Recommended Reading for May 5, 2010
My full-length interview with Chally, who talks about her love of sci-fi, why it’s problematic to have feminist “icons,” her experience as a teen in social justice movement, and of course, the internet.
Fiction reflects social attitudes, and the social attitudes to disabled people tend to suck. Disabled people are presented as scary, pathetic, exotic, demanding, laughable, etc.
But some tropes are popular/unique to SF.
It’s not all bad: speculative fiction allows for powerful allegory, and can also make very interesting explorations/extrapolations of future attitudes/experiences of disability.
When the media heralded you as an “innocent victim” because you had contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, you rejected that label and stood in solidarity with thousands of HIV-positive women and men. You reminded America that all victims of AIDS are innocent.
When you became a celebrity, you embraced the opportunity to educate the nation about the AIDS epidemic, even though your only wish was to live an ordinary life.
Ryan, I wish you could know how much the world has changed since 1990, and how much you changed it.
How and why I wonder are people with no knowledge of disability so stupid. In large part I blame the mainstream media. Sob stories about disability abound. Here I refer to the heart breaking story about an ordinary person that is struck down by a disability and their life is destroyed. The reader counts his or her blessings and moves on with their day. The message however is clear, disability is bad and can run your life. The other extreme reference to disability is one I have learned to detest because I am too often put in this category–the super cripple! There was a long article in the New York Times that took the super cripple to a new and bizarre extreme. The story was a hybrid–the person portrayed, Dayniah Manderson, was a super cripple but doomed by their disability at the same time. Here I am referring to the NYT story “Bent Not Broken” by Kassie Bracken and Erik Olson (April 30) that was accompanied by a ten minute video. By the time I was done reading this story I was livid. Maudlin in the extreme, lines such as “From the time she wakes up until the hour she is lifted into bed, each moment can be a reminder of what does not fit–a spirit that does not fit a body, a body that does not fit a wheelchair, a wheelchair that does not fit a world” were painful to read. Worse yet her friend and doctor, Roberta Shapiro, who “counseled” Manderson and secured life saving surgery for her dramatically states “I couldn’t live inside her body”.
Incarcerated Girls and the HPV Vaccine [United States]
Studies show that incarcerated girls are less likely to have health insurance and more likely to live in poverty than their peers in the mainstream population. These young women are often in the exact vulnerable positions described by Szabo and others.
I learned the names of Immanuel Kant, Rosseau, and Sir Thomas More in secondary school. I cannot name similar modern philosophers from Asia. They are not taught, which led me to think they were not as important, not as good. In first year of university, my Introduction to Philosophy class textbook featured exclusively white men. A fine sampling of the thought that has shaped the Western-dominated modern world.
So when I wrote, I wrote characters and stories informed by what I consumed. They were cheap knock-offs of medieval romance novels, Forgotten Realms stories, and Disney movies. I only ever wrote a single character who was Malaysian, and she was my secret Mary Sue and had adventures that took her into otherworldly realms, never truly part of the Malaysian landscape.
For most of history, then, the life expectancy of people with Down was very low. But, with advances in knowledge and access to health care, life expectancy has risen dramatically… especially for white people.
“The government has recently introduced Bill C-11, legislation that would dramatically change the current legislation around Immigration and Refugee Protection. There are a number of problems with this legislation, which appears to have been drafted without input from key stakeholders. The Refugee Lawyers Association, Canadian Council of Refugees, Amnesty International, and the Canadian Bar Association all hold the position that this Bill should be referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration BEFORE A SECOND READING. This provides the best opportunity to make amendments to the Bill.
I have contacted my MP (by email) and am forwarding a “model” letter in case you wish to contact your MP. The letter (put out by the Canadian Council for Refugees) outlines some of the main problems with the legislation, which will make it much more difficult for refugees to get a fair hearing in Canada. If you have the time and agree with the issues below, please contact your MP as well.