How Do I Deal With People Being Ableist?

Feb 25, 2019

Anonymous asks, quote:

How the fuck am I supposed to refrain from punching people when they do or say ableist crap?

end quote.

It depends on the situation. If someone says something ableist like “your personality is so bright that I forgot you were even in a wheelchair!” the most brutal thing you can do in response is to ask for clarification. Nothing makes someone sweat like having to answer “what do you mean?” after saying something terrible. Ableist comments thrive on subtext and innuendo. By asking someone explain their comment, you’re forcing them to acknowledge and actually say the awful thing they really meant when they were making a “joke” or trying to give you a “compliment”.

Someone doing something ableist is a little more complicated. Context is important here. Did someone plan an event at an inaccessible venue, knowing you were coming? In that case, you have to make a choice: do you do what you can to make the space work for you, or do you leave? It’s up to you. I’ve been in situations where we’ve arrived at a restaurant only to discover there’s a flight of stairs. But, because the opportunity to go to this place was once‐in‐a‐lifetime, I climbed the stairs while my friends carried the chair. It was worth it. Other times, I’ve just said “no thanks” and popped into an Uber. Like I said, it all depends on the situation, who is involved, and how big of a fuck‐up the thing is.