Mar. 2nd, 2011

voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
A while ago I asked some friends of mine to stop using the word "crazy" as a pejorative term, as in, "I can't believe that person acted in such a disrespectful way, it's crazy" or "No, I can't go to that dance party, I'm crazy busy". Most of them are making a genuine effort to change their language (one person has replaced the word "crazy" with the word "Rambo", as in, "Did you see that last e-mail so and so sent to the collective? That is some Rambo shit") but it's a process, and every time they slip up in my presence they'll look at me and apologize, and it makes me feel really, really, intensely awkward, like it's all about me, when I don't think it is (if it was I probably would have not even said anything in the first place).

I'm really glad and grateful that my friends are trying to change their language and are accepting of my perspective here. I have good, supportive friends, I really do. But I am hyper aware every time a slip up happens that I Am The Person Who Has A Problem With That Word, and in a way it's more upsetting than it was when I just had to deal with hearing the word "crazy" used to mean unreasonable, ridiculous, offensive, etc all the time, because at least then I wasn't causing trouble for other people, which is something that I have some pretty deep-rooted insecurities about doing.

It's not even the first time I've called someone on offensive or oppressive language, but for some reason it's been so much more awkward for me than every other time previously. So I spend a lot of time wondering if I was wrong, if it's really okay to use "crazy" as a pejorative term for things that annoy or offend you on a daily basis despite the fact that it's also a pejorative term that is used to erase real peoples' perspectives and often to justify abusing those people as well; if I should just tell my friends to forget I ever said anything; if it really matters this much anyway.

I think part of it is that in my daily life I'm not really connected to any kind of movement w/r/t mental health. There's peer support, but that's more of an individualized thing; I don't think there's anything being done in my community to really challenge attitudes about mental illness on a systemic level. And on some level I feel like there's also this sense of, oh my god, ANOTHER OPPRESSION WE NEED TO ENGAGE AND/OR FIGHT SOMEHOW, AS IF WE DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH (probably more important) THINGS TO DO ALREADY - which is definitely how I feel about it, until I check myself and remember that there's a difference between creating a hierarchy of oppression by deeming some things "worth" fighting for and other things "not worth it" at all, and simply being honest about how much you can reasonably take on and subsequently not going to every meeting, speakers' panel, film screening, demonstration and community consult ever. ESPECIALLY because oppressions and battles intersect and thus cannot really be separated from each other, because they are all affected by each other.


I mean, I feel like it clearly matters in the context of an ostensibly conscious community. You can't have a conscious community that is conscious about SOME things but not others; intersectionality means that anti-oppression doesn't work that way. But on some level I still feel like it's just about me individually and it's not worth a bigger fight. Internalized ableism? I guess at one point I felt this way about survivor's issues, women's rights, housing and gentrification, etc too, and I clearly got over that somewhere along the way.

It's all a process.

I think that this means I need to connect more with other neuroatypical people for more of a sense of community and support. And maybe explain to my friends how burned out this whole "apologizing to Laura personally every time you slip up with your language" thing is making me, and ask them to keep working on it without making me feel responsible for it? I am worried about coming across as hell of entitled if I ask for that, though.

Still, a couple years ago I wouldn't have even TOUCHED any of this with a ten-foot pole, so clearly we're getting somewhere?

Baby steps.


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May 2011

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