#SolidarityIsForTheAbleBodied, and Feminism’s Ableism Problem

“The world, as imperfect as it is, it is not built for the disabled community,” Neal Carter said over the phone one late November morning.

At the time, it had been a few weeks since #SolidarityIsForTheAbleBodied trended on Twitter, and Carter, who was born with spina bifida, was explaining the motivation behind the hashtag he created. Both an extension of his #Ableism101 tag and a play on Mikki Kendall’s work starting #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, #SolidarityIsForTheAbleBodied aimed to spark a conversation among people with disabilities who “have to fight, and hard, to adapt … to fit into the world,” Carter, a political consultant who lives in Maryland, said.

More so, it was meant to uncover the ableism experienced daily by the one in five people in the United States who has a disability. Just take a quick scan of the hashtag on Twitter, and you’ll read tweet after tweet of inequitable treatment. Denied government benefits because you’re not “disabled enough”? Check. Confronted by a “take the stairs” campaign when you use a wheelchair? Check. Avoided visiting the doctor’s because it’s inaccessible? Check. Told your depression is nothing but temporary sadness and that you should “just smile”? Check.

While #SolidarityIsForTheAbleBodied shined a light on incidents of able-bodied privilege from across the globe, showing how ableism is a systemic issue in all political and societal respects, it also revealed something that has long been known by some, but that has been unrecognized by others: that feminism has an ableism problem

Read more of my article for RH Reality Check here.

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