i went through and looked at 1) every post on feministing.com tagged in the ‘disability rights’ category and 2) every post between now and 2005 in a search of the site for disability rights. (raw data here.)
total posts from 5/05 - 9/09: 23 (or one every 2.3 months). only 5 of those posts were tagged with “disability rights,’ so if a new reader arrived at the site searching for information on disability issues, they would likely locate only those 5.)
type of posts: includes 3 interviews, 2 profiles, and 8 link round-ups that included at most a single sentence on disability-related issues
posts with the most reader engagement on disability issues:
- Supreme Court: Pregnancy Discrimination A-OK, where comment discussion centers on whether it would be helpful to non-disabled pregnant women if pregnancy was categorized as a temporary disability.
- Pregnant Women as Temporarily Disabled, again considering how non-disabled pregnant women would be affected by categorizing pregnancy as a temporary disability. The comments thread includes discussion of how pregnant women don’t want to be called disabled because that’s so serious and stigmatizing, how pregnancy is different than disability because it’s the body’s natural function, how men already treat all women as disabled by opening doors and carrying things, and how there are way too many handicapped parking spaces already.
- Laura Hershey: Disability Rights Activist Extraordinare, an interview with activist Hershey, who raises the Ashley X case as an example of a major concern for disability activists as it demonstrated the lack of mental or physical integrity of the disabled girl. The comments section then re-argues the Ashley X case, largely deciding that the parents had the right to do whatever they wanted to their disabled child. (warning: the comments section may be difficult or upsetting to read.)
- Do We Have the Right to Decide the Fate of Disabled Youth?, about the British case of a mother who wanted a hysterectomy performed on her adolescent daughter with cerebral palsy to prevent puberty and menstruation. The comments thread focuses on how the mother is burdened by caring for the child and should have the right to make whatever bodily modification increase ease of use. (warning: the comments section may be difficult or upsetting to read.)
so, every 3 months or so, the site posts about disability issues, which is likely to be a single link in an overall link roundup. if the post focuses on substantive issues its likely either to be a discussion of how disability laws and benefits can best aid non-disabled pregnant women or a trainwreck discussion of how people with disabilities have no right to bodily autonomy or self-determination.
so yeah, i’d say the problem is a lot larger than courtney unthinkingly using ableist language in a single post.