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8 Times People Who Asked 'Am I the Asshole?' Tripped On Their Ableism

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Let’s be real: Ableism is a thing. It can show up in major ways, like being unable to get into your classroom, or more subtle microaggressions, like people addressing your non-disabled companion when you’re out and about in your wheelchair.

Often, when people with disabilities call out these events online, there’s a chorus of people who shut down claims of systematic ableism and insist these experiences are not the norm. A popular thread on Reddit titled “Am I the Asshole” is a good — if extreme — illustration of how ableism can show up in countless scenarios for people with disabilities, chronic illness or mental health conditions.

To validate your experiences — and let’s be real, to throw shade at some a**holes — here are 10 times posts from the Am I the Asshole? (AITA) Reddit thread captured the many ways people with conditions and disabilities still face ableism or stigma. Plus, we’ve included some additional links and resources to let you know you’re not alone.

Here’s what we found:

1. Infertility Insensitivity

In a stunning display of insensitivity for those experiencing infertility, this AITA poster asks, “AITA for asking my sister to throw my baby shower party when she is suffering from infertility?” Infertility affects approximately 10% of people born female in the United States, and is more common among people who live with chronic illnesses such as endometriosis. For those who deal with infertility, the journey can be immensely painful.

“Each month, each year that passes, the valleys of depression and peaks of excitement get deeper and higher,” wrote Mighty contributor Anna Muhm about their experience, adding:

You know you can’t take much more of this. Intimacy is a job now, as carefully timed and regulated as any punch clock. You are dying more and more every month, and you just don’t understand why? Why you?

If you’re struggling with infertility (or know someone who is), these Mighty stories may help:

2. Dating While Sick

People with health conditions or disabilities often face difficult conversations in their dating life when it comes to disclosing your condition. Some partners don’t know what to do with that information and they pull away, while others embrace the journey and their love for you wholeheartedly.

This poster’s question, “AITA for questioning my boyfriend’s weird remarks, regarding my possible early demise?” after their boyfriend seemed to celebrate a terminal illness diagnosis, takes things to a whole different level.

How can you support a partner with a health condition? Check out these articles:

3. Eating Disorder Un-Awareness

The unrealistic messages people receive about body size, weight, food and exercise can be major contributors to disordered eating habits or eating disorders. One father, out of “concern” for his 9-year-old daughter, seemingly managed to install unhealthy views about her body and food instead.

Furious, his ex-wife pointed out the emotional toll the father’s restrictive diet and exercise plan had on their child. While we can’t know the whole situation based on this father’s post alone, the National Eating Disorder Association pointed out that an idealization of thinness is the most-recognized environmental contributor to eating disorders.

For support of kids facing eating disorders, check out these Mighty articles:

4. Unethical Therapists

Therapists must follow certain laws and ethical rules designed to protect their clients, otherwise, they risk losing their license. Not having sex or a romantic relationship with clients is one of the most straight-forward ethical guidelines for therapists. It’s damaging for the client because there’s always an inherent power differential, and it’s seen as an abuse of power.

That didn’t stop this AITA poster from asking, “AITA if I report the couple’s therapist that married my ex-boyfriend a year after our sessions with her?” In this case, their ex-therapist’s behavior would be cause for license revocation in just about any state.

For tips on finding a therapist (or leaving a bad one) the following articles may be useful:

5. Bad Advice From the Doctor

There are a lot of things you don’t want to hear from the doctor, and this is certainly one of them: “AITA for telling my patient she should wear make up?” The doctor’s patient was feeling depressed, especially around dating, and this “helpful” doctor recommended she stand out more with make-up, laser hair removal and getting her eyebrows done.

Doctors aren’t always the best advocates for patients, whether you’re struggling to get a diagnosis or having difficulty getting a doctor to take your chronic illness symptoms seriously. And, as this AITA post highlights, medical doctors have a long way to go when it comes to understanding mental health.

If you’ve had a difficult experience with a doctor, you’re not alone:

6. Having Diabetes in Public

Those who live with type 1 diabetes need to keep a close eye on their glucose levels at all times and inject insulin when they need to. The experience can be exhausting, and it isn’t always convenient. This AITA’s poster’s boyfriend who wants them to only use their insulin injector pen out of site isn’t making things easier.

“I’ve always done injections wherever I needed to, if I’m in a restaurant I’ll do it at the table,” the poster wrote. “I’ve never seen a problem with it. My boyfriend of 6 months keeps complaining whenever I do it, making it a point to leave the room or asking me to do it in the bathroom.”

Read more on how people manage type 1 diabetes in these Mighty articles:

7. Exercising While Disabled

Buckle up, because this is fitness ableism (and fatphobia) on steroids. A gym rat asked, “AITA for telling someone disabled they should leave the gym?” The poster saw a larger-bodied woman using a cane going about her exercise routine with assistance from her husband as needed. The poster approached the woman and her husband, suggesting they should leave because “she’s clearly not able-bodied enough for” the gym.

The poster’s suggestion went over as well as you would expect it to. Meanwhile, the disabled woman was put in a position where a stranger demanded personal details about her medical history to “prove” she had a right to be in the gym with accommodations that were worked out ahead of time with gym staff, a common experience for people with disabilities and health conditions.

Yes, people with disabilities do go to the gym and they belong there:

8. The Great Bathroom Debate

Able-bodied people are fond of waging a great “debate” over whether they’re entitled to use the accessible stall too. Well, one AITA poster wants you to believe “equality” means “just because you require [the accessible stall] doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to wait for it.” So, as a non-disabled person, he is free to use it when nobody else is in the restroom. P.S., he never *saw* the person with a disability who needed the accessible stall when he used the bathroom.

People without disabilities often bend over backward to justify using accessible bathroom stalls. Mighty contributor Lauren Berglund has a message about this brand of ableism:

Dear ‘able-bodied’ people,

Do you use the accessible stalls in public restrooms even when others are available? If you answered ‘yes,’ please take the time to read this and think twice before you do so again.

First of all, you frustrate me. Why? Because you are physically able to use any stall in the restroom easily, yet choose to use the one stall many people are only able to use.

More on how people with disabilities face issues in public restrooms:

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Header images via Twitter

Originally published: March 9, 2020
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