Hedgehogs, I need your help. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we need our help.
A few days ago, my husband brought to my attention that the popular skeptic blog Skepchick was planning a sister site for disabled people. This was apparently due to a kerfuffle (and from what I can tell, not the first one) over ableist language being used on the site. Excited at the prospect, I applied. Only the find out that the very first conversation in the comments went like this, verbatim:
Hi Sara – what about a parent of one (or more) disabled/autistic children. Can they apply?
Sarah: Hi Nancy! That’s a good question– I’d say apply & we’ll figure it out from there. :)
I’m sure I don’t have to explain to any one of you why this bothered me. But I spoke up, pointing out that autistics absolutely do not care to have parents speaking for us and even linking to the blog for Autistics Speaking Day.
That post sat in the moderation queue for three days. When it finally appeared, no one responded to it. Not even Sarah, who is supposed to be running this site. I wrote another post, pointing out further why this lack of response was so upsetting. Aside from being accused of things I have not done and still having my concerns completely ignored, still I have not been properly responded to by the person who is supposed to be running the damn blog. Nothing. Not a word. As if my feelings and the feelings of autistics just don’t matter. I have, as you might imagine, withdrawn my application, because who wants to work with someone who doesn’t care enough about your feelings to respond to you?
So this blog is two things. First, it’s a warning. If this blog ever goes live, I caution you all to stay away from it. They haven’t even begun yet and already they’re showing oodles of ignorance when it comes to people with developmental and cognitive abilities and an utter lack of caring for our concerns. It very likely will not be a remotely safe or welcoming place.
The other thing is a call for help. Despite doing things like linking to Autistics Speaking Day, I’m being accused of speaking for all autistics, as if there aren’t actuallyhuge amounts of us who have very real issues with parents speaking for us. So I’m asking you, if you have the spoons, to please go there and tell them exactly how you feel about the idea:
This warning and call for help is for every and any person with a cognitive or developmental disability, not just autistics. These people believe they have so much right to disagree with us that they can just ignore what we say.
Well, I’m tired of being ignored. I’m tired of being treated like I’m so little of a human being that my opinions don’t matter at all. Skepchick is a big enough site to do so much harm to our cause, and I refuse to sit here and let them do it.
I can’t tell you how much pain I’m in right now. I want to crawl in a hole and never stop crying. I want to sit on an island and watch the world burn. I can barely see for the tears. I’m scared, because I’m little and they’re big, and part of me knows I can’t win. But I can’t not fight, either. This blog has become too important to me. It’s helped me so much, and I know it’s helped other people. I can’t sit in silence while people who are not disabled like we are presume to make decisions for us.
Because that’s happening every day and it’s hurting so many people. Even when I’m silent, even when I can’t cope, I watch. I see the things all of you talk about, the way you’re treated, how you fight and fight and people won’t listen and this…this was a chance for the truth to be heard, from our own mouths and our own fingers, and they don’t care. So I have to speak. I have to speak for all of us who have been abused, who have been killed. I have to speak because if I don’t, there’s no way to stop this cycle.
Help me tell them to stop the cycle. Please, I’m begging you, help me tell them that solidarity is not just for neurotypical people. That we are done letting other people speak for us. Please.
Despite being a long-term intermittant lurker on Skepchick, I never made an account to comment because, honestly, commenting on blogs I’m not 100% comfortable on freaks me out. And Skepchick, sadly, is one that I’m not 100% comfortable on exactly because of their history of massive fails on disability issues, particularly DD issues.
It looks like Skepchick is now being added to my ‘unsafe blogs to visit’ list. After reading through the comments thread, I’m honestly sick to my stomach at the blatant neuro-ableism, gaslighting, disrespect, unchecked privilege, willful ignorance, and dismissivenes displayed by Skepchick bloggers and commenters (particularly Sarah and Will) towards autistic people.
To those of you with the spoons to keep trying to get through to these people, I wish you all the best and will be silently cheering you on. Sadly, given what I’ve seen displayed in that comments thread and Skepchick’s previous history, I can’t say that I’m confident about your chances (but I’m still your silent cheer squad!)
And in closing: neurotypical privilege is being allowed and encouraged to speak over neuroatypical people despite a policy of ‘outsiders’ not being allowed to speak for minorities that they’re not part of.
No kidding. I don’t blame you for not wanting to get involved. The Almighty herself has shown up to tell me how “awful” and “ignorant” I am, for “assuming” they would treat developmentally disabled people poorly. Except that’s exactly what they were and are doing, so there you have it.
Like people are straight up telling me they have a history of this behavior and I’ve seen nothing to indicate that isn’t true, and have been in fact treated horribly, and then I get treated even more horribly.
Rebecca Watson, ladies and gentlemen. The fucking anti-developmental disabilities Richard Dawkins. The universe loves her irony a bit too much, methinks.
Oh hey so I was the person who initially called out their ableism. Which was really really bad, as was their able tears all over the place reaction. It wasn’t a “kerfuffle”. It was SKEPCHICK DONE FUCKED UP.
I wrote a thing about it, but it’s fairly vague bc I am still so triggered.
But yeah, they’re looking for their Token Disabled Friend. And they’re being just horrendous and any self respecting disabled person would not want anything to do with it, it’d be being a token.
I just…my jaw is on the floor right now. Are you seriously telling me that it was an autistic person who called them out in the first place and that their “solution” to the problem…involved ignoring and gaslighting another autistic person? For reals? I mean, clearly it did, but holy shit, the cognitive dissonance is staggering right now.
I am so sorry you went through that. So, so sorry. I know from my own experience just how vicious and abusive they are, and it is awful, and I’m not surprised you’re still triggered. I’ve cried to the point of dehydration today.
People, you should read sherlocksflatafflect’s post there, definitely. Because holy shit, holy shit.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Watson is being a bully who refuses to allow any comments that don’t agree with her.