Monday, June 15, 2009

"We Got Lame"??

So... We all know I love Bitch magazine, right? I've read them for three years now, they're the first and only magazine I've ever subscribed myself to. Not only that, but I blogged to help them raise money when they went through their financial crisis, and I'm a Sustainer. It's not much, but it means they get five bucks of my money every month because I want to keep them going. And I have a shiny button advertising for them for free there on my sidebar.


So this comes from a place of love.

On the 12th, one of their authors, Jonanna Widner, put up a post on the blog entitled We Got Lame, about the WNBA. Now, I really could care less about sports so I almost skimmed past it, but the title sent up a little red flag. "'Lame'? That's rather ableist, isn't it?"

Sure enough, cripchick and others on my Twitter feed started going "wtf?" at this title, and I went to make a comment about it on the Bitch website.

Now, a lot of people have agreed with the idea that this is ableist language, but a lot have been arguing with us in that comment section. It's really quite frustrating, but this is the internet, and after all I've seen in other large feminist arenas, I expect there will be a few assholes around wherever I go (that's life I suppose). What has me more concerned is that it's been three days now and the post title hasn't change, and all that anyone at the magazine has said is the author saying: "before addressing the controversy surrounding the use of the word “lame” in my earlier post (that one’s gonna take some time)..."

When I've seen words like that usually means "I need time to figure out how I'm going to apologize but defend myself and not actually change anything of what I did or will continue to do in the future". I still have my fingers crossed about this, but every day that passes my heart gets a little sadder.

As I've waited to see what the response will be, something Renee wrote in an unrelated post keeps going through my mind: "In a post awhile ago I used the term “dumb” to refer to those that did not acknowledge their homophobia. When a commenter rightfully pointed out that my language was ableist, my initial reaction was to become angry. I do believe I remarked to the unhusband, “geesh no one can even speak anymore.” As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I realized that I had engaged in an act of privilege. The instant you feel anger, that is a cue that an issue needs to be examined. Anger does not result in a vacuum; in instances like this it is often the manifestation of a desire to maintain a privilege. In that moment I knew that I had been ableist and I felt regret."

We've all been there at some point, with some "-ism" that in our conscious minds we have decided to work against but in our unconscious minds has retained its power over us through early and repeated indoctrination (see my post on racist sexual attraction for an especially hard to root out sort). I just hope that Jonanna Widner can deal with this slip with the self-awareness that Renee did.

That is of course, assuming, which may be a wrong assumption, that Ms. Widner is an able-bodied woman. If she is not, perhaps the stink will all have been for naught...

*Update* I was looking over Feministe's weekly "Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday" collection for this week and I see that someone from Bitch posted and this was what they said when linking to the post in question: "We Got Lame, Jock Bitch fumbles with an ablist word choice". Well, someone there knows, so maybe I shouldn't lose hope yet. It flickers.