Apples & Oranges

So, a thread on twitter regarding #orangegate raised some points. I commented, and was asked for a clarification. I posted one, but it was not accessible for all. My apologies for not responding in a format accessible to all. I am still fighting my own, internalized ableist tendencies in the form of considering how different people will be able to interact with my content. So here is a more accessible version. (And, as I state multiple times, I am not trying to speak FOR all people whom this issue affects. I am just trying to encapsulate what I see the as differences in the issues being argued. If you would like to clarify, rebutt, or correct me, please feel free to leave a *civil* comment. Thank you.)

Background: Here is the thread that started this new-ish conversation.

@cartooninperson asked me for an explanation of why I (and by extension, all of us) were continuing to bring up points and rebuttals. Knowing my reply was too long to fit in a 140 character format, I typed it into paint and saved it as a .jpeg file. However, that method is not accessible for everyone, and it is hard to read. So I will transcribe my response into text here:

What seems to be happening here is that you are arguing one point, many of us are arguing another. Those of us who are stating the oranges should stay on shelves are pointing out that his product is accessible to us in that particular type of packaging. Many of the people who are stating the oranges should be pulled have outright stated that it doesn’t matter what is good for PWDs, anyway. We have been called wastes of oxygen, told not to breed, told we are less than human, and that what we want or need is of no consequence. That we should just suck it up and deal with not having fresh oranges. Other people are piping up that the oranges should go because the packaging is wasteful. However, this is not the entire truth.The packages are reusable and they could be made of biodegradable plastic. Furthermore, we are pointing out that there are many other products with much less nutritional value that consume more energy to be made shelf-stable and then be packaged in wasteful packaging, and no one is calling for THEM to be pulled from the shelves. I cannot speak for all PWDs, but I have a hard time opening those types of packages (meaning the yucky  oranges in syrup that are in individual plastic bowls with a film of cellophane on top that I mentioned in a previous tweet), AND I wind up spilling the juice everywhere once I do get them open. So, I do not buy them. However, many of us love oranges and fresh fruit and enjoy the independence of being able to buy oranges that we don’t then have to ask for someone else to peel for us. As I and many others have stated before, it’s not like people are always around, it is demeaning and changes the dynamic between friends/lovers if we have to keep asking for stuff like this, and it is frustrating to have to wait for it to be convenient for someone else to come peel the orange. Many of our doctors advise that fresh fruit is ALWAYS better than canned or juice (another argument others have made – that we should make do with those). The more you process an item, the more nutrition it loses. Now, we have also conceded that there could be more ecologically friendly accessible packaging for this product. However, we do not think the product should be pulled from the shelves outright until such packaging exists. That is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

What you seem to be arguing is not the same as what many of us are calling for. It all has to do with our needs that should be considered. From all this outcry, it is obvious that there is a market here ready and willing to buy pre-peeled oranges. But what you seem to be suggesting is that the product should be pulled now, that all commercialized packaging should be pulled now, and those foods only be reintroduced once eco-friendly packaging is available. (Please, feel free to correct me if I am misinterpreting your tweets.) So, what we are hearing is, those disabled people with dexterity and fine motor skills issues be damned, you can only have your oranges once there is eco-friendly packaging. Meanwhile, all those of us without dexterity or fine motor skills issues are going to sit over here and eat us some oranges. YUMMMMMMM. This may not be what was intended to be conveyed, but this is the message we are receiving. At least, this is what I am getting from all the tweets back and forth.

If anyone else who is in favor of the oranges staying wants to pipe in on anything I got wrong or that I did not add, please do so. I do not want to seem to be trying to speak FOR all others with dexterity/fine motor skills issues. And if I misstated your meaning, @cartooninperson, please feel free to pipe up. I am trying to explain what I see is happening here, in response to your query to me regarding how what we are arguing is different.

I hope this clears up for you why several of us are pushing back at you. If you’ll forgive the pun, it’s apples and oranges. We’re arguing about apples (the whole underlying issue/ableism/disrespect) while you are only focusing on the oranges themselves (or at least, this is the way it seems). Really, the two arguments are not the same at all.



2 thoughts on “Apples & Oranges

  1. Thank you for sharing. As I wrote in our Twitter discussion (had after this post was published, I believe) I hadn’t considered the impact: “…We do not think the product should be pulled until such packaging exists” I really appreciate you sharing your insight and candour on the layers of inaccessibility in your/others lives and how a dismissive/reductive campaign would and does contribute to that. I really like how you explored the systemic issues of inaccessibility and I am sorry for participating in something stigmatizing. 140 characters sure is limiting and I want to elaborate and have a voice/response here.

    To clarify re: “@cartooninperson asked me for an explanation of why I (and by extension, all of us) were continuing to bring up points and rebuttals.” That’s incorrect. I wasn’t taking issue with there being points and rebuttals (or trying to silence them if that is a concern; I’m not sure if it is). I just didn’t understand the rebuttals or their relevance to me and felt my lack of clarity and understanding was heard as (willful) ignorance or a resistance to understanding.

    I was seeking clarity. I simply didn’t understand the relationship between our arguments/points or what your key messages/points were, as they didn’t seem to relate to me (for ex: there’s no “outrage” about canned fruit – not logical because what’s to say I’m not outraged about that and for all we know these could be entirely separate issues), yet this put me in the hot seat and held me accountable for these issues in some way and did so in a public forum. I think this would upset anyone and prevent discussion about solutions. When I look at the responses, it looks like you’re talking to someone who gave the finger to accessibility. I’m baffled and offended.

    We both very much agree that accessibility and environmentalism are complex issues individually, as is their intersection, and I don’t see what I have said or argued that might suggest I think otherwise, but of course I don’t know all the issues, as became apparent. I was arguing for something more environmentally friendly and I got the impression that responders illogically felt that = I don’t care about accessibility. I don’t see what else could have explained the responses and the general tone of defensiveness.

    Ex: “I guess I just don’t understand why you’re targeting something that makes fresh fruit accessible.”


    “So, what we are hearing is, those disabled people with dexterity and fine motor skills issues be damned, you can only have your oranges once there is eco-friendly packaging” and “Meanwhile, all those of us without dexterity or fine motor skills issues are going to sit over here and eat us some oranges. YUMMMMMMM.”

    I’m very sorry for these perceptions and actions and their profound impact, but I think it needs to be clarified that they aren’t mine. I would never or would ever suggest or believe that accessibility should be sacrificed for environmentalism or that accessibility is less important than environmentalism and I never mocked or flaunted my ability to access oranges to others who can’t.

    That wasn’t my argument or feelings and I feel like I’m being held accountable for something others have done. I want something that’s both environmentally AND accessible and I didn’t feel that was considered or heard, even when I explained it explicitly. If that’s an impractical goal institutionally or otherwise (product was pulled with no alternative for accessibility folks, which I didn’t know until very late in our conversation, btw, and I’m sorry for not having considering this might be a complication), then let’s talk about that instead of what I interpret is you suggesting that I don’t care. I felt attacked, a target, and I don’t see the logic or productivity in it.

    My argument wasn’t about oranges. A) I want something environmentally and commercially responsible. B) As I wrote in the second paragraph, I was trying to understand your arguments. C) I was trying to defend myself and I don’t see where I used or denied ableism/rejected accessibility to do that or to support the environment. We were arguing about different things, yes. I was trying to damage control (I’m sure most people would have), but if things had not felt hostile, presumptuous, personal and accusatory, I would have focused on the accessibility discussion and on solutions.


    1. Thank you for bringing up these very valid points. As we both agree, 140 characters is a very limited space in which to respond, so misperception and miscommunication abound. I appreciate you taking the time to come here and more fully state your case.

      I wasn’t implying an attack by you when I stated you asked for a clarification. I should have more fully written that you had asked for clarification on how the issues were different. Just as I might ask for clarification on a point of order I didn’t understand, you wanted clarification on how they were different, because everyone was getting a little frustrated by this point, I believe. (Again, as I stated in my blog post, this is how I am “reading” things to be. Feel free to correct me.) Because I know twitter is very limiting in the amount of discourse one may achieve, I put in the disclaimers that this is the way so-and-so’s comments are being perceived, and asking for anyone that I have misinterpreted please feel free to correct me. I think another thing that contributed to all of this was the fact that everyone that has deigned to speak out on this has been viciously attacked in one way or another. So, unfortunately, many of us were already on the defensive, and the limited characters that could be typed, and you can see how things wound up the way they did. I apologize if my discourse seemed heated at times. I was trying very hard to remind myself that you personally were not responsible for the tweets of others before you. I wanted to be sure everyone was able to understand what each other was saying, and seeing how they weren’t the same things. I am very glad we were able to engage in reasonable discourse on this. I hope we can walk away from this particular discussion as allies intent on making sure fresh food is accessible to all, as well as working toward changing the wasteful packaging we see. But in the mean time, I want my oranges available while we work to come up with better packaging. Hugs and light to you.

      If you feel I did not completely address your valid concerns, please feel free to comment again and we can engage in dialogue about it later today or at another time that is convenient to us both. Right now, my bed is screaming my name. ☺


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