I really love being on Twitter. It’s been the easiest way to find my people – usually disability rights peeps who are also a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Sometimes it can really suck butts, though.
Many people don’t understand how they have privilege despite being a part of a marginalized group. The lack of tone in text can confuse people, especially when trying to decide if someone is being hostile or merely assertive. There are the trolls who treat people awfully simply because they can, too.
The worst people, in my opinion, are those who mean well but cause harm anyway. As a society, having conversations about intent versus impact can be helpful here.
A subset of this group practices what is called Cure Evangelism, or giving unsolicited and unwanted medical advice.
Lately, those of us who do disability justice or illness awareness work have been bombarded by tweets or messages or even emails trying to sell us snake oil, tell us how to ‘heal’ ourselves, or similar things. This often happens after something we’ve said about ableism or health goes somewhat viral because we’re not allowed to have nice things.
Well, that and arrogance masking itself as sympathy. I mean, I have a team of nearly a dozen doctors working with me – some of the top doctors in the United States – and y’all think eating more yogurt is going to do the trick.
Anyway, here are some ableist gems:
- “Who gave disabled people access to the internet?” (literal quote)
- “I’m gonna fake being disabled and start a gofundme” (literal quote)
- “Get fucking cancer” (literal quote)
- “You’re too young to be disabled”
- “Disabled people are nature’s way of thinning the herd”
- “You’re not disabled – you’re differently abled/special needs!”
And the Cure Evanglist kinds:
- “Literally every single body can process plants. You need to go vegan like me and you’ll be cured.”
- “Veganism is accessible and cures a lot – you just need to try it!”
- “No one actually needs to be gluten free – it’s all a trend and probably making you worse”
- “My [weirdly related person] had that and they ate two raisins and now they’re fine”
- “If you just did yoga more…”
- “Your medicine is what is causing you to be sick – stop relying on Big Pharma!”
- “If you stop relying on your wheelchair, you’ll be able to walk.”
- “You’re never going to get better being so negative all the time”
- “You just need to focus on the positive – I mean, you’re alive, right??”
I could go on and on. I’ve seen so much – and then the responses once we stand up for ourselves bring in racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry, too, reminding us that discrimination relies on discrimination.
What are some pieces of bad ‘advice’ you’ve gotten?