Friday, December 2, 2016

How We Write About Ourselves

I've gotten flack for referring to myself as a cripple.  I don't understand disabled people who prefer the term "differently abled", but wouldn't want them to stop using what terms they identify with.  "Disabled" is a decent standby word.

No one should force anyone else to use a specific term for themselves.  If you fall under a certain umbrella of words/terms/phrases, you should be able to use any that apply.  It means not taking crap over whatever people think is best.  You know what you like.

People who aren't disabled can't generally use the words you choose.  The umbrella of a minority group offers the protection to claim the words those outside will never have, even as an ally.  A stranger shouting "cripple" at me on the sidewalk is a jerk, no matter how many times I've said it of myself.
Disabled/neurodivergent writers are often policed for how we write about ourselves.  Not for just how we identify, but the topics we do (or don't) cover and what the slant is.

The surprising thing I'm seeing, is a fair amount of people criticising disabled/neurodivergent writers, are other disabled/neurodivergent people.  They aren't taking writers to task about inaccuracy or cardboard portrayals.  They aren't boycotting a disabled Jojo Moyes.  They are tearing down phrasing that isn't problematic, criticising how authors (legally, without spam) market their books, what topics are covered... because of what an able-bodied/neurotypical audience is going to think.

While a few rare instances might have a bit of merit (like leveraging disability the wrong way for sales) most do not.  We have become scared to let them (the majority) see inside the iron box of our lives and truths, the secret spots where it is vulnerable... or the fierce, barbed pieces.  We want our tales to garner attention (only a specific kind) then have them stroll away, satisfied by what they glimpsed.

I understand writers pandering to a market and watering down the hard parts.  I understand problematic portrayals giving people the wrong notion, and the disabled readers who won't put up with shoddy literature... from any writer.  I don't understand the need to hide when it isn't your story, to bash what is thoughtful and complex, honest and raw.

Fight when you need to, but figure out why you're fighting.  The opponent might not be who (or what) you're expecting.

Write (and read) on, my lovelies!

No comments:

Post a Comment