So about advocacy vs. self-advocacy. I don't really like the term self-advocacy. I think in one of my blogger profiles I have "not self-advocacy" listed among my interests. Why don't I like the term self-advocacy? Because I am not a self-advocate.
For example, when I was five I broke my leg. I was a talking person who had two parents and a caregiver, but it took a whole day before anyone realized my leg was broken. My personality hasn't changed much since then. I don't really know why I am not a self-advocate, but I'm just not.
A problem I have with the word self-advocacy used in a political context, which was pointed out by someone in comments at the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, is that it implies the advocacy of disabled people is always very specifically about ourselves. It also strikes me as some kind of weird attempt to avoid saying disabled person, as per fucking usual. "Some parents of children with disabilities talk to SELF-ADVOCATES!" No, dude. Some parents of children with disabilities talk to people with disabilities. It's not some kind of obscure political group and/or cult.
I'm just someone who talks about ableism and happens to be a disabled person. I mean, it's not this totally disconnected "I write about ableism and if you must know I happen to have a disability." I think I notice and care about certain things because I am disabled, and that affects the way my writing is. But my disability doesn't equal my writing (or my advocacy if you want to call it that) and it always bothers me when someone seems to be interested in my writing because I have autism and not because of the content.
Also, as I've said, I just am not a self-advocate. It's a personal problem. People who can self-advocate but can't write a blog have a different set of abilities from me.
For months I have been intending to write about a guy I used to be staff for. Let's call him Ron. I don't know if any of my former coworkers read this blog, but anyone who worked with Ron will know who I'm talking about when I say that his writing is really hard to decipher and would not be served well by the blogging format. I also don't think he could have an abstract conversation about social justice.
But anyone who has worked with Ron has had this experience: you're on break, or you're walking by on your way to support someone else, or you're brushing your teeth in the morning and this really distinctive voice comes out of the stall: "Good morning Amanda. Would you like to wipe my butt and spray deodorant under my arms?"
I always found it hard not to reply: "Fuck yes!" Not because I have a big attachment to wiping people's butts but because someone like Ron is a real hero to me. So many people go through life not asking for what they need. I remember being awed when a blind hallmate walked into my dorm kitchen and said, "Are any of the burners free? Which one? Am I putting the pan on the right one? Okay, can someone give me the spatula?" Something I feel like I'd rather die than do--which, I'm sure, is part of the problem. So many people go through life not asking for what they need that I know the revolution, when it comes, will owe at least as much to brave people like Ron as to speechless but talkative people like me.