Recommended Reading for 14 April, 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

A smiling Vietnamese woman pictured in a seated position in a doorway with her prosthetic leg standing up next to her. Her right arm is amputated at the hand and her left arm is amputated at the elbow. Behind her, two older adults are seated.
Huol Srey Von (21) is a multiple amputee who has lived with her grandparents since her family house collapsed last year. The Cambodia Trust provides her with prosthetic limbs to improve her mobility and to enable her to participate in community life. Photo: Simon Larbelestier (via Cambodia Trust on Flickr)

Adam Hetrick at Playbill: Next to Normal Creators Kitt and Yorkey React to Pulitzer Win

“We wanted to do something that would shake things up a bit. I saw a television report about ECT, about shock therapy, and I said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that still goes on.’ So I called up Tom and said, ‘What about a musical about a woman who suffers from depression and has to go through shock therapy?’ And Tom agreed, I don’t know why. But thank God he did!”

I haven’t seen this musical, and I’d be curious to get reports from readers who have. I want to be excited about representations of disability winning Pulitzers, but this quote does not exactly inspire confidence.

Steve Esack at The Morning Call: Ready, Willing, and Disabled

Cameron has reached the maximum schooling age for special education students, forcing them to leave the safety net that is the Bethlehem Area School District. His minimum-wage job will shift to another student. His family will have to navigate myriad social programs to help him find new employment that will allow him to keep the dignity he feels when he cashes his paychecks.

T. R. Xands at Adventures of the TV Addict, the Wannabe Writer, and the Should-Be Famous: I’m sure that attitude will get you everywhere

You think it’s pointless to talk to POC because you fuck up every time? Why were you expecting it to be easy? Why don’t you sit back and learn a spell before you become the great Crimson Advocate Avenger. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever get a hang of this disability & gender thing, and at night I often wonder to myself if I’ve accidentally said anything ableist today or if I could have stopped someone from doing likewise. Sometimes I think I’ve internalized homophobia or racism without even realizing it before. But the LAST thing I do is throw my hands up and get mad at the group I’m trying to learn from for not “teaching” me properly. They get enough shit, they don’t need my ignorant self roaming around looking for cookies and pamphlets; about as much as I need our plentiful campus feminist heroes sending me fliers to diversify their group.

Michelle Diament at Disability Scoop: Down Syndrome Takes Center Stage On Fox’s ‘Glee’

Disability Scoop: What do you think of the fact that Glee is including a character with Down syndrome?

Lauren Potter: I think it was a brilliant idea. It tells Americans that it’s really good to have a daughter or son who has Down syndrome.

C. L. Minou guest blogging at Feministe: We Are the Dead (content warning, discussions of sexual assault and murder)

Even though a trans woman, like many other women who have been assaulted, might long for an all-female environment to aid her recovery, there is no guarantee that she’ll be accepted there. And often no guarantee that anyone else will have her. Even in large cities, finding a trans-positive or even trans-accepting victim center is likely to be impossible. There is nowhere to turn for many trans victims of rape or assault, which is why the sexual assault numbers for trans women–high though they may be–are almost certainly drastically underreported.

Lisa at Happy Bodies: Portraying MS

In addition to being rather inaccurate to most people’s lived experiences of MS, I find the “expiration” language to be offensive. Things that are “expired” are dead, trash, not fit for consumption, over and finished with. Just because people with MS may have limited use of some parts of their bodies, or experience pain or other sensory phenomena in their extremities does not mean that their bodies have “expired”.

I’d like to end this roundup with a special shoutout to a Jezebel commenter, somedisaster, who wrote this really lovely paragraph in a comments thread in which ableist language was challenged:

The only reason words like “lame” and “retarded” function as insults is because people consider there something to be inherently bad about BEING “lame” or “retarded.” If they were really divorced from ableism, they wouldn’t work as insults, because they would be neutral words. You can’t claim a word is divorced from its offensive context when its offensive context is the sole reason it is used as an insult.

How about you? Have you been reading (or writing) anything of interest lately?


  1. re: Next to Normal

    I really liked the musical. It was very… sad, and yet almost overwhelmingly hopeful. In short, I cried a lot because I empathized with every character so much that it hurt. However, it’s been awhile since I saw it, so I don’t really remember what exactly happened on stage, but I think they did a good job. I’m sure there were a few moments of “Er… no”, but overall, it seemed pretty respectful and serious about the subject matter.

    The shock therapy scene was… mmm. I remember thinking that it seemed slightly too zany (for lack of a better term). It wasn’t one of my favorite scenes.

  2. I like Next to Normal but I don’t have mental illness so I might not be aware enough of aspects that may be offensive.

    “A girl who just happens to be a cheerleader”–LOL

  3. Since you asked, I’d like to answer by saying that, I finished reading a book of interest to me. Yay! Finally done with this here feminist theory text. I made it!

    Awhile back, I read this article about living with diabetes, particularly as how needing an insulin pump complicated the author’s sexual experiences. However the article is not entirely without problems & I do not recommend reading the comment section. You can read it but it’s got some problems too. Tethered to the Body

    I’ve been re-reading it and mulling it over but haven’t quite got all my ducks in a row about it.

  4. I wrote this:

    Part of it is about growing up as a sort of autistic person I rarely read about appearance-wise when it comes to people who made it to their early teens before diagnosis. But the part I think is most likely to be interesting to readers here is about being really sick of the idea that what happened to me before diagnosing was “passing”. Because no child like the one I was passes in the place and time I grew up. What happened was a cognitive phenomenon I call “passing off” — where people generate lots of false explanations for my behavior and then remember the explanations. Because ultra-sensory-seeking kids don’t pass in 80s/90s American suburbia. They just don’t.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Feline Ethics, Part 2: Avoiding Arrogance =-.

  5. somedisaster wins an internet from me.

    As the weather is so nice, I’ve been getting out and walking more, and I’ve been acutely aware of how slow I am and also how differently I walk from everyone else. Also, the more I use my bad knee, the more grief it gives me. “Lame” has really been grating on my nerves as an insult because I’ve been giving myself all kinds of mental Hell over not being able to walk “normally”. When I can’t bend my knee to step up onto the bus, literal lameness and the pejorative nature of the insult collide in my head, and I feel lame. I don’t want to internalize, but it’s kinda hard when I can’t get away from people using language that makes me feel like dirt about myself. Nitpicking with people about intent doesn’t seem quite so important to me.

  6. I really love Next to Normal. I feel that the creators made a bold and important choice in creating this piece, and I feel very inspired by it–I’ve seen it twice, and both times, I cried. It was very cathartic for me, as someone with a mental illness.