|—||“Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy.” Maile Arvin, Eve Tuck, and Angie Morrill (via nepantlastrategies)|
Of course. Of course, I want more justice in the world. Of course I think Love is the way to go about it. What’s the problem, then? Simple. I’m tired of the inherent ableism in the Standing On The Side Of Love campaign name.
What I won’t be doing is standing. I’ll be sitting or riding by on my scooter. But the name doesn’t leave any room for that.
I can hear the objections.
I. Theresa, it’s a metaphor. You can stand without actually standing; you know, taking a stand.
The name of the campaign devalues the disabled body. It privileges standing over using a wheelchair or scooter. It confirms that able-bodied standing is the default.
The syntax of the name is STANDING…on the side of….
Not Standing For…
The construction gives the slogan a sense of physicality, one in which not everyone can share.
The language also creates a false duality—if someone can’t stand, then, by implication, they are not advocating for Love, not able to advance the cause of Justice. In fact, people who can’t stand are often present at actions of public witness doing their part to advance Love.
II. Don’t we have more important things to worry about?
The assumption in this question is that issues can be ranked according to a hierarchy. Choosing to talk about ableism doesn’t mean that it’s the most important thing the speaker can talk about, just that it’s appropriate for that time. In fact, the language we use is an integral part of the struggle for justice. If we use language to exclude and oppress, then we have not begun to address the ways privileges are disconnecting us from each other.
III. But I have a disabled friend who doesn’t think it is offensive.
That’s fine, but I and others do. Wielding words is a power and a privilege. If you choose to use structures and words that exclude and discount groups of people, then that choice comes with a corresponding set of responsibilities and outcomes. In this case, the exclusion of anyone who doesn’t stand is highlighted over and over, in songs, signs, shirts.
What should we do then?
It’s probably too late to change the slogan all together.
What if Standing on the Side of Love had at least one piece of art that had people standing and people in wheelchairs and walkers. or all the people sitting, some in chairs and some in wheelchairs and some with walkers?
We would begin to create a visual association that would expand the metaphor of standing to include more people. A secondary benefit is that with a shirt, for example, allies could show support for a meaning of wider inclusion. This could be a useful step toward wholeness for the Unitarian Universalist movement.
thank you for sharing this. able-bodied folk like me have a lot of work to do when it comes to breaking down the ableism so entrenched in our movement building and a lot of it starts with language and messaging.
For your glitter sex parties. For your ability to self-identity. For you to be femme trans men. For you to have GAY RIGHTS!!!! and to even have national conversations about ~marriage equality~ as shitty as they both are. We died to give you life, a voice, a fucking megaphone and stand so you could shout every fucking crime committed against your body/psyche/soul/family. We died to live as freely and proudly and as unapologetically as we could. We were murdered and tortured and imprisoned and ridiculed and dehumanized and marginalized and pushed out of the VERY ORGANIZATIONS WE CREATED SO YOU COULD HAVE YOUR ~PRIDE~. YOUR VISIBILITY. YOUR QUEER SPACES. YOUR FUCKING LIBERATION.
Pay us some damn fucking respect and realize that the least you can do is give up some of your space so we don’t have to fucking fight our way to see the stage where our trans sisters aren’t even performing.
i am not surrounded by healthy masculinity or strong men. i do not come from healthy masculinity or strong men.
not my father, not my brother - not any man i have ever known
and i must acknowledge that as a result i have internalized unhealthy masculinity - i have have taken more space than i deserve because it is handed to me, i have spoken when it wasn’t my narrative that needed to be highlighted, i have been held with more value and worth and did not challenge it.
women have taught me my strength, my girlhood is what carries me forward. and i must honor that.
i must acknowledge that masculine of center people - aside from and even with the legalities of our bodies - can and are agents of male supremacy when we don’t check our shit.
i must acknowledge that while my masculinity and femininity is complex for reasons of queerness, culture, race, language, and survivorship that is no excuse to perpetuate the violent ways in which femmes are erased.