Online Activism Is Real Activism

Hey, everyone. This is going to be a short entry. I guess maybe I shouldn’t put options in polls unless I’m prepared to write about them, but this is what my Patreon supporters chose. I should do more polls so my Patreon supporters are getting something for their $5 pledge, so I should get used to writing things I’m not really prepared or inspired to write. This is an apropos entry for the times, though, since activism you can do while safe indoors from the fucking global plague currently happening…yeah, apropos, right?

Okay, enough stalling. Online activism. Often called being a “keyboard warrior” or a type of “slacktivism.” Also called being an “antivist” by the band Bring Me the Horizon, who have a song called such containing a lyric “If you really believe the things that you preach/Get off of your screens and into the streets.” Well, respectfully, BMtH, fuck you.

Okay, not just fuck you. Fuck you, and also understand that being a “keyboard warrior” is an important job, people who engage in online activism aren’t “slacktivists,” and we certainly aren’t “antivists” (which sounds like an unholy portmanteau of “activist” and “antis”–you know, the pro-censorship teeny-boppers with no sense of nuance who are too young to remember the LJ Strikethrough). “Get off your screens and into the streets” is a bullshit thing to say for several reasons, the first of which being that the streets aren’t accessible for everyone. Yeah, I protested Autism $peaks, but that was a fairly small protest of an organized walk, and even then I was barely able to handle it from a sensory perspective. If I went to a BLM protest, the crowd and people-noise would push me into a meltdown, and then I would be a liability instead of a help.

Granted, sometimes inaccessibility of “the streets” isn’t a barrier, depending on the situation–at the Capitol Crawl in 1990, the activists were protesting inaccessibility and the fact that they had to crawl was the point–but online activism is the only activism accessible to a lot of Disabled people. Someone who is just going to have a meltdown or is bedbound or is weak from chemo or is in too much pain to walk can’t get out there and march.

So in-person activism isn’t always accessible, which is why saying online activism isn’t real activism is ableist. Also, saying online activism doesn’t have an impact is just false. Most people think of online activism as people spewing half-formed thoughts on Twitter. However, Twitter lends itself pretty well to activism. Twitter threads often divide complex social justice concepts into easily digestible chunks, which is not only useful, it’s accessible for a lot of people, including ID/DD/LD people who may have trouble reading information in longer forms. I personally have learned a ton from Disability Twitter, particularly @Rose_TCA, @autistichoya, @VilissaThompson, @ebthen, @coffeespoonie, @mattbc, @dominickevans, and probably others that I’m forgetting. Fat Twitter seems to be pretty great too, except for the asswipe who told me that my eating disorder precluded me from being anti-fatmisia. (One of my protector alters came out and screamed about asswipery and social justice praxis. That was a fun day.) Jwitter is fantastic too, as is Black Twitter. I could do a whole blog entry on activists I suggest following on Twitter. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I feel like I should mention Facebook. You might think that Facebook is a terrible place for sharing information about social justice causes, and I wouldn’t disagree. But it does seem like an excellent place for getting into arguments about social justice issues with your shittier family members. Unfortunately, this is a thing that needs to happen in activist lives. We need to advocate for ourselves and causes that we’re passionate about (even if they don’t directly affect us, e.g., my white ass helping my QP debate a family member about Black Lives Matter). Facebook, for better or for worse, is where this often happens. It hurts. It’s ugly. But it has to be done.

There are other methods of online activism besides disseminating information on Twitter or Facebook. There’s also Tumblr, which I’m not going to touch with a 39.5-foot pole, even though it was instrumental in teaching me about disability justice, cultural appropriation, and trans rights, because there is just too much bullshit on there. There’s also YouTube. I mention this because video has been instrumental in reality checking people who don’t believe that, say, police murder innocent Black people. Posting links to YouTube or news sites with embedded video on social media has been an effective way to raise awareness of police violence and other issues like abuse in insular cults.

Oh, right, I was going to talk about other methods of online activism besides disseminating information, not just mention other social networks. I believe in giving money directly to marginalized people. This happens a lot on Twitter to the point that many different marginalized communities joke about members passing around the same $20. Sharing and signing fundraisers is also a way to perform activism online. I’m kinda broke right now thanks to vet bills (https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-b039elanna-beat-lung-cancer), but I’ve donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and a few bail funds. Signing petitions is another way to perform activism online (although you shouldn’t donate to change.org after signing a petition; just sign and donate to whatever cause directly). Yet another method of online activism is contacting policymakers via email or online forms; this is especially useful for people to whom phones aren’t accessible.

I’m also always surprised when people say that online activism isn’t real activism because SO MANY PEOPLE ARE ONLINE. Yeah, I could print this blog as a physical zine and distribute it around the city where I live, but I have a much higher chance of reaching people if I post it online. And there’s also a lot of bullshit online. I don’t think “Google is free!” is a very good response to social justice questions asked in good faith (unless the answer is very basic) because there is just so much fucking bullshit out there on the Internet. If there’s going to be multitudes of bigoted right-wing radioactive trash out on the Internet, I feel like there damn well better be correct information out there to combat it. When your conservative great-aunt posts some bullshit on FB, you can be there with a link to an infographic about how she’s wrong.

I think that’s all I have for now. Tl;dr not only is online activism valid and effective, but saying that online activism isn’t ~real activism is ableist. 

Thanks so much to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Karina, Mackenzie, Rose, and Sean! To become as cool as them, or to see my blog entries 2 days early and get a thank-you in every blog entry, you can support me for $1 a month on Patreon: patreon.com/arzinzani

Self-Diagnosis Is Valid, Godsdammit

Content/trigger warning: COVID-19, sick pet, murder, violent ableism, discussion of several axes of marginalization, cursing

I’m tired.

I’m tired of seeing the most vulnerable people in American society die of COVID-19 in terrifying numbers.

I’m tired of worrying about my emotional support cat, who has a thoracic mass pressing on her heart in addition to a diagnosis of mammary cancer. (I need help with transportation to and from the only vet in the metropolitan area willing to do a surgical biopsy and help with the surgery itself. Please share if you can’t donate: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-b039elanna-beat-lung-cancer).

I’m tired of learning that yet another Autistic person has been murdered by their carer and thinking “that could have been me” (may Alejandro Ripley’s memory be a blessing).So you’d think that being tired of seeing ableist bullshit on Twitter wouldn’t be what I’m writing about, but it’s relevant, I promise. Not only is the topic I’m covering today currently a popular point of contention on Twitter, but it’s relevant because non-essential healthcare providers’ appointments aren’t happening due to the pandemic. So new professional diagnoses aren’t happening. It seems like a good time to talk about self-diagnosing with disabling conditions and how self-diagnosis is valid.

Let’s get one important thing out of the way first: being anti–self-diagnosis is ableist. Let’s get a second, even more important thing out of the way: anti–self-diagnosis is not only ableist, it’s classist, sexist, racist, transmisic, and probably other -isms/-misias that I’m forgetting. Where am I going with this?

Barriers to access.

Being professionally diagnosed is a privilege. In order to be professionally diagnosed, the following needs to happen:

  • You have parents who support your pursuit of a diagnosis or are in a position to be diagnosed without your parents’ involvement
  • There needs to be enough money for diagnostic procedures (and for a neuropsych eval, that was over $2k out of pocket when I paid for mine in 2014)
  • A healthcare professional willing to perform the diagnostic procedure(s) has to be available
  • Either the healthcare professional needs to not be biased toward misdiagnosis/denying diagnosis on the basis of gender, assigned sex at birth, transness, race, ethnicity, previous diagnosis/diagnoses, and probably other conditions that I’m forgetting or you need to be a white zedcishet male with no previous diagnoses and probably other privileges that I’m forgetting

So not only does it require a fuckton of privilege to obtain a professional diagnosis, there can be advantages to being professionally diagnosed. I’ve already talked about “scary” mental illnesses here (https://thisisforyoucarrie.blog/2017/06/24/scary-mental-illnesses/), and while being professionally diagnosed can be a path to access, accommodations, treatment, etc., being professionally diagnosed with a “scary” mental illness can also present barriers. I’ve had multiple psych professionals refuse to see me because my issues were too “severe” and/or because cluster B disorders like BPD are sometimes seen as untreatable. (Don’t @ me about DBT; I said sometimes.) Also, there are likely disadvantages to being diagnosed with conditions I don’t experience that I don’t know about. So it is a legitimate choice to not seek out professional diagnosis even if self-diagnosis has been made.

I’ve also noticed this misconception that self-diagnosis is shallow and ignorant, for example, seeing a meme about being disorganized and self-diagnosing with ADHD. I’ve also seen the misconception that self-diagnosis is minimizing disabling conditions, for example, enjoying cleaning and referring to oneself as being “lol so OCD.” The latter is not self-diagnosis and the former is highly unlikely (although seeing relatable memes can make one realize that they should research further). Self-diagnosis usually involves a lot of research, soul-searching, and engaging with community (I love Autistic Twitter, as can be inferred by my last entry). Speaking of Twitter, it was Disabled Twitter that gave me the aphorism “Don’t confuse an hour-long lecture with my lived experience” in response to some #DoctorsAreDickheads (thanks to @crippledscholar for that hashtag) blubbering about how baaaaaaaaad self-diagnosis is. Look, I’ve been through doctorate-level biomedical classes. They’re hard. I respect passing them. But I agree wholeheartedly with “Don’t confuse an hour-long lecture with my lived experience.” Self-diagnosis based on lived experience and autodidactic study is valid…yes, even if what someone learned in a one-hour lecture (or longer classes/labs, or whatever; the ultimate experts on disability are Disabled people themselves) says differently.

There’s also the matter of self-diagnosis often being necessary for professional diagnosis, i.e., that people don’t seek out professional diagnosis unless they believe they have a condition that warrants professional diagnosis. This is often touted as a reason why self-diagnosis is valid, but I feel like that’s sort of missing the point. Self-diagnosis is valid because…well, because of all the reasons I listed above, not because it’s a step on the way to professional diagnosis. That would imply that professional diagnosis has ultimate validity, which isn’t true.

Lastly, people who have been professionally diagnosed need to stop being assholes about self-diagnosis. We’ve been through that violent, oppressive gauntlet; why can’t we have sympathy for those who, for whatever reason, can’t endure that gauntlet? Not to mention the idea that self-diagnosis delegitimizes professional diagnosis is nonsensical bullshit and I haven’t the faintest idea why anyone would think that. I don’t even know how to argue with that point. It’s like trying to argue with someone who thinks the existence of the Main Asteroid Belt makes the sun dimmer. It’s so obviously not true I’m just gobsmacked.

That’s all I have for now. Stay safe. And wear a fucking mask.

Many thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Kael, Karina, Mackenzie, Rose, and Sean! If you want to be as awesome as them (and see my entries two days early, among other perks), consider supporting me on Patreon: patreon.com/arzinzani

The Ableist Response to COVID-19

Content/trigger warning: COVID-19 (Coronavirus), ableism, eugenics, cursing, sick pet

Stop me if this sounds familiar.

You’re on Facebook, checking up on the latest from ASAN in preparation for Autism Hell Month and soothing your soul with kitten videos (or, well, that’s what you’re doing if you’re me) and you see a post that says something like this:

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS! It’s only going to kill the elderly and the immunocompromised 🙂 You’ll be safe :)”

So…are elderly people and immunocompromised people…not people, then? Or don’t matter? Or don’t use social media? What exactly are you trying to say here?

Oh, right. You’re trying to say that you’re an ableist piece of shit.

This sentiment is also ableist because young, abled people who aren’t at high risk for infection and/or complications can be asymptomatic carriers. If you’re not worried about suffering from the virus yourself, you should be concerned about infecting your elderly grandparents, or your friend who’s on chemo, or maybe even a stranger on the train you take to work. 

In other words, I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people.

But if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that ableism is deeply entrenched. Abled people are conditioned to think of disabled people as subhuman and Disabled people are conditioned to think of ourselves as subhuman. While it’s beyond wrong to see Disabled lives as disposable in light of a pandemic, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Speaking of seeing Disabled lives as disposable, I’ve even seen worse outlooks on the COVID-19 pandemic. Eugenic outlooks, such as armchair epidemiologists saying that a certain number of susceptible people have to die before we achieve herd immunity for The Greater Good of Humanity. I’ve seen takes that outright claim (as opposed to implying, like the example I gave above) that no one who matters will be affected by the virus.

Now, a ton of people are at risk of being affected by the virus.

Here is a list of conditions that the CDC reports may be at increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection:

  • Blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners)
  • Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or is under treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis
  • Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because liver disease or is under treatment for liver disease.
  • Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing a doctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS)
  • Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks
  • Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus)
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditions associated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen
  • Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions (including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury)

(Note: I have no idea if the CDC is including Autisticness under “developmental delay,” so I’m freaked. Not that healthcare providers take Autistic people’s health concerns seriously anyway.) So apparently, according to some abled fuckheads, anyone with any of those conditions is inconsequential. Their lives don’t matter.

I also want to bring up the intersection between classism and ableism in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many low-income workers do not have paid sick leave, sufficient sick days, etc. and there have been goddamn senators blocking initiatives to mandate employers to change these policies during the pandemic. (As I’m writing this, Pelosi’s COVID-19 bill to pay sick workers to stay home has been fucked with by Republicans who demanded that employers with over 500 workers be exempt and Democrats caved.) This affects Disabled people because many of us were not able to complete higher education due to the intensely ableist violence inherent in academia and only have the option to work low-income jobs.

Speaking of work, many workplaces that can go to mandatory working from home are doing so. I have to work from home this coming week. Also, many universities/colleges are now holding classes remotely. Why is this ableist? It’s not; remote work and classes are more accessible than in-person work and classes. What’s ableist is that these workplaces and schools previously refused to allow remote participation for Disabled people’s accommodations. This demonstrates that the limp excuses about cost, practicality, etc. of remote work/class were all bullshit and rooted in ableism. Accessibility is only provided for abled people because Disabled people’s needs aren’t seen as legitimate.

Zipporah Arielle, also known as @coffeespoonie, has done a better job writing about this than I ever could, so if you’re interested in anything I’ve said here, I suggest reading her piece on being immunocompromised during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/disabled-immunocompromised-people-coronavirus_n_5e6a6acfc5b6dda30fc51c2f

That’s all I have for now. Stay safe, wash your hands for 20 seconds, and use hand sanitizer that’s at least 90% alcohol.

EDIT: Okay, I do have something else to say. As I type, #PanicShopping is trending on Twitter. That seems a strange way to say “hoarding months’ worth of items like bottled water and masks that Disabled people need more than you” to me, but I suppose what I just typed doesn’t make a pithy hashtag.

Many thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Kael, Karina, Mackenzie, Rose, and Sean! If you want to be as awesome as them (and see my entries two days early, among other perks), consider supporting me on Patreon: patreon.com/arzinzani

In other terrible disease-related news, my cat has an abdominal tumor that has a 90% chance of being cancer. It is scheduled for removal in two days and I’m still fundraising to pay for the surgery. Please donate and/or share widely if you can: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-b039elanna-beat-mammary-cancer

Ableism in the Workplace

Content/trigger warning: discussion of ableism, ableist slurs (censored), cursing

Hello, dear readers! As I probably forgot to tell all of you, I’m working full time now as a medical editor. And if you have to sell your body, soul, and labor to a bastion of late-stage capitalism to survive–which you pretty much do have to do if you live in the United States–I’ve found a pretty good place to do that. My workplace has a group called DiversiTeam, founded and led by two women of color, aimed at increasing diversity, inclusion, and justice in our workplace. And one of the things I offered to do with DiversiTeam (along with checking our agency style guide for cissexist, heterosexist, and intersexist language) was a presentation on ableism in the workplace.

I work 50-hour weeks, so I’m not keen on doing too much other work outside of that, and since I’m already making this presentation, I thought I would do a blog entry on the same topic: ableism in the workplace. (Note: since this entry came originally from a presentation I’m writing for my workplace, which is an ad agency, this entry is going to be mostly geared toward offices. I could write an entirely different entry on ableism in laboratory environments and, knowing me, probably will at some point.)

I’m going to start with ableist barriers to entering a workplace. I know, not the same thing as ableism in the workplace, but it’s related. There are a couple of common barriers to workplace entry that I see, so I’m just going to list them:

  • Ability to lift 40 lbs
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time
  • Driver’s license
  • Inaccessible applications (such as ones that require you to type out your entire fucking resume even though they also are asking for your resume, what in the chicken-fried fuck whyyyyyyyy)

Note: I’m talking about jobs that have nothing to do with lifting, standing, etc, requiring these things. Obviously, if you’re going to do a job that involves driving, it makes sense to require a driver’s license.

Other ableist policies I see that exclude Disabled people from a workplace are:

  • Poor sick day policies
  • Disallowing working from home
  • Timing bathroom breaks or disallowing long bathroom breaks

I actually worked at a place that timed how long you took in the bathroom. Yes, really. And how long it took you to get up and get coffee or a snack. It was fucking ridiculous.

Other ways to make a workplace inaccessible include:

  • Not having accessible bathrooms, elevators, desks, or a cool-down room
  • Allowing people to wear scents or use scent diffusers
  • Clapping during meetings
  • Having only non-plastic straws available
  • Not having hypoallergenic food options at work parties

I’m going to explain a few of these. The not having accessible bathrooms, elevators, or desks is pretty obvious, but it may be less obvious why not having a cool-down room is inaccessible. There are many Disabled people with sensory issues or who could go into sensory overload, and workplaces can get very hectic and overstimulating, and it may not always be feasible to go hide in the bathroom when overstimulated. Also, an overstimulated person shouldn’t have to hide in the bathroom. There should be a space where they can go to cool down and get their bearings.

Next topic: scents. Scents can be migraine or allergy triggers. I love olfactory stimming, but I also support workplaces not allowing perfume, scented beauty products, or essential oil diffusers for accessibility reasons.

Straws. We’ve been here before.

Food. Lots of people have food allergies or illnesses that prevent them from eating certain ingredients. If you’re organizing a work function where there will be food, make sure you ask everyone’s food restrictions. And no, I’m not just talking about people on shitty fad diets. Celiac disease exists.

The rest of my presentation on casual ableism in the workplace is about ableist language, and I give an overview of ableist language in general and offer alternatives. You know, like I did here: https://thisisforyoucarrie.blog/2018/01/07/less-well-known-ableist-language/. Well, more like Autistic Hoya did here: https://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html.I will also say that one thing I’ve noticed about ableist language in the workplace is that saneist language is frequently used to describe how busy people are. “It’s a m*dhouse,” “I’m cr*zy busy,” etc. My coworkers also frequently use saneist terms and expressions to discuss their reactions to work, i.e., “that job gave me PTSD,” “I need a Xanax after this week,” “this client is driving me ins*ne,” etc.

I think that’s all I have for now. Many thanks to my wonderful Patreon supporters: Ace, Emily, Hannah, Kael, Karina, Mackenzie, Rose, and Sean. Reminder that if you support me on Patreon, you get to see my blog entries early!

Mental Health and Social Justice Call-Outs

Content/trigger warning: emetophobia, discussion of saneism and neurotypicalism, homomisia mention, suicidality mention, self-harm mention

I’ve had a really hard few days. Carrie’s yahrzeit and the anniversary of her death by the Western calendar, for one, and also December 26th is a traumaversary for me. Apparently Christmas is also terrible for my PTSD as well, as I spent half the day being violently sick for psychosomatic reasons. So if this blog entry is a little subpar, it’s because I’m operating at like a 35%.

I recently saw a semi-prominent YouTuber claim that a particular group of people had no consideration for mental health or respect for people with mental illness because they…drum roll please…were upset at him for using homomisic slurs. On the surface, this is bullshit. If you look deeper, it is still bullshit. However, it is still worth talking about mental health and call-outs, because call-outs can be triggering.

But first, I want to say that trying to defend your own bigoted behavior with “I don’t know any better, I’m neurodivergent” is neurotypicalist. Yes, really. Saying that neurodivergence makes a person incapable of understanding morality and justice is a particularly scary type of neurotypicalism and it needs to be stopped, especially if it has been internalized.

The rest of this blog entry is going to be about two things: how to call someone out while minimizing the chance of triggering someone and how to respond if a callout triggers you. Let’s start with minimizing the chance of triggering someone. Here are a few things you can do when calling people out to ensure that you don’t trigger any potential health issues of theirs:

  1. Discuss the person’s actions or words instead of making statements about them as a person. I know, I know, we are all everything-ist because oppression is built into our society and we’re all in the process of unlearning. I know. I’m not being sarcastic, either; I know. But saying “what you said was [blank]ist” instead of “you’re [blank]ist” may keep a person’s douchebag brain from latching onto “they said I’m [blank]ist, that means I don’t deserve to exist/I should self-harm/etc.” And of course, stay away from ad hominem attacks, which are bad social justice praxis in general.
  2. Don’t dogpile. Dogpiling can feel like a personal attack or be overwhelming to abuse survivors. If one or two people have the call-out handled, let them handle it. Only get involved if the person being called out is responding by being a belligerent asshole.
  3. If the call-out is happening online, don’t continually post lots of messages without giving the person being called out a chance to respond. A flood of messages, even from only one person, might be too much to process for the person being called out or might feel like an attack.
  4. This one is really specific, but I’ve seen it. Don’t mock the shitty thing the other person said using the Spongebob meme mixed-case text. That meme is disfiguremisic and ableist against ID/DD/LD people.
  5. If you did trigger someone with your call-out, don’t mock them for the symptoms they’re showing, including accusing them of “crytyping”. You should have seen how shot my fine motor control was after someone complaining about bicyclists riding on the sidewalk accused me of not agreeing with basic human decency because I suggested that more bike lanes might help. My PTSD was having a fit and a half.
  6. This is more of an accessibility thing, but still relevant. Don’t use sarcasm, especially in a text-only medium. If the person you’re calling out can understand sarcasm, it might feel like an attack. If the person you’re calling out can’t understand sarcasm due to neurodivergence…well, shit.

However, sometimes call-outs are triggering no matter what. I dissociate when I get an email from my boss, no matter the contents of the email. It’s annoying, but it’s not my boss’ fault. So if you’re triggered by a social justice call-out, here’s what to do.

  1. TAKE A BREAK. Disengage. Walk away. Count to ten. If you’re triggered, your ability to respond constructively is probably limited. Go engage in self-care, or do whatever you need to do to calm down.
  2. Only go back to the call-out when you’re ready. Evaluate whether or not the call-out used any of the tactics in the previous list, in which case you can–respectfully–tell the person who called you out how to change their praxis in the future. Also, if you can’t go back to the call-out for the sake of your health, don’t.
  3. Whether or not the call-out used any of the tactics in the previous list, evaluate whether or not you did the thing you were called out for. Maybe you did. Maybe you fucked up. We all fuck up. Nobody is a perfect bastion of social justice.
  4. If you did indeed fuck up, acknowledge your fuck-up. (But if you’re tempted to self-flagellate and be like “oh I’m terrible, I am just the worst person, I feel so awful I’m going to go cut myself,” you’re either being deliberately emotionally manipulative or you’re still feeling symptoms. Walk away until you can respond constructively.) Make a real apology, which consists of acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an indication of doing better in the future.
  5. Try to take the call-out to heart. This can be hard because if a call-out was triggering, even measured, respectful discussion of whatever -ism you were called out about can become a trigger or be retraumatic, and you just don’t want to think about it. (This has actually happened to me a few times.) Do whatever you have to process what happened so you don’t end up with a new trigger. If you have a therapist, you may want to talk about it with them.

I think that’s all I have for now. Happy (Western calendar) New Year!

BAD ME I have not been listing my Patreon supporters at the end of blog entries. Many thanks to Ace, Emily, Hannah, Karina, and Sean! To be as cool as these people, visit Patreon.com/arzinzani to pledge. Even a dollar a month is massively helpful!

Some Thoughts on Diet Culture

Content/trigger warning: cursing, disordered eating, discussion of diet culture

I hate diet culture.

You might be saying, “Of course you do, Mara. You hate everything.” And you’d have something of a point, but I don’t hate, for example, my wonderful fiancee. Or coffee. Or The Good Place. (Have you seen the latest season? So forking good. I just wish I didn’t have to wait until January for more episodes.) But I’m getting off the subject.

I’m not an expert on the harms of diet culture. You should go to fat justice activists for that. (For example, @yrfatfriend, @Artists_Ali, @femmina, @KivanBay, and @chairbreaker_ on Twitter). If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m aware that it’s basically impossible for an oppressive system, culture, etc. to be oppressive on only one axis. So while I’m going to talk about how diet culture is ableist in this entry, diet culture is also fatmisic (duh), classist, and probably buys into other -isms that I’m forgetting at the moment. (I’ve had really bad brain fog this………..month.)

What you do have to know about diet culture for this entry is that diet culture is based on 1) the fatmisic idea that thin bodies are better than fat bodies and 2) the scientifically inaccurate idea that caloric intake/expenditure is the only factor in body size. Now, there are many reasons why diet culture is ableist, mostly because fatness can be directly caused by or related to disability. Weight gain and/or fatness can be features of some disabilities; for example, PCOS or hypothyroidism. Many medications cause weight gain (Carrie Fisher, may her memory be a blessing, often talked about this). Some disabilities prevent people from exercising. Also entwining fatmisia and ableism is the fact that diet culture holds that healthy = moral and thin = healthy, so by the commutative property of diet culture bullshit, thin = moral. So disabilities that cause or are related to fatness are also seen as immoral/wrong/bad.

Also, diet culture encourages people to yammer about their diets to everyone they speak to. Why is this ableist? Because eating disorders are disabilities, and diet talk can be immensely triggering for people with eating disorders. I recently went to a Friendsgiving, and two of the people close to me at the table would not shut up about dieting and weight loss, and it’s a fucking miracle of self-control that I didn’t run to the bathroom and ram my fingers down my throat. So if, for whatever reason, you are on a weight loss diet, keep your fucking lips zipped about it unless you have permission from the people around you. Yes, I am saying this now because it is almost Turkey and Genocide Day. But even when food-centric holidays aren’t happening, use content warnings when you talk about your diet on social media and ask for permission before talking about your diet in person. And add content warnings for food too.

Speaking of which, diet culture encourages judge/shame people for making supposedly unhealthy food and lifestyle choices, so don’t fall into the diet culture trap of policing people’s food choices at Turkey and Genocide Day dinner. Or, you know, fucking ever. Even if there were no possibility that the person whose choices you’re scrutinizing had an eating disorder, it’s rude and none of your fucking business. The same goes for judging/shaming people for not going to the gym/doing yoga/running/whatever; even if it’s not a disability keeping someone from exercising or making “healthy” lifestyle choices (which may not be healthy for them, hence the quotes), it could be a class issue or other issue related to being part of a marginalized group, and it’s rude and none of your fucking business.

Another thing about diet culture that triggers my eating disorder on the regular is this trend that restaurants are hopping on of having calorie information for all the dishes on the menus. My feelings about how calorie counting for a so-called diet is a slippery slope to an eating disorder if not an eating disorder itself aside, many people with eating disorders or who are in recovery from an eating disorder can’t handle seeing calorie information. I don’t mind restaurants having calorie information available if a customer asks, but having calorie information right smack dab on the damn menus can make a restaurant inaccessible. I wish I knew how to actually do something about this. If you have any ideas, by all means, let me know.

So tl;dr diet culture is harmful as shit, keep quiet about your diet or make sure you have permission to discuss it so you don’t trigger anyone, and restaurants need to stop it with the calories on menus.

That’s all I have for now. I hope everyone survives Turkey and Genocide Day.

I Can’t Even Fucking Listen to Music

Content/trigger warning: cursing, slurs (censored), disordered eating mention

So I have a new job.

It’s actually great. Well, mostly great. I’m doing something I love and that I’m good at, the location is fantastic, and most of the people are nice. Unfortunately, there’s always food around the office, which TFED (The Fucking Eating Disorder) is not pleased with. But anyway, I was at my new job and needing an afternoon caffeine fix, so I headed to Dunkin for their $2-latte-after-2-PM promotion. (I’m weak for espresso and deals. I admit it.)The music was too loud in Dunkin, which was almost an accessibility issue for me, and I was struggling to tune it out while I waited for my latte. A pop song was playing. I don’t like pop, so there was nothing remarkable about the song to me, but it was so damn loud it bored into my head. A generic female pop voice was singing some laterally misogynist sounding crap about another woman, and I barely had time to be annoyed by that before the song called this other woman “sweet but ps*cho”.

I swear.

For those of you who don’t know, I also curate two YouTube series, one about asexuality and one about my special interest in rock music. So you’d think this is the part where I say “well, pop songs may have saneist slurs in the chorus, but you wouldn’t find that in rock, metal, or punk!” Yeah, I fucking wish. There is ableism out the ass in those genres. In metal, vidist expressions are extremely common, right up to and including Trivium having a song literally called “Blind Leading the Blind”. Punk music loves to use ableist slurs and terms to refer to oppressors and/or bigots, with even bands like Bad Cop/Bad Cop that are usually aware of intersecting oppressions dropping “l*natic” and “ins*ne”. Rock music in general uses ableist language like it’s going out of style; I could name you several rock songs that have “ps*cho” in the title.

And it gets worse. Punk music has a tendency to med shame in the name of going after “Big Pharma”. “OxyM*r*nic” (which also has an ableist slur against ID/DD/LD people in the title, would you look at that?) by NOFX and “Limiter” by Descendents (which is on an album called Hypercaffium Sp*zzinate WHY DO I LISTEN TO ANY PUNK MUSIC EVER AODSHUAASDOBASDAFFFF) come to mind. It’s not only punk music, either; Delain, a Dutch symphonic metal outfit and one of my favorite bands of all time, has a song called “Your Body Is a Battleground” that not only med shames, but implies that psychiatric disabilities aren’t real.

It’s not only the music itself, either. People who are into the rock scene, especially the reviewer sphere, also love their ableism. I recently watched a popular YouTube music reviewer I don’t ordinarily watch trash the Nostalgia Cockstain’s The Wall album, and the reviewer joked about losing his sanity and having a panic attack as the result of the badness of the album. Another YouTube music reviewer I like and respect and even support on Patreon is fond of calling 2edgy4u musicians “p*****paths” and “s****paths”. Pitchfork Media’s website contains album reviews that straight up use the fucking r-slur.

I’m not sure what the point of all this whining is. I guess everything I have discussed here is a good example of just how entrenched ableism is. Not just entrenched, either, but terrifyingly normalized. And the pervasiveness of ableism in punk is a good example of how even leftist spaces condone ableism.Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to Emilie Autumn, who writes about mental illness from the perspective of “wow, misogynableism sucks”.

Misogynableism and Greta Thunberg

Content/trigger warning: discussion of ableism, misogyny, and misogynableism; cursing

As with most of the things I blog about, I’m sure someone else has done a better job writing about this, but I’m going to try anyway.

I’m going to preface this entry by saying that Greta Thunberg, while she’s awesome, is not the only young climate activist we need to be paying attention to. Others include Autumn Peltier, Helena Gualinga, Tekanang, Penny Tovar, Lamboginny, Sarah-Anna Awad, Bertine Lakjohn, Liza Zhytkova, Veer Qumar Mattabadul, and Daniel Gbujie recently participated in the first UN Youth Climate Summit. They hail from all over the world and many of them are teenagers. Greta shouldn’t be getting all the attention because she’s white.

But we do need to talk about the misogynableism against her. Greta—who, for those who don’t know, is a sixteen-year-old Swedish climate change activist who recently testified about climate change at the UN—is Autistic, and unapologetic about it; she says being neurodivergent is a “superpower” for her. (I personally don’t like the supercrip narrative, but she’s sixteen and the narratives about Autisticness are different in Sweden compared to the US; give her a break.) Fox News recently called her mentally ill because she is Autistic, intending it as an insult and misunderstanding that Autisticness is not a mental illness but a neurodevelopmental disability. (Note: if you’re reading this blog, you damn well know that calling someone mentally ill shouldn’t be an insult. But Fox intended it as an insult because they’re saneist.) When Greta was preparing to speak in public a few weeks ago, she uttered the phrase “Sorry, my brain isn’t working properly.” Keep in mind that many Autistic people struggle with speaking and that English is not Greta’s first language. But Twitter took this and ran with it, with scores of people retweeting the video and calling Greta any number of ableist insults.

I saw at least one article calling the bullshit Greta was receiving misogyny. Do I think that Greta would be receiving less bullshit if she were male? Absolutely. Do I think that “misogyny” fully encapsulates the bullshit Greta is receiving? Absolutely not. This is especially evident in the way people insult her facial expressions. Greta has been described by the Autistic community as having “resting Autistic face”. While allistic people often make the effort to contort their faces into pleasant expressions with fake smiles in order to appear more…I don’t know, approachable? I don’t really get it…Autistic people often don’t bother with that (or if we do, we’re aware we’re only doing it to fulfill some bullshit allistic social contact). Greta doesn’t bother with that. She’s talking about serious issues and she looks serious while doing it. So she gets a lot of the misogynist “she’d be prettier/have more success/be more personable if she smiled more” and a lot of the ableist “look at her affect, she’s clearly [ableist insult of choice]”. The misogynist bullshit and ableist bullshit inform each other, resulting in misogynableist bullshit.

Much to my chagrin, it isn’t only misogynableist cockwaffles that are giving Greta bullshit. Some of the Autistic community is writing her off too. Why? Because in the United States, most of the Autistic community looks down on Aspie supremacy, and most of the Disabled community looks down on the supercrip narrative. For those who don’t know, Aspie supremacy is an attitude that some Autistic people who were diagnosed with Asperger’s have toward the rest of the Autistic community. This attitude can be described as “Oh, we’re not like ~*~those~*~ Autistic people who are low-functioning; we’re brilliant and gifted and better”. The supercrip narrative is a common ableist trope depicting Disabled people as “making up for” their disability (ugh) by doing things like climbing Mount Everest or making groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with Disabled people doing those things; it’s when abled people start blubbering about how “they overcame their disabilities” and then expecting other Disabled people to just not be Disabled because “if xyz Disabled person can do abc, then clearly you don’t need your mobility device/accommodations/etc.” that it becomes a harmful supercrip narrative.

So yes, okay, some of what Greta Thunberg said could be interpreted as buying into the Aspie supremacy and/or supercrip narratives. I get it. But she also isn’t USian; my understanding is that Aspie supremacy isn’t really a concept that is discussed in the Swedish Autistic community. She also isn’t speaking her first language when she’s talking about Asperger’s being a superpower. Most importantly, she is fucking sixteen. I wonder if all of the grown ass Autistic people pooh-poohing Greta for not being intimately familiar with harmful ableist narratives knew about those narratives themselves at sixteen.

Tl;dr Greta Thunberg is a badass and shitting on her for being female and Disabled is terrible and bigoted, but shitting on her for not being perfect about Autisticness-related social justice concepts through a USian lens is also bad. Also, listen to young climate activists of color too, because many of them paved the way for Greta and they’re still out there kicking ass.

BAD ME I have not been listing my Patreon supporters at the end of blog entries. Many thanks to Ace, Emily, Hannah, Kael, Karina, and Sean! To be as cool as these people, visit Patreon.com/arzinzani to pledge. Even a dollar a month is massively helpful!

Goddammit, Sesame Street!

Content/trigger warning: discussion of virulent ableism including filicide, Autism $peaks, cursing

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH.

Why am I even doing this? Sara Luterman already wrote an article for Slate about this. I haven’t read it because I’m afraid I would just copy what she said for this blog entry…but if I did that, it’d probably be better than whatever I’m about to spit out.

ANYWAY. Some background.

Sesame Street has just partnered with the organization Autism Speaks, so I’ll give a little background on Sesame Street’s Autistic character, Julia, as well as some background on Autism Speaks. Julia was introduced to Sesame Street in 2015 as part of an initiative called “See Amazing in All Children”. One of the aims of Julia’s character was to introduce young allistic children to the idea of accepting Autistic people for who we are, even if we seem strange and unusual at first. (I would hope that the aim was also to allow Autistic children to see themselves represented, but I’m not that optimistic.) For example, “The Amazing Song” was used to demonstrate that Autistic people can feel, and Julia wore ear defenders when she was featured in the Macy’s Day Parade, normalizing Autistic people needing sensory protection. Julia even stims; her puppet has a special pair of arms that allow her to flap her hands.

Now for some background on Autism $peaks. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that Autism $peaks is a pseudoscience- and fearmongering-peddling hate group that would love to see Autistic people eugenically eliminated. If you haven’t been reading my blog, now you know that. For more information on why A$ is a hate group, I wrote a blog entry about it: https://thisisforyoucarrie.blog/2018/04/03/autism-speaks-is-a-hate-group/

I believe that Autism $peaks, much to the chagrin of Autistic people, was involved from the get-go. To be frank, I’m not positive about that, and I don’t know exactly what hand A$ had in Julia’s creation or if they influenced Julia’s portrayal before now. I had trouble researching this because, like many Autistic people, I find reading about A$ triggering. (Also, Googling “Sesame Street Autism Speaks” seems to only bring up recent entries.) I do know that ASAN, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, an Autistic-run org, was also involved in Julia’s creation. This was crucial because we hardly ever get to be the arbiters of our own representation. So what has changed? Well, Sesame Street is partnering with A$ to—I swear to fuck I’m not making this up—push a “kit” that is supposed to help parents of a newly diagnosed Autistic kid to process the diagnosis as if their child were dead.

Again, I’m not bullshitting. I wish I were.

The 100-Day Kit, as it’s called, has a section outlining the five stages of grief. This is unbelievably harmful because it buys into the narrative that when a child is diagnosed as Autistic, any child that the parent/s could have wanted is dead and a new incomprehensible monster has taken their place. It paints Autisticness as a tragedy. Fucking excuse me but my brain is not a tragedy, thanks very much.

There are other problems with the 100 Day Kit, such as A$’s usual pseudoscience-pushing with a “cure” diet backed by precisely zero reproducible scientific research, but I don’t think I have to belabor the point. The 100-Day Kit promotes the idea that Autisticness is a tragedy and that parents should mourn for the precious allistic child they didn’t get when their child is diagnosed as Autistic. I mean, how the fuck do you think an Autistic child is going to feel when they see this shit? They’ll think their parents wish they were an entirely different person, or that their parents don’t love them. How is that seeing the amazing in every child, Sesame Street!? Not to mention the autism-as-tragedy narrative contributes to filicide, as I mentioned in the previously linked blog entry.

This decision is incontrovertibly harmful to children who see themselves in Julia, Sesame Street. This is why ASAN severed ties with you. This is why the Autistic community is begging you to reconsider your partnership with a hate group that would rather people like Julia—like me—not exist.

I have to stop now. This is too fucking upsetting. I’ll conclude with a quote from Jim Sinclair about why messages like A$’ are so harmful: “This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.”

Identity-First Language and Why You Should Default to It

Content/trigger warning: cursing, discussion of ableism

I feel like other people (*cough* Autistic Hoya *cough*) have done this better than I can, but I’m going to try my hand at this: why “D/disabled” is preferable to “person with a disability”, i.e. why person-first language (PFL) is a load of crap and identity-first language (IFL) is more respectful. Note: this is in general. There are individuals who use person-first language, and—as far as I’ve heard—people with Down syndrome prefer, well, the phrasing I just used. I have also seen PFL being used for people with cancer.

So, why (in general) should you say “disabled” instead of “person with a disability”? Several reasons. One, the social model aspect of disability. I maintain that the social model of disability, which posits that disability exists because society is not set up to accommodate Disabled people, is flawed—even with all access barriers removed, my brain would still be trying to kill me, and it would still fuck seriously with my ability to do things—but the ablenormativity inherent in society does indeed disable Disabled people. The use of “person with a disability” instead of “disabled” ignores this crucial fact.

Two, “person with a disability” implies that disability can be separated from a person. Because of the social aspect of disability, this is impossible. This is especially true for Autistic people because our Autisticness informs so many aspects of our lives that it is impossible for autism to be separated from the person. Even allistic Disabled people, though, cannot be separated from their experiences of being Disabled by society and their bodies/brains. And you know what? “Disabled” is not a dirty word, and that is because disability does not reflect negatively on the person. Seeing disability as reflecting negatively on the Disabled person is ableism, full stop.

Three, “person with a disability” is a misguided attempt at making people see Disabled people’s humanity that is predicated on an ableist idea. If someone has to say “person with a disability” in order to remind themselves that a Disabled person is indeed a person, that’s rooted in ableism too deep to be fixed by an incorrect euphemism that is in and of itself ableist. PFL, instead of emphasizing a person’s humanity, plays into the aforementioned (point two) ableist concept of disability; if you have to separate disability from the person because “oooooh disability is BAD”, that’s ableism. (Remember how I said earlier, though, that PFL is preferred for people with cancer? Yeah, this is why. People saying that cancer is horrible are completely right.)

Look, words mean things and semantics have an effect on how people think. IFL recognizes the experiences and identity and humanity of Disabled people. PFL dehumanizes Disabled people. Which one would you rather use as a default? (If you say PFL, get the fuck off my blog.)

Thanks to my only patron, Karina! If you would like to be as cool as Karina and support me on Patreon, check out my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/ARZinzani. If you’re only interested in supporting my blog, not my other two projects, I’ve now changed my Patreon setup so you can pledge per month, not per paid post.