Activism and Ableism?

I’ve heard a lot of people claim that feminists ought to be participating in some sort of feminist activism (I don’t remember exactly what posts on this site I saw this claim being made, but I have noticed it a number of times, and I’ve also heard it frequently in books and by feminists I know in real life). This is a sentiment that I agree with wholeheartedly in principle, but at the same time, I’ve been wondering exactly who may be excluded by this definition of feminism.

Here’s the thing. I’m disabled, in the sense that I have neurological issues that mean I will probably never be able to hold down a job outside the home, and I am extremely limited as to what I can do on a daily basis (lack of energy, need to avoid noise and bright lights, need very regular food and rest, etc.)

I do sign petitions and write letters and what not, and of course try to be as socially responsible as possible in my personal life. But none of this really fits the image I have in my head of activism. When I think of activ ism, it is, well, active. It involves things like community organizing, participating in marches and rallies, or volunteering at organizations you think help the community. It takes time, energy, and commitment.

But I absolutely do not have energy, time (I know no one has much time, but a small activity becomes very time-consuming when any activity requires several hours of rest before and after doing it), and the ability to commit to things. Some of the people I admire most in my life are activists who spend enormous amounts of time and energy involved in their activist work – but they are also the most energetic, healthy people that I know. So while I admire them deeply for the work they do, I also know that they are working from a certain amount of privilege (and that same privilege is operating when they look down on me for not joining them).

As I said earlier, I am wholly in favor of saying that feminists ought to be engaging in feminist activism. But I also know that such a definition of feminism necessarily excludes myself and all others who have similar – or more severe – conditions.

Am I the only person who perceives a preference for out-of-the-house, energy-consuming kinds of feminist work? I am fully willing (and would be quite happy) to learn that most people see writing letters and whatnot as perfectly adequate activism. I do have a tendency to feel a great amount of guilt about my limitations, so it is quite possible that I have imagined this preference from my own guilt and a couple of overly-judgmental friends. But if it is the case that work such as volunteering, organizing, and marching is considered the most important kind of feminist work (outside of what we do in our private lives), do people think there may be some kind of ableist bias in that preference?

This is my first post, and I’m relatively new to the blogosphere in general, so please be kind!

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