Friday, August 5, 2016

Ableist Writers, Inaccuracy, and Double Standards

It's important to write the stories we want to see, the books not being written because the majority of people aren't comfortable with those unlike themselves.  It is just as important to our art, however, to write whatever we feel compelled to write.

Society is more accepting of disabled/neurodivergent writers when we stick to disability issues.  (This, of course, doesn't mean able-bodied/neurotypical people will actually want to read works written by us.)  It's more of a... silent permission.  But things turn a bit more acidic when we write outside our sanctioned area of expertise.

Criticism cranks up to full blast, our disabilities/divergences are dissected, and the discussion of our "ability" to write about certain topics all start coming up when one of us dares to write a novel with "normal" people in it.  We are also faced with extra infantilization ("Aww, you wrote a cute, little story") or dismissiveness.

But able-bodied/neurotypical people can write about whatever they want, even if they are inaccurate or disrespectful (unless other people like themselves call them out).  They're told censoring what one writes injures creativity.  They're told to rush headlong into whatever subject ignites their passion.  They are not often told to do research for minority characters like they would a location or certain time period.  Accuracy doesn't matter for an actual group of people but, dress a character in a gown twenty years out of fashion, and the world explodes.
I know just the sort of backlash I (a fat, disabled, non-Christian, woman) would get if I wrote a story messing up all the able-bodied, Christian male characters (maybe making them all sexist villains with orange hair) but made everyone else diverse and alive.  It wouldn't be good.  Hell, it already isn't great, facing some of those people (ableist fatphobes) in my daily life.

I'm just so aggravated with the double standards.  And the crappy representation.  And having to be twice as good as a writer for many people to see me as half as talented as a "normal" one.  I'm tired of being told I shouldn't write about something with no logical reason why not but someone else can offensively pen something and it be defended as touching free speech or unabridged creativity.  It's exhausting.

Have you had to deal with someone downplaying your accomplishments because you're disabled/neurodivergent?  Has a writer ever been so inaccurate or offensive that it enraged you?  Ever been called a great writer, "for a disabled person"?

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