Recommended Reading for June 17, 2010
It’s really warm in Halifax. I wish I had a cool pool to slip in to….
Photo by dblackadder”, used under a Creative Commons License.
On most of the vectors where I have privilege, if somebody could point me to real, concrete ways I could help with local, immediate effect — that is, not donating to charities, or writing letters to advertisers, or pointing out the prejudices of bloggers or television shows — I would like to think I’d love that information. So I thought it might be valuable to gather together some ways in which able-bodied people can do something about ableism in the world. Then, next time a person is feeling frustrated about ableism, and is thinking about doing some signal boosting of, say, some crappy thing the writers did on the latest episode of Glee, maybe that individual would have the option of committing to spending the same amount of time doing some more concrete fighting of ableism. Not that I’m critiquing the kind of signal boosting that a lot of us do on the blogosphere! But I’m assuming some people would find utility in hearing about other things they could do that might be useful.
So. Something that struck me about the Cured Disability is that very often, it was framed as a sort of… reward. Or a gift. In some cases, something good character A was doing for character B, sometimes even without asking. And char B was of course OVERJOYED and had no problems with this at all, even when they’d had this disability for a very long time.
And that? Bothered me.
Possibly more than the actual curing itself.
Because, I’m realising, what I want to see is ambivalence, mixed feelings. If you’re going to go there, if you’re going to cure a character, I want to see them have to struggle with what that means for them afterwards. Because disability isn’t objectively always bad, and lack of disability isn’t objectively always good, especially when we’re talking about a character who has been disabled for a long time suddenly losing that. (In fact, this entire post is about people who have been disabled for a while – I’m not familiar with acquiring a new disability but I suspect the same issues wouldn’t apply.)
Medication might be a costume, in that sense, something you put on and take off when it doesn’t fit anymore, or it might be something that — like wearing your favorite clothes under an overcoat — isn’t necessarily visible to anyone else but is part of the fundamental you. I think that balance of “is this simply a manner of ‘being'” or “is this ‘being’ in itself” is something we each have to deal with, on our own, but I disagree strongly with the idea that medication makes you not-you. It may alter you to the degree that friends do a double-take at first, but a split-second of not-recognizing doesn’t mean they don’t recognize you at all. It just means they were expecting a uniform on a day you’re wearing flip-flops. The you that’s the true you remains at the core.
However, I certainly don’t have all the answers. I doubt I even have a third of them. I only have what I’ve been through and the questions I’ve raised and tried to address, given that most of my life has consisted of not a single medication ever really working with any degree of success. In most cases, not even that much. Makes for a bitter reaction sometimes, if anyone thinks to compliment me for having the strength to make it through without “relying on drugs”. Really, I’d like to be able to rely on medication, I want to say; doing all the work myself leaves me feeling naked under that overcoat, to totally mix my analogies.
But all the same, what I’ve learned, I’ve learned, and what I’ve got is at your disposal. It’s up to you to pick and choose whatever may also help you in turn.
Since then, the EHRC has been doing excellent work in its Formal Inquiry into disability-related harassment in Britain. On Monday, the Commission launched its request for evidence of how public bodies – such as councils, the police, transport operators, and schools – have dealt with issues relating to disability harassment.
If we are to address the issue of this continuing blight, we must understand the scale and scope of its current impact and how people respond to it. Thus, if you have any examples of disability-related harassment that you’re willing to share with the EHRC, or know of a local disabled people’s organisation who could help collate such examples, I urge you to get in touch with the Commission.
Now, in the most recent issue of Child Maltreatment, I came across an interesting study. The study examines whether internalizing and/or externalizing behavior problems in children lead to increased victimization to sexual abuse, caregiver maltreatment, and peer abuse, independent of past victimization and adversity. The results are clear that mainly children with both internalizign and externalizing behaviors are at high risk of all three types of victimization. Elementary school children are especially vulnerable to bullying, while young adolescents are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Children of all ages are extra vulnerable to caregiver maltreatment.
However, I have some problems with some of the language used in the article.
Delphine Ravisé-Giard is a long-serving member of the French Air Force who transitioned in 2007. The Air Force has been respectful and reasonable about her shift in presentation, immediately reflecting her gender accurately and with apparently very little sturm und drang.
But in trying to transition legally, she is facing bigotry and ever-moving goalposts. The civil court handling her legal change is intimately policing her body and demanding that she get specific kinds of surgery. Originally, the court demanded that she get SRS. They have thankfully backed off that, but their new requirements? Not much better.
U.S.: Blind Students Sue Law Schools Over Online Applications “Three blind students and an advocacy group have sued four California law schools, arguing that their online application system is not accessible to blind students.”
Switzerland: Disability Theme Park Divides Disabled “How easy is it to buy a bus ticket from a machine if you are mentally disabled? How hard is it to cross a busy street if you are visually impaired? The exhibition at the Paradrom is designed to answer such questions. Arndt Schafter is from the organisation which is developing the project.” [There’s a recording of some sort on the site, but I can’t hear it so I can’t tell you what it says. I think it’s the article itself.]
U.S.: Clustering of Group Homes Alarms Neighbours “Some Washington, DC residents are questioning how much is too much after learning that a single section of the city houses over 40 percent of its group homes for those with developmental disabilities.”