A couple of months ago I tried talking to my best friend about why I find "Glee" ableist, which turned into a conversation about disableism in society. My best friend is a sociology major who always seems better at me at noticing failure around -isms. So I was shocked when she said she rarely sees disableism. Honestly, it really hurt--I see ableism every day. But what I had to remind myself is that ableism, just like sexism, racism, and any other type of -ism, can be easy to not see if you have that type of privilege (i.e. you are a TAB, etc.)
So here is a list of some of the places I see ableism. Because next time, I want to have a better answer than a look of shock and hurt. (This obviously isn't a list of all types of disableism, just a few of the things I experience frequently in my day-to-day life.)
I see ableism:
in the year it took me to make myself go to the Office of Accommodations at my university. And the fact it took me another year to actually start using my accommodations. I grew up in a society that told me that I had to be some stereotype of strong and using these accommodations was weak and bad. (Society was wrong.)
in what I call "the look of terror" so many people give me when they find out things about my health. Among other things, I strongly believe that if our society was more accepting about talking about disabilities, people wouldn't feel so bad or have so much pity when they find out about my health.
in the people, even friends, who treat me like a child. I am mature and very intelligent--being in pain does not decrease my age.
in friends who don't invite me to things because of my health. Seriously, being disabled should not mean you get to make my decisions for me. How exactly do you know what is better for me. Why do you get to decide whether I should do something that causes me pain.
in the campus that causes me pain. My campus, like most college campuses, is lit by florescent lights. Can you say ow! Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in my own room because it's one of the very few places not lit by florescent lights. Last semester I got so sick of being in my room that I took naps in my best friends room. Also, the chairs they have here hurt my back.
the fact that spell check is telling me, both here and in Microsoft word, that disableism and ableism aren't words.
in people's discomfort in talking about disability and health. It makes many people incredibly uncomfortable! I think that many health and disability-related conversations are considered taboo in our society, and they don't know how to react when you break it.
the invasive questions people ask. Just because I have told you I am in constant pain and we have talked for five minutes, does not mean that the next time I see you you can ask me my pain level. "How is your migraine today" is not the new substitute, for "Hi. What's up," especially if I barely know you.
the looks I get when people find out how many or what medications. And the assumptions people make about the type of person I must be if I have these meds.
in the lack of portrayals of disability around me. Where are the disabled models? Where are the positive portrayals of disability on television? (This could be a dissertation there is so much fail going on in this category, but I'm going to keep the list short.)