What is Ableism?
“The belief that non-disabled people are automatically superior to disabled people”
In a nutshell, Ableism is the false perception that non-disabled people (or as I call them ‘Norms’) are superior to disabled people through either skewed societal belief systems or usage of language.
The many incorrect myths surrounding disability perpetuate Ableism in society:
- The concept that ultimately all disabled people want to be cured or fixed. It would be wonderful to find a cure for DMD but personally this hope is for future generations rather than myself. I’m not suggesting that living with a disability is easy, it is challenging emotionally & physically especially in an environment designed for ‘Norms’.
- The idea that death is better than living with a disability. Recently due to the movie ‘Me Before You’ the current disability awareness information is damaging the perceptions of the audience. Life with a disability is for living not to be pigeonholed as living the death of a happy life.
We live in a capitalist society so it is based on a hierarchal structure of power, meaning the smartest, prettiest or ruthless will make it to the top. This structure creates a disparity; the weak minorities (disabled people) are limited because they do not reach the definition of ‘normal.’
This brings me to Internalized Ableism, many disabled people have some ableist beliefs growing up due to the societal pursuit on what is normal? I’ve grown up with feeling that able-bodied people were more intelligent than me, this attitude was mainly due to my special needs school environment but college taught me that I’m the same mentally to others. My attitude regarding disability growing up was hypocritical or contradictory. If you have a physical disability it doesn’t mean you have mental or social problems, honestly I assumed the same ableist belief before I realised how wrong it was.
Linguistically, looking at all the ableist words was incredible & shocking because I use many of them. Moron, crazy, nuts, spaz, crippled etc . With fellow disabled people certain phrases/words are acceptable if in jest but never at someone.
Thank you for reading.