Category Archives: Culture

The Audism Revolutions: Freedom


 

For those who haven’t taken the red pill or seen the Matrix, please see my two previous posts here and here.

Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

This quote was in response to Neo declaring he didn’t believe in fate because he didn’t like the idea of not being in control of his life. As deaf human beings, some of us have that splinter in our minds. But what is it, exactly?

*leans in close and whispers* That splinter in our minds is … audism.

The flawed schema and social construct imposed upon us by human beings who share the notion that deaf human beings are not equal to hearing human beings, and thus are treated accordingly.

Flawed schemata are essentially known as stereotypes and they are generally defined as “unreliable, exaggerated generalizations about all members of a group that do not take individual differences into account” (pg. 18, Schaefer). Keep in mind stereotypes can be both positive and negative. What we term as a negative stereotype is called a prejudice. *looks back and forth at audism and prejudice, then nods*

By acting upon our prejudices, this leads to what is called discrimination. “The behavior that deprives individuals and a group of certain rights and/or opportunities because of prejudice or for other arbitrary reasons” (pg 41, Schaefer). This can be on an individual basis, or on a collective basis.

When enough people share a schema, this turns into a social construct, which is necessary for a culture to exist. Let me break it down even further: individual thoughts can lead to collective thoughts, which in turn becomes part of a culture. And since thought typically leads to behavior, this means members of a culture will behave similarly.

Generally, this isn’t bad but it can lead to problems, like Morpheus explains in the first film, “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

In short, it’s a feedback loop. Audism → institutionalized audism → internalized audism.

And if one resists the attempt to internalize audism and it in general, they become like Trinity, Morpheus and the others in the Matrix movies. The freedom fighters for the deaf people, to destroy the idea that deaf are inferior to the hearing. But just how do we destroy audism, and how do we become like Neo, the best freedom fighter of them all?

One key aspect of what made Neo the way he was, is that he understood the Matrix so well that he was able to look at a program and understand how it was constructed. Trinity, Morpheus and the others could do this, but only up to a point. But what made him able to understand the Matrix so well? The first answer is that he knew the programming language of the Matrix. Remember, he was one of the best hackers out there, and that is one of the main reasons why Morpheus contacted him. But despite being one of the best hackers out there, he still struggled to discover the full extent of his abilities.

A main portion of the film is us watching Neo discover the extent of his abilities, and starting to truly believe in himself. There are extraordinary moments where we catch glimpses of his abilities, such as the now infamous bullet-time sequence on the helicopter pad when he goes to rescue Morpheus. But it wasn’t until the end of the first film that Neo was finally able to do this.

In other words, Neo self-actualized. The brief definition of self-actualization is to fully realizeyour potential, as I mentioned in my first blog post, but this doesn’t give a full picture of the concept. So, let’s look at Maslow’s concepMaslow's Hierarchy of Needst of self-actualization – see right for the image of the pyramid showing the hierarchy of needs. Two things happened nearly simultaneously for Neo at the end of the film. He finally believed in himself, therefore gaining the needed self-esteem, and found love and belonging when Trinity told him that she loved him.

When this happened, it led to several things – instead of denying the truth, he accepted it and ultimately, himself. Neo also stopped his prejudices from controlling him. This is significant, because he serves as an example of how even among the best of us, we can and do hold prejudices against our oppressors, and that is one major reason of what holds us back.

*leans in close and whispers with a nod* Reverse audism.

Mahatma Gandhi understood this, and this is what he meant when he declared that we had to be the change we wished to see in the world.

Now, the problem of reverse audism is also compounded by what I call reverse horizontal audism, and this is also illustrated well in the last two films of the Matrix Trilogy. In the Matrix Reloaded film, we meet Commander Lock, who is a natural born – born in Zion, the last bastion of free humans, therefore he does not have a jack in the back of his head. Lock doesn’t understand the Matrix as well as those who were born into the Matrix. He’s also quite prejudiced against Morpheus and his allies because of two main reasons: Morpheus is not natural born like Lock is, and Morpheus repeatedly flouts Zion’s rules.

*looks around innocently* I don’t know about you, but this sure does seem familiar….

Fortunately, there are wiser heads who prevail and allows Morpheus and Neo to proceed on their mission, overruling Commander Lock’s objections and wishes to take the fight completely outside of the Matrix. Because of this, ultimately, Neo and the artificial intelligence reach somewhat of a truce, because Neo’s arch-nemesis, Agent Smith (which is what we could consider to be institutional audism) is such on a rampage that he threatens to take down both the artificial intelligence and the humans. So, Neo successfully takes down Agent Smith, and both intelligences live in somewhat of a peaceful co-existence afterwards.

They finally came to the realization that neither one could exist without the other.

So what does this mean for us? *puts on sunglasses* I think it means you have to know thyself, and of course …

FREE YOUR MIND!

—-

Acknowledgments: I wish to thank MishkaZena and Amy Cohen Efron for the countless hours of dialectic explorations into Deaf Culture, American Sign Language, the psychology of oppression, and Deafhood. And of course, I wish to thank all of the commenters who stop by my blog, especially those who respectfully disagree with me, thereby forcing me to understand my principles and point of views better. This would not have been possible without you. 🙂

References:

Racial & Ethnic Groups, 11th Ed. Richard Schaefer, DePaul University. 2008.
The Matrix, 1999.

The Matrix Reloaded, 2003.

The Matrix Revolutions, 2003.
Wikipedia: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Seeing The Matrix: Audism


 

 

For those who haven’t taken the red pill yet, please see my previous blog post in this blog series. Caution: this blog post is heavily technical, but I feel it’s necessary to understand my following posts. The next blog posts will be in layman terms, I promise!

Audism as defined by Dr. Tom Humphries is the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.”

As all other words, audism has also evolved in its definition, to reflect the institutionalization of audism. Dr. Harlan Lane wrote, “..the corporate institution for dealing with deaf people, dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases, where they live; in short, audism is the hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over the deaf community. It includes such professional people as administrators of schools for deaf children and of training programs for deaf adults, interpreters, and some audiologists, speech therapists, otologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, librarians, researchers, social workers, and hearing aid specialists.”

I personally believe that both definitions are accurate, and I will try to prove to you how these definitions are accurate. I am also going to put forth the radical proposition that audism is a product of the Matrix, but it also has become part of the Matrix. Not only that, but there’s more than one Matrix!

Call me crazy, but let’s look at the premises and see if enough of us can agree on these premises or not. So, what is the Matrix? Unfortunately, at this current stage of our human evolution, we cannot directly see the Matrix. But we can indirectly by stepping outside of ourselves, and looking within. More specifically, looking within our minds.

Our minds are poorly understood, but that doesn’t mean it’s not understood at all. There’s a process of our minds that is called schema (schemata is the plural), and that processing helps us collect and organize our knowledge so we can retrieve it later on. I quote from the linked wiki: Schemata are an effective tool for understanding the world. Through the use of schemata, most everyday situations do not require effortful processing— automatic processing is all that is required. People can quickly organize new perceptions into schemata and act effectively without effort. For example, most people have a stairway schema and can apply it to climb staircases they’ve never seen before.

Now, since we human beings are imperfect, our schemata is as well. Without adequate information and knowledge, our schemata takes shortcuts and lumps information into categories, without making any further distinctions, and/or making sub-categories. This is a key way of how stereotypes and prejudices come to be. Every single human being has biases and stereotypes. If they tell you that they don’t, they’re lying.

There is another factor in how our minds work, and that is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as the Linguistic Relativity Principle. The basic concept of this theory is that our languages influence our thoughts and behavior. Hence, a person who uses English will think and behave differently than someone who uses Spanish, etc. To what extent language influences our thoughts and behavior is questioned, but nowadays academics agree it does have some effect.

This ties in well with the concept of schemata and I believe this article from Newsweek provides the perfect illustration of this: In Australia, the Aboriginal Kuuk Thaayorre use compass directions for every spatial cue rather than right or left, leading to locutions such as “there is an ant on your southeast leg.” The Kuuk Thaayorre are also much more skillful than English speakers at dead reckoning, even in unfamiliar surroundings or strange buildings. Their language “equips them to perform navigational feats once thought beyond human capabilities,” Boroditsky wrote on Edge.org.

If we have the proper words for something, a concept or an object, we understand it better and are able to react accordingly. This answers the question that was raised on the v/blogs of why the word audism should be used instead of merely using the words discrimination or oppression. Once we have a word for a specific kind of discrimination, the better we can start understanding it, therefore being better able to work around our faulty schemata that causes us to have biases and stereotypes.

Now, obviously language is not individualistic. It is a driving force of a culture, as a matter of fact. This leads to the theory of social constructionism. From Wikipedia: A social construction (social construct) is a concept or practice that is the creation (or artifact) of a particular group. … Social constructs are generally understood to be the by-products of countless human choices rather than laws resulting from divine will or nature.

A major focus of social constructionism is to uncover the ways in which individuals and groups participate in the creation of their perceived social reality. It involves looking at the ways social phenomena are created, institutionalized, and made into tradition by humans. Socially constructed reality is seen as an ongoing, dynamic process; reality is reproduced by people acting on their interpretations and their knowledge of it.

So what does all of this mean? It means, my dear friends, essentially as Walt Kelly said in his comic strip, Pogo, “We have met the enemy … and he is us.”

We are prisoners of our own creation, the Matrixes.

 

In the next post, all of this is broken down in layman terms, and the issue of horizontal and reverse audism is addressed, in addition to my theory of how to free yourself from the Matrixes.


Here’s The Red Pill: Deafhood


I offer you all the red pill, in order to explore Deafhood, Audism and Deaf Culture. This will be broken up in several blog posts – at the very most, 3 posts. This will, I hope, free you from the the self and other imposed constructs upon ourselves. In other words – beginning the journey of freeing yourself from the Matrix. 😉

In my previous blog post, Patti Durr left a comment stating this: i believe there is one fundalmental principle within Deafhood though and that a pathological and audist view of being deaf is not part of Deafhood.

This touches upon a main point that I want to clarify and debate on, when it comes to defining audism, but since this is also connected to Deafhood, I believe it’s important to first establish my premises here before going any further. I happen to disagree with Patti’s comment – I think you can have Deafhood, but still be an audist.

A pretty radical statement, I know. But bear with me and read me out. Being a deaf person is a biological thing. It is a statement of fact on whether a person is deaf or not. You use scientific evidence to prove whether s/he is deaf.

A similar analogy would be the color of a person’s skin. Here in the United States, a person who produces a lot of melanin is called black, and a person who doesn’t produce a lot of melanin is called a white person. This is a scientific fact. A person’s color of skin, sexual orientation, gender, hearing status … physical features that are rooted in biological fact, does not have an inherent value to it.

This is an important distinction to make. For one to have Deafhood, one first has to be physically deaf, just like a person has to be physically a woman, to have womanhood and so on. If one is going to argue that a hearing person can have Deafhood, then it can be also argued that a man can have womanhood, which to me doesn’t make sense.

When we talk about -hood, we are talking about a person’s process of coming to terms with things that are an inherent part of themselves, and striving to become a self-actualized person. This means understanding and recognizing the limitations that you have within yourself, and the limitations that society puts on you.

Paddy Ladd’s definition of Deafhood is: A process by which Deaf individuals come to actualize their Deaf identity, positing that those individuals construct that identity to their heightened forms by various factors such as nation, era and class.

This fits in with the process of self-actualization. Now, there are many, many ways to reach self-actualization. What leads one to self-actualization, will not necessarily work for another. And in the process of self-actualization in the sense of Deafhood, you are processing how various factors, such as culture, society’s view of you, your self-perception, has an effect on you and your identity.

Therefore, it can be argued and I believe this is where there is great misunderstanding…. Deafhood is the process of understanding and freeing yourself from the limitations of audism. A self-actualized deaf person will not allow audism to impinge on the maximization of their potential.

Everyone who is deaf has Deafhood. But not every deaf person is self-actualized. Therefore, you can have Deafhood, yet be an audist.

The question now is raised – just what does audism exactly mean?

I will discuss my idea of what audism means in my next blog post, which will be posted within a few days.

Copyright © Jeannette Johnson. All rights reserved.

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