tw: ableist language, ableism, ableist intelligence slurs, racism
Link tw: extreme racism, mention of the many horrors faced by black women
Okay, so I’m a writer. I have characters of all kinds. Bad ones, good ones, morally ambiguous ones, ones that think they’re good but have issues, bad ones that are good to their friends…the list goes on and on.
It seems like a lot of my characters curse people or complain about them. When they do, they use various insults. Recently, they’ve been using intelligence-based insults.
I thought it was okay not to change them to non-ableist versions (like focusing on choices- fool- versus intelligence- id**t) because my characters would be ableist in their worlds. But I was wrong.
[I remember a few months back, anti-racism activists were telling people that you don’t have to use the n-word to convey that someone is racist. In fact, one story I was linked to didn’t mention race at all, and yet still conveyed the racism of certain characters.
I’m not even pretending it’s the same, but I think lots of people (especially Black women) don’t get credit where credit is due. Their activism helped me reach my realization in ableism.]
I was wrong for a couple of reasons. First off, why can’t my writing be a safe space? Why can’t it be the one place slurs aren’t used? This is a fictional world, here. It’s not even stretching it to dis-include those words! (Ironically, I told this to someone months ago on wrtrs. If I find the link, I’ll add it.)
Secondly, using alternative words works to advertise them and make the ableist ones less prevalent. (As an example, I never cursed before high school. Once I was surrounded by it, I started cursing, too. I even actively tried to fight it. But nowadays, I swear a lot.) This may be a vain hope, but I hope my writing helps the alternatives catch on.
Thirdly, I wasn’t specifically trying to portray an anti-intelligence situation.
Finally, but most importantly, even with full tws on my writing, I shouldn’t use slurs. Those get saved for discussions where you need to clarify what you’re discussing, and personal identification.