Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Deafism evolved because of Audism"...Implications

It is just impossible to reflect on such depth in 40 minutes with my freaking messed-up head, you just can't even imagine what I'm going through in this period. I did just receive a miraculous letter from the Mayor of Grosseto who accepted my request for "Patrocinio" (not even sure what it means, but I think it's a good thing) for our book presentation sometime in April (no doubt it will be the 16th because all I see lately is 4-16 and 43)so now I have to mentally prepare to sound intelligent in front of a lot of people without breaking down. Should be interesting...but very exciting! And you can be sure that Jordan will be reading his letter to the reader!


Okay, of all of the comments I read and there were some major comments from the last post, what Jean Boutcher said, struck me the most:

Deafism evolved because of audism.

As a defense mechanism? As a demand for validation as deaf individuals? or as the assertion of a collective voice? Why was "Deafism" not present before Audism, because the idea of "Deafism" to me as a product of Audism gives me the impression that a Deaf person lives on the defensive as opposed to the offensive and needs validation of his/her existence.

If this is the case, I can understand why there is so much resentment, anger and closed-mindedness when a hearing person tries to convey a message with heart, not dictate. Living with the idea that my life is dictated to me, judged and found lacking is no way to live. So, yes, I can understand the resentment and anger, but living my life "expecting" that every hearing person or oral deaf individual I come into contact with is a potential audist creates a predisposition for mistrust...which I can understand, as well. I have great difficulty trusting people as I've already written. However, when you refuse to let yourself trust people, you miss out on a helluva lot of incredible people and the opportunity to enrich your life.

*Life ain't easy:)*

Reading your comments and various blogs has given me a deeper perspective on what exactly haunts the Deaf community and has led to such incredible sensitivity on one side yet anger, resentment and an unwillingness to trust on the other side.

KW left another one of her power comments:
Jodi, I haven't blogged about this in much detail because it hurts. I'm taking off to see my parents in a couple hours. My mother wouldn't even discuss my hearing loss for twenty-seven years. She still will not look at my audiograms. My parents still haven't grasped the extent of my deafness.
Mom did not want me to mention my hearing loss to other relatives for all that time. I had to pretend to hear around them. They all live out of state. I felt like she was ashamed of me, as if I made committed an embarrassing crime by becoming deaf.

A Deaf Pundit wrote:
For instance, I remember going into Best Buy with a deaf friend - (side note: he had a CI) but we could only lipread and speak minimally. So I gestured to the store clerk that he would have to write down stuff.
The clerk heaved a huge sigh, and it was very easy to lipread him saying, "I know..." and he was very rude with us. Looking back, I should've gotten the manager -that's how bad it was.

Gnarlydorkette shared an experience from her childhood and concluded with this...:
That last statement alone dashed my sense of being in an utopia. I thought I was normal until that wonderful yet nearsighted teacher snapped me into the reality that NOBODY sees me as a normal child. Really tragic.

Mishka, then shared an aspect of audism that I really hadn't understood even existed - I thought it completely had to do with hearing people's mistreatment of the Deaf. I read the definition but the oral deaf vs. signing deaf didn't really sink in (little thick of me) until this comment:
Superiority, based on my personal experiences as well as countless other oral deaf people. In the oral deaf settings, we were drilled endlessly how fortunate we were to be able to speak and hear (or lipread), unlike "those people" who use their hands. We were taught to look down on Deaf people as unfortunate and stupid people. Since I was indoctrinated in this audistic environment, I can spot it one mile away : /

*You guys deal with a lot of shit on a daily basis, I'm getting where the intensity level is coming from:)*


Amy Cohen Effron left this comment:
Jodi, you said: "Are you sure that those oral attitudes are fueled by superiority and not guilt?"

Can you divulge what do you mean by guilty? Whose guilt? Guilty for not able to communicate with Deaf people? Or do you think it has to do with...

Fear of unknown?
Disability phobia?
Guilty for not able to communicate?

I said "guilty" because I always have this experience in the back of my head...My first semester of college I worked at the Bagel Shop and oftentimes I had customers come up to the counter to order who were Deaf and signed. I COULD NOT COMMUNICATE WITH THEM! I felt guilty that I did not know ASL, so I smiled a lot, broke out the pen and paper and began writing. Then, my next semester and every semester thereafter I tried to fit in an ASL course with my other requirements. It never worked with my schedule. Guilt was MY reaction to not being able to communicate, which has to do with a feeling of incompetence at not being able to effectively communicate in ASL.

The idea of Disability Phobia (first time reading this term) is directly related to ignorance, the more we educate and spread awareness of Deaf Issues, approaches to deafness and of course *smile* the cochlear implant, the more people will realize that it's not necessary to scream in the ear of a person wearing a cochlear implant or hearing aids. If we give people the words they need to discuss issues in deafness, they will be more willing to discuss Deafness. Knowledge is power, we need to educate others with the assumption that they are willing to listen without being on the defensive. A comment left on Patti's blog really disturbed me. A very nice individual actually said something to the effect that she appreciated my apology because she liked my blog, but "wasn't sure she could trust me."

Am I really so threatening? If so, why?

(will add links later, gotta go to work, Wednesdays are killer)


Divided said...

Oh heavens,'re not threatening at all...least not to me!
Like I said before, damn if you do and damn if you don't. There will be deaf people you're gonna meet that will put out a 10 foot pole and misjudge you. Just as there are hearing people who do the same for us.

It works both ways.
There are people who say that you don't know anything about us unless you *walked a mile in our shoes*

Yeah, we encounter many different attitudes but the message is the same. Treat us as you would want to be treated. We often are faced with having to defend ourselves. I've been told by hearing people that "oh, you don't understand us because you can't hear". How I used to hate that comment...I would respond, no, no, YOU don't understand us because YOU can't sign! Often times hearing people would parlay the problem on us...not the other way around. Is it our problem that we are deaf? We are put in a position to defend ourselves...not define who we are.


At family gathering my hearing relatives would say to me...oh, but you speak so well...I don't understand why you can't hear as well. SIGH, because my speech has nothing to do with my hearing loss...DUH


We are sailors and have sailed to many places..including Bermuda on our own sailboat in the past...hearing people have said to us: how can you sail? you can't hear the radio, the weather report, etc, etc. SIGH


our response...Christopher Columbus didn't have a radio and he discovered AMERICA!! We have eyes and can read the weather patterns and watch tv when on land. oh yeah, and we make babies in the dark just like you folks do too!!! *rolling eyes* these are *educated people* who actually say these things. SIGH are right saying that we gotta trust people now and then or we miss meeting a lot of wonderful folks (like you)... hope you get where I'm going...

lots of hugs Jodi!!!

Candy said...

No, you're not threatening at all! Deaf people tend to be on the defensive too quick and oftenly. Being HOH in a culturally deaf household, I say that all this is just deep resented anger that they have, simply because they have not accepted who they are yet in their journey of whatever it is....

Even in the real world, everyone has to put up with lots of shit by people in general. So, for the deaf, they quickly label it as audism.

I have not yet had anyone call me that, and I dare them to!


Anonymous said...

Jodi ..

Great article.

I am not oppressed. I am not oppressed because I CHOOSE not to be oppressed.

I am not criticizing anyone for believing they are oppressed. If you feel that way, that is your choice alone.

I refuse to empower oppressive practices by resigning myself to the fact that someone else has had more power/control over me. And if difficulties arisen from stupid people, well .. I didn't get this far in life by complaining about "audism" or "oppression."

Anyway, I liked your article.



drmzz said...

Oh yea, a lot of things that Jean Boutcher said resonates with me. With someone who has years of experience in Deaf academia, I have nothing but high respect for her as compared with other people in DR who profess a "tongue in cheek" mentality at the expense of others.

A Deaf Pundit said...

Nah, I don't go through life going, "I can't trust hearing people." I trust humanity. I believe that the majority of people are good and have good intentions.

When I go in a public place, I don't think to myself, "Be prepared to run into an audistic asshole!"

Life's too short for that. Life's meant to be enjoyed, and I do enjoy life.

But I have certainly developed strategies and have learned to employ those strategies immediately when I get into an uncomfortable situation.

Blacks do that. Gays do that. Every minority does that.

It's not about validation. It's about being treated as an equal and acknowledgment that discrimination does exist.

I don't need a stranger to acknowledge who I am. I need a stranger, if we interact, to treat me like how they would like to be treated.

Karen Mayes said...

Jodi, no you are not threatening at all.

I see it is more due to the ignorance than anything else. I was (and am still) accused of being an audist *shrug* That is why I cautioned against using the certain words which could lead to "witch hunt".

Divided has a good point. :o)

Anonymous said...

Jodi ..

Sorry for the duplicity. I found an interesting quote that some people might find worthwhile to read. The quote is derived from a Canadian children's human rights advocate discussing issues related to the deaf community, deaf residential schools and apartheid in South Africa.

"When you teach others to hate and fear another, when you teach that an individual or group is lesser because of their race, beliefs or the policies they pursue, when you teach that those who disagree with you threaten your freedom or your livelihood or your family, then you also learn to see others not as equal citizens but as enemies, only to be conformed and mastered."

Click here.



Anonymous said...

I'm with Deaf Pundit.

I don't need dealing with the hearing people's attitudes as long as they have treated and respected me that way.

I don't need dealing with the audists.

Audism is such a waste of time discussing and I want to enjoy my life and family.

My responsibility is educating people to learn to respect the people's sensitivities. It's the lifetime responsibility.

You are not threatening. It is not necessary.

The biggest problem is that many people have faced the reality the life after the hearing loss denied. How can we educate them eventhough they are denied?

White Ghost

Karen Mayes said...


The quotation you shared with us... says it all.

That is why there is so much paranoia among the deaf people?

Anonymous said...

Candy, please define who those "deaf people" are, since you don't speak for me.

Anonymous said...

Blackism evolved because of racism.

Sounds absurd?

Unknown said...

Thank you for both of your comments. As a Jewish American living in Post 9-11, Iraq invaded times abroad, I hear a lot of misconceptions, prejudice, and your basic "talking out of your ass."
I choose my battles wisely and have "asshole radar" (really sorry to use that term when speaking to you, but it's the best fit for certain people - pardon me the lack of elegance) so that when it beeps, I just nod my head and move on...
Selective educating does play its part *smile* and hugs, Jodi

Unknown said...

Dark, depressing article...I read your blog this morning and this is a tragic issue.
Based on what I have been reading here on audism and deafism, your quote is exceptional, thank you for taking the time to post it.

Perhaps I should write a blog saying how "intellectual men are stimulating and sexy!"
*putting on my glasses and throwing my hair up in a bun*

Unknown said...

Oh A Deaf Pundit,
I hear you, your situation is a bit more complex -ya feel me?-. Considering this, I understand a little more how it could be difficult to have an open-minded predisposition towards new people. So, I give you credit for believing in the good nature of humanity. It definitely helps to be optimistic in life.
However, if someone makes an ignorant comment, I don't call them a racist or an audist, I label them as an ignorant asshole and move on - a couple of people can't ruin it for the rest of the world. I fistsmack you, Jodi

Candy said...

Dog Food, No, I don't speak for you, then "them" don't apply to you! :)

Actually it's a bad habit of mine for not being specific enough. I'm speaking of those deaf people who tend to scream audism at every chance they get. "Some deaf people" Better? Sorry if I offended you.

Divided said...

Yes Jodi, yes....that's exactly what I (and probably many others do)...use our "asshole radar" often and just walk away after one or two (not more than two!) attempts to make an intelligent conversation with deaf/hearing people. It works both ways!!

Growing up jewish myself in a predominately jewish area of Brooklyn, NY...I was subjected to many comments by other family members and nosey neighbors telling me what and how I should a good jewish girl. Gawsh... I married a wonderful guy from GERMANY. Oh yeah, I got an eyeful and an earful from my relatives!

Like Paotie said, I choose not to be paranoid like some others and don't bother much with discussions defining audists...many of my deaf friends don't either. heck, I don't think I could explain it and who cares!! Not me!!

I try to live my life as a good citizen, teach others by letting them see my deafness and if they don't get it then it's their loss. I just move on and continue in my wonderful life with my deaf and hearing friends.

But you, Jodi, you're're curious and open to learning about who we are and teaching us about who you are. That's exciting and I'm having fun on your blog!


Karen Mayes said...

Defining deaf people...

Yup, the majority of deaf people is NOT part of Deaf Culture even though they are part of deaf community. Like Candy, when I speak of the majority, I use small "d" (deaf) and I speak of the minority (Deaf Culture), I use capital "D".

mishkazena said...

"Am I really so threatening? If so, why?"

Not to me. I find you sincerely curious, nonjudgmental and show willingness to explore topics alien to you. Not many people are like that.

For me, I don't approach hearing people with distrust. Pretty much most of my time is spent in the hearing community. Of course, we are surrounded with insensitive and arrogant assholes. However, from my personal perspective, the most audism I've encountered is within the Deaf Community. One cannot help wondering why certain hearing people are drawn to Deaf community. Is it out of equal respect or a desire to 'help' others, seeing these poor misfortunate people who cannot talk and hear? and enjoying the power from the inequity? I suspect the latter.

Mike said...

I am not oppressed and my name is not "John Imavictim." I refuse to be a victim because I don't see myself as a "victim" anyway. Enough of the pity stuff. If people go around screaming "I'm a victim!" or say that "I'm oppressed!" to everybody all the time then they have lost themselves. Rather, I see it the other way around. I'd rather say that I'm an educator and I'm here to teach people some things and that requires patience and time. I see some of these people as "victims of ignorance" instead and that they are the "oppressed ones" (if get my drift) for not having the proper information to be fully informed. But then if they have all the information and know what it's all about and they choose to put deaf/hh down then still, you're not a victim. It's the fact that those people are simply being an ass.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your correction, :).

Your recent post also made me think about how one should write about deaf people (or any minority/group) in general. I mean, how do we write about our own community? do we say "them" or "us" as we are part of it as much as each D/deaf person in the world?

For example, in situations like this post, in order to show our disagreement with immediate use of "audism" or "deafism", do we differentiate ourselves from parts of our own community by using the word "them" and "those" instead of "us" and "our"?

Its hard to be offended with text, but i am very intrigued with the use of it anyways. I find this fascinating regarding English language.

What do you think of these two lines:

"Some of those deaf people scream 'Audist' too much."

"Some of our deaf people scream 'Audist' too much."

My opinion is that when we use "those" we accidentally label the entire community while giving ourselves an outside position (hence my desire to ask you who exactly are you saying). When we use words like "our", it appears to be more neutral. What do you think?

thanks for your response anyways :).

Anonymous said...

Hi Jodi, Here is my response

Kim said...

Hi Jodi,
I don't see you as an audist or threatening. I never heard the word audist til I started reading DeafRead. I've never applied it to anyone that I can recall. Mostly I just think some people are ignorant.

Sometimes I am shocked. (You remember the restaurant blog a couple weeks ago when the waitress boxed up my food because she thought I couldn't speak?) Usually things like this don't even bother me. That made me laugh.

There have been a few times people have cussed at me because of my deafness, and one time a guy asked me why I was working if I was so deaf, but they were people with anger management problems who also had run-ins with others and were known to be a**holes. Though it was upsetting, I didn't take it personally because I knew the real problem was with them.

The reason I told you about my parents was to illustrate how deafness can impact family relationships. My parents aren't audists. It's more complicated than that. On the surface their denial felt like rejection. It was many years before I understood that it wasn't rejection, it was . . .something else. I still don't completely understand, because they are from a different generation-- one that doesn't discuss disability.

I'm not big on labels.

Karen Mayes said...

I don't normally label. When I label, I usually define the group socially.

But it is interesting that labelling is approached in two different ways. One way is out of ignorance and fear. Another way is pride and knowledge, the need to define one's purpose in the world... either way.

Candy said...

Dog Food,


Ya know, "Some of our" does sound neutral. It's best to want to get our message across without offending anyone. Yet, it seems that sometimes, no matter what one does, some of our deaf people still get offended! :)

Karen Mayes said...

Candy, yup... we feel either offended or praised, based on our interpretations of what we read :o)