"Problematic" and "Ableist"

http://wouldyouagreethat.tumblr.com

Here is a tumblr that accuses my boyfriend of 8 years, Zak S in the RPG world, Zak Smith in the art world, Zak Sabbath in the porn world, of being ableist. It’s a tag/label under a submitted quote of his that says “ableist”, posted on July 5th. “

[on how 2-8 and 3-18 and so on is just as easy as writing out the dice needed, like 2d4 and 3d6]

My blog’s not called “Playing D&D With People Who All Graduated High School”. I will tell you right now, if I tell Kimberly Kane she’s got a 3d6 weapon or a 4d4 spell she will not know which does more damage.

But, more than that, no matter which is easier for you, the idea that the only reason to use number range is nostalgia is on the face of it silly. Not everyone is you. It depends on who’s playing.

[…] I’m KK’s math tutor for the GED—I know what math she can and can’t do.

" source: http://archives.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3098558&userid=185243&perpage=40&pagenumber=4#post404137470 

Here’s what I, Mandy, have to say about that:

When I was 14 I was evaluated and told I had a reading comprehension level equal to that of a college graduate. I was kept from skipping from the 7th grade to the 9th because of my unusually small stature and how generally frail and ill I was. (Not skipping me turned out to be quite a mistake, but that’s a different story.) Knowing what I know now about college graduates…well if my 14 year old self knew she’d have been insulted. She was an abrasive very Hermione-ish type. (My pretty, shy, traditionally feminine, not college educated but clever mother used words like “tactless”, “blunt”, “caustic” and yes, “abrasive” to describe her manner of communicating.)

I was and am however, terrible with math. The only times I ever did well were semesters focused on geometry, and the one class with a strange & entirely effective teacher I had in high school who taught algebra like a language course. Formulas are just like translating sentences in Hungarian, that I can learn to do. I got straight As in that class. I missed the two final exams, getting zero scores on both, together worth 40% of our final grade, and passed the class with a B or B- maybe. (I often missed exams due to migraines or other problems. I once fainted during an English exam and two teachers had to carry me out of the exam hall to the office where my parents were called to come get me. I also have passed out on the bus home, climbing stairs, in and getting out of the shower and cooking me and Zak eggs for breakfast.)

Other than that one positive experience with that one brilliant and harsh teacher, my math grades were truly appalling. I was a gifted student but never with math. Geography, history, biology, ecology, sociology, anthropology, I devoured my text books the first week of every new school year. I was bored shitless 3 weeks in as classes progressed so slowly.

I was the kid in complete french immersion in kindergarten (english is my first language), a program where we were not spoken to in English, were not permitted to speak to each other in English (aside from on the playground at recess, though french was still encouraged) and of course we spoke in French to our teacher. And I complained we weren’t being taught fast enough. I should have my dad pull out my report card to text me a photo of this documented incident. I learned to write in French before I did in English. I learned to read in English and French simultaneously. (With a book about an orange dragon with a weird snout.)

I’m not stupid. But I can ‘t do math. Calculating a tip fills me dread. I still count on my fingers sometimes. When telling my DM in D&D games the amount of damage I’ve just done to the monster I say the highest part I was able to add up quickly and the rest I could not. Like this: “…11 plus 7” and the GM does the math, usually telling me the final score as it’s marked down. Given more time I wouldn’t do this, but I’m not embarrassed and our game flows more quickly this way.

Not being able to read doesn’t make a person stupid. Wasn’t Albert Einstein dyslexic?

Not being able to do math or understand fractions and percentages likewise doesn’t mean someone is stupid. (That’s not quite my problem, my brain likes to switch the order numbers are in on me, or leave digits out altogether, dyscalculia.)

Acknowledging someone’s abilities and the limitations of those abilities, especially in the role of teacher or tutor, and making adaptations to accommodate those limitations so someone can participate in an activity is quite frankly the opposite of ableism.

Beyond the math hiccups I share with my friend Kimberly (who Zak tutored and mentions in this comment/quote labeled wrongly as ableist) I am physically disabled. I can write a lot about all the diagnoses that lead to my disabilities but most who read my blog know and it’s not the point of this post. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder and osteoarthritis and a lot of other things too (more than 20 active DXes), for those of you who don’t know. I was born with it, it gets worse as I get older and it affects my whole body. I use a wheelchair outside my home, I use canes in my home. There is no cure and no real treatment. I am often bedridden.

I know what discrimination is based on physical limitations. I know ableism. I experience it on a nearly daily basis.

You know what IS problematic and ableist?

The guy who said me & my D&D playing girl friends were “brain damaged” because we like to play D&D (or Call of Cthulhu, or Night’s Black Agents, or Warhammer Dark Heresy) instead of other kinds of games. Presumably the kinds of games that guy preferred to play. Surely women with no concept of the myriad options for them out there in the vast and oh so serious world of tabletop role playing games wouldn’t choose to play D&D if only they knew better right?

(Ahem another “ist” could maybe be applied there)

Calling people “brain damaged” because you have different tastes in games than they do is ableist. What’s wrong with being brain damaged for starters? Why are you using it as an insult?

I used to care for severely medically fragile and special needs kids in foster homes. Two of my boys had brain damage. And they were better people than someone who uses their difficulties frivolously, flinging it around with the intent to hurt another. My grandmother has Cerebral Palsy, due to trauma during birth (like my littlest boy who was a spastic quadraplegic), she’s never been able to walk unassisted if she can walk at all. CP is caused by damage to the cerebral cortex, it’s brain damage. My grandmother left her home, the convent she was raised in as her needs were too much for her family to manage after her mother died suddenly, sailed across the Atlantic, married, and then raised 4 kids with my blind grandfather.

Don’t you fucking use “brain damaged” lightly or as an insult. I love people who are brain damaged. They are beautiful and brave and more worthy than half the rest of the human population.

Don’t you fucking call my boyfriend, my lover, my caretaker, the man who pushes my wheelchair and has my illnesses tattooed on his arm for when there is an emergency and the man who defended me against that slur, ableist.

Because you are really very wrong. And publicly calling him these ethically unacceptable things with no real proof means you are lying.

And I know what ableism is. I live with it and it hurts. And it’s not going to be gone before I die.

Stop crying wolf.

So I’m kinda freaking out, & I’ve had a lot of asthma medication (stimulant) because I had an asthma attack. And I subluxated/dislocated a BUNCH of joints (upper left side of body) coughing violently and so I’m in too much pain to sleep. But also adrenalin surges from my #Dysautonomia and now the stress of being reminded my family was exposed to this shit, babies are still being born fucked up probably because of it and I didn’t even get any fucking superpowers.

So I’m kinda freaking out, & I’ve had a lot of asthma medication (stimulant) because I had an asthma attack. And I subluxated/dislocated a BUNCH of joints (upper left side of body) coughing violently and so I’m in too much pain to sleep. But also adrenalin surges from my #Dysautonomia and now the stress of being reminded my family was exposed to this shit, babies are still being born fucked up probably because of it and I didn’t even get any fucking superpowers.

So in the town my mother lived in as a child in 3 babies have been born with an uncommon (1 in 10 000) birth defect, all to mothers living on the same street in a span of a year or two. On the army base (and surrounding area, the forest the kids played in, yards etc) where the town is, in 1966 & 1967 Agent Orange and Agent Purple were sprayed. The military personnel (my grandfather) were told it was completely harmless. My grandfather has survived both malignant melanoma & colon cancer. I was born with a genetic syndrome (and likely my cousins on my mothers side & siblings have it too.) I also am friends with a girl who was born with the birth defect being reported now in that town (Moncton). Now she & I both have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome diagnoses. Now I have been told by my geneticist that I likely inherited my genetic mutations from both parents—which is a bit uncommon—dad very clearly has Hypermobility type #ehlersdanlos but mum & our family on that side have a very complex & confusing & numerous set of health problems. There was a class action lawsuit already, my family/grandfather was a part of it. It was dismissed for lack of evidence. I beg to differ…Story on the CBC news website if you want to go look.

So in the town my mother lived in as a child in 3 babies have been born with an uncommon (1 in 10 000) birth defect, all to mothers living on the same street in a span of a year or two. On the army base (and surrounding area, the forest the kids played in, yards etc) where the town is, in 1966 & 1967 Agent Orange and Agent Purple were sprayed. The military personnel (my grandfather) were told it was completely harmless. My grandfather has survived both malignant melanoma & colon cancer. I was born with a genetic syndrome (and likely my cousins on my mothers side & siblings have it too.) I also am friends with a girl who was born with the birth defect being reported now in that town (Moncton). Now she & I both have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome diagnoses. Now I have been told by my geneticist that I likely inherited my genetic mutations from both parents—which is a bit uncommon—dad very clearly has Hypermobility type #ehlersdanlos but mum & our family on that side have a very complex & confusing & numerous set of health problems. There was a class action lawsuit already, my family/grandfather was a part of it. It was dismissed for lack of evidence. I beg to differ…Story on the CBC news website if you want to go look.