‘invisibilise’ this: ocular bias and ableist metaphors in anti-oppressive discourse
It’s difficult to escape the visual bias of the English language. (Although to be fair, this criticism applies also to my first language, Spanish, so perhaps the unconscious preference is present in many languages and across Western discourses more broadly.) It is not so surprising that people are inclined to use metaphors such as ‘observations’, ‘viewpoints’ or ‘seeing’ as if they represent feelings and perception as a whole. What is surprising is how prevalent these practices are within platforms that label themselves feminist and anti-oppressive.
Whether in a recent episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,1in memes or videos by ‘woke’ Instagram users, in journalism or in peer-reviewed journal articles and books, the language of visibility is a popular stand-in for attention, noticing and erasure. For example, you may have come across otherwise excellent discussions of how women of colour’s labour or political agency has been systematically ‘invisibilised’ in dominant social...
The author would like to thank Professor Sylvanna Falcón for encouraging this publication, and the students in her seminar ‘Bridging Latin American and Latina/o Studies’ in the fall of 2017 for listening and providing their feedback to these ideas.
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