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People on Twitter are sharing their snarkiest comebacks to the inappropriate and ignorant questions abled people have asked them about their disabilities—and they’re hilarious.
“I cannot count the number of times I literally fell off my chair laughing at the responses to the hashtag,” Nicole G. Cowie, a mental health and disability rights activist from Trinidad and Tobago, told the Daily Dot via email.
Cowie said she started the hashtag on Saturday after another activist friend, @Tinu, was talking about how strangers often lead with questions like “What’s your disability?” instead of a simple hello.
“I wanted to address the notion that disabled people are not supposed to clapback when you interact with them in a disrespectful way,” Cowie said. “I want to affirm the idea of choice and agency in how a disabled person chooses to respond to an ableist interaction. You don’t have to feel obligated to be the ‘crip ambassador’ and educate people about your disability all the time.”
My #DisabledSnark - a supermarket delivery driver repeatedly asked me why I wore wrist splints. Time and time again (while not helping me unload). I said I had nerve damage and he asked how I got it;— Kate Sang 🐝🐘 (@katesang) April 15, 2019
Me: 'from punching someone who asked too many rude questions'
Idiot: how msny fingers am I holding up? Legally blind me: Oh, for crying out loud. If you can’t count your own fingers, why are you out here alone? #DisabledSnark— Leah Christensen (@danishcanadian) April 15, 2019
My (abled) five year old is the queen of #DisabledSnark on my behalf. A while ago a stranger asked me what is “wrong” with me that I need to use a mobility scooter at my age (27). My 5 year old replied that “mum got poorly legs from kicking all the rude people who ask questions”.— Kat Harrison (@chronicparent30) April 14, 2019
All the time. I usually answer with the obvious— Four Wheel Workout™️ ♿️ (@4WheelWorkOut) April 13, 2019
"What happened to you?"
"I'm in a wheelchair."
"Yeah but why?"
"Because I don't have legs"
"What happened to your legs?"
I don't get why people think that deaf and mute people can't own mobile phones— Donghyuk61cmBooboo (@melanicious1) April 15, 2019
I be like:how else do you think I order my latte?#DisabledSnark
The German word for "disabled" has become a often used slur. Every time someone goes "Boah das ist doch behindert" at something that doesn't work his way or that he can't believe (word for word translation: Woah, that's disabled)— Lukasthoughs -Victors verscholler Zwillingsbruder- (@lukasthoughs) April 15, 2019
I simply go "DAMN right it is!"#DisabledSnark
“What happened to your foot?” Me: “You should see the other guy” #DisabledSnark— Jackie (@J2theDW) April 15, 2019
Them: «It must be so hard being deaf! I could never!»— Master-Mandarine (@ProEiszeitDeaf) April 15, 2019
Me: «No. Being deaf means I don’t have to listen to ableist shit like that.» #DisabledSnark
Got asked if I could still have sex? (The classic we all get) so I told him to ask his dad. #DisabledSnark— 🎃 Sara Burgess 🎃 (@SaraBTweet23) April 13, 2019
I don’t want my disability to appear to be a consequence so I tell the child “nothing wrong with me. Please share that with whomever is telling children disabled are wrong.” I like your gentle approach. #DisabledSnark— Leah Christensen (@danishcanadian) April 15, 2019
Honestly, one of the hardest things about becoming visibly disabled has been the need to be 'polite' all the time. I am not a polite person, I am loud & love a swear. But every day I have to placate people who have grabbed me because they think they are helping. #DisabledSnark— Dr Amy Kavanagh (@BlondeHistorian) April 14, 2019
A man I did not know once cold-approached me to ask if he could "pray for me". I looked around for a second, leaned in very close, and said in my best conspiratorial whisper, "Why? Do you know something I don't??" #DisabledSnark https://t.co/hHPXKTexhK— E.J. Mason (@codeability) April 13, 2019
Cowie says she is happy about the responses because they harkened back to situations she herself has been in where she couldn’t think of the right answer in the moment. And while the responses are humorous—and the hashtag a celebration of sass—they don’t take away from the lessons people are sharing about the insensitivities of abled people.
Take a look at #DisabledSnark - you can learn how intrusive it is to be nosey about someone's disability/impairment, OR have a laugh at people saying the things you wish you'd said (or did say!)— Kate Sang 🐝🐘 (@katesang) April 15, 2019
An acquaintance at work marveled at how much weight I'd lost & so quickly.— Ellen W (@EllenBookstore) April 15, 2019
She said "How did you do it?"
I said "I got Crohns--a painful, incurable, degenerative disease."
She asked excitedly "How can I get that??"#DisabledSnark #HealthyPeopleSayTheDarndestThings
“Disabled people should be fully human in their interactions with ableist people,” Cowie said. “#DisabledSnark is just one more tool to empower how you choose to respond to ableist interactions.”
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque