Welcome to FWD/Forward: Feminists With Disabilities For a Way Forward

We’re still new, but it’s time to take us out of the box.

FWD/Forward is a group blog written by a crew of feminists with disabilities who are interested in exploring the intersection between feminism and disability rights activism. It’s going to include cross-posted content from many of our websites, as well as original content written specifically for this site by the contributors. Cross-posted and original content from guest posters will be featured as well.

We are not now and know we never can be representative of all feminists with disabilities. However, over time, we hope to expand the crew of contributors to incorporate as many perspectives as possible, which means that we want to hear from you if you are interested in joining us in any role, whether as a guest blogger or contributor, suggesting post topics, or anything else. We’re looking forward to being a part of the conversation already going on all over the Internet about feminism and disability, and we’re excited about the opportunity to interact with people who are working to change the way in which we think about disability rights activism and feminism.

We’re still nailing down the specifics and working out the fine details of things like our comments policy, but in the coming months, you can look forward to:

  • A disability kindy (pre-101) series for people who are new to disability rights activism
  • Disability 101 for kindy graduates
  • A series of basic intersectionality posts specifically for feminists who are new to disability issues
  • Consciousness-raising posts about identifying as a person with disabilities
  • Discussions about how people without disabilities and feminists without disabilities in particular interact with people with disabilities
  • Disability news quick-hits on ongoing disability issues in the news
  • Link roundups featuring disability news and writing on disability issues from around the Internet
  • Discussions about the language of disability rights activism, from differing terminology used internationally to the specific language used by individual groups which advocate for disability rights
  • Posts about the disproportionate amount of sexual, physical, and social abuse targeted at women with disabilities
  • Posts about people with  invisible disabilities and mental illnesses and challenges unique to those groups
  • Posts about the relationship between disability rights activism, social policy, and the law
  • Discussions of how to be an ally to feminists with disabilities

-The FWD/Forward Crew

11 thoughts on “Welcome to FWD/Forward: Feminists With Disabilities For a Way Forward

  1. Average age of contributors? Average age of blogroll?

    Please change name to: YOUNG feminists with disabilities.

    And is that properly representative of ALL women w/disabilities?

    You know, it isn’t like I don’t say this with clockwork regularity or anything.
    .-= DaisyDeadhead´s last blog ..Party on the Patio, pt 2 =-.

  2. Daisy – thanks for continuing to raise this issue. It’s an important one. We wanted to recognize our failure to sufficiently include older feminists with disabilities in this post, which also discussed the steps we have taken since you originally raised this concern and steps we plan to take in the future. If you’re willing to take the time to provide feedback, we’d appreciate it, although we know it is not your job to educate us on this issue or do the work of inclusion for us.

    For the record, we do have several contributors in their 30s and 40s. While this certainly is not representative of voices of women 50 and over, these women will provide voices and perspectives from their ages, not the average age of all the contributors.

    We also realize that it will impossible for us – or our blogroll – to be wholly representative of all women with disabilities. Off the top of my head, the current contributors are all from English-speaking countries and write primarily or solely in English. There are a number of specific disabilities, both mental and physical, that aren’t represented among us (for example, none of us is schizophrenic, or Deaf). For this reason, we neither claim nor expect to represent all women with disabilities.

    But when an area of exclusion is raised, as you have done, we commit to making a good faith effort to address and rectify it. We very much appreciate your passion and will continue to appreciate any further constructive feedback you are willing to provide.

  3. Hi,

    I am really interested and excited about your blog, I just have a question about language.

    You use the term someone “with” a disability, I don’t know if this is different in the US but in the UK the disability movement have rejected this term in favour of a “disabled” person. The reasoning behind this is the social model of disabilities understanding that someone is not “disabled” by their impairment but rather by societies reaction to that impairment – thus they do not “have” a disability but are “disabled” by society and the goal is to remove those disabling barriers. So I just wondered what the reasoning behind your use of “with” is?

    I also wanted to know if you are aware of the disability studies department at Leeds University in the UK? They have a wonderful archive of articles. Two of the many which may interest you are http://www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies/archiveuk/morris/gender%20and%20disability.pdf (which I have to confess as being written by my mother and explains the “with” issue very well) and http://www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies/archiveuk/finkelstein/Emancipating%20Disability%201a.pdf (which is one of my favourite ever pieces)

    I’m really looking forward to reading your blog.


  4. Hi Rosa. I can’t speak for all the contributors, but a lot of us are in environments where the medical model, as flawed as it is, is more common. As such, we’re coming from a place where people first language – such as ‘people with disabilities’ – is more polite than saying ‘disabled person’, because that has a connotation of putting the disability before the person. Obviously, as you’ve just demonstrated, this isn’t universal, and I for one switch between usages depending on context. It’s funny how the same phrase can have such different connotations! Also, ‘people with disabilities’ is the most common usage in the English-speaking (primarily American!) feminist blogosphere, so that’s where a lot of us are coming from. That said, we’ve a variety of perspectives here and we use a range of terms concerning disabled people, people without disabilities and so on. We were thinking of writing about why we all use the terms that we use, so you may be seeing a post on that. Thanks for your thoughts! I’m afraid I haven’t the spoons to read through those articles at present but will come back to them.

  5. Ummm…I was going to say something very articulate and well thought out…but pretty much what Chally said. I am from the US, so I only have that perspective, but for me it is that I am a person first and foremost. I do, however, use whichever one drops out of my head. PWD just happens to be the most ingrained for me. Thank you for the links, which I will be reading.

  6. “Disabled person” is indeed the preferred usage in various places. I will point out that the name uses the “person with” construction because it creates a pun. (Ahem. :)) So it is not meant to be the only language a person might use; it just makes for a clever name. You’ll notice that throughout the site, people do use both terms (I myself alternate, though PWD is awfully convenient being a three-letter acronym, which contributes to its heavier usage!). I like this page describing why the author specifically chooses the “disabled person” construction, for another perspective as well.

  7. I for one am delighted to have found this blog. I’m 57 and don’t mind a bit that the contributors are all younger: I’ll do my bit to add perspective from the Boomers’ POV.

    But could you use a heavier font and more space between the lines?


  8. Virginia, we will look into that, and thank you for bringing up this accessibility issue; I actually have difficulty reading heavy fonts with a lot of line spacing, but perhaps we can find a happy medium! While we’re working on it, the quick fix would be to hit “Ctrl” and “+” at the same time, which will enlarge/bolden the text (although it won’t fix the line spacing problem).

  9. Thanks, M. I have been Control-Plussing all day and there seems to be a limit which I’ve already reached.

    Never occurred to me that big print could be a problem for someone. Sorry.

    No matter. I’m in love with this blog and reading along happily anyway!
    .-= Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.´s last blog ..9/11 still killing =-.

  10. No need to apologize! Truly! Readability/accessibility issues are extremely important to us and everyone has a right to request accommodations; we are definitely not going to be using Control-Plus as our solution to this problem! (ETA: Ok, I lied, it looks like people will still need to use Control-Plus to adjust the size of the text to their comfort level, but we can design the theme in such a way that the readability is improved when the text is magnified.)

    ETA: I’m making some adjustments to the theme right now, which is why things look a little wonky on the front page; I’d appreciate feedback from readers about whether these adjustments make FWD easier or harder to read.

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