I used to tell my students that ideology never announces itself as ideology. It naturalizes itself like the air we breath. It doesn’t acknowledge that it is a way of looking at the word; it proceeds as if it is the only way of looking at the world. At its most effective, it renders itself unassailable: just the way things are. Not an opinion, not the result of centuries of implicit and explicit messaging, not a means of upholding a power structure. It just is.
Source: the shame is ours
In politics our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.
When we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required for new frames. Thinking differently requires speaking differently.
When your kid is DXed as autistic, almost all of the professional advice you get from education and healthcare is steeped in deficit ideology. The unhealthiness, unhelpfulness, and disconnectedness of this worldview leads some to consult autistic adults. Then, you discover neurodiversity and the social model of disability. And then, maybe, intersectionality, design for real life, and equity literate education. And then you find yourself in the healthier framing of structural ideology that is better for your kid and better for the systems and institutions that you’re now trying to improve.
Reframe these states of being that have been labelled deficiencies or pathologies as human differences.
Resisting normal requires reframing who and what we call the problem. It wasn’t the ADD or the dyslexia that disabled me. What disabled me were limitations not in myself, but within the environment.
I came to reframe these disorders as social constructs, and the problem wasn’t in me but in the environment. I had hoped that this would be the end of it: if my so-called disabilities were social constructs that weren’t real, then I was normal, wasn’t I? At that point in my life, I still wanted to be normal, because not normal has always been less than, and to claim normal is an attempt to reclaim oneself.
But it doesn’t work that way. This act of reclaiming is really an act of self-negation. Every society has struggled to integrate and accept difference. Social systems have either corrected difference to make it disappear or included, even tolerated, certain types of differences as normal—differences that don’t require changes to the world of the same. Just declaring a love of diversity and renaming certain differences as normal, while the world stays the same, is to tell kids like me that we are all different and then set us loose in a social environment that tells us, compels us to stop being different.