Friday, 15 January 2016

#crippingthemighty - a useful debate?

In the week before Christmas 2015, disquiet and brewing hostility from some commentators about both the content and practices of the website The Mighty, a prolific publisher  and re-publisher of mostly short articles about disability, erupted in a flurry of protest (that has abated, but still continues) and some defence. Many writers with and without disabilities have weighed in - the best identify the problems and put forward solutions rather than simply complaining.

The Mighty issued a general response early on, as part of a review of its year, and having asked for feedback, has apparently continued largely unchanged:
Inside The Mighty: A New Year and New Challenges Ahead,  Mike Porath, The Mighty, 4 January 2016
... We’ve taken criticism from some within the disability community recently over who should be permitted to write and how they should be permitted to write about their experiences. Those are valid concerns. The passions of this community run deep and they are multi-layered. Our team lives with disabilities and diseases so we understand this. 
Our goal is to provide this platform for people to share their life experiences in a respectful and responsible manner. We’re discussing editorial guidelines not just internally, but with many others in the community, which will result in updated guidelines for contributors. We listen, we learn and we move forward ...
Typically, David Perry explains the problem succinctly, identifies two major problems and proposes solutions:
Two Ethical Futures for The Mighty,  David M Perry, How Did We Get Into This Mess? 22December 2015
The Mighty is a well-funded website that publishes personal essays about disability. Narratives tend to be parent-driven or illness-driven, but they throw a huge amount of content out at the internet without much editorial oversight ...
... what (they are) doing now is causing damage to the community (they) allegedly are here to support, and you can't paper those wounds over with apologies.
A good list of responses, followed up with some plain-speaking about why the criticism has arisen
Weekly reading list: 'The Mighty' edition,  Disability Thinking, 4 January 42016
This week's Weekly Reading List is devoted to the biggest thing happening in disability culture at the moment, #CrippingTheMighty.
These responses focus on how the #crippingthemighty campaign highlights the sometimes subtle (and sometimes not) different interests of children with disability and their parents:
Why is it so important for parents to listen to disabled advocates?  Michelle Sutton Writes, 7 January 2016
There is a fair bit of misunderstanding of the message from disabled advocates in the situation around the discussion involving The Mighty and its history of promoting the voices of parents of disabled children more than those of actually disabled people ... 
Six questions before publishing about children,  Lauri Swann Hunt, Ollibean, 6 January 2016
I have a wonderful family with kids who are adored and accepted for being exactly who they are, not in spite of their disabilities. My family is not tragic, burdensome, or ultra-special. The non-disabled members of my family do not possess a supernatural patience that have enabled us to escape the fate of the “special needs family” that dominates your news feeds and the neurodivergent members are not inspirational just for being. We are capable of heroic acts, but they can’t be translated into a meme that would make you feel thankful you weren’t in our shoes ...
Why I Dislike The Mighty and Better Alternatives for Parents,  We Always Liked Picasso Anyway, 22 December 2015
Many people confuse parent support with disability advocacy. Those are two separate things. This is why sites like The Mighty are so problematic. You can't complain about parenting a disabled child in the same space that you claim to want to uplift and inspire people about disability. 

'To ring in the New Year, the authors of this article present the#InspoPornResolution, a set of guidelines for better reporting and writing about the disability community':
The Inspiration Porn ResolutionAlice Wong, Liz Jackson, and R. Larkin Taylor-Parker, Medium Corporation, 4 January 2016
If you’re struggling to figure out how to write about the disability experience authentically and inclusively, check out these fantastic writers and projects ...
If you search 'cripping The Mighty' or the hashtag #crippingthemighty you will find much more.

We have from time to time sourced links from The Mighty, selecting carefully from the large number of posts for the most well-considered and relevant to our readers. As Carly Findlay suggests in her second post about #crippingthemighty, in response to recent actions by The Mighty that we will rethink using it all:
An open letter to The Mighty: being mighty outspoken means getting mightily shut out,  Carly Findlay, 12 January 2016
.. The Mighty editors have removed many of the disability self advocates (and non disabled advocates) from the very community they're trying to serve ... the editors have continued to ask for our feedback and said they'll take it on board. A number of us have provided advice on accessibility, payment for writers, language and content to both the site's editors and writers. The atmosphere in their dedicated Facebook writers group got very nasty, and on Friday afternoon ... many of us (people with disabilities and those without) were removed from the group - with no warning and a very poor explanation following our removal ...

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