I see internalized ableism in my practice all the time. Which is to say, I see it in my clients.
My clients frequently express hatred of and disgust toward their bodies. Interestingly, however, more of them express shame that they are not able to work than over the perceived inferiority of their bodies. The men aren't macho enough if they have disabilities, the women not sexy enough. But in a materialist society, apparently, the ultimate failure of the disabled is that we don't make money.
Never mind that discrimination is responsible for the largest portion of the wage-differential between, say, able-bodied white guys at the top and disabled women of color at the bottom--it still feels to us like some kind of character failing on our parts. Never mind that materialism is a rotten way to value people--we still feel like losers.
But how do we practice internalized ableism toward each other? That is harder to see.
- Am I, outside of my awareness, guilty of speaking for my clients?
- Are even clients with disabilities of their own making assumptions about my professional abilities based on my physical (dis)ability?
- Do I make a space where other people with disabilities can feel welcome?