Branding When Disabled, AKA, Bitter AF
I wonder what my relationship with self worth and money would have been like if I hadn’t been born disabled in an end stage capitalistic hellscape. You know, a privileged hellscape, with tvs and refrigerators.
It fucks up a lot of things. How I think about what I spend my time on. How I value the things I do, and if I can ever truly value myself because of how fucked I am on the scale of those metrics. How I’m smart enough to know it’s all bullshit, but when it kills you — because that is the stark reality of our world. Having no money, being in long term poverty, is a death sentence. And the longer you’re in poverty, the more impossible it is to escape.
So I’m smart enough to know it shouldn’t be how I value myself, but I cannot escape the consequences of my failure to compete. My failure to win a broken game in a broken system created by a broken species.
There is no untangling that from what I do in the world, because what I do is what this world claims to value. The productivity of the worthy human — unless you’re already rich, then anything you do must automatically be valued. The things we do to contribute to this broken system. It decides I must feel guilty to rest when I have a condition labeled chronic fatigue. Where everything I do ends up being evaluated in my head of “is it a worthy endeavor?” based on return of income. Because I’m a drain on my family (they would never say it, but it’s absolutely the truth), the one who “if only?” can either save us or continue to pull us down.
Disability isn’t getting easier with age. Quite the opposite. Ageism is creeping in, and I’m noticing how others just don’t see those who are older, don’t clock them as existing at all. Society doesn’t value age, and certainly doesn’t value wisdom. People want to “get ahead” instead of seeing life is a continuous journey of coping with being alive.
And I constantly fight with the part of me who just wants to be allowed on to the side of winners, the side I’m never going to belong on… because this disability thing? It’s part of me. It defines so much of my existence.
I can point out ableism until I’m dead, but that doesn’t actually do shit. It doesn’t tear down the wall that would allow me to breathe easy because my needs will suddenly be met. It doesn’t make things easier on my loved ones, who have their own limits and disabilities disregarded by this society because it doesn’t fit the allowed definition. People who are just doing everything to get through, who are erased from the conversation because they don’t get a label, but they can’t fit with the winners either. I have a level of privileged with this poverty sentence to at least be visible by this label, while they’re struggling without it.
Any help is never going to be systemic change. It’s never going to be true stability, but a love bomb as people come in and then disappear when they start to feel the immense weight of it. It’s a lifetime, disability. It’s not solved with a pill, or a windfall, or a thought and prayer. It’s a lifetime in a system that has decided disability deserves poverty. And what is poverty? Slow death — sometimes faster, depending on the area. But I’m in a civilized country. They draw this shit out.
I think a lot about the confusing privilege I observe of people who aren’t struggling yet feel confident in asking for help, setting up a fundraiser, being paid to basically talk about whatever shit hits them in the moment. While I know so many who can’t make ends meet for so long, who feel so worthless that they could never ask for help. And when they do? How the world looks down upon them, like they did this to themselves. Like they’re crossing a line to dare ask for help, when others demand the same like it’s trivial and are handed it and more.
Why is it so different? I can’t even do a donate thing without feeling monstrous. I need to feel like there is some sort of worthwhile exchange. Here’s a bunch of stories for $10. Sorry I’m so sick I haven’t updated. It will never be “support me to stay alive.” Yet I see so many who can say “support me so I can be comfortable”. “Support me so I can be rich.”
What has this society done to people, where to be born into the wrong side of classism is to be psychologically groomed to accept that if shit is hard for you, it’s your fault? Society isn’t here to help those who need it, only to raise up those blessed enough to have classism reward them in the first case. Like, how did generations of humanity end up here, our fucked up, xenophobic social species picking a target and rationalizing the target for being picked, in both directions?
What madness to have been born into a game that doesn’t require participation to ensure winning or losing. To feel inherently wrong or entitled based on how you’re perceived in regards to worthiness of wealth. Because it’s not “wealth”; it’s life. Money is the right to be alive or not. Not a privileged, not a handout, not a charity. When the government taxes you, they are taking a piece of your life and saying they are owed it for letting you live where you’re living.
Except if you have so much money that to be taxed is absolutely nothing.
But we don’t tax those people. We reward them. Because we’re fucked as a species.
I think there’s an inherent empathy to be born with the losers, to have to constantly question a system of society that has chosen winners and losers. The winners don’t have to question — it’s dangerous for them to question, because they know, instinctual, how society turns. They aren’t special, they aren’t inherently worthy of more than others. They’re just associated with the winners. To be associated with the losers is the first step in becoming one — because classism is association.
It’s not based in genetics, or intelligence, or something genuine to the individual, but in the social wiring of humans as they reinforce small differences until they become rationalizations and reasons why. Why are things unfair? They would say because people are different — but that’s only when one group of people punishes those who are different from them. They rationalize their innate xenophobia onto their targets, never looking inwards. Because inwards in the truth — no one is so different that they deserve to be born into a situation that will kill them. And no one is so different that in a society that could support everyone, that they get so much more while others die with nothing.
None of this is justified… but everyone is participating in it.
Why does networking open more doors than hard work? Social association. And if you let in the wrong one and become associated with a loser? Social assassination. There are no bridges up because of that second part. Just a few people crossing the class divide, knowing they can never look back or they might return to needing to survive instead of thrive. Education looks like a bridge, but they’ve priced that so far out of reach, ensuring anyone who can’t afford it without loans will suffer the rest of their lives for daring to try.
Exploitation of classism happens at the educational level, but not a true path out of classism. The networks in academia reinforce classism. They give jobs to those who already belong, and weed out those who don’t. They have transformed the system of apprenticing, reinforcing the working class, who will never be the upper class, forced to be in debt for the right to have access to a living wage. With a promise if you just throw down enough money, you’ll get ahead. Because McDonald’s — a minimum wage that isn’t a living wage — requires a degree now.
So who are the people who spin their disabilities in the third person for legitimacy, writing in the language of the winners? Those already born there. Who know they’re supported already, and don’t feel it a burden to ask. Where else can such a mindset come from, truly? The haves, not the have nots. And I can’t mimick it, because it disgusts me, the lack of awareness. The confidence when in such a web of complexity, because they have never had to see that complexity and empathize.
Or they have, and they use the words anyways.
People are just memes. This social pattern is just that, a pattern, that can be adapted to. It’s not inherent; classism is just groups of people only seeing certain other people to be worthy like them because of perceived shared sameness. It’s tribalism, because our xenophobia has not been overcome, and tribes can be faked. People do it all the time. There’s a reason narcisists and sociopaths are usually found at “the top.” They fake it really well.
But then what. Winning? What is that beyond survival, but the reinforcement of the social inequality one has been fighting the entire time? It doesn’t break the system. You contribute to it. There’s no rising tide raising all boats, but a burning of bridges and a firm locking of a mask on one’s face to ensure they will always fit in. Depersonalized until you’re talking like them, in their limited language of tribal human.
I cannot burn myself when I need to survive for others. But to walk a path with full self awareness that stands for everything I’m against? I’m not capable of that either, not well, not with the exuberance and determination needed to do it well. And if you’re selling out in a half-assed way, what’s the fucking point to begin with?
When not overcoming their personal demons through raunchy, fun stories, Sadie Sins lives with their 4 mischievous cats, writing about sex positivity in dark erotica, and fighting for disability visibility and the toppling of class inequality. Here’s a list of all the things Sadie Sins has overcome to get here — and we assure you, they belong here and don’t really struggle in a way where you would feel uncomfortable to see a real human being and the pains of reality and decades of poverty. No, everything is cool, disability is easy — hey, and being non binary is very trendy right now and not a transphobe magnet at all.
I don’t think I think too much, not really. I honestly think that the majority of people don’t think at all, and it just looks like a lot in comparison. Because it’s right there. We are all contributing to this society, yet no one is making the rules. Our instincts are driving us, and humanity is fucked. I dream that there is intelligent life out there, because my greatest sorrow is to think humanity might be the epitome of what life comes up with. Like fuck, how depressing.
…Humanity has overcome a gigantic list of atrocities to get to this place, (mostly ones it committed,) and it still hasn’t learned that the only battle it has is with itself. Humanity has conquered a globe, the dark, the atom, and is swiftly annihilating the only place in the solar system it can survive as a species, and it can’t stop itself. Because it’s not self aware.
Humanity is a mess of evolutionary instincts that aren’t here to design, but to survive, and unless it adapts and takes on a new way of living, asap, it will drive itself off the cliff it’s digging deeper and deeper. Humanity thinks a bigger bad will finally be what pulls it together to be a better species, but humanity also thinks that violence is the only way to gain cooperation, which is why it has mimicked its modern societies on tribalism. Where humanity chooses who will be sacrificed to feed its rationalization of the deep seated fear that without inequality, self worth and self purpose will dissolve.
I don’t get a participation trophy for being human, but my fuck, I want one. Because this is a world I didn’t choose, but I’m stuck participating in it anyways, having to pick a side, pick a spin, take care of my socials who depend on me to not drag them down by being just as flawed as everyone else, but in a way that isn’t accepted by our insane as fuck society. Disability: the unacceptable human flaw. Not genocide. Not hoarding of wealth. Disability: the thing societies really don’t want to face. Because hey, truly facing disability makes able-bodied people question why they’re being asked to break their aging bodies for worthless goals in the first place.
Being sick is easier than living with my brain. It won’t filter the complexity out. It’s gotten healthier since understanding the allergy thing — it’s just adding to the web, seeing more strings of what’s wrong with the situation I’m in and what I have to do to either 1) overcome in a selfish human way, or 2) fall into the pit with the targets who aren’t allowed out. There’s no 3rd option. There’s no pretending that I get to walk a line that will be a bridge, or raise a tide, or topple a system. I can lie to myself, but I’m not self deluded — oh, to be so fucking self deluded!
The system reflects the species. Humanity isn’t changing. Evolution didn’t suddenly decide intelligence was the way to go when people no longer needed intelligence to survive. And even if it had, it didn’t erase all those instincts that got us here. We hit a plateau. Cooperation should be the next stage — we’ve built a tech infrastructure ripe for global cooperation — but it’s the banding together against the other, tribalism, still winning, violence and dominance at the core. Someone has to suffer for balance. Humanity can’t perceive good without evil — such nonsense.
Every time a nation talks about helping another, there’s always so many healthy, comfortable voices going “what about me?” The privilege of the privileged getting the last say.
Well, I firmly remember the things I’m trying to escape as a human being, so I guess it’s time to write instead of think. Because writing is my selfish escapism. Coding is my selfish escapism. Looking anywhere but at the mess of a system I’m participating in is both my escape, and selfish as fuck, and I am painfully, bitterly aware of it.
Sadie Sins is bitter, disabled, and takes offense to trying to sum up their human experience into a slick, depersonalized blurb that perpetuates the continuation of dull stereotypes that either erase or valorize the disabled when we are all fucked humans. Sadie Sins doesn’t want to talk about being disabled, but feels required because of how it interferes with their ability to be a productive robot that produces creative results on demand, and how mentioning illness and disability “the wrong way” results in healthy people running the fuck away as if disability and reality are contagious.
Sadie Sins is in the middle of healing from a decade of debilitating symptoms, and is pushing themself to be okay enough to do shit that they may or may not be okay enough to do, because poverty from years of disability is killing Sadie and making all of their decisions. And now Sadie realizes they are in the middle of dealing with the trauma of that when facing the task of branding. Because they’re too close to it, and it means too much right now, and although some pain has stopped, there are wounds that are finally being allowed to be felt, which are infected, amputating pieces of the soul, and suck balls. And branding isn’t actually that fucking important and can wait.