About Ouyang Dan

is an extremely proggy-liberal, formerly single mommy, Native American, invisibly disabled, U.S. Navy Veteran, social justice activist and aspiring freelance writer currently living in South Korea on Uncle Sam's dime. She has a super human tolerance for caffeine and chocolate and believes she should use those powers for good. She said should. She is not a concise person, and sometimes comes on a little aggressively in comments. Sometimes her right arm still twitches when military brass walks past her, but she would rather be reading YA Lit or pwning n00bs. She can be found being cliche about music, overthinking pop culture, and grumbling about whatever else suits her fancy at her personal website, random babble.... She also writes about military issues for Change.org's Women's Rights blog. If you have something interesting to say email her at ouyangdan [at] disabledfeminists [dot] com. Lawyers in Italy looking to hold lottery winnings in her bank account may wait longer for reply.

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Happy Post! Things That Make My Life … Er … Easier?

I have a love of cooking that often times taps me all the way to the bottom of my silverware drawer. I will often borrow tomorrow’s spoons to finish what I want to do today… I am sure that some of this is drawn of my stubborn and bullheaded nature.

To assist me in my passions, The Guy outfitted our tiny Korean-style kitchen with a thick, squishy mat from the local E-Mart (like a Korean department store that has groceries and household goods). It takes a ton of the strain off of my back and upper legs while I am standing for extended periods while chopping or kneading. I love it. It makes my life easier!

Apparently, I am not the only one in our home who loves it.

A light coloured wood floor with a wood-floor-looking squishy mat lying on it. There is a mound in the mat with a wee little white paw sticking out from under it.

[A wee little white paw sticks out from a wood-looking squishy mat on my wood floor. Who could it be?]

A wee bitty white-tipped black paw reaches out from under a wood-looking squishy mat, and attempts to snatch the tan toes of The Guy, clad in Navy Issued navy blue sweat pants.

Whoever it is seems to think that these tan toes look enticing! Or maybe she is defending the honor of my stolen Navy Issued sweat pants. I was looking for those!

A black cat with white whiskers and paws peeks out from under a wood-look squishy floor mat, with a serious-hunter look on her face.

Someone was playing “submarine kitteh” under the floor mat and was stalking our feet as we walked past. Of course, it rendered the mat useless, because who can walk on a mat that is being used by a kitty?

I guess it isn’t really making my life easier, but I guess that is why she came in a cute package, so that I don’t mind so much!

Hope this brightened your day just a little bit!

For Granted

It’s odd how we sometimes take the habits of our children for granted.

I have a particularly chatty child. I can’t imagine where she gets her penchant for being a non-concise story-teller. Really. I can’t.

But when it is early in the morning and I haven’t had a chance to heave my second cup of coffee into my not-yet-awake face that adorable chattering doesn’t seem so adorable. It grates on my every nerve.

I just want to enjoy my coffee and check up on SRS Blogger BZNS in the quiet of the not-yet-awake-world. Without the repetitive chatter.

Who decided that there should be no volume control? (I really love my kid!) (I do! She’s awesome!)

However, at some point during my working day, I must have decided that not eating lunch or drinking my normal three litres of water seemed like a good idea. Sometime between picking up Kid from school, picking up last minute Thanksgiving groceries, and reassuring my mother that Korea is still outside my window I started to “green out”. I don’t know if you have ever had that experience, but I don’t ever “black out”. I get dizzy, nauseous, and my field of vision tunnels and goes green. When I was Active Duty one of my buddies who was training to go to BUD/S once told me this is a sign of dehydration, but I think it may have been a combination of things.

I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t speak, except in one or two word fragments. I managed to get out “seat…back” and “water”. I managed to communicate to The Guy that I needed water. He laid my seat back and raced back into the store to get me water while I lie there, with my hands numb, feeling trapped in my body. I could barely move, and managed to eek out a few tears as I wondered what had brought this on.

Then Kid patted my head, and instead of panicking, simply asked if I was OK. I managed “talk”, and she did. She simply did. She held my hand, and talked to me natural as could be, telling me stories about her day at school, about the green bean casserole she was going to make. She held my hand and managed to keep me calm with all of that chit-chat that my decaffeinated self can’t put up with some mornings.

As an adult when someone tells me to talk to them to distract them from something I come up with nothing. It is difficult to come up with mundane chatter. Somehow it comes so easy to a child.

Suddenly, that chatter was keeping me there. It was light, and if I had been in the position to think of it, I would have been so proud of her for staying level-headed in the situation. So I am thinking of it right now.

Finally, my water showed up, and twenty minutes later the shaking subsided, my vision cleared, and I was able to pull myself together. Magical thing now and again, water is.

It can’t be easy growing up with a parent with disabilities, because I am certain that there are times in their lives that they have to grow up faster than they would otherwise, and that there might be times that they face disappointments because of certain limitations. I know that for the most part, they grow up like most other kids, but every now and then they have to hold the hand of their parent while they are going through things (like nearly passing out).

I love her and her chatter.

Recommended Reading 26 November 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.
National Times: Why I’m not in the queue for the disabled loo

Occupational Health and Safety regulations and social inclusion and participation don’t even belong in the same sentence, yet the words are more closely linked than people know or want to acknowledge. What annoys and frustrates me is that the disability system has a “no lift policy” and, as yet, makes no attempt to modify public toilets to make them truly accessible for everyone. Regulations designed to protect support workers — and yes, the people they support also — are understandable. However, regulations that for many people mean not being able to use bathroom facilities outside of their home is a loss of human dignity.

Most public toilets do not have lifting hoists in them, but, unfortunately this is not part of the law. Yet it could easily be something corporate venues include. For people with physical disabilities who cannot weight bear, the lack of hoists, means wearing continence briefs, which cannot be removed until one is at home.

Pharmacy News: Pharmacists negative about schizophrenia

The survey, which was sent to 750 community pharmacies in the US to assess pharmacists’ attitudes towards mental illness and their willingness to provide services to patients, revealed pharmacists were more open to counselling customers with depression or schizophrenia if they had less negative thoughts about mental health disorders.

“Compared with physicians, pharmacists perceived themselves as having less negative attitudes towards those with depression, but greater negative attitudes towards individuals with schizophrenia.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Passengers ‘left on planes and forced off flights’

The disability commissioner, Graeme Innes, says people have been left on planes for 45 minutes until cleaners have found them because staff have failed to assist them to disembark. Others have been lost in terminals or bumped at check-in because of limits on assistance dogs per flight.

Mr Innes blamed staff cutbacks and called for the government to step in and regulate to stop airlines ignoring the needs of disabled passengers.

Airlines were breaching the Disability Discrimination Act, Mr Innes said, and called for tougher aviation safety laws.

”I don’t think airlines are taking this stuff seriously enough. I think that the government needs to regulate … They have had 17 years to get this stuff right, but they are still not getting it right,” he told the Herald.

Jetstar caused an uproar last year when it forced the Paralympian Kurt Fearnley to check in his wheelchair as luggage, leaving him to crawl through Brisbane Airport in protest at the unsuitable alternative wheelchair offered to him.

NPR: Finding Support for Children With Disabilities

Al Etmanski is a veteran community activist, and after his daughter Liz was born with Down syndrome, he turned his attention to the needs of those with disabilities and their families. Etmanski was feeling pretty good about the work he was doing in Vancouver, British Columbia, until he was approached by three men at a party. All were in their 70s and had children with disabilities.

Etmanski says the men told him they were pleased with his work helping younger parents. But they asked: “What about us?”

Etmanski wasn’t sure precisely what they meant.

The men told him their adult children were OK now, but they were worried about what would happen to their children in the future. Existing programs and services wouldn’t keep their children safe, they said.

Etmanski says the older parents told him: “We want people to be our eyes and ears and arms and legs when we are not around. We do all kinds of things that paid staff don’t do. And who is going to look after our kids when we are gone?”

Oregon Live: A year after civil-rights complaint filed, Hilsboro county boy with Autism continues classes without his service dog

In January, a story in The Oregonianabout Scooter received international attention, landing Wendy Givens and Madison on shows such as CNN’s“Nancy Grace.” Commenters online debated for days the pros and cons of allowing service animals in schools for kids with disabilities such as autism. Service dogs commonly assist people who are sight or hearing impaired.

The issue between the school district and the Givenses is more complex, pitting special education law against the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Scooter, whose given name is Jordan, is prone to violent “meltdowns,” especially when startled. Sometimes the 5-foot tall, 150-pound boy runs flailing at people, including classmates. Earlier this week, he ran across the room and punched a student, Givens said.

When he’s with Madison, Scooter wears a belt that is attached to a harness on the shepherd. When Scooter tries to bolt, the dog sits or digs his claws into the ground and pulls back, stopping the boy.

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.

By 26 November, 2010.    recommended reading   



Recommended Reading for 22 November 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 sent to me by Sharon Wachsler:

Listen To Our Stories: Words, Pictures, and Songs by Young People With Disabilities

These pages offer you the opportunity to step into the lives of some thirty young adults and children with disabilities. Here you will find poetry, essays, interviews, songs, journal writing, letters, and pictures; each tells a story about something essential — some kernel of meaning — in its young author’s life.

Warning: This next story has some very problematic and all around triggering language, but I, as Sharon did, feel that it has quite a bit to say. Please read with care, and if discussion about how “little old ladies are destroying medical care” is going to hurt you, please do not click through.

The Globe and Mail: Little old ladies are crashing the system

You’d think this problem would be easy to fix. More home care! People have been saying this for 20 years, but it never happens. Dr. Sloan has been involved in the start-up of no fewer than four potential government-funded programs to provide genuinely comprehensive care and support for elderly people at home, and every one has collapsed. Why? He thinks that, at bottom, it’s our individual reluctance to let go of the “prevention and cure” approach to care, even when it’s disastrous.

Media dis&dat: Concerts become accessible to deaf community through St. Louis sign language interpreters who specialize in music

Over the course of her career, Freeman’s gotten to play guitar with the Barenaked Ladies, dance with Tim McGraw (the only time, she reports, she’s ever forgotten how to sign) and sign obscenities with Rob Zombie. (“He wanted to see what the sign-language lady would do. I’m glad my daughters weren’t there.”)

The best part, though, is watching her audience.

KXAN.com: Disabled vets hit the ice (video with approximate transcript at the link)

The video is of a news segment about military veterans in Austin (I am assuming Texas) who play sled hockey. The video includes footage of people playing sled hockey, ice hockey played on small runner sleighs with two small hockey sticks that are used to propel the player forward and also used for controlling and manipulating the puck.

One player who’s a two-time Paralympian says he searched for a while before he fell in love with the sport.

“I was injured 26 years ago and played around with different sports. Basketball, wheelchair tennis, what have you. Finally I tried sled hockey and it’s the best disabled sport out there,” said one player.

medGadget: Touchscreen Gaming for Cerebral Palsy Rehab

Researchers from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have adapted a Microsoft Surface to help kids with cerebral palsy get some valuable, fun therapy. Some kids with the disease were invited to Children’s Hospital Boston to try out the system.

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.


By 22 November, 2010.    recommended reading   



Dear Imprudence — Strictly Speaking of Protocol

I think we can make this short and sweet, so let’s jump right in, shall we?

Miss Manners fields a Veterans’ Day Special from Every Military Person, Everywhere!

We members of the military would be honored if you could address military funeral etiquette for Veterans Day.

Naturally, I jest, but I do take minor exception to members of a group claiming to speak on behalf of an entire group. So, thank you, letter-writer, or representative group of military doodz.

Moving on.

For those do not know: It is not necessary for you to stand to receive the U.S. flag. We expect that you are in distress with the loss of your family member.

We are saluting our fellow service member for the last time after we give you the flag. We do not expect you to return our salute.

I’ll cut to the quick here. I hate it when military people talk down to civilians as if they can not possibly understand simple things, like funeral service protocol. But, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt here, because even as a veteran myself, sometimes I get a little confused on who expects me to salute when, etc.

Thanks for clearing that point up, if not in a slightly condescending manner.

We may be silent when you thank us. We are being silent as our fellow service member is now forever silent. Do not think we are rude for our silence; it is out of respect to our fellow service member.

We are not at the graveside of a fellow service member for you to thank us. It is a duty to serve this country that we have accepted. Just as your loved one did at sometime during their lifetime.

That’s great. Thank you for trudging yourselves out there. Hope it wasn’t too inconvenient. I happen to know that funeral detail comes with some pretty good perks and recognition along with the hard work. I imagine it is too much for this letter writer to imagine that along with being bereaved, this loved one probably gave quite a bit in service to the country as well. Just because ou didn’t put on a uniform doesn’t mean that sacrifices weren’t made, that life goals and dreams weren’t put on hold, and hours, days, months, or longer weren’t spent waiting for calls that wouldn’t come until that last one finally did. The loved one of a deceased service member deserves a little recognition and respect for the job they did in support of that service member, and most people on a funeral detail know this and can be respectful of this without sending out such a presumptuous letter.

I think that Miss Manners handled it perfectly:

GENTLE READER — Indeed, Miss Manners is grateful to be of help in this small way. She only adds that she is sure that your understanding of the emotional state of the bereaved means that you would not take amiss any such spontaneous, although unnecessary, gestures of gratitude.

By 21 November, 2010.    Dear Imprudence, intersectionality   



Recommended Reading for 18 November 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.
Inclusion Europe: Czech District Court rules on full restoration of legal capacity

A court in the Czech Republic has ordered that a woman with intellectual disabilities should have all her legal rights restored.

This is important because this is the first time that a Czech court based its decision on the concept of supported decision making.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities says that people with disabilities must be able to live an equal basis with others in all ways.

The woman, Renata, lived in an institution but with the help of a support person is capable of living an independent in the community.

Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology: Quality of Captioning, Exemptions & News Captioning Rules Up for Refresh by FCC

On October 25, 2010, the FCC issued a new Public Notice seeking comment on the closed captioning rules that have been in place for the last twelve years. While the FCC has received over a thousand comments and petitions to address these older rules, they now intend to refresh and likely issue updated or modernized captioning rules. Comments are due by November 24, 2010, with Reply Comments due December 9, 2010. The dockets are CG Docket No. 05-231 and ET Docket No. 99-254.

Access Tourism NZ: New USA Laws Affect Tourism and Travel for People with Disabilities

The law will make it easier for people who are deaf, blind or have low vision to access the Internet, smart phones, television programming and other communications and video technologies. It will also make sure that emergency information is accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision. In addition, $10 mil lion per year will be allocated from the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund for equipment used by individuals who are deaf-blind.   The law also applies to on-board entertainment in airline travel, which hasn’t been captioned for deaf travellers as of yet, despite the fact that all movies and TV shows must be captioned (the airlines actually remove them). “Finally, 30 million Americans with hearing loss will be equal to the rest”, writes Kennedy.  Meanwhile a new website called “Fix the Web” has launched in the U.K. which allows people to report inaccessible web sites after which volunteers will report complaints back to site owners.

CBC News: Chinese court endorses HIV discrimination

A Chinese court ruled Friday against a man who filed the country’s first lawsuit over employment discrimination against people who are HIV-positive, the man’s lawyer said.

The man, identified only by the nickname Little Wu, brought the suit in the eastern city of Anqing after being refused a teaching job because he tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS.

ABC Capricornia: Disability to PossAbility: Expo a hit

She says the expo aims not only to make people aware of the services offered, but to not become complacent with what is available.

“It’s encouraging people to not accept what is currently there, look at what we can use that is existing in the current community but how we can tweak it a little bit so that it’s more inclusive for all people,” says Jenni.

Rockhampton Manager for the Endeavour Foundation Lyn York says the expo is long overdue and the event has grown out of frustration.

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.


By 18 November, 2010.    recommended reading   



Recommended Reading for 15 November 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.

Wired Chronicle: ADA Compliance is a ‘Major Vulnerability’ for Online Programs

Campuses often lack formal policies to ensure that their online courses comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, says the report about online-education management, sponsored by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications and the Campus Computing Project.

In a survey of 183 colleges and universities, one-third of respondents said responsibility for complying with the ADA rests with individual professors who teach online. Almost a quarter reported that responsibility falls to academic programs or departments. Only 16 percent said their college has a central office that reviews every course for compliance.

Scott Puckett at AbleGamers: AbleGamers takes Forza Motosport 3 on a Test Drive

While Forza 3 improves on some accessibility elements from Forza 2, the developers made a critical accessibility error in using voice-over tracks in the game without providing closed captioning or an option to enable subtitles. With that noted, let’s see what other options Forza 3 offers gamers with accessibility concerns.

Astrid: Dissociative Identity Disorder in DSM-V

The reason an experience of possession is mentioned in criterion A, is to make DID a more globally acceptable diagnosis, replacing dissociative trance disorder and possession in DSM-IV. The reason self-reported disruptions in identity, memory, etc. are accepted, is to lessen the diagnosis of DDNOS. I do not like it that an inability to rcall traumatic events will suffice for meeting criterion B, because there is a lot of controversy associated with the idea that one can repress traumatic memories at all.

Sharon Wachsler at After Gadget: A Year Ago: Re-Post, in Memorium

But this blog is not about numbers. It’s about surviving a devastating loss that most people are very sympathetic to, yet few really understand – the loss of a service dog.

It’s about a dog who liked to chase squirrels, slam doors, and let himself out when he wasn’t supposed to. He loved stinky things like cheese and liver — and long-dead carrion! — and me. We shared a fierce, deep, quiet love.

It’s about celebrating him, mourning him, finding ways to live without his love and without his practical assistance. It’s about the emotional and physical journey of grieving a star of a service dog while beginning the raising of a new pup. It’s a place for others who have, or will, experience a similar loss to find comfort and joy.

Media dis&dat: Human Rights Tribunal will hear case of Canadian school district not stopping bullying, homophobic slurs against disabled girl

In its response to the allegations, the district’s legal team says there is no continuing contravention where there is a significant gap in time between separate sets of allegations.

The district further argues the allegations respecting T being hit on the head with a music stand could not, if proven, constitute a contravention of the code.

However, Tyshynski writes, if it can be proven that it was one of the students who repeatedly bullied T who intentionally hit her with the music stand, it could amount to a contravention of the code.

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.

By 15 November, 2010.    recommended reading   



The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: The Awkward Lines of -ist Language

[The scene sets with OYD, a slightly pale yet never-the-less still quite indigenous woman, sitting down to her trusty Macbook Pro, a laptop named “Lappy”, who has seen better days. She sets down and opens up her “drafts” tab under FWD/Forward, where she notices that egads! she has been working on this book review for over a month, and Oh my! how it must have been a long time since she has completed one. She cracks her “double jointed” knuckles like she does it too often, tucks a strand of brown hair behind her ear. She drags the review out of “drafts”, dusts it off, reaches for anything caffeinated, and begins to type.]

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 1st edition cover. A black background with plastic toy figures of a cowboy and an indian, with the title and author's name in chunky green and white letters.I like media where I can consume it, enjoy it, and get a sense that I am experiencing something that touches on experiences that are my own, that seems real to me with out over-exaggerating them (mostly). I also enjoy it when certain traits about characters are touched upon as a description, as part of who that character is, but then they are not brought up as Huge Deals throughout the entirety of the book.

These are a few things that really endeared Alexie Sherman’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to me. Sherman created a protagonist “Junior”, who was born into the world with several oppressions, living on the axis of poverty, race, and disability. Within the first few pages of the book Junior gives a pretty good run down of how each of these things affects his life, and has always affected his life from the moment he was born. From never having quite enough to eat, to the way his “grease on the brain” has given him a stutter and seizures.

But that is where Alexie leaves the discussion about Junior’s disability. It is just a part of him, a description of his character. It isn’t some great obstacle he has to overcome. His disability isn’t some plot point, and it doesn’t help the other people around him become inspired about trying harder or appreciating their lives more. In fact, he goes into great detail early on, in those first few pages, to explain that the reservation kids often bully him. From an excerpt on NPR:

You wouldn’t think there is anything life threatening about speech impediments, but let me tell you, there is nothing more dangerous than being a kid with a stutter and a lisp.

A five-year-old is cute when he lisps and stutters. Heck, most of the big-time kid actors stuttered and lisped their way to stardom.

And, jeez, you’re still fairly cute when you’re a stuttering and lisping six-, seven-, and eight-year-old, but it’s all over when you turn nine and ten.

After that, your stutter and lisp turn you into a retard.

And if you’re fourteen years old, like me, and you’re still stuttering and lisping, then you become the biggest retard in the world.

Everybody on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day. They call me retard when they are pantsing me or stuffing my head in the toilet or just smacking me upside the head.

I’m not even writing down this story the way I actually talk, because I’d have to fill it with stutters and lisps, and then you’d be wondering why you’re reading a story written by such a retard.

Do you know what happens to retards on the rez?

We get beat up.

At least once a month.

Yep, I belong to the Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club.

Sure I want to go outside. Every kid wants to go outside. But it is safer to stay at home. So I mostly hang out alone in my bedroom and read books and draw cartoons.

Then, he moves leaves it there. We know he deals with these things as part of his life, but they do not define his life. Even the most horrible and hurtful parts of his life with disability are not defining his life.

Some other things that are not defined by Junior’s particular disability:

  • His grades in school — He does well in school, and this point becomes part of the main plot, so I won’t give too much away for anyone who plans to read this book.
  • His ability to participate in sports — Junior plays many sports, including contact sports. He is a good basketball player, playing on the school’s team.
  • His ability to have romantic relationships — Despite his believing how shallow it is, Junior has a girlfriend, and as it turns out, she actually likes him! Imagine that!

The other aspect of this book that I enjoyed, though I don’t expect every reader to view the same way, is that the Indian Reservation depicted has a lot of truth to it from my own experiences of having grown up on and around my own as a girl. Twenty, and even ten years ago, our reservation life was not so far off from the one described here, with the exception of perhaps the climate being slightly different, and perhaps I was too young to understand and remember anything about crime rates. But there was poverty, and then there was crushing poverty where I am from. There was alcoholism, though I would venture that perhaps it wasn’t the hot-button stereotype that I feel is portrayed at times in Alexie’s book. I don’t know. Every Native community is different, for sure, with their own unique set of problems. While I feel that there is a lot of truth to what Sherman Alexie has created, I also feel that there is a sweeping generalization. So, it hits and it misses, and I would encourage you to read it for yourself and decide what you think.

There are a lot of instances of language that I would not recommend in a progressive or social change setting going on here in this book. I see it being useful and very much achieving its purpose, for example, there is a very racist joke told by a white boy that Junior meets on his first day of school, using the “n”, which I will not repeat, but which is disparaging to Natives and Black people alike. Junior demonstrates an intolerance for it, without missing a beat, and in Junior’s point of view, the kid respects him for it. But, I have to wonder, is it because of how Junior addresses it, or because this particular student realizes that what he said was hurtful and wrong? The demonstration of how wrong racism is in YA literature is something I want to see more, but I question, sometimes, the ways in which we see it handled. There is almost no discussion or consideration of why this is wrong, just the very visceral use of very hateful words (like above, with the use of the “r” word in so casual a context). Just like using rape as a metaphor to show that a “bad” guy is bad, I don’t need to see or read -ist language for shock value to confront -isms. However, a well placed word could have the proper effect if viewed through the proper lens, but I don’t know if that is quite so obvious here. Junior simply reacts, saying he has to defend Black people, and Indians, but he doesn’t go into much else.

I will also note on the Wise White Person, or WWP, as I will. It takes a WWP living on the rez to point out all of Junior’s problems early on, and essentially Save Him! from the Rotten Destitution! Without a WWP, why poor Junior might be dead, the victim of a trailer fire started by grease from frybread, helplessly drunk and passed out.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is an excellent book, worth reading, for many reasons, but I caution you, gentle readers, there are many themes addressed, in very direct and raw ways that I am still not sure that I wholly approve of, and yet, as a non-white, Native American, woman, with a disability, I am not fully sure that fully disapprove of all of them either.

Oh, except for the sexist language. I found no use for that at all. I found no point where that taught any lesson, except where young boys were using it to show that “Hey!  Women and girls’ bodies are weak, so calling you a woman or a girl body part means you are weak! Har har!” You get no points there, Alexie. Misogyny wins again! Whee!

Happy Veteran’s Day! You Don’t Exist!

I received a message on Facebook today (my personal account, not FWD/Forward’s account, which is not currently being updated because *ahem* Facebook seems to refuse to fix their blog importing tool and I can’t keep up with manually posting it every day…but I plan to try… /Facebookrant). It was one of those “fun meme” invitations, asking me to participate.

“Change your profile picture!” it said, “For Veteran’s Day, it would be great if we all changed our profile pictures to a picture of a veteran!”

How odd…said I. I haven’t changed my profile picture in almost a year…

It continued: “It doesn’t have to be a picture of your husband! Just any picture of anyone who has or is currently serving would be great, and a great way to honor our veterans!”

I might have just deleted it except for that last part. It doesn’t have to be a picture of your husband…

I think about how many times I would attempt to do anything official on the phone, and would asked for my husband’s social, instead of the sponsor’s (that is military speak for the military member who sponsors the dependents for benefits).

I think about how many times I would pick my kid up from daycare after PT, in my full Navy PT gear, and someone would ask me if my husband was in the Navy.

Mostly, I think about the way that the VA is still scurrying to keep up with the care that women veterans need. Some put the number from Iraq and Afghanistan alone at 200,000 active duty women, excluding National Guard and reservists. Women are left behind, with no resources, or resources scattered so far and away that they are inaccessible to those who need them most.

Which is why pieces like this one from NPR kind of really irk me, when they seem to mislead broad audiences. Somehow trying to imply that that the VA is some kind of miracle worker, reaching out to every woman veteran who is in need of services, and that they are meeting the diverse needs of women veterans. It is putting up a lovely window dressing on a filthy, dirt covered window, making sure enough of the filth is smeared out of the way so you can see a very narrowed scope of things from your apartment. The fact is they are hardly meeting the needs of their male veterans, in the ways of mental health, or meeting needs in a timely manner at all. Women veterans, however, are not having their needs met. They are missing the same marks with women, but completely whiffing on things like women-specific health, military sexual trauma, and accessible centers. We could ask Ruth Moss about all the extra ways they failed her, or the homeless women veterans with children who have no where to turn because the closest facility that can help them is a thousand miles away, and usually isn’t run by the VA anyhow.

Today I went to a Veteran’s Day Ceremony here on our base. I won’t go into details about how the President — who is here in Korea — was supposed to be there, or how they changed it at the last moment. I watched as VFW representative,s dressed in their various hats, went around and thanked the collected men in uniform in attendance. I stood there, a (friend’s) baby strapped to my chest, while my daughter, in her Brownie uniform, handed out  programs to the guests.

I was just another wife, with a gaggle of girls around me. Taking up space, snapping pictures, getting in the way. It never occurs to anyone that the passel of wives standing around may also have served a purpose in the peace that is being observed. We are unremarkable, though something to be glared at if our baby starts crying while the General is speaking.

The VA is not making progress towards addressing the needs of women. And they won’t because our society doesn’t recognize us. Women — wives — are mutually exclusive from veterans and servicemembers.

We are invisible. It’s like we don’t exist.

Recommended Reading for 08 November 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.

abledbody: Five Tips for Disabled Job Seekers

The federal government has stepped up efforts to help the disabled find jobs. President Obama has called for 100,000 people with disabilities to be hired in the federal workforce in five years, and now requires federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action and open employment to people with a disability including disabled veterans. Consider a federal job or a job with a company that does business with the government. The federal Office of Personnel Management has job listings.

BBC — Ouch!: Wheelchair wedding, fun, and love

We wanted a place with enough crip loos and space to accommodate over 150 people, many of them wheelies. When we asked venues if they were wheelchair accessible, most of them assumed we meant for our grandparents, not one of the brides. And as for their definitions of ‘access’: “No problem! Just come in through the kitchen and we’ll find two strapping young waiters to carry you upstairs to the lift…”.

Donna Jodan: Barriers to recreational sports

I am not sure if these barriers could be overcome but they can definitely be made easier to deal with.  How so?  We need to enlist the assistance of the sighted world.  We need to make our requests and ask for help.  We need to convince the sighted world that there is a definite benefit to making recreational sports available to the blind and sight impaired.  A few months ago, I attended a Ski for Light event in Utah and what an experience it was.  I invite you now to visit this website and see for yourself. www.skiforlight.org.

Women and Hollywood: I am an actor. I am also deaf: Guest Post by Shoshannah Stern

I am an actor. I am also deaf.

I have played roles written for deaf actors and roles written for hearing actors, when I was lucky enough to have people who believed in me enough to rewrite them to suit me. I am very grateful to have been in this industry for eight years.  During that time, I’ve experienced challenges, triumphs and changes – some relating to being deaf, but most related to being an actor in Hollywood searching for the right parts at the right time. I always try to learn what I can with every experience I encounter and hope at the end of the day, that I have done my best to overcome them.  It is my sincerest hope with all that I have learned and been fortunate enough to do, I will continue to do everything I can to accept strong roles and positively represent the deaf community on and off the screen.

Two Links, One Topic Bonus!

Change.org’s Health Blog: IRS Does Not Consider Breastfeeding To Be Medical Care

Ask any pregnant woman or mother, and she’ll be able to recount the numerous health benefits of breast feeding. It can pass along mom’s antibodies, imparting important immune defenses that can prevent sickness and even death in newborns. It’s the most complete form of nutrition for a baby, far exceeding formula. And breastfeeding may even help mom’s health; research indicates that women who breastfeed may have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.

Yet that’s not good enough for the Internal Revenue Service, who won’t allow nursing mothers to use their tax-sheltered health care accounts to pay for breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. As reported in today’s New York Times, this is because the IRS ruled that breast-feeding “does not have enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care.”

From the Women’s Rights blog: IRS Denies Breastfeeding Qualifies as Medical Care

Yet as Brie Cadman writes on the Health blog, the IRS has decided that breastfeeding “does not have enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care,” and thus cannot be included in the tax-sheltered health care accounts that many companies offer their employees. But support hose? Totally qualifies.

Breastfeeding equipment can tally up to $1000 a year, which isn’t anything to sniff at. Yet the only way a woman can get tax breaks on this expense is to secure a doctor’s note calling breastfeeding a medical necessity in her case. This deters women from breastfeeding, despite its host of medical benefits, passing on immunities to the baby and reducing the risk of certain breast and ovarian cancers in mom. The idea that a woman needs to secure a doctor’s note calling her individual case of breastfeeding medically necessary is absurd: while breastfeeding is not the sole option for women, it is without a doubt medically beneficial for just about any mother to decide on, and certainly as necessary as pimple cream.

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.

By 8 November, 2010.    recommended reading   



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