Category Archives: administrivia

Email Q&A: What About Womanists?

We’re not even a week since the roll-out, but the response so far has been tremendous. Along with the excellent discussion in comments, we’ve gotten some really great questions, like this one (which we’ve paraphrased from the original email):

Why is the name of the blog Feminists With Disabilities? Wouldn’t it be more inclusive, especially of women of color, if the name acknowledged the womanist movement? Say, Feminists and Womanists with Disabilities?

We’ve been discussing this since we got the email, and we’ve come to a consensus that for now, we aren’t comfortable using womanist in the title of our blog. None of the current group of contributors identifies as a womanist. While we aren’t all white, those of us who are women of color identify as feminist. Those of us who are white don’t want to be disrespectful of the work womanists have done and are doing and appropriate their word for their movement created specifically in response to white privilege and oppression.

We also do not want to imply that we are authorities on womanism and that anything about womanism needs to change by including “womanists” in the title. Many of us are concerned with the historical exclusion of women with disabilities from mainstream feminism, and that exclusion is the primary focus of this website.

None of this means that we don’t welcome womanists and womanists with disabilities to join us as readers, as commenters, as guest posters, and as contributors (and if someone who did identify as a womanist did join us as a contributor we would revisit this issue). We want to create a safe space for all women here, and we do not want womanists to feel excluded; they have much to add to the conversation, and we look forward to hearing from them. We hope that FWD will be a place where inclusivity and respect are the rules rather than the exceptions.

Transparency and Feedback

It is important to all of the contributors here at FWD that readers and commenters be able to provide feedback on the site . It’s also important to us that you can see the processes we use and know how we respond to that feedback and address it on the site. So even though we’re quite a new site, we’ve already received some valuable feedback which has caused us to make some immediate changes and wanted to share it with you in the interest of transparency.

When we announced the site going live this afternoon, we received some immediate feedback on the site’s blogroll and how it excluded an important perspective – that of women over 50. (I’m not identifying the person who provided this feedback publicly because I don’t know if they’d be comfortable with that – if they’d like to be identified, just let me know and I can swap it.) During the planning for this site, we had identified age as an important axis of diversity and made it our goal to include a range of perspectives on age and aging in our blogroll and our posts. We put together the blogroll fairly quickly and intended to continue to revise and supplement it as the site progressed.

HOWEVER – neither of those things were at all evident from the site or the blogroll, so the only way people could have known is with psychic powers. That is a failure of inclusion on our part, and we apologize for that. Many of us have experienced implicit exclusion from mainstream feminism sites on the basis of our disabilities, and sincerely regret causing that same feeling of exclusion to women over 50, bloggers exploring the issues of ageism, and anyone else who was offended or felt excluded. That was our bad, and it was bad.

Since then, we’ve been working on finding relevant sites that we can add to the blogroll and are planning to think and write more about the issues of age and how they intersect with both feminism and disability. Some of the site’s contributors are 40ish, but none are over 50 and I’m not aware that any of us focus specifically on issues of age, so that’s obviously an important perspective for us to seek out and make affirmative efforts to include on the site – not just saying “if you want to see it, write a guest post.” (Although of course if you want to write a guest post we’d love to have you!!)

This is not an appropriate time for me to talk about how ageism interacts with feminism and disability, because it’s obviously not an issue I have any business speaking on. But we will continue to be doing and research and reading and working to connect with older feminist disability bloggers to feature and include on the site.

This is what we hope the site can do – receive feedback, respond to it, and incorporate it into the site moving forward. While we certainly hope we won’t make too very many mistakes, it is inevitable that we will make some. Our committment to you is that when you raise them with us (and emailing is a great way to do it – either the author of a specific post or administrator [@] disabledfeminists [.] com for site-wide issues like this one), this is what we hope to do with feedback. If you take the time to identify an issue and highlight it for us, we owe you the respect of serious consideration of your feedback and a good faith effort to respond to it.

Welcome to FWD/Forward: Feminists With Disabilities For a Way Forward

We’re still new, but it’s time to take us out of the box.

FWD/Forward is a group blog written by a crew of feminists with disabilities who are interested in exploring the intersection between feminism and disability rights activism. It’s going to include cross-posted content from many of our websites, as well as original content written specifically for this site by the contributors. Cross-posted and original content from guest posters will be featured as well.

We are not now and know we never can be representative of all feminists with disabilities. However, over time, we hope to expand the crew of contributors to incorporate as many perspectives as possible, which means that we want to hear from you if you are interested in joining us in any role, whether as a guest blogger or contributor, suggesting post topics, or anything else. We’re looking forward to being a part of the conversation already going on all over the Internet about feminism and disability, and we’re excited about the opportunity to interact with people who are working to change the way in which we think about disability rights activism and feminism.

We’re still nailing down the specifics and working out the fine details of things like our comments policy, but in the coming months, you can look forward to:

  • A disability kindy (pre-101) series for people who are new to disability rights activism
  • Disability 101 for kindy graduates
  • A series of basic intersectionality posts specifically for feminists who are new to disability issues
  • Consciousness-raising posts about identifying as a person with disabilities
  • Discussions about how people without disabilities and feminists without disabilities in particular interact with people with disabilities
  • Disability news quick-hits on ongoing disability issues in the news
  • Link roundups featuring disability news and writing on disability issues from around the Internet
  • Discussions about the language of disability rights activism, from differing terminology used internationally to the specific language used by individual groups which advocate for disability rights
  • Posts about the disproportionate amount of sexual, physical, and social abuse targeted at women with disabilities
  • Posts about people with  invisible disabilities and mental illnesses and challenges unique to those groups
  • Posts about the relationship between disability rights activism, social policy, and the law
  • Discussions of how to be an ally to feminists with disabilities

-The FWD/Forward Crew