Posted by: shesabibliophile | 11/28/2009

Activist Burnout

I have had all these topics I wanted to write about, specifically dealing with ableism/disability, and I just can’t right now.  Whenever I start researching for my topic, I get really angry at everything I read – and then I let that anger fester in my head so much that I find myself not dealing with people that well. My overall regard for the human race basically goes down the toilet – and I don’t like feeling that way.

As a coping mechanism, sometimes I let myself not think about the ableism (or try to) – even though it’s permeates every part of my life.  I still know it’s there in the back of my mind, and I always recognize it when I see/hear it, but I brush it off.  I have to.  If I let it get to me so much, if I let the reality sink in every day, I would not be able to function the way I do.

When I don’t think about ableism, or when I sort of play into it (read the bad activist moments I mention in this post: click), I feel guilty.  And you know what? I shouldn’t.  As the person on the oppressed end of things, I get a pass.  As much as the able-bodied/neurotypical want me to, it is not my job to educate people (even though I do through my blog because I choose to).  I have to live my life the way that makes me happy and the way that allows me to survive.  Even if that means putting my activism on the back burner – there is a time for everything, and sometimes, it is not the right time and that’s okay.

So, what do I do when I get activist burnout?  I look at blogs like Cute Overload and read books from my ever-growing collection.  I also look at my silly TV shows online, such as Ugly Betty, Flash Forward, and Survivor.  But even when I do these things, I just can’t get away from it.  For example, on one of the Cute Overload posts (of ALL places!), the author made a “joke” about a kid who rides the short bus and wears a helmet.  Some people spoke up about it, but the majority did the usual “But it’s just a JOKE – lighten up!” thing.  Way to be a total douche while also invalidating our feelings.  On those TV shows, there’s always *something* to remind me that bigotry is alive and well – such as the stereotypes on Ugly Betty or the constant sexism/racism/ableism displayed by certain Survivor cast members.

Like I mentioned before, I can only try to not think about it.  And see – it wasn’t my intention to write about disability, but this is where my thoughts led me – I ended up writing about it anyway.  Next time, I’m going to write about something silly, like the cuteness of squirrels.  We’ll see how that goes.


Responses

  1. i know how you feel. there are times when i’ve just had to step back from the blogging for a while, and i hate doing that because i don’t feel productive, but sometimes it’s necessary. just last month i also had issues with Cute Overload regarding a rape reference, and i got a terrible response (basically it was my fault for having read it as a rape reference, and i was being too sensitive–i was so upset about the whole thing that i couldn’t sleep for two nights, and i was distracted at work, but non-bloggers won’t understand the emotional toll activist blogging can take on you). it gets discouraging sometimes, but it’s also nice to know that the work we do is important to someone :)

    • What is up with Cute Overload? I’m sorry that happened to you – it’s really disheartening and frustrating. And upsetting.

      Yep, that’s why I keep on going with the blogging – because I know it’s important. :)

  2. Gaah I know what you mean. I get the same way about homophobia, and it’s like, do I let this 5000th instance this week of gay people being belittled pass, and give the impression that I’m FINE with it, or do I say something and once again become ‘scary-angry-dyke’?
    In my case it helps if other, non-queer people speak up about it so that it’s not ‘just me’ that’s making a fuss, but I guess with ableism it just feeds into the ‘aw, she can’t speak for herself, bless…’ problem, right?
    I’ve been hiding from my blog for months, seeking refuge in the annals of cute overload et al, while i try to think of something to blog about that doesn’t end in a pointless rant against humanity. It’ll come… :)

    • I’ve actually never been in the position of someone speaking up for me in public (in relation to ableism), but I can see where having able-bodied/non-queer allies would help.

      Yeah, I hate being seen as the “disabled person who is angry because her disability sucks” when, in fact, it’s more like “disabled person is angry because of all the ableism.”


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