By Christopher Williamson
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 9 of VARSITY News.
Have you ever stopped and thought about what it is exactly that you are saying? This is a broad question, but the words or phrases which we use do have meaning and even if we believe they are not offensive can divulge on being just that. Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice towards people with disabilities. This takes place in the form of social pressures and abuses, but it’s also influenced by what we say.
The phrase, “Did I stutter?” has flooded the social sphere, with many using it as way of showing that they have not made any mistake in what they have said. Perhaps you have used this phrase, or perhaps you’ve used phrases such as “Are you blind?” or “Are you deaf?”. These phrases are almost exclusively used aggressively; they are used to imply that something is “wrong” with you. We forget that these phrases are incredibly violent in nature, not only due to the context in which they are said in, but in what they are undeniably referring to.
Are we forgetting that there are people with disabilities? Well the simple answer is probably no, but we are forgetting that these statements are creating a violent distinction between people with disabilities and abled-bodied and/or neurotypical people. When we say statements such as “Are you deaf?” or “Did I stutter?” it is saying that people with disabilities cannot either comprehend or participate in discussions. In some senses it says that these people do not belong and are isolated from particular spaces and discourses. These statements are violent and need to be revised by society.
Within society, people with disabilities continue to be discriminated against, whether it be for work opportunities or within structures of power, why further the narrative of social isolation through the conversations we have? It’s time to check the violent language that we use so freely in the performance of privilege.
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