19 November, 2009

About being antagonistic and harsh and us vs. them

Because I was reading a conversation on a LiveJournal community for PWDs where people were talking about how non-disabled people don't mean to oppress disabled people, and disabled people shouldn't be so bitter and think of non-disabled people as the enemy, etc. etc. I also had a conversation with a non-ASD guy on one of my YouTube videos where he responded to my points about non-ASD people making a big deal of ASD people's needs by saying that I was overapplying my own experience, and most people are usually happy to help if you tell them there's a problem, etc. etc. And that I shouldn't group people and stereotype them and make statements about "what non-ASD people do."

So, okay, here we go: I'm a Christian. I love everybody. I'm also an apologist, not just in terms of Christianity but in general. If someone says something that I think is offensive, I will never, ever yell at them or be rude; I will try to engage with them and explain why I feel the way I do with examples and arguments that are neutral. In real life, sometimes I get overexcited because I like explaining so much, and it comes off like I'm angry because I'm talking more loudly than I usually do, but I'm not really angry. And on the Internet, I've had a few really cool experiences where people told me that I actually changed the way they thought about something and they appreciated that I took the time and energy to explain what I thought.

Also, probably because of my ASD, I do not spend a ton of time talking contemptuously about the way other people speak and what they speak about, or the way they dress, or whatever. Okay, this is probably a lie, but I don't want it to be. I guess that I am actually pretty harsh (inside my head and behind their backs) on people who seem to have a really easy time in areas where I don't have an easy time. On the other hand, I get along better with people who are considered "obnoxious," or have unpopular political opinions, than almost anyone I know.

And, finally, I think I have written before about how the idea of being myself or doing what feels right is completely foreign to me and I have no idea what the fuck it means. If I was able to figure out how to be myself, and was stupid enough to do it, I think I would screw up class discussions, possibly get arrested for suspicious behavior and/or violence, and definitely have people yelling at me out the windows of their cars every time I went outside. And some other stuff. I don't think about being myself very much. I think about how to be standard, or at least standard deviation. I think about how to get by, about how to fit myself into the structure of the world. And if someone doesn't know this about me, it's because I don't feel the need to tell everyone about it all the time, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

The oppression of people with disabilities is something I am very interested in and examples of it are very apparent to me, all the time. So I think about it, and write and talk about it when I get the opportunity. I don't think it is okay to do and say things that are ableist, and when I have a chance, I point them out.

But this doesn't mean anything about who I am as a person. For example, I recently had a conversation with a guy who was saying that intellectually disabled people depress him because they can't do anything worthwhile with their lives. I didn't yell at the guy or even feel internally that I hated him for saying something like that, because I didn't hate him at all. I liked him well enough. I like almost everyone well enough. At the same time, I thought that what he'd said was extremely offensive, and I did some writing and thinking about it later.

I am a reasonably nice person and I don't think that non-disabled people and/or ableist people are The Enemy and I don't spend my time walking around consumed by rage, and this is not at all inconsistent with the fact that I am very conscious of ableism and want to fight it. I'm mad at structures and ideas, not people.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this.

    (I actually find myself following the opposite pattern from you --- the more radically and strongly I disagree with something --- especially if I also feel very strongly about it --- the less likely I am to say anything. This is because I have a lot of trouble with language, particularly spoken language, and if I see I am going to have to explain a lot of really complicated, emotionally charged things to explain why I find something offensive or wrong, I probably won't try, especially if the person hasn't given me anything to build off of. I need a lot of help from a conversational partner, and thus I just cannot do adversarial forms of conversation like debate.)