Recommended Reading for April 19, 2010
Description: A blue-painted brick
wall parking stall with the disability-symbol of a white wheelchair painted on it as well. – edited after comment from noracharles.
Today is the deadline for the Disability Carnival
Check out River of Jordan for more information!
Without answering he calls to the guys on the platform a couple floors up. He wants them to move the machine. I can see what a hassle this is. They are going to have to lower the platform, move it a few feet so I can get on my way, move it back so they can be back in position and then raise it back up to where they are working. I felt immediately like this huge bother. But the driver glanced down and saw me and hollered that he’d move the truck.
The platform lowered, it seemed to come down at such a slow pace, I could feel my hair grow as I waited. Joe, who really hates it when we bother people or put people out is standing a few feet ahead looking very perturbed. Once the platform is down, the fellow moves it two or three feet ahead, plenty of room for me to get around. I call out as I’m going around, ‘Sorry to be a bother.’
This is one reason that I question the entire concept of passing. I rarely spent five minutes around other children before they figured out I was different. Often it was more like five seconds. Kids weren’t generally picking up my intellect or nerdiness (they might pick that up later but not immediately), they were picking up my strangeness. Much of the time they said so quite openly and as we got older they were trying really hard to explain why I was strange. But I was always strange, there was never a point even when I did my best attempt to “behave” that this was ever in question. Even when neuroleptics drastically tamped down on my ability to explore my environment in those ways I could expect to wait seconds before I was pointedly and often out loud judged as some kind of Other. Even among kids in mental institutions where the rate of neuro-atypicality was higher, I only very occasionally connected with anyone and it was always their doing, others just either shunned me or found ways to do harm to me.
Weird thing is even though I heard all about being strange my whole life I always underestimated my strangeness. I rarely connected all the dots in others’ reactions to me. I knew I was different but since I couldn’t imagine how all the things I did looked to others, I assumed I was “normal enough” largely because of that and because I was always around myself and therefore found myself… not boring exactly, but like I was used to me. The same way I never knew my autistic brother stood out that much even though he did (although more in the stiff/nerdy way than the sensory/strange way, we are very different people).
Via Penny in email: groping
This wouldn’t be particularly notable, but today I read in the NY Times Magazine of a study that aims to find out what men’s “real” preferences in women’s body types are by toting around headless mannequins of various dimensions for blind men to grope. Hmm, how many things are wrong with this study?
Via Jonquil: Betty Dodson and Audre Lourde: Can I possibly use the master’s tools to demolish her house? [Post uses blindness as a metaphor, questions of sanity as a metaphor]
Then there is the disturbingly unquestioned position of authority that Betty holds on all things sexual. Reproducing patriarchal systems of hierarchical power, it seems she has reached to far high up the ladder that anyone who dares ask a question is a pariah whose sanity is to be questioned. I had never heard of her before this Clitoraid thing and so it was in naivete that I questioned her ‘expertise’ on the issue of Female Circumcision. Woe unto me for daring.
I have to admit that it is with sadness I wonder out loud if this the cutting edge of North American feminism? Is it that the sum total of feminist thought and mobilizing is about pleasure? We’ve made the entire experience of womanhood all about what is between our legs and not between our ears and in our hearts? That the respect so necessary in building the bridges of sisterhood is to be abandoned because one ‘expert’ must be venerated?
The student center building at my university has a couple TV lounges set up for students to use. Through no fault of the student center, the manufacturer of the TVs did not include any sort of ‘menu’ button on the front of the TV itself– so it’s impossible to turn on captions without the remote, for viewers who may need it.
Equally as salient, for me, is managing the overlap between disability and injury. When I first separated my shoulder, someone sent me a request to participate in a study, the basic question/thesis of which was (whether) disabled dancers get injured more than non. I didn’t participate because I felt the supporting materials showed some bias towards suggesting that disabled dancers were more of a liability. (And, yes, I was feeling pissed off and vulnerable at that time.) I imagine that many of the things injured dancers do to take care of themselves (as if self *were* the injury) are the things I do on a daily basis in an attempt to keep the worst of the symptoms under control. Am I injured? No. But I do live my disability life as if I were. In a weird way, it prepares me for the twists and tweaks of dance injury.