Greta Thunberg: Fighting Ableism and Sexism

Within the past week, there have been countless posts about Greta Thunberg; some of which are ableist and sexist. Examples of this are the president mocking her on Twitter and a Fox News commentator calling her ‘mentally ill." Some news companies have even created awful sketches and opinion pieces about her.

However, I have seen more than just that. I have seen people comment under posts and share news articles about Greta Thunberg pointing out the fact that she has autism. I have seen people talking about how she is 16-years-old and she just has not reached the stage where she is chasing after boys. I have seen some far-out claims, on sites as big as Facebook, that she is working for George Soros or that she is an actor. Moreover, I have seen countless memes joking about her speech that she had presented at the United Nations conference, which belittles her message.

David Hogg had faced similar criticism when he helped lead a movement for common-sense gun laws. However, I don't think this was as disingenuous as people are currently treating Greta. Politicians are encouraging this kind of discourse against children and teenagers by calling David Hogg, “a special kind of stupid” and calling Greta, “mentally ill.” Unlike David Hogg, Greta, as stated earlier, is also faced with attacks on her autism diagnosis and her sex. 

The “she is a 16-year-old girl,” rhetoric is completely misogynistic. Why can’t 16-year-old girls be interested in our environment and our future?  Some have the thought that 16-year-old girls can not be possibly interested in anything other than boys. To that, I totally disagree. I have seen so many teens change the world in my lifetime. Moreover, I just find it completely weird and gross that people find it so hard to listen to a 16-year-old unless she is sexualized like Britney Spears was.

While it may not be as in your face as the sexist remarks that Greta has been enduring, she has also faced a ton ableist attacks. Greta has shared that she is autistic to the public and even considers it a superpower. However, some see it as something else. Many neurotypical people, or those who do not have autism, think that autism is something scary, such as those in the Anti-Vaxxers movement.

Anti-Vaxxers preach about how vaccinations are so harmful and they cause autism. They treat autism like it is something that you should avoid and be afraid of. This generally just creates a stigma surrounding autism, which can even cause those with autism to feel, in simple terms, upset.

While this rhetoric is really upsetting to many, I believe that Greta will inspire hope for our future. Moreover, I think these children and teenagers that we see on media will inspire future generations to accomplish even bigger milestones. In addition, I genuinely hope that this ‘attack on kids’ will end in the near future, as we should practice tolerance rather than hate speech.


Image Credit: Markus Spiske