jesse_the_k: Hands open print book with right side hollowed out to hole iPod (Alt format reader)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Elsa Sjunneson-Henry is the Managing Editor of Fireside Fiction, a literary magazine which publishes a variety of things, lots of which are SF.

Her essay on the task, and the metaphor, of "blind reading," does a great job explaining why the phrase "blind reading" is unhelpful

Here's a taste: click to read )
jesse_the_k: Well nourished white woman riding black Quantum 4400 powerchair off the right edge, chased by the word "powertool" (JK powertool)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Just caught up with some of my Blogging Against Disablism Day/May 1 blog posts. (I own my slowness). One particularly apt post talked about educating kids about what "disability" means using the Incredible Hulk and modeling clay.

From Never That Easy, 1 May 2014
begin quote  "And I guess it isn't exactly super-normal that you change into a big green monster when you're angry either" suggested her brother, ALMOST apologetically. "Well, I'm not sure disabled and normal are exact opposites there, bud" I corrected him gently (because you try and correct a 14 year-old any other way), "but yeah, I think maybe Hulking out could stretch into the disability category if we really tried, because it's something in his body that he's not always got control over and a lot of disabilities -" I gestured to myself "are kind of like that. Cousin Sara once called her seizures Hulking out." (Our cousin has epilepsy.)
 quote ends

Blind vs. Masked

Mon, Jun. 10th, 2013 01:10 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
I first started using "Masked" instead of "Blind" when I worked on a scientific study where some blind people were participants. Blind is both a medical term and an identity category, and therefore it means a lot of things already; "masked" is more respectful and we used it in place of "double blind study" for example. This was before I got into disability politics, maybe around 2005.

Then I met [personal profile] jesse_the_k who convinced me to stop using "blind" as a metaphor entirely.

Here is some background reading:
Kestrell: What Good writers Still Get Wrong about Blind People
Kate Nepveu, panel writeup: I'm not your metaphor: Explaining Oppression with Analogies
Jesse the K: I'm not Colorblind, I'm Totally Blind!

Jesse says: "Blindness doesn't endow one with greater spiritual insight nor better hearing than sighted people..."

This is key. The whole idea of a "blind" study is that it makes a scientist less biased. But it's the built in ignorance of the drug or intervention being used that makes the scientist less biased. It's a way to build safety into a study. It has nothing do with sight in particular: it has to do with knowledge, and sequestering knowledge. In the case of reviewing, it's the ignorance of who the author is, etc.

The stereotype of blindness, of blind people, being perpetuated here is that they are purer, less biased, more forgiving of flaws, better judges of data and of character. They can't be, you know, just people. Once again, disabled people aren't given the benefit of being full human beings, of having full moral character.

"Masked" is preferable because it is a separate term that evokes temporarily putting on and taking off of a mask, for the purpose of doing a study or review. A mask could cover up your identity, make you seem like someone else, or no one at all: it gives the idea of being anonymous. For reviewing in particular, this metaphor works very well: what if the manuscript was submitted by Anonymous? A person in a mask. It's not that the reviewer is "blind"--a stereotype of someone pure and unbiased, it's that the submitter is wearing a mask.

Your thoughts here are welcome.

This post brought to you by recent SF/F calls for "blind reviews" (blech).

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