Recommended Reading for 18 October 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.

The first two links were sent in by Penny at Disability Studies from Temple U! Thanks Penny!

Knitting Clio: Ableism and NARAL Pro-Choice America

via NARAL Pro-Choice America, which is running a pro-choice slogan campaign.  Here are the choices:





I voted for the first one — why?  Because using “insanity” to discredit opponents trivializes persons with mental illness — a group that already experiences social marginalization and oppression.

Media dis&dat: South Carolina woman with Down syndrome volunteers as teacher’s aide in special ed classroom (Extra Special Trigger Warning for description of exploitative labor practices passed off as Very Special Favors done by abled folk)

“She had been working at a fast-food place, but they were really taking advantage of the fact that she was disabled,” Masaki said. “So, I offered her a ‘job’ here.”

Brown’s unpaid job is to be a teacher’s aide in Masaki’s classroom. While the position is voluntary, Brown works like the two full-time paid teacher’s aides, Rita Evans and Wendy Usary. The paid aides help Masaki with the classroom teaching everything from potty training to table manners to play time to desk work.

Brown helps control the children and helps keep the classroom running the three days a week she’s there.

The following post, which made me so angry I really cried because I hate the world sometimes, was sent in by reader Blake:

NYTimes.com: Mentally Ill US Citizen Wrongly Deported (TW, because the title doesn’t even begin to cover how awful this is!)

A mentally disabled U.S. citizen who spoke no Spanish was deported to Mexico with little but a prison jumpsuit after immigration agents manipulated him into signing documents allowing his removal, a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges. His lawyers say the agents ignored records showing his Social Security number, while prison officials wouldn’t tell concerned relatives what happened.

Health Behavior News Service: Kids With Chronic Illness, Disability More Apt to Be Bullied

The study showed that students who reported having a disability or chronic illness — no matter where they lived — were more likely to be experience bullying from peers than those who did not. For instance, in France, 41 percent of boys with a disability or chronic illness reported undergoing bullying compared with 32 percent of boys without. Gender, however, was not a factor — boys and girls were victims equally often.

In addition, when students with a disability or chronic illness were restricted from participating in school activities, they had a 30 percent additional risk of being bullied.

Garland Grey at Tiger Beatdown: The Problem with Policing Someone Else’s Mental Health

Marginalized people are particularly susceptible to having their emotions pathologized, partly because their experiences aren’t typical. When young queers are experiencing depression related to the stigma of their sexuality, people like Tony Perkins swoop in to point the blame at their sexuality, and not the stigma that they themselves are perpetrating. Women, queers, the disabled, people of color, political dissidents, atheists; all of these groups have a history of being labeled “insane” to control them.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.

8 Comments

  1. So, at her old job she was being “taken advantage of” for being disabled, but at this job, where she’s not being paid and her boss refers to her as a “trainable child” and a “Downs” (NOT A FUCKING NOUN), she’s being treated equally? That is just really horrifying that the person writing the article didn’t notice how fucked up it was.

  2. Caught that too, did ya? I am still reeling a bit from that.

  3. Why are there quotes around “job”? The teacher was so concerned about Brown being exploited, but then refers to her job as a volunteer aide as though it weren’t real work, or as though Brown were only playing school and pretending to be an adult and she was only humoring her. (I guess that’s where the “trainable child” comment comes from…) 🙁

    The phrase “the disabled point of view” gave me pause, partly because taken with the article’s tone it implied that only people with disabilities can have empathy for people with disabilities — that the teachers couldn’t be expected to think about what their students might be thinking or feeling. The condescension in the article saddens me, but if nothing else I am glad that the students have someone to empathize with. It sounds like they’ll need it…

  4. For the teacher “employing” the teacher’s aide with Down Syndrome, contradictions are the order of the day, it seems. She says this: “I’m disgusted when I see people reacting to her like she’s a disabled person. She’s a person,” in the same article as “She’s a poster child for what a Downs can do” without noticing the contradiction – and the author of the article let it pass as well.

    Also, how were they taking advantage of Miss Brown at her former job? Because personally, when I consider the ways one can take advantage of a person with regard to a work situation, not paying them for their labour (especially when others are paid for doing the same job) is right up there.

  5. I saw that TBD article too, and felt like it implied that it’s not okay to police mental illness mostly because some people aren’t *really* ill. Which is true, but by stopping there, I felt like it marginalized people who are mentally ill, by implying through omission that it IS okay to marginalize them, not listen to them, deny the validity of their experiences, etc.

    It’s always struck me that mental illness is relevant to other social justice issues precisely because dealing with oppression can exacerbate or even cause mental illness.

    Maybe I should be saying this at TBD, not here. 🙂

  6. I really missed that nuance, hand2mouth, but you are right. Looking at it again through the lens of what you just added, it troubles me even more. For all that the teacher in the article is concerned that Brown was being exploited and taken advantage of at her fast food job (why? Because it’s fast food? Because that work is deemed unsavory?) she sure is doing a bangup job of doing it herself.

  7. Brown’s unpaid job is to be a teacher’s aide in Masaki’s classroom. While the position is voluntary, Brown works like the two full-time paid teacher’s aides, Rita Evans and Wendy Usary.

    …when I read this I thought the article was pointing out how exploitative and problematic this situation was because I thought there was no way someone could write those two sentences uncritically.

    *sob*

  8. That’s basically what happened to me too. I wasn’t totally unpaid, but my wages were about 1/3 of any other person doing my job and working my hours. They were way below my disability income too (the government sort of filled in the gap, but not totally so I ended up somewhat poorer than when I hadn’t been working at all, with heaps more stress and overload). They call it “well, you’re basically an intern” or “you’re so much slower and more likely to need days off” and that’s the excuse to pay you less or nothing, and those things don’t even have to be true either (I’m no slower than anyone else, and can be significantly faster. If I have to take more days off, that’s only if the proper accommodations at work and at home are not in place. Not to mention I had been an actual intern at that company for months before they ‘hired’ me). And they treated it like a huge big favour and acted all proud of themselves too. I think they felt incredibly benevolent. At the time this stuff sort of passed me by, but looking back at it I’m kinda pissed off.