analogies

"Blind spot" is not a disability analogy

Calling something a blind spot isn’t a disparaging reference to blindness. It’s referring to something about how sighted people’s vision works.

There are points in a sighted person’s field of vision where they’re not actually seeing things, but they think they are because their brain is filling in details. There are situations in which it is very important to be aware of this and intentionally look places where your brain is tricking you into thinking you’re already looking.

When sighted people learn to drive, they have to learn how to intentionally check blind spots in order avoid crashes. A sighted person’s brain will tell them that they’re already seeing things in those blind spots, and so they have to learn to intentionally look. 

Calling something a blind spot metaphorically is a reference to this fact about how sighted people’s vision works. It means something like “you think you’re already seeing that, but you’re not. You need to learn how to look at it directly, or you’re going to hurt people.”

About oppression analogies

This is a way different groups run into conflicts.

  • One group has seen historical discussions of something bad that used to happen to another group
  • They think this is over
  • They want to use this as an analogy for a group they are part of
  • So they say “well, what if x happened to that group?”
  • and then they don’t realize that actually, this thing still happens to that group all the time
  • and so they end up hurting the other group by erasing their experiences

Some common examples:

  • LGBT groups that say that they are the new civil rights movement, as though racism and discrimination have ended
  • Any time one group says “just substitute black for [my group] and no one would think this was ok (because there are still a lot of anti-black racists who do that thing; this isn’t over)
  • People using an analogy to the n-word to object to the way another group is discriminated against. (This is bad because the n-word is still routinely used against black people, and saying it still hurts people even if you think you aren’t racist)
  • Mental health advocates who say that people don’t get blamed for physical illness, so they shouldn’t be blamed for mental illness either (people get blamed for phyiscal illness all the time, especially chronic illness)
  • Eg "Imagine if you were blamed for having cancer”. 
  • Autistic advocates who say that asking them to make eye contact while talking is like asking someone with motor coordination problems to do pushups (which is a thing that happens too)
  • Comparing things the the Holocaust that aren’t similar (abortion opponents and animal rights activists often make these sorts of comparisons)

These are some examples I know about, and I know there are many I do not know about. What are some others? (And did I get any of these wrong?)