Feb. 1st, 2011

voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
Ugh, I want to engage, because I used to really like Sady Doyle until several months ago when she did another pretty huge (but more private) ableism fail around mental health issues and hurtful language, but I just came out of a meeting that was several hours long and involved yelling and I just need to cry and go to sleep and not dedicate any more brain space to toxic, entitled people and fucked-up dynamics of privilege and marginalization from folks who should goddamn well know better.

Maybe I'll have something to say tomorrow.
voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
EDIT: Okay, so, in my own privilege, there's a phrase I used in here that's pretty ableist itself (comes from mocking folks with developmental dis/abilities, which is SO SHITTY). I'm erasing it, not because I want to pretend like the fuck-up never happened - it did, and was awful, and I'm so sorry - but because I don't want to leave something in that's hurtful to people. Thanks to bulhana for pointing this out to me. I'm really, really sorry about it and won't use that phrase again.

I want to be clear here, because you seem to be unclear.

You should, undoubtedly, take care of your own health. But

There is no "but". People should take care of their own health. But is where you get into policing other peoples' abilities, and you do it again

If your response to this is debilitating, of course you won’t do it. That’s understood. If you can’t do something, then you can’t do it. But

and again

I cannot speak to anything else that might be covered under “disability,” because I don’t experience those things. But

and again

you should take your own health and abilities into consideration, judge wisely, and if it’s impossible, don’t do it. But

Is it so hard for you to say, People should take care of their own health. If your response to this is debilitating, of course you won’t do it. That’s understood. If you can’t do something, then you can’t do it. I cannot speak to anything else that might be covered under “disability,” because I don’t experience those things. you should take your own health and abilities into consideration, judge wisely, and if it’s impossible, don’t do it.

You own personal experience is legitimate. For you. It is not a qualifier for statements like "You should take care of your own health". That is not okay.

You have belittled people with debilitating anxiety (that is, people with debilitating anxiety that is debilitating in ways that differ from your own) with phrases like, This isn’t about you: This is about the fact that our level of commitment will match our impact and the worst that happens is that you stammer and feel bad and hang up the phone and You’re more powerful than your fears are. This is the problem with platitudes like these; they sound encouraging on their face, but they are really about denying the legitimacy of any kind of difficulty.

Like this:

I share the specific obstacles people are talking about, but this is not as scary as it looks, and it’s actually very easy and possible, so while I’m not there and can’t tell you how debilitating your fears are, you also don’t know how debilitating they are until you try to overcome them, and I believe the vast majority of people dealing with anxiety around this are going to be able to overcome it

I mean, this is just so loaded that I have to break it down. First you imply that you are, in fact, qualified to speak to other peoples' experiences, because you share the same obstacles as them. (Note: you do not know this.) Then you dismiss fears as baseless because it's actually very easy and possible. THEN, after you've dismissed peoples' fears about their anxiety making this potentially harmful for them with stuff like it's not as scary as it looks, THEN you claim that I'm not there and can't tell you how debilitating your fears are which you IMMEDIATELY FOLLOW UP WITH MORE DISMISSAL: you don't know how debilitating they are until you try.

Sady, do you know how many times in my life I have been told to just "try"? And you know, I am not a stranger to doing things that are scary. I don't think most people with mental health issues are. People are clearly communicating to you that they know their boundaries, they know what they can and can't do; where we get into "how fucking DARE you" territory is this, where you deny this knowledge, you specifically say that we don't know how debilitating our issues are, UNTIL WE TRY as though TRYING is something that OMG NEVER OCCURRED TO US BEFORE.

Seriously: how fucking DARE you. And I say this, whatever this means, as a "highly functioning" person with mental health issues who actually does quite a lot of visible activism in my own life: how dare you.

Finally, you finish with, I believe the vast majority of people dealing with anxiety around this are going to be able to overcome it, which implies that those who can't overcome it are outliers and exceptions to the rule. Yes. Most people with severe anxiety already feel this alienation. Thank you for clarifying, Sady Doyle, that we are not "normal".

I, for one, totally needed that, just in case I wasn't aware, as I struggle with my own anxiety in my own activism, that if I fail to be the "good" mentally ill person valiantly overcoming their personal obstacles, people will see me as an outlying freak.

I don't want to project shit onto you, Sady, which is why I've focused on the impact of your words and not on your actual intentions, which are probably good (although: not magic!). But I think that you need to do a lot more self-education and reflection before you ever speak about mental health issues on a level larger than your own personal experiences again. Speaking to your own experience is one thing, which you should do. This is entirely another, and it is fucked up.

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voltairine

May 2011

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