Disabilities and ableism
On the penultimate Friday (20th), the group Girls For the World had a meeting to discuss disabilities and ableism. In it, several topics were addressed, such as the most appropriate terminology of the subject, ableism and micro ableism, the so-called invisible deficiencies and the increase in the number of mechanisms that have been developed thanks to the advancement of technology to assist people with disabilities.
Firstly, it is important to point out that the use of the term “disabled” to refer to people with disabilities has a negative connotation from a grammatical point of view, once it reduces everything that the person is to that word, when in reality the disability is just one of many characteristics. Due to this reason, the terminology ‘‘people with disabilities’’ becomes more appropriate to refer to individuals with this characteristic, as it makes it clear that it is a person first, before highlighting the disability.
Subsequently, we dealt with ableism, a set of prejudiced practices aimed at people with disabilities, based on the belief that typical skills are superior and the aforementioned individuals need to be “fixed”. We also discussed micro ableism, which is more common and not seen as problematic by most people. This includes actions that fail to consider the needs of people with disabilities on a daily basis, sometimes in a subtle way. Micro ableist attitudes include choosing environments for events or producing content that does not take into account special needs, treating disabilities exclusively in an inspiring or tragic way, infantilizing people with disabilities or not taking their opinions into consideration, among others.
Something that also stood out at the meeting was the approach of the so-called "invisible disabilities", those that cannot be identified only by looking, a concept that encompasses intellectual disabilities. An example of disability in this category that has recently obtained a ableistic cinematographic representation is autism, a health condition characterized by divergences in social communication and behavior. In the movie Music, by the producer Sia, the story of an autistic girl is told in a highly stereotyped way, played by an actress who does not have the condition and with strong scenes of prone restraint, a dangerous practice strongly opposed by the autistic community. In addition, the sound and light characteristics of the film are not receptive to autistic people, often preventing them from watching the production. Moreover, in the discussion of autism, something that also stood out was the fact that it is much more difficult to diagnose girls with the condition, since they have a greater ability of “disguising” the symptoms, which may be related to a culture of teaching girls to be more restrained and cover up manifestations that run away from what is considered “normal”.
With all this in mind, the main takeaway from this meeting is that even though it is important to recognize that a person with a disability sometimes has special needs or requires assistance at certain times, he or she deserves to be treated with the human dignity that would be given to any person. Especially in the case of people with intellectual disabilities, it is very important to hear what they have to say for themselves, even if they take a little longer to speak.
- REVISTA AUTISMO. O que é autismo?. Available at: https://www.revistaautismo.com.br/o-que-e-autismo/ . Access on: 29 mar. 2021.
- ROLLING STONE. What the Hell Is Going On in Sia’s ‘Music’?. Available at: https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-features/sia-music-movie-review-controversy-1125125/ . Access on: 29 mar. 2021.