the_sun_is_up: Panty and Stocking looking confused, with the text "What?" (psg - wut)
[personal profile] the_sun_is_up
So that last episode of MLP was pretty cringe-worthy, huh? Well compounding the cringe factor is the fandom itself, who are naturally lapping this shit up and trotting out every derailing tactic known to man when arguing with the people criticizing the ableism. Especially frustrating are the large number of actual disabled people who see nothing wrong with "Derpy's" portrayal and in fact think it's offensive that people are getting offended! People who say stuff like this:

I swear to god there is nothing that bothers me more then people who have NOTHING to do with the disabled community bitching about people being “ableist”.

Okay, I guess I was wrong, there's nothing problematic with "Derpy's" portrayal, and as an able-bodied person, I shouldn't be getting all offended over something I know nothing about.

But seriously, I don't what I, as an ally, am supposed to do with an argument like that. Only disabled people are allowed to get pissed off at ableist stuff? How the hell is that helpful to your cause? I'm always hearing people from minority groups (including myself!) complaining because the privileged majority can't be bothered to get off their asses and help fix things, but whenever an ally-type-person does get off their butt and try to help out, they inevitably get shouted down by a bunch of members of that minority group telling them to stop sticking their nose in other people's business.

So either I do nothing and feel like an apathetic jackass who's just enabling prejudice to continue unchecked, while hearing my disabled friends rightly bemoan the fact that nobody's supporting their cause, or I speak out against what I genuinely feel is gross ableist garbage and in turn get smacked down by a bunch of disabled people telling me I'm the offensive one for misidentifying what's ableist and what the hell would I know about what constitutes ableism anyway so shut up and sit down.

I mean, I'm an ally: I do only what you tell me to. I am here to serve you. But when you can't make up your damn minds about what it is I'm supposed to be doing, I get a little frustrated. And that applies to minority groups that I'm a member of as well: as a feminist, there's nothing more infuriating than having a bunch of women stand up and go "I don't see any problem at all with this obviously misogynistic thing, so you bitches need to just calm your tits! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go drink some of this delicious Kool-Aid." *glug glug* And for the record, I would much rather have a bunch of dudes getting misguidedly het up over stuff that isn't actually offensive than a bunch of dudes who don't give a shit and won't lift a finger to help.

It's bullshit like this that just makes me want to leave the social justice community altogether because what the hell is the damn point anymore.

Edit: And lol @ people saying "It's just a kids' show, lighten up!" Imma just quote the Nostalgia Chick on this one: "It's just a car seat, who cares if the belt barely works? It's just for my children."

Yeah, unless you're cool with kids drinking water with lead in it, you should not be uttering the phrase "just a kids' show."

Date: 2012-01-22 10:16 pm (UTC)
nenena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nenena
But then I have to wonder: how do I know when to speak out and when to keep my mouth shut for fear of doing more harm than good?

You accept the risk that when you open your mouth you may, as a privileged ally, sometimes be doing more harm than good. If you think that you're in the right and you have friends among a marginalized group who you're in agreement with, then by all means keep opening up your mouth and saying something. Just always be aware that because you're privileged about a certain issue you may very well fuck up, and when that happens, you acknowledge your fuckup and listen to the people telling you how/why they disagree with you. EVEN IF you have friends among a marginalized group who agree with your position on an issue. You can still fuck up about an issue. Honestly I think with this post you're definitely fucking up about the Derpy thing and I'm going to explain why in a minute.

The people I linked are basically implying that allies like me shouldn't be making posts like my "wow this is uncomfortable" post. They're implying that me criticizing that episode for being offensive is in and of itself offensive and that I shouldn't do it.

Uh, they didn't imply any of that. They outright said it.

Like I said in my previous comment, the Derpy/Ditzy definitely not a black-and-white issue. The first two of the three posts that you (rather dismissively, I might add) linked in this post here actually have REALLY GOOD POINTS TO MAKE about ablism and how, yes, it is offensive to a) automatically equate slurred speech and clumsiness with mental retardation and b) listen to non-disabled people banging their drums about ablism to the point where they're drowning out the voices of actual people with disabilities. You have to understand that this Derpy thing is coming on the hells of a looooong period of non-disabled dumbasses on Tumblr appropriating disability activism to rage about every instance of "lame" and "crazy" that they see on the internet and GODDAMN does that get exhausting to listen to, especially when they start lecturing people with actual disabilities about how they are WRONG WRONG WRONG to ever say words like "batshit" or "crazy" in their vocabulary.

These are positions that I think it would very much behoove you to listen to and respect, as you appear to be banging your drum about this issue without even considering the reasons why your/my interpretation of "Derpy" as a stereotype of a retarded character is, yes, in and of itself, pretty fucking ablist. Which is explained very clearly in the first post that you linked here.

Now personally I disagree with that person's argument, but I can definitely respect her position. Yes, it IS wrong to automatically equate slurred speech, clumsiness, and a cross-eyed face with mental retardation. Yes, this IS ablist. My personal position is that slurred speech + clumsiness + cross-eyed are so frequently presented as cartoon shorthand for retardation that who the fuck do we really think we're fooling here, but me feeling this way doesn't actually negate her point. I think this episode is bad because to me it's pretty clear how/why the show is mocking a cartoon pony with disabilities, and she thinks the outraged fandom reaction is bad because it's regurgitating stereotypes about retardation to argue that certain traits always automatically mean retardation. We're both right.

So what does that mean for you as an ally? For one, it means that you need to listen to and seriously consider the opinion of the tumblr posters that you linked. Not dismiss them and whine about how they're "frustrating" in your journal. For another thing, it means that you need to be mentally and emotionally open to the possibility that you're blinded by privilege and wrong about the topic. For a third thing, it means that even if at the end of the day you don't agree with those dissenting voices, you DO NOT mock them or argue with them in public. Remember that you are the privileged party here, and you. shouldn't. drown. out. their. voices.

As for the "people without disabilities should never comment on this at all" position: I hate to say this, but I can see where she's coming from. And as an ally you ALWAYS have to be willing to accept that there are members of a marginalized group who do not want your help - at all. Be aware of those people and their reasoning. Listen to them, because they have their reasons and those reasons are important for you as an ally to understand.

At the end of the day you can still be an ally in your own space or when engaging your fellow privileged people with a cluebat. But when there are people with disabilities saying that they're tired of non-disabled people commenting on a certain issue, at the very least you should take that as a red flag indicating that there are layers to the issue that your privilege may have blinded you to, and maybe you should step back and reconsider the facts before you make your opinion heard again.

But it feels irresponsible for me to see something like that episode and not say anything about it, especially when I see a bunch of other disabled people saying "yes, this is offensive."

If you feel that you HAVE to say something EVERY time, then you're going about the whole ally thing entirely the wrong way.

It is absolutely NOT irresponsible of you to stay quiet and listen when there are times that you have to stay quiet and listen. Ask yourself: If there are a bunch of disabled people saying "yes, this is offensive," does adding your voice to the chorus always help? Remember that the important thing is that the voices of the marginalized shouldn't be drowned out by the voices of privileged allies. If you really feel like you still want to support and contribute, please do, but you have to go into those situations already willing to accept the idea that sometimes you are going to fuck up and be called out for it.

Date: 2012-01-22 10:19 pm (UTC)
nenena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nenena
*coming on the heels

Date: 2012-01-23 04:43 am (UTC)
nenena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nenena
You're right, that is definitely not the best philosophy to have. But I think it helps to differentiate between two different types of Problematic Things to Call Out:

1. When a public figure or a piece of media says/portrays something -ist, versus

2. When a fellow member of a privileged group whom you are actually interacting with, whether IRL or online, says something -ist.

As an ally, the best thing that you can do is focus your energies on #2. That's always where you can do the greatest good.

That doesn't mean that you never do #1. But you can't do it all the time. We live in a culture saturated with -isms. If you called out every problematic thing you encountered every day you would literally NEVER SLEEP. And you should never let yourself feel that by not calling out something you're automatically aiding and abetting oppression. Guess what? You're NOT calling out every problematic thing that you see right now. I can guarantee that you're not. If you were, like I said, you would never sleep. And yet the world keeps spinning and you keep being, you know, a pretty good person. ;) You don't need to justify not calling out things to yourself because I promise you, you're already not calling out everything. And that's okay.

Honestly I think that the MOST important thing to take away from this is that no group of people - especially no group of marginalized people - are ever going to be a monolith. Guess what, people have different opinions about things! As a feminist and a woman I'm sure you've already experienced firsthand how fractured the feminist community can be, and every other marginalized group is going to be the same way. So as an ally, the most important thing that you can do is make sure that you're never talking OVER a person from a marginalized group, and if that means sometimes stepping back and NOT calling things out, then that's what it means.

Thank you, by the way, for being open to listening to my comments here and for putting up with me in lecture-mode. ^^;;


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