14 #ComebacksForAbleism You Can Use to Answer Ignorant, Ableist Questions About Your Disability
People with disabilities, chronic illnesses and mental illnesses get asked curious, outright ignorant and sometimes blatantly offensive questions regularly. It’s OK to take a moment to educate someone, but it isn’t your responsibility to answer any or every question thrown at you.
You are not obliged to put up with questions or statements that are hurtful or infuriating. You also have the right to keep your medical information private, even if your disabilities are visible.
Disability advocate Imani Barbarin started the hashtag #ComebacksForAbleism on Twitter Friday after an encounter with someone in an elevator. Though Barbarin wasn’t able to respond in the moment, she had a perfect and sarcastic response in mind.
Some guy in the elevator today pointed at my crutches and said: “you have to be careful.”
He walked off before I could respond with: “yes, I didn’t quite nail the landing on that tripple axel out of the womb.”#ComebacksForAbleism
— Crutches THEE Spice ♿️ (@Imani_Barbarin) November 2, 2018
Barbarin told The Mighty she was annoyed that she didn’t say what she wanted at the time, and that people with disabilities are often “peppered with invasive questions that aren’t anyone’s business.”
Barbarin decided to start the hashtag because “it’s nice to commiserate with others that experience the same thing.” Many people on Twitter agreed and began sharing their responses to questions and statements they’ve received.
Here are 14 comebacks for ableism you might relate to or want to borrow for your next encounter.
Person: So how many fingers do I have up?? Can you see me from here???
Me: Yes, but honestly I kinda wish I couldn't.#ComebacksForAbleism
— Spacey (@The_Space_Child) November 5, 2018
"Is it contagious?"
I don't think so, but just to be sure, I'm going to stay far away from you.#ComebacksForAbleism
— Luca???? (@luuczxx) November 4, 2018
CoWorker: Gee, must be nice to be able to park right outside the door.
Me: oh, yes, having a disabled tag makes it completely fine that I have shooting pain in my spine and hips with every step I take & totally compensates for being in severe pain 24/7. #ComebacksForAbleism
— Toni Snark (@toni_snark) November 5, 2018
"You lost weight! What's your secret?"
Autoimmune disease. #ComebacksForAbleism
— Kealie Mardell (@KealieMardell) November 5, 2018
I pass 2 people with my mobility scooter at the coffee machine
Woman: Wow, this should be quite the undertaking! So curious to see how you’ll pull this off!
It’s quite simpel actually. You push this button, hot water comes out. Want me 2 show you?#ComebacksForAbleism
— JNeL (@jaysgoodlife) November 3, 2018
“what is the cane for?”
“oh, it’s for walking” ????♂ #ComebacksForAbleism
— calvin (@calvinprocyon) November 3, 2018
#ComebacksForAbleism – little old lady told me I couldn't have the Disabled park because she wanted it
I asked her if she had a permit. She claimed she didn't and was "entitled" due to her age.
I held mine up – "well too bad lady, I have one and I was here first".
— Queer Trainer Hannah (@Ixzianna) November 3, 2018
Them: Can deaf people hear their own thoughts?
Me *wide-eyed with my hand on my temple*: NO BUT I CAN HEAR YOURS#ComebacksForAbleism
— Sara Nović (@NovicSara) November 3, 2018
Someone recently told me the reason I am chronically ill is from receiving vaccinations as a child, and that the flu shot would make me sicker. I responded, "If that's how it works, someone must have shot you up with a huge dose of Chronic Asshole Syndrome" #ComebacksForAbleism
— Michelle (@chelle__r) November 4, 2018
“So how long have you been in a wheelchair?”
“Since about 7am this morning.”
— Ali Watson (@aliwatson117) November 3, 2018
"We need proof of your disability even with these documents."
While looking down and gesturing to the giant wheelchair and short stature: "I don't know if I can prove it more than this."#ComebacksForAbleism
— Taylor VanGilder????✨@ back in kurobas hell!????✨???? (@ivulpixs) November 3, 2018
"Is it fun being able to use your illness as an excuse to get out of doing work?"
No, it's not fun. I'm frequently bed-bound and in severe pain while unable to breath just WISHING I could go outside and study with my friends in the library.#comebacksforableism #CysticFibrosis
— Elsie Tellier ♿️???? (@65PinkRoses) November 3, 2018
My Husband: *removing my powerchair via the folding ramp from the truckbed*
RandomStranger: Well isn't that nifty!
MyHusband: Not as nifty as legs! Am I right? *rimshot*
— Rena.awry ♿ ????️???? (@prettywisepez) November 5, 2018
Person: *looks at my wheelchair.* "I'm sorry."
Me: "I'm not."
Works every time.
— Karin Willison (@FreeWheelinMe) November 6, 2018
Photo via Twitter/@aliwatson117