sticks & stones & words & bombs

I would first encourage the dear reader to take a quick peek at the Ableist Word Profile at FWD/Forward: it is relevant.

This post will be discussing harmful language & trigger warnings apply accordingly.

under the jump

remind me why my existence is valid.

So, Lee Wei Ling writes an article for the Straits Times. She does that every Sunday, nbd.

So, she writes about couples who cannot have children biologically. She talks about medical intervention, and also about adoption.

Her article is titled ‘When bundle of joy turns to sorrow’.

It is about how disabled children ruin your life.

Also, it is perfectly alright to speculate about how disabled children may be born of incest, especially if they are adopted.

Also, there is something wrong with birthmothers who have more than one of their biological children adopted out.

Also, since Chinese parents are more likely to give away girls than boys, adopted sons are likely to be defective disabled, caveat emptor.

What is this, I don’t even.

I’m so tired of this.

I like disablism with my morning coffee. Not.

by Weds.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, said Americans try to “solve our problems by ballots and not bullets” and any time there is “threatening debate and things of that nature, then it’s very dangerous.”

But Franks urged lawmakers not to jump to conclusions that Giffords’s shooting had any connection to the state of political debate in the country.

“We don’t want to give [the shooter] too much credit here, to somehow politically analyze this, [that] somehow he was making a grand political statement,” Franks said. “This guy was a deranged lunatic that had no respect for his fellow human beings and completely rejected any kind of constitutional foundation of this nation.”

Yes, because we can tell crazy people apart at a glance. And shear all the politics off this politically-motivated crime by blaming it on lunatics. Who have no respect for fellow human beings.

Maybe we PWDs aren’t even human beings. God, what a newsflash.

Mass Media, #allyfail, and Disability

by Wednesday.

Trigger warning for discussion of institutionalisation and abuse of PWDs.

You should read this Online Citizen article about the media portrayal of persons with mental disabilities, you really should.

What annoys me is the pathologisation of mental illness in Channel 8 dramas, something which is extremely common and which has irked me for a very long while already. Does anyone remember Joanne Peh’s character in 《小娘惹》, who went insane after multiple sexual assaults, ate rats, and tried to kill her baby? (Because there is no such thing as surviving sexual assault, in our media, either. One is a victim, never a survivor.) There was another drama, whose name I forget — it might have been the one with the English title of Love Carriage — where the antagonist suffered a psychotic breakdown after she was raped and disbelieved (because she was a slut dontcha know). Well and good, except that everyone tiptoed around her and kept trying to get her ‘cured’, and then she stripped in public. That’s what crazy people do. Crazy women, in particular. Their bodies are common ground.

Many of our Chinese TV dramas often portray psychiatric patients who are violent, harm people and are trouble makers. During prime time, these programmes reach out to about 1 million viewers and because of it’s mass appeal, it can sway peoples’ thinking. This does not help in any way to de-stigmatise mental illness- a growing problem here in Singapore.

I have also noticed that insensitive language is being used in many of the Mandarin programmes on Channel 8. By using the word, sern chin ping (“crazy), freely in both dramas and variety shows, it will hurt the patients who are trying to recover. I raised this issue in the Straits Times on 20 June 2005, but such insensitive dialogue is still be used. Why?

I can only agree with the article’s author, Raymond Anthony Fernando, on these points. It’s also a brilliant point to address the use of language, because ableist language is something that is hardly ever scrutinised in this country. For crying out loud, the Chinese term for PWDs is still 残疾人士。 (残 = spoilt/damaged, 疾 = illness/disease. Literal translation would be something like damagingly-diseased person.)

However, Mr Fernando also mentions in his letter that he is an ally, not an actual PWD. With this in mind, I want to take him to task for some of the other language he employs. He writes of his ‘wife who was first stricken with schizophrenia and depression‘. If that is the language she chooses to use in framing her self-identity, I have no problems with it; what I do have issue with is how Mr Fernando, who presents her as neurotypical, so casually uses the word ‘stricken’. Now, ‘stricken’ is something like ‘afflicted’. It posits disability as a tragedy, rather than a condition that many people manage and live with.

He writes that his wife is ‘recovering from this major mental disorder, and going on to lead a normal life‘. One doesn’t recover from conditions like schizophrenia and chronic depression, I hasten to clarify. Mental disabilities can be lifelong. Recovery is not an end-goal. Management is. It is fucking irritating when people treat disability as a phase that one must go through in order to — what was it? — lead a normal life. The wonderful s.e. smith capably tackles this patronising, disablist attitude in ou’s amazing essay Who Defines (And Controls) ‘Normal’? as well as in ‘Normal’ and the Dominant Narrative.

And the term that Mr Fernando insists on using throughout his letter? ‘Psychiatric patients‘? Not all of us are patients. Many PWDs are undiagnosed whether by circumstance or by choice. ‘Psychiatric’ is a clinical word, one that’s hardly preferred and shouldn’t be imposed on PWDs by an NT or TAB person, rather like — let me think — well-meaning, straight people using the word ‘homosexual’ with all its attendant pathologised baggage. Words. Mean. Things. Intent is not fucking magic, fwiw, and certainly not even with #allyfail.

So I, too, as an actual honest-to-God disabled person, want the media portrayal of us crazy folks to be fairer and not at all ableist, and I totally welcome allies getting on board, but, hey. Watch your words, or y’ain’t no friend of mine.

the long dark teatime of the soul

by Wednesday.

You know, Thursday, I didn’t realise that the only reason we have chronic depression is because we are insufficiently theist.

Or at least The Christian Post Singapore blithely reports that ‘Believing God Cares Cures Depression, Study Finds’.

Well, I never. Medical victim-blaming! My day is so cheered.

I don’t deny that religious or spiritual belief may help with any illness, mental health issues included, but it’s one thing to say that, and another to say, ‘A belief in a God who cares is the solution to depression, new research has shown.’

It’s one step from there to ‘You’re not cured because you’re not trying‘, where ‘trying’ means ‘attempting to be happy’, ‘medicating yourself’, or ‘believing in a deity’. It’s one step from there to Depression Bingo (transcript available here courtesy of adorianmode).

And, in any case, the original researchers only said:

The present study is observational; these results support, but do not prove that belief in a caring and concerned God plays a role in response to treatment for people diagnosed with depression. Persons with depression often describe using religion to cope. The results of the present study suggest that when treating persons diagnosed with depression, clinicians should consider inquiring about and providing support for this important resource.

In fact, they even suggested that depression may be made worse by the emphasis on religiosity that the Christian Post is advocating:

Another perspective on the results of our study is that low RWB scores might indicate a loss of belief or religious struggle (Fitchett et al., 2004) in the face of symptoms, which would add to a patient’s distress. If this is true, it is important for clinicians to assess for religious struggle in persons with depressive symptoms.

Source: Murphy, Patricia E., and Fitchett, George. ‘Belief in a concerned god predicts response to treatment for adults with clinical depression.’ Journal of Clinical Psychology 65.9 (2009): 1000-8.

Rally to Confirm a Social Structure of Ableism

Dear JStew,

I like political commentary. I like smart, witty political commentary. I like you and Colbert just fine.

And, hey, Rallies to Restore Sanity are great.


Sanity? Really?

So. Mob violence is insanity? Dog-whistling is insanity? Smear campaigns are insanity?

Violent partisanship = insanity. Got it.

I know what you meant, JStew, I really do. I know what you meant to say by insanity.

I know you didn’t mean to equate neurodivergence with evil.

But you did, JStew. You and your TAB network people are doing so right now. You’re making insanity a target for jokes, and a target for attack. And all the progressive people who go to your march and don’t question your language — you’re feeding them the idea that it’s somehow okay to be ableist as long as you’re suitably leftist and ID as progressive.

Which is so not okay.

Wednesday, who is ND

ND is part of who I am, thank you.

by Wednesday.

Trigger warning for discussion of mental illness. If you have any conditions (OCD, depression, anxiety) that are triggered when you’re reading descriptions, you might like to avoid this post.

I’m at the tail end of a sudden fit of depression, so I thought, perhaps maybe, I’d try to put it into words for neurotypical people.

I can’t speak for everyone who IDs as ND, of course. This is me, writing as me. But it’s not a voice that’s easy to find in the mainstream media, wherein every person with a mental condition is either demonised or infantilised. And it’s not easy to write this, but I’m going to go ahead and share, anyway.

Below the cut.