The Five Types of Ableists Presented in a Nutshell

Cover of Planet of the Blind....man and dog....

There are five basic types of ableists and why not define them?

  1. “The Peanut Gallery Ableist”

The “I have a disabled friend” type. She/he/they will tell you how much they care about disability issues cuz they were once within hailing distance of a cripple. Or they have a relative or a neighbor who’s “got something” etc. This person is essentially dangerous. They’ll stab you in the back of the old wheelchair whenever it’s convenient.

  1. “The Running Dog Ableist”

This is the “I’d Like to Help You, But It’s too Expensive” version. I call them running dogs in memory of the old IWW expression: “the running dogs of the bourgeoisie.” Whatever the boss tells us, that’s what we’re gonna do. And you, my crippled pal, you are not cost-effective.

  1. (From “Tartuffe” by Moliere)

The Geronte: when his son is kidnapped he says: “Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère?” (What in the deuce did he want to go on that galley for?” In other words, he brought this upon himself. “Really, shouldn’t you try something easier? I could have told you.” Cripples hear this all the time.

4. “The Tragedy Monger”

Sees disability as a great misfortune. Loves “overcoming” stories and inspiration porn. Believes in mind over matter. Thinks if only the disabled have the right attitude, well, anything could be possible. Forgets there were optimists on the Titanic.

  1. “The Wag Staff”

Loves to lecture about disability but has none himself. Plenty of academics fall into this category but also NGO types and charity officials. They live without irony or nuance but boy can they talk.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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