A disabled college student is having trouble getting around campus, after someone stole his motorized wheelchair. [...] Horus had locked it up and left it charging overnight. When he returned to campus, it was gone – all that was left was the charger. [...] Horus’ wheelchair cost about $5,000 and that means whoever stole it faces grand theft charges.
“It’s really difficult for me to replace it. To replace it, it would take me like a year,” Horus said.
See, I’m one of the 25 million Americans who are underinsured. I have health insurance — pay $350/month for it — as part of a new policy that I switched to back in January when I quit my 9 to 5 to become a freelancer/fulltime writer for awhile. I’m pretty healthy and only in my thirties, but I have a family history of fibroids (like 50% of black women). So every year when I get my annual physical, I also get an ultrasound to check for those. This year the test showed small fibroids — too small to worry about, really, not even requiring treatment, though I need to keep an eye on them in case they grow. No biggie, I thought; my doctor’s efforts at preventative care had done what they were supposed to do, and detected a potential problem early enough that I can fix it easily if necessary. Health care at its best.
I was leaning against a sign that read “Bus Stops Here” and jamming to some Dresden Dolls, my trusty guide dog sitting politely at my left leg. He laid down impatiently as the minute hands ticked and still no bus in sight. Then, out of what most docs wouldn’t call peripheral vision I spotted a figure stooping for a pet-by.
What is a pet-by, you ask? It’s when a knowing pedestrian sneaks in a pet or smooch or otherwise grossly boundaries-crossing form of affection at an unsuspecting service animal. Not to be mistaken with human grabbings or other forms of harassment but nonetheless devious and irritating for both animal and human handler.
Without missing a beat and sans usual snark I said loud enough for passerby to hear that “that was a shitty thing to do.” There, I said it. That was a shitty thing for person to do. Ask first, respect my answer, move on. Clearly knowing petting wasn’t allowed, ze sneaked on by, hoping I wouldn’t notice. Too bad my dog alerts me, not liking unknown human touch too much.
Another area I see feminism and disability-rights perspectives reinforcing each other is on the question of caregiving. This might not seem like an obvious choice, since you often see feminists and disabled self-advocates at odds over this issue: when disabled people assert our right to adequate care in our own homes (or wherever we choose), feminists argue that we are also claiming entitlement to the underpaid or unpaid labor of women. (See the feminist blogswarm over Ashley X for ample evidence of this conflict).
But when you think about it, modern industrial capitalist society’s way of dealing with children, disabled people, elderly adults and every other group that needs help with daily tasks is exactly what you’d expect from a society in which women are invisible second-class citizens. When women are not valued as highly as men, women’s work is not regarded as real work, and obligations that fall under the umbrella of “women’s work” (say, care for the old, the sick and the disabled) will be more likely to be dismissed as “family responsibilities” in which government meddling is unwarranted.
Post-Trauma.net is “here to help you access information about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and related mental health information.” They have a list of resources available.