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We Need to Talk about Ableism (featuring Rosie Jones)

This is an excerpt, the original article was published on bua-consultancy.com

"Rosie Jones is a comedian, actor and writer who has cerebral palsy. Her condition affects her ability to move and her speech. She is incredibly witty and uses her platform to advocate for disability and LGBTQ+ awareness and rights.

In October 2021, Rosie made her second appearance on the political talk show, Question Time, wherein politicians and prominent figures discuss topical issues in front of a studio audience.

Rosie engaged with eloquent, passionate answers across a range of topics. She gave insight into thoughts and opinions that resonated more with those of the typical viewer. The one that stood out the most was her statement about not feeling safe on the street as a disabled woman.


“As a woman, but also a disabled woman, I don’t feel safe at night. I don’t feel safe with police officers. We need to get to a place where women, but also any minority: if you are a woman, if you’re disabled, if you’re in the LGBT spectrum and if you’re a person of colour (sic). The fact is right now in the UK, they don’t feel safe at home at night and that is a scary place to live in." - Rosie Jones, BBC Question Time 2021

However, despite her enlightening contribution about woman’s safety, Rosie was subjected to ableist abuse online after the episode aired. Rosie took to Twitter later that evening to address the situation:


So, what is ableism, and how did we get to this point?

In its simplest form, ableism is an act of discrimination in favour of non-disabled people. It is a reflection of the attitudes of those who see those with disabilities as ‘other’. The incident with Rosie Jones is not an isolated one. However, it serves as an excellent microcosm to see a vast array of attitudes towards disability displayed on the internet.

We’ve made significant progress in the UK since the Disability Act was passed in 1995, giving those with disabilities the rights to work and have an education (later seceded by the Equality Act 2010). We’ve gotten better public access and we can pursue careers and receive education in mainstream schools. However, we still have far to go, and this is evident in the undercurrent of ableist attitudes displayed after Rosie’s appearance on Question Time.

Attitudes, it’s safe to say, are slower to change. While there was an outpour of love and support for Rosie to push back any negative comments, it’s led me to think about why such opinions exist about the disabled community."