side note, the first issue means that really it should be taken into consideration when talking with anyone. What's annoying isn't that someone didn't know I was disabled when they assumed that I could do something, but that they regularly assume that everyone is as able-bodied as they are when they talk. I want people to not make that assumption in general. To not assume they know what someone else can or can't do. To say things like, well, it's 4 blocks away and I consider it easy walking distance, you can decide if that's a comfortable walking distance for you. Rather than people saying, oh, it's definitely within walking distance. "walking distance" is an annoyingly variable concept, much like "reasonably priced" or "affordable".

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-25 10:47 pm (UTC)
leora: a statue of a golden snake swallowing its own tail. (ouroboros)
From: [personal profile] leora
Throw out the never ask questions rule. That's a crap rule. However, you may want to learn to ask, "May I ask you something about your disability?" The key thing I've seen in disability communities is that people don't want to feel like they are obligated to explain. The explanation may be long and complex, and they may not feel up to going through it again. However, most people with disabilities are okay explaining things most of the time. If you're willing to see if they feel up to a question, and also willing to accept, "Actually, that's really complicated." or "I don't want to go into that" then generally asking is the best course if the issue is coming up. Just don't act as if you're entitled to an answer and you should usually be okay.

As to offensive words like "spaz", well, you won't know every offensive term. I have found terms that are racist when reading through lists of such things that I had absolutely no idea had racial connotations. I think the best course is to just accept that you'll mess up sometimes, but strive to remove such terms when you can. For example, I have removed "Indian summer" and "gypped" from my general usage, since both have offensive roots.

The problem with "spaz" is that it does refer to a medical condition and those who have that condition usually hear it as an insult. ~They~ know what it means. The problem with "lame" is that the root is to deliberately imply that this thing is worthless or bad just like someone who can't walk very well. The history of how people with disabilities have been treated is really, really bad. It wasn't that long ago that lots of them were forcibly sterilized and/or systematically murdered. To this day people with disabilities get all sorts of bizarre and often condescending treatment that implies they are not a full human being. With such an environment, it's easy for those implications to be read into things. So even though you personally mean well, it won't necessarily come across.

And I do think you can say things like, "I see what you mean" or "It won't hurt for me to do this", but I do think telling someone else doing something won't hurt them is likely best only if you have good reason to believe you are right. But it's also part of the general category that one should be careful telling other people how they work.

I'm especially touchy about that because my mother has a bad habit of just making statements about how I feel about something or my reaction to something just based on how she thinks I should feel. The most bizarre example was we went to see a movie together and when it was over she turned to me and said, "You liked that." It wasn't a question. We hadn't had a chance to say anything about it. She had pretty much no basis for knowing my opinion of it, but there she was telling me what I thought. I prefer not to assume I know how someone else will feel or think about something.

But in general, I don't think you need to be too careful about avoiding things. The rubbing someone's face in it isn't likely to come up much. It'd be more like saying things like, "Jogging is great exercise and everyone should do it." to someone who can't walk. They're probably going to get annoyed at the second half since it excludes them from being part of "everyone" (Oh sorry, by "everyone" I just meant normal people, you know, the people who actually count) or it states that they should be jogging and tsk tsk that they no longer can do what they ought to do.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-26 09:12 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
More exact parallels would be to say something like "Wow, I'm totally blind without my glasses" (if you're not, you know, legally blind without them), in the company of an actual blind person, or "Man, I'm so sore I can't walk" (when actually able to walk, just painfully, in a way that's going to get better, bonus points for walking while saying this), around a person in a wheelchair.

The slang "heavy" like "Man, that is some heavy stuff" referring to something serious/intellectual, from the 60s or whenever -- that does not generally rile me, as a box can be heavy; it's not, as [personal profile] leora mentioned downthread, derived from abusive roots.

"Phat" bothers me in my prescriptivist grammarian viewpoint. JUST WHAT.

I'm not really aware of how "fat" is used as a slang form, except as, like, a fat wallet, a fat pipe. Those are both positive references.

I'm not bothered so long as it's played straight, mind. There is a certain kind of jerk who should have had it beat out of them in elementary school who will use supposedly unexceptional terms with double meanings along with sly looks and pointed emphasis when they say them, and use that to be insulting while also being able to claim they were talking about something else entirely.


I think the root of the problem really is that there's a lot of offensively ablist/etc. language that's part of common speech, but it passes a lot of the time with people who aren't in any of the groups being insulted. If it wasn't part of common speech, there'd be no need to go out of the way avoid it with parties who are affected.

Lettuce and potatoes are not demeaning to people. People who are allergic to them might be inconvenienced and have the special food allergy hell, but there are not specific words/phrases that mean "oh that poor bastard's allergic to potatoes", and they're not used out of context to demean or say something negative about something else.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-26 09:15 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
Regarding conversation about activities: yeah. One of my associates has a friend whose depression is made worse at every mention of a thing she can't do; on the converse, there are people who like to live vicariously through detailed and enthusiastic descriptions of things they can't do. It totally depends.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-09-16 02:01 am (UTC)
nihlaeth: collective madness is called sanity (Default)
From: [personal profile] nihlaeth
It's not treating differently, it's people being afraid of talking about a disability, wanting to avoid that at all costs. Not wanting a confrontation with their own limitations or the fact that life isn't always great. It's for that same reason that I tend to lose friends. They don't know what to say, are afraid to bring it up and don't want to ask how I'm doing because they don't want to hear I'm in pain. My experience is that only people who have gone through something like this themselves can interact like 'normal' people with me, a few exceptions aside.

anyhow, that's how I see it

(no subject)

Date: 2010-09-16 02:12 am (UTC)
nihlaeth: collective madness is called sanity (Default)
From: [personal profile] nihlaeth
yeah, it's me again, I read again and I think I understood wrong, you were actually talking about if those subjects should be avoided or not. ehhm, oops?

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