I hate to jump on bandwagons, but you might have heard all the kerfluffle that’s floating around about the website that tells the stories of people with disabilities–The Mighty. As a disclaimer, I need to explain my involvement with The Mighty. I saw a prompt from them that interested me, so I wrote a brief blog post that they accepted and published to their website. I was invited to the Mighty Voices Facebook group, which is open for contributors. In the group I saw another prompt that I wanted to write about. I did and sent it off. Several days later I got a response that it was too short and was asked to make it longer. I agreed, and when I finished, I sent it back to see what the verdict was. It was declined. I couldn’t figure out what they didn’t like. I couldn’t get any feedback to help me figure out what they were looking for. I wasn’t upset, but I figured that my writing didn’t fit well with their other articles.
Since the “Meltdown Bingo” post was posted, and then taken down, there have been petitions and hashtags (#CrippingTheMighty) flying about. Suddenly frustrations that were just under the surface cut loose. The claim that The Mighty publishes “inspiration porn” got louder, and there were complaints about “martyr mommies” who were telling stories about their child, who could not consent to this kind of disclosure. The whole thing was a little bit unexpected. I’m not sure whether it should have been unexpected, though.
Honestly, I think where The Mighty screwed up, if it screwed up anywhere, is not putting people with disabilities in places where they could help make decisions. You’ve probably heard the “Nothing About Us Without Us.” It’s kind of hard to do what they’re doing without guidance and accountability. They just got a taste of accountability that might have been more private if they had asked advice from people living with the disabilities first. They might never have published the controversial piece in the first place.
I don’t know where their funding comes from, but apparently they are well-funded. I don’t know whether I agree with the people who say the writers should be paid or not, but I believe that there is a mix of wannabe professional writers and people who are writing for the sake of sharing their stories. Should they be treated the same? Should there be more people with disabilities published than the moms? I have absolutely no idea. Most of us are used to writing for free, but we eventually want to do some writing for which we’re paid. It certainly would be nice, but I don’t know if it will ever be in the pipeline. If there is funding and the editors are being paid, I tend to think that a precedent should be set.
We like writing for The Mighty for different reasons. We want to be proud of our work and where it shows up. I hope we can continue to be.