A Primer on Ableism

Well-being Wednesday: a recommended book and a quick primer on ableism.

I cannot recommend Places I’ve Taken My Body by Molly McCully Brown enough. Her book is about her complicated relationship with her body (the author is disabled and has cerebral palsy), trying to find peace with it, navigating ableism, and living the loss of her identical twin sister. The author’s wisdom and fierce and poetic use of language makes me wish this book was longer.

I’ve also read her book The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, based off of the eugenics movement in the United States of forced sterilization of those with disability and/or neurodivergence. Eerily and heartbreakingly similar to what appears to continue today (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/09/25/ice-is-accused-sterilizing-detainees-that-echoes-uss-long-history-forced-sterilization/).

This author and her stunning works ask the reader to face ableism (internal and external), that is, in part, the belief that those with disability are less than or need fixed. (More here: https://www.accessliving.org/newsroom/blog/ableism-101/). Giving voice and representation to those with disability is incredibly empowering, as the author even reflects on in her work.

Dismantling ableism is, collectively, part of intersectional feminism and social justice (another good read: https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/on-ableist-language/), and, personally and professionally an area of passion of mine as a physical therapist. It’s part of the reason I’m pursuing training as a sexuality counselor too – the lack of professional and collective knowledge and validation of sexuality across body types, including those with a disability or chronic disease. (Also see The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability and The Guide to Getting It On https://bookshop.org/shop/ignitewellbeing )

How do you challenge your ableism? None of us is perfect (the idea of perfection is, in a way, ableist), and it’s a learning process. But self-reflection and accountability in a world that marginalized many can only help to move us forward. Another favorite resource of mine is Andrew Gurza (IG: @itsandrewgurza; https://www.facebook.com/ItsAndrewGurzaTweets/ ) and their podcast Disability After Dark (see https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/disability-after-dark/id1151890990 ).

#intersectionality #dismantleoppression #WellbeingWednesday #wordmedicine #peopledoingwork



Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, copyright protected, please cite accordingly.  Originally posted to social media on 11/11/20.    Image is mine.  Interested in working with me?, email me at ignitewellbeing.naperville@gmail.com

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