Recommended Reading for March 29, 2010

Anna’s note: Hi! I’m going to be included a link or two a day for the next couple of weeks that isn’t explicitly related to disability. I will also be increasing the number of links I put up a day – you may have noted that I lean towards 5 as my number – so that there are always at least five links related to disability. I feel that the other links that I will be including are in line with FWD’s mission to approach feminism from an intersectional perspective.

Everything I Needed to Know About Access Activism I Learned in Kindergarten

Or another reason might be that I’m tired of the responsibility for access issue being disproportionately allocated to the very people who are up against the access issues every. Single. Day. I would humbly suggest that every member of every University decision-making body has their own brain and can decide for themselves if they want to care about access, and if they want to become informed about the issues, and if they want to invest their time and energy into pushing those issues at decision-making levels. If non-disabled people on committees never think to ask themselves about disabled access, or never think to speak up about it, why should I think that my voice will be listened to? And what does that say for their commitment to access that they can’t be bothered to do the work themselves and instead decide to offload it onto precisely the people who do not have energy for it because we are too busy navigating an inaccessible campus?

Getting a token disabled person on a committee to keep “holding you to account” about disability or sexism issues is a good way of making it look like you care about equal opporunities when you just don’t care enough. Because if you really cared, you wouldn’t be relying on a disabled person or a woman to be doing your homework for you. You’d be doing your own homework, and holding yourself to account.

More on Classism, and some thoughts on Ableism, within Vegan Movements

Over the past year I’ve been thinking more about the privileging of the able-bodied (& neurotypical) in activist movements — including, but by no means limited to, veganism & animal rights. Often certain types of activism are held up as the pinnacles of commitment & getting shit done: direct action; mammoth demonstrations on the street; confrontational protests; etc. These are more risky for people who do not fit within a certain paradigm. For example, the risk of being dragged away by the cops at a protest may look very different to you if you are: POC; gender nonconforming; undocumented; a person with childcare commitments; female; disabled — not that any of these categories are mutually exclusive, of course!

Rethinking Work: Cooking as labour

Out of the kitchen and into the workforce arguments always had a class (and race) division to them: many women had already been working and didn’t find it particularly liberating. Many of them, often women of color, worked as domestic laborers as well—getting paid, if not very well, to do the same work they then did for free at their own home. Well-off women were already recognizing in their own way that cooking was work, and we still recognize this when we watch cooking shows on TV or go to restaurants, fancy or otherwise.

Now back-in-the-kitchen arguments have their own class dimension. They imply the time to spend in the kitchen as well as the money to buy fancy ingredients. Ethically produced local food tends to be more expensive partly because the people who produce it are being paid decently, so despite the lack of middlemen we pay much more for organic produce from the farm around the corner.

Dear Moby And Miley: Please Shut Up About The Disorders You Don’t Actually Have [I recommend missing the comments]

Your brain is not Sephora. You don’t get to walk in and pick a bunch of “trendy” shit to throw on in order to make yourself look better. And you don’t get to accessorize with the “hip” disorder of the day just to make yourself seem “weird” and “fascinating” to your stupid friends. That’s not how it works. And it’s not fair to those of us who actually do have to deal with such diagnoses, and all the work, medication, and often times difficulties that come along with them, to act as if it’s adorable or hilarious that you’ve declared yourself to have something that you don’t. You’re not helping the cause any, and you certainly aren’t helping to research or de-stigmatize such things by wearing them as some kooky hipster badge of honor. Nor are you helping the public’s perception of bipolar disorder by comparing it to your shitty movie options.

On my usage of “crazy”

When I first started working it out of my vocabulary, my criteria would be to stop and think (1)if I literally meant something was mentally ill or not (easily done by replacing the offending word with “mentally ill” and seeing if the sentence still worked), and (2)if yes, then was I putting that thing into a negative light by describing it that way. For example, if I’m reading a piece of literature and it’s really confusing to me and I throw the book down and exclaim “that’s just crazy!” – am I trying to say that I think the book or the author is mentally ill? And if I *am* trying to say that, am I saying it because I’m annoyed with it, and calling it crazy or mentally ill is a good way to discount it and feel better about not wanting to interact with it anymore?

If that’s the case, if I’m trying to imply that something is mentally ill because that makes it easier for me to throw it away, what am I saying about mental illness and those of us (myself included) who are mentally ill? Wouldn’t it be better for me to throw the book down and say “I really hate this author’s narrative style!” or “This is pretentious bullshit!” or “I can’t figure out the point of this and it makes me mad!”

I am tired of disability stereotypes and tropes

Do you know what I’d love to see? More shows and movies and books with character who just happens to be disabled. That their disability NOT be the focus of the episode but rather just happens to be included within the episode. No more super special episodes/movies/books about a super special person – but just an episode/movie/book with an interesting character who just happens to have a disability. One of the main characters on ER, Dr. Kerry Weaver, who was introduced as accomplished doctor – and that’s what the audiences saw the most because her disability was hardly ever mentioned. I’m sure there are other characters like her around – but I don’t know enough about them to counteract all the other characters I know of. The character portrayals that are bothersome and sometimes hurtful.

4 thoughts on “Recommended Reading for March 29, 2010

  1. I recommend missing the comments

    Too late. Already ranted at someone for going on about how an autistic person simply “made the choice” to commit suicide. Arg. :/

  2. I am conflicted about the “don’t pretend to have disorders!” post. Because on the one hand, it’s definitely not cool to claim you’re autistic/bipolar/etc. for the lulz, and the examples in the post make my blood boil. On the other hand… one of the most serious problems I have encountered online re: autism is this widespread belief that there is this horde of people out there claiming to be autistic to be ~edgy~, and clearly the proper way to deal with it is to automatically disbelieve every single person who says they’re autistic and doesn’t say it’s been diagnosed. Which for one, I disbelieve (Moby is the first person I have ever heard of who did actually say they pretended to be autistic), for another, I think the damage done to autistic people by this attitude is so massive that it’d be preferable to have a bunch of fakers around who are believed when they say that they’re autistic, and finally the whole thing usually turns into massive scorn of self-diagnosed people (ignoring that if you can lie about being autistic, you can just as easily lie about being diagnosed!).

    Which is to say, although there is nothing I disagree with in that post I am very afraid that it reinforces some very nasty and harmful ideas about autistic people online. These are ideas that have made it so that every time I say I’m autistic in a new place online I expect to be viciously attacked as a faker, that often the defensive justification starts pouring out before anyone even says anything, that I have ended up thanking people deeply for believing me. That the main thing I felt after diagnosis (and going for diagnosis was a life-changing decision I seriously struggled with) was relief that from now on, I could whip out the Officially Official Diagnosis and not have to put up with shit like that anymore.

  3. Kaz, I think the point is that when someone as high-profile as Moby comes out and goes “I did it for the lolz”, it does actual harm to autistic people because it feeds into that impression that people are faking being on the spectrum.

    I would rather he just said nothing than said “Oh, I lied.”

  4. I find it interesting how quickly the comments on that entry at the Vegans of Color blog turned into able-bodied persons telling disabled persons that, essentially, if veganism didn’t work for them, then they were doing it wrong. It seems a good example of the silencing of disabled persons in veg*n activist circles that the original post was about. It also seems to completely ignore the reality that some disabling conditions can severely impact one’s digestive capabilities.

    For instance, my father had to have surgery which removed his small intestine, his gallbladder and part of his pancreas, as well as a large non-cancerous mass that was killing him. (It should have been pancreatic cancer, but it was just an ulcerated tumor causing a lot of internal bleeding. We are lucky and grateful that he survived… so grateful.) Dad can’t eat much fiber at all any more without experiencing extreme pain, since his body can’t process it correctly. It’s caused massive changes to his diet, to the point where a non-repetitive vegan diet would be extremely difficult for him to follow, especially since my mom has IBS and is allergic to soy protein, and Dad is allergic to sunflower seeds.

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