Open letter to The Mighty

21/12/2016: It has come to my attention that many people are finding this post because they are googling “meltdown bingo”. If you arrived here after doing that, I beg you to consider why you think making a game out of a truly distressing experience is somehow fun. I would also like to advise you that you will not find a meltdown bingo card in this post, so if that was your goal, go elsewhere.

[CN: ableism]

Dear the Mighty

I’ve always referred to you as The Mighty (Awful) because that is exactly what you are: Mighty awful.

Today, however, is the final straw.

You have published articles written by autistic people which talk about ableism, and how that effects our lives on a daily basis, and then you go do this? [edited: article has been removed]

You think meltdowns are funny? Do you laugh at other distressing situations, or is it only when autistic children are involved?

From the article:

“As all special needs parents know, the holiday season brings a significant amount of schedule and routine changes.”

Guess what parents of autistic children: You don’t actually have to participate in every single holiday season event. You can opt out of them to reduce the amount of overwhelm your child experiences. You won’t miss out on anything! Read this to find out how you can do that.

From the article:

“With two (and probably three) autistic people in our family, myself included, we try to maintain a sense of humor and perspective with the many challenges we face, and this was a product of that.”

You can maintain a sense of humour without publicly shaming your child. You can keep these in-family jokes in-family.

I notice that the creator of this post has played the “I am autistic” card. Guess what? That doesn’t exempt you from criticism from other autistic people: you may share our neurology, but you do not share our culture. You may think that this openly talks about your challenges. It doesn’t. It talks about your son’s challenges. It denies him the right to dignity and privacy. It uses him as an object in your story. You want to share your challenges as an autistic person? Then, share those challenges. Don’t share your son’s.

From “why we created The Mighty“:

“Could we build a media company that actually helps people?”

How do you think sharing this article helps people? It perpetuates the stigma we, as autistic people, experience on a daily basis. How is that helpful?

I thought that when I created the Autism Parent Bingo card I was being too harsh. I now realise that I wasn’t harsh enough.

The Mighty, you disgust me. You disgust me with your ableism. You disgust me with the way in which you think that it’s ok to mock autistic children. Your readers disgust me with their attitudes too.

You think that sharing these click bait articles is good for business? You think that perpetuating stigma is great for debate? Your actions have real consequences on the lives of real people.

Do better!

Yours in absolute disgust,

Un-Boxed Brain

Feel free to co-sign this.


Updates:

  1. The Mighty removed the Meltdown Bingo card. I previously linked to a PDF version of the page for people who wanted to see what I was talking about, but I have realised that people are using the PDF to “play” bingo. If you came here with that intention, please leave quietly and do not return until you can fully comprehend how awful you are.
  2. While I appreciate that they did remove the article, the comments in my letter still stand given that they even considered publishing it.
  3. The Mighty also offered this apology, and requested feedback. I have emailed them despite my misgivings that they truly want to change which are based on the founder’s response to this letter.
  4. Following the apology and the request for feedback, Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project suggested tweeting using the hashtag #CrippingTheMighty.
  5. If you’re reading this, and you’re tired of the way in which The Mighty perpetuates the stigma that autistic people face, please consider signing this petition.

This is not the first time that The Mighty has been negatively reviewed by people within the disability community. Please refer to these posts:

Because of the above three posts, I have never considered submitting anything to The Mighty, so this letter, despite accusations, was never about any retaliation for having my writing rejected by The Mighty.

Other bloggers have also written about this particular situation, so if you would like to read more, please refer to:

If I have neglected to include any posts, please let me know in the comments, and I will add them.

32 thoughts on “Open letter to The Mighty”

  1. Hoped they soul do better than inspiration porn and martyred parents clickbate . It isn’t hard to choose not to share articles that perpetuate ableism and prejudice – we do it every day on ollibean -all of the other co-signers do, too.

  2. Signed, for this and other reasons. I stopped sharing their links in my community awhile ago because our members kept getting attacked in their threads (mostly by parents!), and they refused to do anything. Actually, any call out in threads to the administrators to step in was specifically deleted and ignored. That is not how respectful or progressive discussion works.

  3. I don’t have autism. I have CP (I’m a full time wheelchair user). And many of the things I’ve seen on The Mighty about CP have been problematic.

    Mike says they publish things by people who are “honest in their approach” who decides what’s honest? I’ve been accused by parents of lying about how I feel about haivng CP and what I think about it more than once. But when I say what I say it’s my truth and I mean it.

  4. My BS detector is off the charts. It’s reacting to the mighty and those who dispise it. That meme was tasteless. So was a meme posted as for tat on a FB page “martyr mommy bingo”. Only it’s still up and bringing many likes by those who believe the way to build community is to insist on followers, not thinkers. I’m sure it will not be removed. The only way build community is to include every experience and hear all voices. The mighty does a lousy job of that. It doesn’t include the self advocates. The self advocates who want only their story validated are no different. We all have a story and I want to hear them all. Because contrary to what some think, I’m smart enough to think through what I read and nothing needs to be sensored for me. I’d like to believe most people can think. But apparently I’m wrong.

    1. I’m not sure that I’m understanding you properly, but it seems as though you’re saying that *all* voices should include those of parents who go out of their way to dehumanise us?

    2. I’m the person behind the Martyr Mommy Bingo *and* one of the founders of Tone it Down Taupe.

      I’m also the parent of 2 (and possibly 3, but he’s too young to know) Autistic children.

      I make zero apologies for Martyr Mommy Bingo.

      Parent experiences and voices can be found damn near everywhere. There are thousands of sites, tens of thousands of blogs, and hundreds of books for parents, by parents, all about the g-damn parents. There is precious little from the advocates (we are Autistic advocates, not “self advocates”, ty.) and what little we do get out there we’re told to “be nice” on.

      We’re done being nice. If you don’t want your feelings hurt by things like “Martyr Mommy Bingo”, DON’T BE THAT PERSON. If you aren’t that person, it’s not about you, so your feelings can take a break. I’m a mommy, and I write Martyr Mommy Bingo, because it’s not about me. It’s about Autistics (of which I am one) being shit on over and over and over again, and it’s a cathartic outlet for even a smidge of the anger and pain we face every time someone writes something like “Meltdown Bingo”.

      And, seriously? TIDT insists on followers, not thinkers? You didn’t even bother to see what we’re about, did you? TIDT is entirely a satire site. (Well, we dabble in philanthropy too, but we’re a satire site.) I don’t give the southbound end of a northbound rat if ANYONE follows us. Me and K write on there cause we’re angry, we’re tired of the pity train, we’re tired of the hate, the injustice, the hurt caused by sites like The Mighty. Don’t want to be the butt of a satire site’s jokes? Don’t suck.

      But “don’t suck” means admitting that Autistics have rights. That we have feelings. That we have our own damn shoes and maybe, just MAYBE, you should try ours on for size. (I recommend K’s “Shoes” essay if you’re willing to “think”. http://timetolisten.blogspot.com)

      To insist we’re not “thinking” because a satire site produced a satire piece in response to a serious post is inane at best, insulting at worst, and certainly implies a certain lack of thought on your own part.

      Prove me wrong.

  5. Thank you. I’m non-autistic but have physical disability that causes some cognitive disability. I also get to be mom to three daughters, one of whom is Autistic.

    You’ve nailed everything wrong with The Mighty (Awful).

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