Recommended Reading for November 4
If you are born differently abled, the state of your body is absolutely normal to you but if you come to this identity after being fully abled, it is a loss. I think that it is important to acknowledge this for exactly what it is. I have had doctors tell me that this is not healthy or normal. I have been encouraged to medicate myself into a false state of happiness. Being sad makes people uncomfortable and to own this sadness as completely as I do, even more so.
The woman that I was four years ago is gone forever. The woman that I thought that I would become ten years from now will never appear. This is a loss and it is traumatic. I have only lost one person in this life who was close to me and dealing with this disabled identity is very much the same sort of feeling. It is natural to mourn and this does not mean that you do not accept or love your new identity; it means that the person you were before was also of value.
Do not start with ‘but she’s not mad, she’s autistic’. This is not the moment for comparing isms and/or deciding that neurological disabilities deserve more or less stigma than psychiatric ones. For the moment, please, let’s lump them all in the same category, under ‘things causing one to be locked in a loony bin so that no one has to see us’.
This episode disrespects people like Amanda. Do not argue that it’s different because this is a special *space* madness that doesn’t follow the normal rules of psychiatry or neurology. It’s not, it’s playing on the same tropes human beings have been playing with since madness was *invented*. They made it a special space madness so they had an excuse to drag out those tropes and wallow in them without conflicting with contemporary knowledge of the realities of mental illness, post-traumatic stress, etc.
With this Steam-Powered Prosthetic Arm, I Could Be As Strong as… A Normal Person [Note: This post has some problematic content, such as using the term “wheelchair bound”, but overall I think it’s interesting and worth reading.]
Steampunk, as we all are aware, draws its inspiration from the Victorian era, which, for all its accomplishments, wasn’t very good to people with disabilities. Halifax, where I live, has a few Heritage Houses, many of which were built during the era, and it doesn’t take much to see that most of them are wheelchair-inaccessible. By and large, disability issues fall off the steampunk radar. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any steampunks with disabilities. Out of curiousity, I put out feelers on Brass Goggles.
In fact, there are quite a few, and disabilities don’t really stop anybdy — Mark F. has been living with chronic muscle and join pain for 30 years (plus osteoarthritis; we should note that for many, it’s never just one illness, but a whole clusterfuck of problems which exacerbate each other), and yet has managed to refurbish an entire work cubicle, among other projects. Many other steampunks with disabilities also involve themselves with the physical side of steampunk: DIY, costuming, conventioneering.
*WARNINGS apply to this post – descriptions of assault and abuse of people with disabilities, including sexual abuse*
In the news:
In an eleventh-hour intervention, Alan Johnson told MPs that he had “stopped the clock” on proceedings to give Mr McKinnon’s lawyers time to consider medical reports and make legal representations.
Mr McKinnon, 43, from Wood Green, North London, suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He says that his hacking of Pentagon computers was nothing more than him searching for reports of UFO sightings.
Feel free to send me anything you think I’d like to look at to email@example.com