Eater of Trees

Archive for August 2011

It’s not ableist to acknowledge that people have varying ability levels.  I mean obviously come on that’s like, one of the most basic points of disability theory.

Intelligence is ableist because it isn’t actually a thing.  It’s a bunch of things, and often they aren’t correlated at all (See for example specific learning disabilities; like I’m completely unable to remember things in the short term and get distracted all the time and forget what I was doing but as soon as something is in my long term memory it is staying there forever.)

Like the best way to put it seems to be to realize it’s not really one specific thing.  It’s not even that there’s lots of ways to be intelligent—which there are—it’s that if you talk about intelligence we have no way of knowing if we’re talking about being able to remember facts, being good at processing numbers, having a wide knowledge base (like knowing twenty five languages, for example), or even readily using wikipedia so you’ll have answers to other people’s questions.

It is probably worth breaking the idea down into its component parts here, because really my ability to grasp complex concepts quickly and my tendency to become completely lost if a person uses weird organization or is at all poetic are very different things, and they’d both be considered intelligence or lack thereof.  Plus, the way people talk about it now it doesn’t even really mean anything because it’s super vague and, well, a ton of unrelated things.

The other reason it’s ableist is because people without intelligence, or specific facits thereof, are treated like shit and get their autonomy denied them and generally are abused and unaccommodated so they can’t use the abilities they do have (like, I learn really fast and have a ridiculously good memory but then I have no ability to focus and can’t read books very well, so I failed out of college.  Even though basically intellectual things are basically what I’m best at, and actually because of my other disabilities are practically all I can do)

It should also be noted that it’s not “intelligence” that’s privileged; it’s a bit more complex then intelligence is privileged and lack of it is disprivileged.  In my experience it’s really productivity that’s privileged; I mean i got forced into segregated special ed classes and generally had no material ever that was remotely appropriate to my ability level (either because it was completely impossible for me to do—I completely left the essay portion of the SAT I took blank—or because it was stuff I’d learned years ago and they didn’t know anything better to do then teach it to me six times in a row), but I was generally regarded as “intelligent”.

Certainly there’s privilege in there, including my access to an education and resources and not being completely written off as uneducatable for any of various reasons.  But in my experience, testing at the ceiling of IQ tests mostly resulted in everyone insisting I needed to be perfect at everything, and punishing me when I was merely above average.  That’s… not privilege.

(But insulting people for lack of intelligence? That’s ridiculously ableist; like there’s no way it could be interpreted as not.  So seriously stop using words like “stupid” to attack people)

So I took down my last post pending revision and expansion, because it had some problems that I’d like to address at some point, but because of some personal crises that I hadn’t processed as well as I’d thought–which, notably, the post was in response to–I’m not currently in a good mental space to discuss anything about how rape culture and my life interact to anyone but my close friends.

I’ll probably revise and expand it eventually, but I’m not quite sure when, it may be as much as several months, given how my attention span works.

[Trigger warning: ableist slurs]

Because the most condescending things I can think of are “Wow, you’re so fucking stupid,” or “Wow that’s fucking stupid.” Or even “You’re delusional.”

Like all of those are ableist as fuck.

Or, another great way to be condescending is to insist that someone is “childish” or “juvenile”, which, obviously, is great until you realize you’re saying that someone’s opinions are invalid because they’re like young people.

And even more so then just that these are comparisons to oppressed groups, this further are entirely condescending based on the idea that they invalidate people’s ability to have an opinion.  Or have any sort of responsibility for their actions at all.  After all, if someone is “delusional” obviously anything they say can’t be valid because it’s just a product of a delusion. Same with “stupid”; obviously the person’s statements can’t be valid, because “stupid” people do not make valid statements, because they can’t think.

Or if you’re saying someone’s actions are juvenile, obviously they shouldn’t be allowed to do something because of that, again, you’re saying “Your like a child, people should violate your right to self-determination to ensure you don’t do the choice you’re doing.”

So are there any good ways to be condescending as fuck without being ableist or ageist?

I’m leaning towards “You’re being oppressive so your opinion is completely fucking irrelevant” or possibly “your understanding of this issue is so fucking biased there’s nothing you could say on it that could possibly have any relevance”.

I’m wary of invoking privilege though to be condescending, not that privileged people don’t merit it frequently, but that privileged people often act like douchebags about the fact that “people use privilege as an insult!” which is mostly bullshit, we generally only do that when we’re extremely pissed at the world or when said privileged person is doing really fucked shit because of their privilege.

But I don’t particularly want to give them more fodder for their bullshit.

[Note: this post was written by my headmate]

Trigger warning: unpleasant sexual experiences

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