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FWD/Forward: FWD (feminists with disabilities) for a way forward: Page 2

FWD Retrospective Week: Pop Culture Edition

Welcome to FWD retrospective week! We’ve taking a look back at some of our favourite posts on a variety of themes over the next week.

s.e. smith:

Hipster Ableism

Hipster -ism is a type of humour which people use because they mistakenly identify it as edgy and transgressive. The idea is that it’s funny because it’s pushing social boundaries and norms. Indeed, it’s a way of thumbing one’s nose at the “PC police.” But, there are a few things about it which suggest that this is not the case.

Where Are All the People With Disabilities?

I want to see people like me when I look at the television. It’s why I watch, to escape into a magical world that I think I might be able to inhabit. And it’s easier for me, as a viewer, to place myself in that world when I see people like me. I think a lot of people feel like this. There’s a distance involved when you can’t connect with any of the characters, experientally.

Anna:

And If This Keeps Up There Won’t Be Any

Gosh, I wonder why there aren’t any Big Name Child Actresses who are d/Deaf or blind (or both) and can thus play Helen Keller. Do you think it’s because there aren’t enough roles that are given to such actresses so they can develop a name for themselves? Do you think it’s because any roles that could be given to a d/Deaf or blind actress are given to non-disabled actresses? Do you think there might be some sort of bias going on in casting decisions that might be impacting this at all?

Glee: “That’s Why We Call It Dismissing Legitimate Concerns instead of Acting”

That’s right, suddenly, with no history of protest whatsoever, people with disabilities were complaining about the show! Just days before it aired its Very Special Disability Episode, “Wheels”! Who would have imagined!

Or, more accurately, people with disabilities have been talking about issues with the show since the first trailers hit the internet, with incisive commentary after the first episode was aired, but this only became of interest just a few days before the show wanted everyone to see how “serious” they were.

Annaham:

5 Ridiculous Big Pharma Ads

Lyrica: Every time I see this one, I want to yell at the TV, particularly when the one featuring the classy middle-aged lady who bakes bread has somehow made its hellish way into my precious rerun of Dirty Jobs or another show that I don’t like to admit to enjoying. The actress in this ad pronounces “Fibromyalgia” like it’s a seasonal root vegetable or something (like “FYE-bro-MY-al-GEE-AH”) and all I can do is give the television my most hateful death glare. Oh, and even better is when she says that “My doctor diagnosed it as FYE-bro-MY-al-GEE-AH muscle pain,” and I want to scream, “Lady, IF YOU KNEW what fibro was actually like, you would not be saying that. You would probably be in too much pain on some days to do very much.”

Kids These Days! The “Generation Y” Panic, Privilege, and Erasure

They don’t know how to dress professionally! They expect to march into the workplace of their choice and immediately start making a six figure-salary! They think they are perfect! They want praise all of the time! They have tattoos, dyed hair, and iPods! EVERYBODY PANIC, because the American workplace is apparently going to be dragged down by Generation Y’s entitlement, narcissism and laziness! This narrative, however, seems to apply mostly to a very specific subset of the population (and even the picture that accompanies the NYT article reinforces this): young, able-bodied, middle to upper-middle class, college-educated white people.

Liberal Ableism

Ableism is there when a liberal makes “jokes” about a condition or conditions that ou does not have, such as Restless Leg Syndrome. Or OCD. Or depression. Or schizophrenia. Or chronic fatigue syndrome. Or mental disabilities. Often, these “harmless” jokes are made at the direct expense of people with disabilities or health conditions — both physical and mental. Ableism is there when someone insinuates that diet changes (EAT ORGANIC!!11) and exercise (What? You mean you DON’T work out every day?!) are the solution to all bodily problems, including disabilities, mental health issues, and chronic health conditions. It’s there when someone calls those on the opposite side of the political spectrum “insane.”

Evelyn Evelyn: Ableism Ableism? (see also: Who Killed Civil Discourse? Evelyn Evelyn, Marginalization, and Internet Discussion)

Unfortunately, Evelyn Evelyn seems like a project that is far from actually being transgressive, even given the initial appearance of said transgression (because what’s more shocking and weird than conjoined twins, at least according to abled culture?). The project, as far as I can tell, makes no reference to the ways in which actual people with disabilities are treated in Western culture; this probably seems like a tall order for any musical project, but there is a chasm of difference between at least acknowledging that there are people like this (in this case, conjoined twins) who do exist and that they probably are affected by ableism, and outright appropriation of this uniqueness in the name of art.

The Negative Side of Positive Thinking

This type of philosophy places an untoward emphasis on the individual: You control your reality. You control what happens to you. You control how much money you make. You deserve the best. Solving problems or helping others is beneath you, because it is all about you. You’ve got the world on a string, (sittin’ on a rainbow!) and it’s yours for the taking. Why help others, when you can just attract everything you want with your thoughts?

lauredhel

Law & Order: “Dignity”, Worth, and the Medical Model of Disability

To that list of marginalised groups, of people who are often denied truly informed and supported choices, we can perhaps add – people pregnant with fetuses who may have a prenatal diagnosis of a disability. [...] As a feminist, I believe that we can have the abortion-rights conversation without marginalising, othering, and disparaging people with disabilities.

“Saying conjoined twins are disabled is insulting!”: Evelyn Evelyn, redux

Because disability can be all of these things, and none of these things. Disability isn’t a checklist, or a fixed point. Disability – and normalcy – are socially constructed. Disability is the interaction between a characteristic or a group of characteristics often called “impairments”, and a world that recognises people with these characteristics as abnormal.

Chally

Talking down disability while talking down to young people

What stories like this do is assume an abled readership. At least, I hope so, because consciously putting all this stuff onto young disabled people is a bit much. If a good part of writing fantasy/SF/spec for young people is to assist them in escaping and building up their imaginations and experiences, where are disabled youth to live out fantasy lives? Disabled youth are quite as deserving of an imaginative playground in which to develop their minds and thought as anyone else. In fact, I think it’s particularly vital that people so marginalised in the world be given opportunities to work at rich internal lives.

Signal Boost: International Network of Women with Disabilities

The International Network of Women with Disabilities (INWWD) is a group of of international, regional, national or local organizations, groups or networks of women with disabilities, as well as individual women with disabilities and our allies. The mission of the INWWD is to enable women with disabilities to share our knowledge and experience, enhance our capacity to speak up for our rights, empower ourselves to bring about positive change and inclusion in our communities and to promote our involvement in relevant politics at all levels, towards creating a more just and fair world that acknowledges disability and gender, justice, and human rights. We are a group for women only. We invite ALL women with disabilities to join us and we will achieve these goals TOGETHER.

INWWD Yahoo! Group

I’m a member of this group. They spent a lot of time this year developing some excellent documents for the UN regarding women with disabilities as victims of violence.

Signal Boost: SUPERFEST International Disability Film Festival Calls for Entries

Via Email

Your Opportunity to Contribute to Disability Culture

SUPERFEST, the world’s longest-running juried international disability film festival, is seeking your entry for submission to our 2011 film competition. SUPERFEST is the primary international showcase for innovative films that portray disability culture and experience in all its diverse, complex, and empowering facets.

This year we have selected a theme for Superfest: CHILDREN & YOUTH.
Work must be about, feature or be appropriate for children or youth (up to age 24).
Continue reading “Signal Boost: SUPERFEST International Disability Film Festival Calls for Entries”

FWD Retrospective Week: Reviews Edition

Welcome to FWD retrospective week! We’ve taking a look back at some of our favourite posts on a variety of themes over the next week.

Annaham:

Film Review: HBO’s “Kevorkian”

The entire film is framed by Kevorkian’s ill-fated 2008 bid for a congressional seat representing the state of Michigan –  his platform, as the film shows it, leans heavily on the Ninth Amendment — but his congressional hopes are not the most interesting or thought-provoking part of the film. Almost paradoxically, the most interesting part of this documentary is the fact that Kevorkian does a pretty excellent job of not coming across as particularly sympathetic, something that a viewer might not glean from the film’s trailer.

lauredhel

“Defiant Birth”: Impolite Women Who Didn’t Make History

All of the women in the book have chosen to continue pregnancies against medical advice. The medical advice is based on something about the pregnancy falling outside of the very narrow “norm” – the women’s disabilities, their “elderly” ages, a diagnosis (or misdiagnosis) of a fetus labelled “defective”.

Seven reactions to reviews of Rachel Axler’s “Smudge”

3. Having a child with a disability isn’t an “unthinkable” “nightmarish” experience with a “monster”. See point one.

Anna

Bloody Torchwood

All I can think of is the complete ignorance of the experiences of families with disabilities, whose children do scream and scream and scream, or do some other harming activity, because of their disability, and their parents love them anyway. I think about how this is another episode of television that’s used a person with a disability as a way for the non-disabled to learn something about themselves.

I think about how they decided disability and deformity would be their stand-in for horrible and unimaginable.

Disability & Television: Joan of Arcadia

This what portraying disability in a “positive” light looks like to me. Making Kevin totally cool with everything that had happened, ignoring the way that families heal after sudden and unexpected changes, would be dismissing the realities of so many people. Showing Kevin as some sort of prop to Joan’s growing self-awareness would be insulting, and he obviously has his own story-line and things he needs to deal with. He doesn’t need to be a hero, or good at everything he tries. He just needs to be a person.

Chally

Film Review: Beyond Words

The two main, unnamed characters in the film are a deaf woman (Charlotte Gregg) and a blind man (Gyton Grantley). The film alternates between their perspectives, which makes for interesting (and probably not absolutely fantastic, but I’ll get to that) viewing/listening. During the deaf character’s parts, the sound adjusts to fit her perspective, and during the blind character’s parts, the visuals adjust to his.

Some Thoughts on The Time Traveler’s Wife

But what I found most strange in the discrepancy between the book and the film was Henry’s attitude. In the book, Henry is largely miserable once he loses his legs. In the film, Henry is a Good Cripple. It’s a pretty big contrast, and again the film takes out emotional complexity and loses the opportunity to highlight the marginal.


Book Review: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Look, there’s lots I could talk about in this review: what I found to be a half-baked treatment of race, the truly gorgeous worldbuilding, many “what the pancake” moments, some of the most rounded characters I’ve found in fiction. But I think the treatment of Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose, in terms of her being disabled, needs a whole review to itself.

FWD Retrospective Week: Disability Narratives Edition

Welcome to FWD retrospective week! We’ve taking a look back at some of our favourite posts on a variety of themes over the next week.

Anna:

Lucky for us, there’s money to be thrown

One of the many, many things that bothers me about disability & accessibility is how many of the problems can be solved by throwing money at them.

kaninchenzero:

I  Hope You Feel Better

I have a chronic disease that isn’t curable and I have not heard of it going into remission. This is not temporary. Sometimes the symptoms are excruciating. Sometimes the symptoms aren’t so bad. They never go away. Even if I never feel any better than I do right now my life will still be worth living and I’ll still be happy and I’ll be okay because I work really hard at living my life and being as happy as I can in it. For me it includes accepting that I will not get better. It also includes some complaining about feeling rotten because accepting that I won’t get better doesn’t turn it into rainbow-flavored unicorn shit.

s.e. smith:

Working Towards the Neutral Place

It’s about creating a space for everyone, a space where people can self identify how they like, and feel the way they like, without being judged or shamed not just by society, but also by fellow people with disabilities. There is room for all identities and lines of thought in a world where disability is a neutral identity, and people are allowed to shape it and feel about it the way they want to, rather than being pressured to perform, think, and believe in a particular way for the benefit of others.

Whose Voices?

It’s not that our voices aren’t out there. It’s not that it’s impossible to find people with disabilities to write about disability and to write about their experiences. It’s that our voices are rarely centred beyond the disability community. We are rarely asked, for example, to write about our own disability for the Washington Post. We are rarely profiled by the Daily Mail. The media wants to talk to the people who live and work with us, with our friends, but they do not want to talk to us.

Annaham

Teeny Little Super-Meta: The things I can’t write about

Writing publicly about these things, on the other hand, may get me comments that I do not particularly want to face. This could not have happened. How do we know you’re not just making this up? Do you always have to write about yourself? Let’s look at this objectively. Why can’t you focus on something more important? I’m sure they didn’t mean it like that. Why can’t you just let it go? It was so long ago, anyway. We all have difficulties, what makes you so special? Who do you think you are?

Just

There are a lot of people who seem to subscribe to the “just-world” theory of events — that is, anyone who has anything bad happen to them has done something to “deserve” it. One sees this attitude thrown around quite a bit in relation to disability and illness — for the smoker who gets lung cancer, for some people who become severely disabled due to accidents, for the “angry” or “repressed” person who is diagnosed with a deadly illness. One sees it in so-called New Age “theories” of illness — that illness is a physical manifestation of bad karma or some other buzz-word often appropriated from a non-Western belief system.

Reactions, part two: Social aspects

In that interaction lies one of the most crucial issues regarding the way many people with disabilities are treated: Those of us with potentially life-threatening health conditions are never to be trusted. Those of us with chronic health conditions are never to be trusted. Those of us with disabilities must be faking it to get attention, to gain the upper hand in whatever way we can. We must be using our conditions as excuses to get pity from those close to us, or from anyone, really. We must be faking — things can’t really be that bad. That dire. That frightening to us and those who are close to us.

Go educate yourself (please!)

For me personally, the willingness that I “should” have to help well-meaning folks learn is also an energy issue. I am a person with disabilities, several of which I have written about at length on this website — and one of which is a pain condition subject to flare-ups. Thus, I have to manage my time and energy extremely carefully. Having to explain basic concepts over and over again to strangers on the internet because they’ve deigned to tell me that they “want” to learn — and some of whom may think, by extension, that they are somehow entitled to my time and energy — takes work. Writing takes work; additionally, a lot of bloggers do the blogging and responding to comments thing for free, on their own time.

lauredhel

Reclamation: thoughts from a fat hairy uppity lame bitch

This post started with me suggesting a FAQ on reclamation for the “Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog” blog: “But there’s a whole feminist magazine called Bitch and a book called The Ethical Slut, so why can’t I call you a slutty bitch?”

For Cereal, Jessica at Jezebel? PTSD after obstetric assault is “hysterical”?

[WARNING: descriptions of obstetric rape and PTSD]

Chally:

Only you know your own experience

I’m telling you this story so you know something very important. Medical professionals are people, with their own biases and experiences. Sometimes they will make mistakes and the wrong judgments. They will try to fit you into convenient boxes, tell you things about yourself that just aren’t true.

Disability is not your analogy

Disability is not your cute fun analogy. You know why? Disability is its own thing all by itself. Disability is a part of many people’s lives and identities, it’s an experience in the world, a political one, a personal one, a sensitive one, a serious one. It is not a sweet little term you can charmingly appropriate for whatever other purpose pops into your head.

Limits

Those are your limits: you cannot understand people like us outside of your framework. You are trying to limit us with your ideas of who we can be.

I will not fit your limited narrative. I tell my own story, giving shape to my own experience.

On Centring Caregivers in Disability Discourse

It’s really off-putting when a group of disabled people are trying to have a conversation and a caregiver butts in with “you’re wrong. I know, because I care for someone with such and such a disability”. This makes me squirm. Even worse are those disability organisations or charities that have only parents and caregivers on their boards. “Oh, but it’s all right, my brother has this condition. In fact, we all have family members with this condition!”

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