Follow Up on Disability Rights Dialogue

As many of you know, a group of disability rights activists organized to call us out on our lack of coverage on disability issues and ongoing problem with ableist language at Feministing (sometimes on the part of editors, but mostly popping up in the comments sections). Some ableist language that I used in this post was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I apologized, pointing out that I really don’t know enough about the field of disability rights and activism and want to learn more. And Miriam jumped on board to serve as another representative of Feministing who was interested in forwarding the dialogue about this intersection and it’s presence or lack there of on our site and in feminism at large.
We moved forward by scheduling an online chat between these activists, who meanwhile started their own blog (their abelist word profiles are really enlightening, as are their regular recommended readings, and fantastic general content), Miriam, and myself. It was a productive and affirming experience for me personally. This group of activists and bloggers communicated their suggestions with incredible clarity and coordination, and as it turns out, most of their ideas were things that Miriam and I were either already discussing or open to implementing. The summary of the suggestions appear after the jump.
One of our problems, related to this issue and others, is capacity. We continue to maintain Feministing without enough time or money to realize our full vision of what it should be. Nevertheless, it was empowering, for lack of a less overused word, to go through this process of being called out on my own ignorance, widening the frame to the larger issue of the intersection between feminism and disability rights activism, dialoguing with a bunch of awesome activists, and now I’m excited to implement and learn more.
The crew is following up with some suggested resources (readings and the like), so I’ll definitely communicate about that to the larger Feministing community. Meanwhile, we’re excited to have a model of how to deal with criticism that makes us a better blog, makes each of us individually better thinkers/activists, and moves the movement forward. Thanks so much to the crew of folks from all over the world who are engaging with us in this process. You, in a word, rock.
In terms of addressing the capacity issues that this (and other situations in the past) have brought up, we’re working hard at finding new solutions to deal with the volume and vibrancy of the Feministing community. A big part of this is comment moderation, which we’ll be talking more about new ways to strengthen our ability to do this. We implemented a new policy this summer, in direct response to similar feedback about comment sections, and we’re still evolving that policy. We’ll make sure to keep folks updated as changes happen, but you should expect to see more posts with pre-approved comments as one way for us to better moderate.
The other main thing that this particular engagement brought up is our ability to be a truly intersectional feminist website. It’s something we’ve struggled with before as we all bring different identities and expertise to the table. One way we open this up is the community blog, but we realize that’s not enough. We’re committed to continuing these dialogues to develop how all sorts of important issues that intersect with feminism are represented at Feministing.
The full summary of the suggestions from the group we engaged with appear after the jump. You can also see the transcript of our chat here.

And here’s a quick recap of our substantive suggestions:
* A concrete statement of the site’s commitment to intersectionality issues, to address what seems to be a popular feeling among commenters that the site is “Feministing, not SocialJusticeing.” Whether a joint post for site authors or another mechanism turns out to be the best way to make this statement was undecided during the chat.
* Guest posts from people with disabilities focusing on a wide range of disability issues. Talks with Patty Berne had begun before these issues were raised and she may do more guest posts or potentially contribute to the site. We clarified our desire to see a wider range of issues addressed than have been in the past 2 years or so, when the only explicit focus on people with disabilities has been about performance art groups. Other potential areas to cover include political issues, health issues, employment issues, etc.
* Increased accessibility of the site itself. Miriam mentioned a current site redesign is in process, so it would be an excellent time to incorporate some increased accessibility. We suggested using this site to identify accessibility barriers and suggestions for fixes:
* A clear and reliable mechanism for user flagging abusive comments and getting a response – currently it’s unclear where those go, what criteria is used to determine whether it stays or not, with no feedback on criteria. We have noticed that the “report abuse” button now seems to direct emails to the author of the original post, rather than a general email. Miriam also mentioned plans to focus more on comment moderation, including creating a community editor/moderator position and incorporating community members in comment moderation.
* Current and updated contact information for all authors.
We also agreed that getting back together in about 3 months to discuss the interim progress would be a good idea.

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  1. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    “was not the misspelling of ableism a typo? isn’t it a little harsh to deride someone for a typo. She spelled it correctly earlier in the post”
    OMG! Youre applying rationality! (mocking)Stop, you troll!!!!we all know she did it out of hate, malice and deliberation!!!!There is no way in the universe that it could be simply_a_typo!!

  2. alixana
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    What are you going on about? Seriously? In the OP, Courtney listed suggestions that FWDs who participated in the chat made. They’re right there for you to read to tell if they’re “that good” or not. Lauredhel is asking for Courtney to attribute the suggestions to the actual people who made them, using names.
    Are you talking about the Community post regarding the FWD open letter? Because you were really, really fucking mean in that thread, Gopher. And it seemed like you were gleefully doing it on purpose. Which is what trolls do. Doesn’t matter how long they’ve been part of the community if they’re purposefully saying mean things to get people upset.

  3. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I can understand where youre coming from, but what if she did re-check it and just overlooked it? What if she was nervous? Being portrayed as a monster by a bunch of rabid minded mutineers can be overwhelming!LOL

  4. Icca
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Gopher’s continued use of silencing, marginalizing, and hurtful tactics are exactly the reason moderators need to be more involved. He was allowed to be hurtful and anti-feminist in the community post, and here he is, doing it again.
    How about some moderation? I would think that this post, of all posts, would be a good place to start.

  5. voluptuouspanic
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could “like” your post a hundred times.
    This kind of site is never, ever going to make everyone happy, which is why the Community part exists, in my mind. Or linking to your own blogs. (Not that mine is like groundbreaking or anything.)

  6. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I would find this concern a lot more realistic if Feministing had a history of heavy moderating, or really of moderating. But I see a lot of incredibly nasty stuff in the comments – for instance, the Open Letter post that prompted this was a trainwreck, and the mods didn’t do anything until they shut down the post entirely. Given the history, I *really* cannot imagine this site going overboard with moderating.
    Also, surely some PWD wanting to educate doesn’t have to mean that the mods do nothing at all, or that viciously offensive language goes unchecked (as it has in the past).

  7. Courtney
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    My misspelling wasn’t intentional, for the record. I happen to be a person who sometimes misspells words. But Gopher, you gotta tone down your language here. “Rabid-minded mutineers” is offensive and doesn’t push the dialogue forward.

  8. Quixotess
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree, Gular–it’s baffling. At this point, marginalized feminists of all kinds have contacted and reached out to Feministing again and again; we have all been ignored until now. This consent to a discussion by Feministing was welcome, and I was glad to note that the feminists with disabilities who handled the chat also mentioned the other intersectional issues–but it’s up to Feministing. I don’t know why now. Even if I were to be cynical and say it’s a big PR move, I don’t know why THIS PR move and not one before. *shrug*
    I also feel like we’re kind of being left alone to discuss this here. Why haven’t there been responses from Courtney or another contributor yet? Even a “I’m working on a longer response” would be welcome.

  9. alixana
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    The thing is, the people who fall outside the happy group? They’re the ones who feminism, the movement as a whole, has ALWAYS had problems including. It’s a systemic problem. The editors themselves and this website are a pretty big voice in feminism today. When big voices ignore the marginalized people, that’s a problem.
    I mean, women are probably never going to be completely happy with how we’re treated by society, not for a very long time. But does that mean society should really stop fucking trying to treat women equally?

  10. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    You know, I don’t have the energy to deal with most of your comment right now, but I do really really want to address this point.
    Honestly, I feel if we were all in a classroom together, looking at each other face to face, we would have productive, thoughtful, and empathetic replies to one another
    I really doubt this. One of the reasons I really doubt it is that a lot of marginalised groups only feel safe speaking up online. It can be *incredibly* difficult to open your mouth in RL, where there are RL consequences if the person you are speaking to doesn’t like their privilege challenged. So people stay silent. And privileged people mistake silence for assent, and start talking about “why can’t we all get along like we could in RL?” whenever these issues are brought up online.
    (Since this is a feminist site, a feminist analogy: where do you feel safer calling out sexism – in RL, or online?)
    Two, the topic at hand is issues related to disability. There are a variety of disabilities that make face-to-face conversation more, not less, difficult than online; I have a nice laundry list of them myself and am incredibly grateful for online communication because it is so much easier for me to expresss myself. When you say “face to face conversation is better”, what you mean is better for you, which I’d really like to make you aware of.

  11. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    And to be honest, I find it incredibly disturbing that Courtney can’t see this, that she can’t see the incredibly amount of time and effort people spent on educating her. People with disabilities to boot, many of whom have to be quite careful with their time and energy and could probably have used the spoons they generously spent on Courtney somewhere else. I find it incredibly disturbing that Courtney focusses on how the experience was empowering for her, and doesn’t even give a thought to the fact that it wasn’t really empowering but rather incredibly frustrating for the marginalised people on the other side of this. People who did not need to spend the time they did on it, possibly could not really afford to spend the time they did on it, but went to incredible lengths for her anyway and essentially got slapped in the face for it.

  12. Gular
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    This is going to, again, come across as bitter, but I think the answer we’d get is the one we frequently get when there’s no discernible explanation:
    “I’ve been too busy to watch the blog”
    And, as true as that may be, I kind of feel like this place is 90% free for all, 10% moderation. It works well for me when I turn on the snark and probably bend the rules a bit, but I really shouldn’t be able to do that — no matter how active or longstanding a member I may be.

  13. Gular
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    And privileged people mistake silence for assent, and start talking about “why can’t we all get along like we could in RL?” whenever these issues are brought up online.
    This is definitely a critical point that people often miss. Thank you for that because it really hits something core into the human experience.
    Someone says something insensitive due to your gender, sexuality, race, religion, ethnicity, ability or other sensitivity (I use the word because you may not *be* of that category but are sensitive to those issues) and it’s much harder to be like “hey, you’re being a prick” face to face than to post a comment online and then close the window. I think it’s also why it’s so much easier for our discussions here to devolve as quickly as they do sometimes.

  14. Simone
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    You know…I have been thinking about this for awhile.
    Listen…I can talk about intersectionality pretty well, I am intersex, I transitioned to female, I am bisexual and I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (PDD-NOS). I am also white, upper-middle class, well educated, and coming from a place of privelege. I have a hard time being critical because, I am a little attached to the site reading it is part of my daily routine. But to be honest these debates have existed for a long time within the social justice and feminist communities since the third wave got started. I think they are healthy ultimately.
    Do I feel sometimes a little critical when there is a missed opportunity…yes. I think there was a huge missed opportunity on the part of the site with regards to the women and asperger’s story, largely because it was based on a particular type of medical sexism. But I understand why it was missed, alot of it requires a knowledge of the clinical history of autism that frankly takes time and honestly personal experience.
    With regards to comments, when a blog post is insensitive, thats one thing, but people are insensitive and sometimes comments are too. It happens and I am not going to blame the site or the moderators if somebody does something to make them look like an ass. I also don’t see it as a blanket reflection on the community. I have certianly done it on more than one occasion myself. I have said insensitive things which I hated myself for saying later. It happens, its part of the human experience and can be a learning experience.

  15. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m hopeful at this point some people will step up and lead by example. Make some community posts about how they see disability and feminist issues and gender intersecting. Reflecting on their personal experiences. Commenting on links between domestic violence and disabilities. Connections between how one’s disability informed or enhanced their understanding of gender and patriarchy. Then promoting some of the most insightful ones onto the main page.
    One of the main problems I have with this idea is that a) it once again puts the onus on isolated PWD to teach instead of the Feministing team to educate themselves or do any actual work themselves and b) that as it stands, the comments are often very unsafe for PWD. I used to be a semi-regular commentator on this site and might have written a community post on the matter a few months ago, but I witnessed so much fail in the comments that I won’t comment here apart from about this issue. And if I have something to post about wrt disability? I’ll go to my blog or offer to guest post at FWD, where I can be sure that ableism is unlikely to turn up in the comments and the mods will do their job if it does.
    Which is a long-winded way of saying: the heavier moderation in order to make this space safe for marginalised groups has to come before, not after, asking marginalised people to educate.

  16. Icca
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s not the site’s fault that commenters say hurtful and ignorant things in general. For that matter, everyone says ignorant BS sometimes, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that will forgive some inadvertent insensitivity if it’s a one-time thing, especially if the person truly recognizes what they said/did was hurtful.
    The problem comes in when comments that are marginalizing, derailing, and (in some cases) abusive are tacitly endorsed because moderators don’t do a thing about them. The silence from the moderators is, in fact, the moderators’ fault, and also allows a culture where such -ism-laden comments can thrive.
    It’s a little like if you’re at your workplace and some -isms come out, and the higher ups do nothing, even when you file a complaint. That’s allowing such behavior by tacitly condoning it.
    So yes, this isn’t just on the commenters.

  17. Alexis
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I feel like I should jump in here.
    I am disabled. I was born with a severe visual impairment bordering on blindness and I continue to have it to this day. I am also a feminist.
    I cannot speak for the entire disabled community, though I do feel like some posters here have spoken for me.
    I would never claim that words like “lame” and “stupid” and “invalid” are respectful, or that they should be used. I would like to see disability rights content on this site and on other feminist web sites. I am glad that there is the possibility of forward movement with regards to this issue on this site, and I am glad that a dialogue is being opened up for such possibilities.
    But, as a feminist, a long-time Feministing reader, and as someone with a disability, I find myself feeling defensive because I feel as if the disability rights activist posters in this situation are being disrespectful in some ways, I feel that they are being incredibly nitpicky in some ways that are VERY unproductive, and I feel like a group that I am a part of–and am proud to be a part of, as a disabled person who works towards educating other people abut disabilities on a regular basis–is speaking for me. And I don’t like everything they’re saying.
    Steps have to be taken. They have to be taken a bit at a time, they have to be taken with compassion. And yes, I understand the argument “They aren’t having compassion towards disabled people, so they’re none to talk about compassion.” But as people who have been victims of a lack of compassion for centuries, shouldn’t we attempt to spread that? I am not angry that people don’t understand my disability or the mentality and social environment that surrounds it, I am compelled to educate them and give them the best impression possible. From the comments on this post I feel as if there is very little but hostility and that bothers me because I, being a bit of an idealist, would sincerely like to see this conversation become productive and compassionate.
    I just hope that that can happen. I am open to criticism and discussion from both sides of this conversation. Thanks for your time.

  18. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you entirely that disability is not the only issue on this site and that the way trans people (and PoC, and the list goes on) have been treated has been horrendous. There is really no excuse for the way trans voices have been ignored.
    However, I’m not as sure as you seem to be that this is any different. Looking at this post alone, I see Courtney talking a great deal about how empowering and totally cool she found the chat!!!, not mentioning the great deal of time and effort the PWD side put into it, not mentioning the fact that for them the chat must have been very exhausting and frustrating because they were being forced to explain basic things about why they felt marginalised, and let’s not forget that considering your education more important than marginalised people’s feelings or well-being is 101-level privilege wallowing. She still hasn’t apologised for her jawdropping use of the tone argument on amandaw. She has not in fact apologised to any of the contributors to the chat or mentioned any of them by name. Demands that PWD made seem to have either vanished or turned into suggestions Courtney et al made, which is like a slap in its face with its sheer gall.
    Which is to say. I’m dubious this will turn out any better than, say, the post after the trans boycott. If I’m wrong, that is brilliant for PWD, of course, but raises all the questions you asked about other marginalised issues that did not get this treatment. But I think it’s a bit soon to start going “so why do you take disability seriously, but not other oppressions?”

  19. Gular
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Even if nothing happens, more effort has been put into the discussions about PWD and their marginalization on Feministing than any other issue I’ve seen here. There’s been no discussions between the concerned on other issues and Feministing staff.
    Even if the OP here is dripping with privilege (which I did miss because I was too cynical about it to watch for it, honestly), it’s still more than other groups have gotten who’ve had the same concerns about their issues as this group.
    I’m going to assume status quo until things actually change around here. I honestly don’t think they will because the post can be summarized with “We had a really cool discussion, I learned a lot and I’m really jazzed about it” which isn’t actually a direction or really anything especially helpful or guiding.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I can tell you for a fact that Courtney’s learning experience has come at direct cost of the health of several in our group. Self included. We have put other parts of our life on hold and accepted hits to our mental and physical health in the hopes that this would produce some sort of change.
    To be honest, I have little hope of Feministing itself changing. I DO hold out hope that members of the larger online feminist community will see Feministing demonstrating such an awful way to handle these criticisms, and take note, and maybe start paying attention to issues they had not had on their radar before.
    THAT is my hope. That is why I have dealt with the direct physical cost to my self. In hopes that this would educate the community at large. I cannot speak for other members of the group and their individual motivations, besides a desire to change mainstream feminism’s awful treatment of women with disabilities. But that’s mine.

  21. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    That’s an excellent point; sorry, I didn’t realise this was what you were referring to. This is definitely the first time I can remember Feministing representatives actually having any kind of official chat with people representing a group with grievances, even if it went rather horribly.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    (This is amandaw.)

  23. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    And #3 was a post about flagging abusive comments. What if one of these excitable people labels me as discriminatory just because I used the word idiot or stupid?
    I wasnt ‘mean,’ just cool. I was making fun of some of the over the top commentary. Its unusual to see such irrationality on this blog. Most try to address posters rationally (one of the supposed discriminatory words BTW) and have level headed debate. In the face of such an opposite way of acting I had no choice but to get a laugh from it. Its my way of turning something negative into a positive. It wasnt like I was going to be addressed with some sort of decorum or anything. Respectful debate is a way of keeping lucid (discriminatory or not?) order and maintaining cohesion among members of a political group. Disrespecting that is not conducive to any proper outcome.
    I’ve read books about disability and how women who are disabled are often targets of horrible mistreatment. I can tell you stories from women I’ve known who have felt personally these negative bigotry and experienced first hand this abuse. I am also for rights of disabled, and better knowledge of the intersectionality between women and disability. But I cannot be convinced that the word ‘idiot,’ ‘stupid’ or ‘rational,’ are discriminatory words. I would never use it to describe someone with disability but these words are used for the non-disabled too. I mean, is not Dr. Dobson an irrational idiot?

  24. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I figured it was a misspelling.
    Okay, but just to explain
    the nervous,mutineers, ect was a sarcastic joke.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see you in comments, Courtney. Must your stay be so brief and limited, when there is so much for you personally, and the contributors of this site, to address here?

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    We received this response too. And, fwiw, we were quite surprised when they actually, finally, responded to our complaints and suggested a chat. Of course, the chat didn’t go so well. But Feministing has been just as awful on trans issues, race issues and class issues. And they continue to be just as awful. I have no idea why they responded to one person this one time when so many people have been telling them for so long that they feel such hostility and hatred here.
    I think the boycott did a good job smacking a lot of us across the face so that we’d start fucking paying attention. That’s what I was hoping would come out of this. Because I don’t have faith that Feministing is capable of changing. But I do have faith that some people might be receptive to the criticisms and start seeking out these issues on their own. (Because clearly, Feministing is not going to do a sufficient job addressing them themselves.)
    I do feel a need to apologize that this issue, this time, has received this attention, while others remain neglected. It’s unfair and unjust, and I don’t like it one bit.

  27. Icca
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    It’s true. I’ve yet to see you refer to one of the people with disabilities as ‘rational.’
    But maybe I’m just being uppity — oh, sorry, excitable.
    But it’s okay. You were joking some of the time. I love jokes about how irrational women are too, so tell one of those next.
    (P.S. This is just a sarcastic reaction to your comments. So we’re cool, right?)

  28. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    This post has been included in a linkspam round up.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    You may be noticing impatience. This is because people have been attempting to engage with the Feministing crew on this issue for years and have been ignored for years. Until this chat — when they didn’t ignore us, but they did dismiss pretty much everything we said. And then this post, when Courtney actually took the suggestions we provided them and said that they were Feministing’s suggestions — and made this into a personal learning experience for her, rather than a site-wide and systemic problem.
    So yes, we are growing impatient now. I apologize that we are not constantly chipper and willing to go along with anything and everything. We have taken this entire process in good faith, engaging diplomatically, because we had hope for change and wanted to believe the contributors had the motivation to try. When the responses are what they have been — being ignored, ignored, ignored, then denied, dismissed, excused — after we have invested so much time and energy into this, at our own personal expense — yes, we grow slightly impatient. We were hoping that Feministing would reciprocate, in good faith, with a genuine effort of their own — and thus far, we have not received that.
    And just to make clear, we cannot claim to speak for every disabled person. We are not a monolith. We have a variety of positions, opinions and points of view. That’s what makes us human. What we can do is speak out about what we feel is unjust, and engage in activism which we feel is the best way to resolve that injustice. That is, after all, what we are all doing here as feminists — and we would not stop doing this work as feminists if one woman were to say she did not identify with the political identity of feminism. It is quite the same here, with disability.

  30. Zailyn
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    *hugs* I was really afraid of that would happen :( I would send you some of my spoons if they were transferrable. And thank you so much for trying, even if the result is disappointing.
    I wish someone from Feministing would at least *acknowledge* how much you have given them of yourselves in this issue.
    (This is Kaz, btw!)

  31. EndersGames
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Zailyn, I understand what you are saying, and appreciate all the posts you’ve made.
    I think it is clear that the feministing editors aren’t fully getting it. I know from my experiences living with a physical disability that often it can be hard even for my partner, close friends, and family to understand what it is like to live with a disability.
    IDEA – I think an alternative strategy to consider is to simply flood the community posts that speak from our experiences and our perspectives. For example, perhaps we could set a day where 12 independent people submit a community post relating to disability and gender. Give people enough information about how disabilities influence our lives, particularly as it relates to gender issues.
    Will the comments often be clumsy or hostile? Yes. But hopefully the posts will get through to enough readers that they will start to get it. And to help police the comment sections through community action.
    Sometimes people don’t start to get it until you smack them over the head with it, en masse. Once enough people get it, you can rely on them to help with the head smacking.
    Right now alot of ink is being spilled in these comment sections, and I’m sure you know how hard health-wise it can be to spend this much time posting. I appreciate the work you are doing. I just wanted to put some suggestions on the table that don’t rely on waiting for the feministing editors absorb the message.
    In any event, please let me know if there is any way I can be helpful here or with your site or your organization. I don’t have much formal exposure to disability rights or theory, but I do teach classes at UCLA on the roles that genes, hormones, and socialization play in shaping the bodies and brains of men and women, including health-issues and chronic diseases. My private email is or

  32. voluptuouspanic
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re missing my point. Yes, I understand that Feministing is a big blog. Yes, I agree that every effort should be made to challenge privilege on blogs.
    However, I’m also firmly of the opinion that this is the internet. We all have a certain amount of privilege simply having this conversation on the internet. I was agreeing with pan’s point that it’s very easy to deny privilege, derail conversations, constantly criticize, etc, when you don’t have to look someone in the eye. The internet as a whole is like this.
    You jumped from a comment I made about the site of one blog on the internet to social activism and society in general. I don’t agree with that leap at all.

  33. ethifem
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s not fair to say that no one should ever expect the oppressed to educate the privileged, and then in the next breath, tell someone who never asked for an “education” that they are ungrateful and unfeminist (excuse me?) for not bending over backwards in gratitude.

  34. voluptuouspanic
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for saying that. I was trying to figure out the right words.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Yes, there is privilege in being on the internet (class privilege in particular, also the interesting self-segregation of communities online, and so forth).
    However, consider also that the internet is the only social outlet available for many PWD, with a variety of conditions and situations. Telling people “This is the internet, so it doesn’t matter” is telling them “Your life doesn’t matter.”
    Privilege comes in many forms.

  36. ethifem
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    YES. Oh my god, I feel that way every time I read something here or on my old blog or on Feministe. Everyone is so quick to call someone an ableist or unfeminist or any number of other things, yet you know that if everyone were face-to-face, people would be so much more respectful. And when you try to point that out in the comments section in response to a vitriolic comment, you’re banned for being a supposed troll. It’s ridiculous.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    They are the ones who asked for the chat. Unless they asked for it specifically intending for it to be a session devoted to them dismissing every concern categorically — and that is an awfully bad-faith assumption to make of them, would you agree? — they were expecting us to put energy and effort into presenting our concerns and making sure we were communicating our ideas effectively. Don’t make this out to be like they didn’t ask anything of us.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    People would be so much more “respectful” you say… or perhaps fearful of ramifications if they were to actually express the pain they felt as a result of someone else’s actions?
    I find it interesting how people long for these situations where certain groups of people are effectively shut out. And then complain when those people find a place to actually connect with each other about their shared experiences, and try to effect some change.

  39. voluptuouspanic
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I’m not sure if I’m not communicating clearly. If I’m not, I do apologize.
    I’m not saying that this is the internet, it doesn’t matter. I’m saying that this is the internet, therefore people have a tendency (just as much to identify with others as to) be real jerks and make up things. (I’ve seen this happen in supposedly safe PWD spaces online, as well as sites like this.)
    I’d like to point out that I have lived with mental illness most of my life and the internet has been one of the primary ways that I’ve been able to adjust and adapt and connect with others.

  40. voluptuouspanic
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about this since I last posted, and it bothers me, quite frankly. My comment was in no way an attempt to say, hey, it’s the internet, so PWD should suck it up and deal. It was more an expression of my general frustration with websites like Feministing that are prone to all kinds of inequalities.
    I want to apologize to anyone who read my comments are indicating anything but my own frustrations. I also want to apologize for voicing that here in this thread.

    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry if I misread it — keeping in mind the culture around here also makes me more inclined to respond to the worst-case reading, to make sure the argument is addressed in case anyone else thinks it too. And to make sure to raise issues people might not have thought about.
    I apologize for misunderstanding :)

  42. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    What are you talking about?
    Your post doesnt even make sense. Chill, then retype later.

  43. voluptuouspanic
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I understand completely. I just really didn’t want to be misunderstood, since I do really respect and value the work you have done regarding this issue. FWD/Forward is a phenomenal blog. I wish Feministing was more like it in regards to feminism and disability.

  44. alixana
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    At this point, I have to think you’re doing this on purpose. What’s next? Going to call her “sweetie”?

  45. Lily A
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Ok Gopher.
    You made your point on the other thread, repeatedly. Your voice was heard, your opinions were aired.
    You got told, repeatedly, that you were hurting a LOT of people’s feelings and that your name calling was inappropriate.
    As I said on that thread, I’ve seen you participate constructively in a lot of conversations here. People gave you the benefit of the doubt with this one… but you continued to call people names, tell them that their concerns weren’t valid, and refuse to acknowledge that your hurtful words are a problem.
    And as I said on that thread, people with disabilities are doing us a favor by coming here, tolerating our ignorance and privilege, and explaining to us how we can make this place more accessible and friendly and awesome for them. You don’t have to agree with everyone all the time, but until you’re willing to take some constructive criticism and stop with the name-calling then you’re really just continuing to hurt people and yourself.

  46. rhowan
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    M_K just brought up a good point in her post on Transcribing Video Posts in the Community section. Currently there is no “Disability Rights” category for Community posts, although the tag has been used for a few front page posts. Perhaps that could be ammended?

  47. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    What, are you a homophobe? Whats wrong with one woman calling another sweetie? As a bi, I wonder if this is aimed at my sexual orientation?
    Either that or due to your excitable and irrational state you have failed to adequately read my post. So, I’ll disseminate it for you.
    “It’s true. I’ve yet to see you refer to one of the people with disabilities as ‘rational.’
    This makes no sense. My comment was about how irrational it is not to be able to use the words ‘rational’ or ‘irrational,’ ‘stupid,’ or ‘idiotic,’ not whom I had or hadnt called this. I dont pay attention to whom has disabilities or not nor is my accusation of irrationality based on ones disabled status. And you will not be able to prove this posters zealous claim. The claim is completely unrealistic anyways. Who tells a commenter that their post was ‘rational?’ I’m sure if you looked at the comments I’ve left from the couple of years I’ve been on this site, you will be able to find I do not reserve ‘irrational,’ or ‘rational,’ to anyone based on their disabled status. I have told comrade kevin (who has bipolar disorder) that his posts always showcase eloquency and I like his posts very much. If I was a bigot I would not have said this. Using him as an exmaple is uncomfortable but your witch hunt and your lack of proof, or coherent point encourages me to do this to show my non-association to your accusations (whatever the hell they may be, I dont even think you know what it is).
    “But maybe I’m just being uppity — oh, sorry, excitable.”
    This is true. The poster is too excitable to be realistic. The poster is attempting to paint me as some misogynist who doesnt want a woman to go out of ‘her place.’ Once again, a completely unsubstantiated claim. Why would a woman say that? Why would a feminist say that? And why would a long time poster say that?
    “But it’s okay. You were joking some of the time. I love jokes about how irrational women are too”
    I’m a feminist woman and have no clue where this chaotic poster came up with this accusatory and unsubstantiated claim.

  48. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Name calling? Where have I name called?

  49. Icca
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    My apologies to Gopher – I used the wrong gender pronoun and I’m sorry for that.
    That said, I’m out of this thread. I can’t take this. Thank you to everyone who’s been advocating and being an ally.

  50. Gopher
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Not a dude. —> = X

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