Tag Archives: feminism

Lines in the Sand: Daly, Showalter and Tactics of Exclusion

The second-wave radical feminist theologian and professor Mary Daly died earlier this month, and there has been a veritable outpouring of eulogies from various feminist blogs.

Few of these eulogies have acknowledged Daly’s transphobia and racism.

I do not deny that Daly was an important figure in second-wave feminism, but to mourn her passing without a nod to her work’s more problematic aspects, or explorations of these aspects, are, to put it mildly, not good. In particular, the intense, hateful transphobia found in some of her writing, and her issues with unexamined white privilege and racism — which both QueenEmily at Questioning Transphobia and Sungold at Kittywampus cover very well in recent posts — strikes many as both deeply disturbing and an old pattern that has, and continues to, rear its grotesque head in certain segments of contemporary feminism. I include myself among those who are deeply troubled by Daly’s transphobic sentiments and her questionable record when it came to examining the entrenched racism and issues surrounding white privilege in the second-wave feminist movement.

I should probably mention at this point that I do not mean to appropriate or co-opt the struggles of trans* folks in any way, although my cis privilege will most likely be unintentionally reflected at points in this piece. Though the struggles of trans* people, trans feminists and PWDs and disabled feminists are not the exact same, some exclusionary tactics of certain cisgendered feminists and those of abled feminists sometimes take similar forms, especially within the mainstream feminist movement. The oppression of trans* folks and PWDs in cis, abled culture intersect in a number of ways; this post, however, barely scratches that surface. I believe that the many issues present in Daly’s work–as well as the reaction to her death around the blogosphere–can serve as just one entry point to discussions of the similarities in oppression(s) that trans* people and PWDs face. There are also clear differences, among them the fact Daly used language that can only be called genocidal, while many other feminists of her generation did not advocate such an extreme path when it came to keeping certain individuals out of feminism. I will be focusing on feminism’s exclusion of trans* and PWDs as reflected in the work of two very influential second-wave feminists here, but there is, of course, much more to these stories.

Daly’s penchant for exclusion and outright hatred (particularly of trans* individuals) couched in oddly phrased academic rhetoric unfortunately brings to mind another famous second-waver’s similar issues with people (particularly women) with disabilities. Princeton scholar Elaine Showalter — best known for bringing feminist literary theory to the fore in the academy at a time when such a discipline was, for the most part, inconceivable — dismissed disabling conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome and mental health issues such as Dissociative Identity Disorder (referred to in the text as Multiple Personality Disorder) in her 1997 book Hystories.

In Hystories, Showalter attempted to debunk “modern media epidemics” such as the aforementioned disabilities as well as more traditionally disproven phenomena such as alien abduction and satanic ritual abuse. In the book’s chapter on Chronic Fatigue, Showalter rather disingenuously declared that she did not want to “disparage the suffering” of people with such conditions only a few pages before she called CFS an extension of Western “fin de siecle [end of the century] anxiety.” She followed this stunning assertion with the claim that the Western news media was primarily responsible for making CFS into an escalating “psychogenic epidemic” (117, 131).

Like Daly’s severe opinion of trans* people as dupes of the medical industry (which Kittywampus cites in her post), Showalter also seemed to be taken with the idea that people with CFS are somehow being duped into thinking that they are ill because of the media focus on their condition. She wrote that many CFS patients and their defenders are “hostile to psychiatric or social explanations” of the condition, and that many of them react in a way that is not friendly to the labeling of CFS as “psychiatric” (128). However, the reactions of these same patients make sense if considered from a non-abled perspective. Showalter also seemed completely mystified by these “hostile” reactions. If CFS is just a manifestation of “fin seicle anxiety,” as she contended (adding that “emotions have tremendous power over the body”) she seemed to push the conclusion — without any scientific or medical proof — that many people with CFS have somehow been brainwashed into believing they have it; thus, the media-driven “hysterical epidemic” has worked.

Nowhere are feminists with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or related conditions consulted; the not-so-feminist implication here is that feminists with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome either do not exist or are just victims of a “hysterical” media-led epidemic and therefore cannot be “real” feminists. This is similar to how trans* feminists were erased, excluded and castigated by Daly as somehow not “real” women or feminists, and as benefiting from patriarchy in a way that “real” women and feminists could not. To put it crudely: This is exclusionary bullcrap, and it does not do trans* people, people with disabilities, feminists who fit either (or both) of these categories, or the feminist movement as a whole any favors whatsoever.

Exclusion is not radical. It has never been radical. It is, in fact, extraordinarily status-quo. No one should be able to arbitrarily pick and choose who “belongs” in the feminist movement and who does not, especially if those who are being excluded because of their gender identity, sexual identity or disability actively identify as feminist. Feminism should be for a wide variety of people; exclusion, however, is something that is not — and has never been — very  feminist.

Author’s note: I will be moderating this thread with an iron fist; please have the courtesy to not try to tell me how Daly really was an ally to trans* folks, or how Showalter didn’t mean what she said about CFS *that* way, or that either author’s influence on the feminist movement somehow excuses their hatred and bigotry. Thank you.

[Cross-posted to Ham.Blog]

Less Than / More Than – My complicated thoughts on reproductive rights & feminist discussions

When I’m not being a student, I typically get temp jobs working in a variety of offices. Once things get settled, and folks realise I am married, they often start asking about kids. “Do you have kids? No? When are you having kids? It’s not too late, you know!”

This may seem like an opening for a post about being child-free, but it’s not.

I often put these questions off with flippancy or a shrug or just saying we’re not interested in having kids. In my experience, this will often have people leave the issue be.

Sometimes, though, people will hound and hound and hound.

“Oh, it’s different when they’re yours. But what about Don, what does he think of all of this? What about your parents? What about– what about– what about?” [1. Everything in quotation marks in this post is a paraphrase.]

Do you want to know the secret way of getting people to never again ask why you’re not having children?

At some point, drop into a conversation that your husband’s disability is genetic.

Without fail, that has stopped every single person who has asked and asked and asked about children, even when the “genetic” bomb isn’t dropped in a conversation about having children.

One of the reasons why the focus of abortion! abortion! abortion! whenever talking about reproductive rights really bothers me (and a lot of others) is because of the assumption that people like Don & I shouldn’t have children (because – oh no! – the child likely will have Marfan’s just like Don! And everyone knows people like Don are a burden on the system/have miserable lives/are never happy/can never be married/are all the same/should be stopped/are just an example for the rest of us). When people focus on reproductive rights only involving abortion, they neglect that, for people like us, the pushback is to not have children. Don’t burden the system. Think of the children – and don’t have any.

I’ve seen similar conversations play out around the feminist blogosphere. [1. I have decided not to link to specific examples, because it’s a general attitude I’m talking about here. And also, who wants to start a blog-war? Not I, said the Anna.] When older women have children, there is always a sudden upswing in “BUT THE CHILD MIGHT HAVE A DISABILITY!” (Yes, the child might. And the child might fall out of a tree and land wrong. Or the child might grow up to be the next Stephen Harper and prorogue Canadian government. WHO KNOWS!) “Think of the children!”

The same fears are reflected when discussing women with disabilities having children (with bonus “but how will she care for the child?”), or when parents forcibly sterilize their disabled daughters.

This pains me, perhaps especially as someone who doesn’t want children. It pains many other women who, for a variety of reasons, are discouraged or outright prevented from having children they want. That, in North America, these women are overwhelmingly women of colour, lower class, disabled, queer – that they’re often women who have been institutionalised in some way, be it a “medical” institution or a “criminal” one – is not a coincidence.

In my experience, marginalized voices who speak out about this disparity between on-line feminist discussions of abortion and on-line feminist discussions from a broader reproductive justice framework [1. FREE Halifax: Feminists for Reproductive Justice & Equality. We meet every other Tuesday for teach-ins & movies about Reproductive Justice. Look for us on Facebook.] are often shouted down, or ignored. We’re told our issues are “special circumstances”, or “pet projects” or “in the minority” or “don’t apply to as many people” or … Well, basically everything feminists in general are told when they talk about issues that are “special circumstances” that don’t apply to enough people (read: men) to count.

Frankly, I end up not knowing where to go from here. Do we, who are limited on spoons or forks or energy or time, keep trying to push for more mainstream feminist discussion on these issues? Do we form our own spaces, our own groups, and have our own discussions? Do we write blog posts that seem to dwindle down, rather than lead us all into the future?

I don’t know. I know and respect people who have made each of those choices, and still others that I haven’t mentioned. But I don’t know what the right one is.

Maybe they all are.

Subtitles in Assassin’s Creed II and Ubisoft’s Pledge

I am somewhat of a gamer. I am not by any means an avid gamer or someone you should call up with questions. If you want a review of how easy a game is to play or how not confusing your controls are, I am your girl*.

I am mostly a computer gamer. I like my World of Warcraft just fine, thank-you. It has a lot of room for critique, and I have some letter writing campaigns to Blizzard in progress. But I like it. I have no love for Warhammer Online, having never played it after being promised by multiple reliable sources that I would be able to play it on my Mac, and after purchasing the Special Edition in order to get into the Beta, was most unpleasantly surprised. Whatthefuckever, I turned that store credit into a Wii Fit, something I actually used. And, no, I don’t care that you can now get it for Mac, they already shat in my Cinnamon Life. I am digressing when I just wanted to say that I prefer computer over console because I tend to find console controls too confusing for me —  all the button combinations are too much to keep track of. I like to set up my buttons in a row and get my “Pew Pew Moar” on. If it is more complicated than original Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., I don’t really enjoy it. I just don’t have the reaction times or memory to figure out all of those buttons (and I don’t need an evo psych lecture on how girls just don’t have those skills, because I have many gamer skills that translate well into the PvP aspects of WoW…I just don’t have it for console gaming).

One thing that endeared me to WoW, however, is that all the dialogue is subtitled. I am not deaf, but I do sometimes have trouble sorting dialogue out from ambient noise, both in game and out. I don’t want to have to miss something in an otherwise mostly enjoyable game because I can’t understand what the NPCs are saying. It doesn’t matter how high you turn the volume, you just can’t get everything. WoW even lets me know when someone is yelling.

Back to console games…

One console game that I did pick up was Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed. There was a lot of excitement over this game, it was anxiously awaited — one of the most anticipated games of the year of its release. There was also a huge deal surrounding one of its lead developers that I will leave you to read up on,I just am too tired to rehash it — I was thrilled that it didn’t stop Jade Raymond from being a part of ASII’s team (no transcript at the link). Just for a fun exercise, Google “Jade Raymond + Assassin’s Creed II” and see how many search results come up with anything that has to do with how good she is at being a video game developer or producer, and then tell me why more women don’t go into that industry. The team at Ubisoft put in the beginning of the game that it was developed by a team of multi-cultural and religiously sensitive people from many diverse backgrounds. I found the game fantastic. The Guy beat it in just a couple of days (he eats games for breakfast like that), even if the ending did make him want to put it in the freezer, and even though I have only recently tried it, I have really enjoyed it. To me, the controls are really simple, the game play is methodical (note: things that really piss some gamers off appeal to me, as in part of my OC nature really likes the repetitive storyline, and the different things to complete. I *love* that, because it allows me to zone out, clearing my mind.), and the game itself is Really Fucking Beautiful. I love going to all the checkpoints and using the “eagle vision”, just viewing the cities.

One aspect that was missing from this design team, it seems, was someone who had input on accessibility, because one complaint I had, even before I was invested in disability activism to the degree I am now, is that it had no subtitles. Like I said, I often miss dialogue during cut scenes, and even if that does not affect my game play, it affects my gaming experience.

When Assassin’s Creed II came out I read in The Guys Game Informer that they made a lot of changes based on what fans wrote to Ubisoft asking for. Before I was willing to get this for The Guy for X-mas this year, I needed to see two things: 1) That the playable character could not drown in a two fucking inches of water, and 2) subtitles. Well what do you know, this iteration’s assassin can fucking swim, and Assassin’s Creed II includes subtitles for all of the game play.

Rawk.

We have it, and it both translates the Italian and has decent subtitles, although it doesn’t describe non-spoken sounds.

There’s more.

Ubisoft, apparently has made a commitment that they will always include the considerations of deaf and hard-of-hearing gamers in the development phases of their gaming creation. This is exciting news for me, coming from a company that I have come to really like. By like, I mean, has made the first non-Nintendo based console game that I can actually play (this is also because I find the new black controller included w/ the X-Box Elite military appreciation smaller than the original, and fits comfortably in my hands, even on a moderate pain day).

I am looking forward to finishing Assassin’s Creed so that I can move on to ASII, if for no other reason than for the subtitles. I wish they had made this pledge long ago. It is worth noting that I read on a gamer message board somewhere (I can’t find it now) that someone had written them, and they responded, saying they took that complaint very seriously, and now, here they have. This has raised Ubisoft in my mind.

Like it was hard to do at this point.

*I do sometimes call myself girl. I don’t have a problem with this.

More articles on subtitles in video games: Subtitles: Increasing Game Accessibility, Comprehension (Gamasutra)

On Speculation and Boundaries…

Brittany Murphy died today.

It took exactly five seconds for the speculation to start up about why she would die of cardiac arrest at the tender age of 32, and not quite double that for the snarky comments to seep out of the woodwork. Because certainly if she had an existing heart condition we all would have known about it, since we have that right to her privacy.

What we have, much like the public consumption we have of celebrities, especially women, is a perceived right to make snap judgments about their lives and their health.

Brittany Murphy’s death is tragic on its own merits. She was talented and only 32.

And if there is any truth to the speculation, then she was sick. If she was indeed sick, then we, despite what we think, do not have a right to flaunt that illness about. She was ill, and she lost. And to me, that means something, on a human, and mortal level. There but for the grace and all of that. When I read the comments that speculate about what illnesses she certainly had or what addictions would be necessary to cause this premature death it is like nails on a chalkboard while chewing tinfoil whilst walking on broken glass but not the fun Annie Lennox version with adorably mistreated Hugh Laurie. If there is any truth to it then she was one of us. She was possibly like me and she lost. That scares me at my core. That was one of us in there and instead of having a moment to appreciate the gravity of that we are ripping her apart and we don’t even know. We Don’t Fucking Know.

Also, last I checked it is bad form to speak ill of the dead. But I suppose I am still an idealistic, silly girl to expect people to treat other people with human dignity. I have spent too much time in social justice for that.

If not, then her death was simply a tragic and random happenstance.

If any information is released, we have to wait for it and presume that it is the truth, and if not, we have to go on with what we have.

And either way, it isn’t our business, really.

She died, and that itself is enough. It should be. She gave us entertainment and amusement. She did what she loved with her life.

We should give her a modicum of respect in death.

May she rest in peace.

A brief PSA on language

So many people have complained that it is asking too much of abled people to stop using words they consider trivial: crazy, insane, lunatic, idiot, moron, dumb, blind, etc.

I beg to differ.

You know what is really damn easy? Erasing these words from your vocabulary. All you have to do is stop saying them.

You know what is really hard?

Confronting people on their use of same language.

We aren’t even asking you to do the hard work. We aren’t asking you to tell other people to stop using that language. We aren’t asking you to confront other people on their use of that language. We aren’t asking you to explain why it is problematic, to answer people’s questions, to deal with their redirection tactics, or to handle the attacks on and harassment of the people negatively affected by that language that such confrontations always seem to draw.

You don’t have to take the brunt of it. You don’t have to deal with the negative consequences. You don’t have to face employment discrimination, street harassment, caretaker abuse, and other people’s general cluelessness about our lives. You get to sit tight in your privilege, enjoying it without even realizing you’re doing it.

All you have to do is cut a few words out of your speaking and/or writing vocabulary. That’s it.

We’re the ones who are putting our safety on the line trying to change the cultural system that oppresses us.

Two seconds to reconsidering what you’re really trying to say? Easy.

Changing other people’s deep-seated attitudes? Really damn hard.

How do you think we feel when you complain that two seconds is just tooooo haaaaard for you to take on?

(Cross-posted at three rivers fog.)

Recommended Reading for November 13

Mental Health and Promiscuity

However, even in this environment there is one area that has always troubled me and that revolves around the concept of promiscuity as diagnositic criteria.

My first and biggest problem with this is that I have NEVER heard this brought up as a symptom of mental illness when discussing a male. It is always something that is brought up about a female. I can’t help but assume that this is linked to the belief that “excessive” sexual activity is normal for a man and not a symptom of mental illness while no “healthy” woman would engage in or enjoy casual or alternative styles of sex. I also think it is linked to the belief that women are the only ones that have sex with other people due to low self esteem or possibly in a reckless manner because they have some self-destruct tendencies. See, sex is damaging to women, they can’t just enjoy casual encounters or engage in sex purely for self-satisfaction: they must be wounded in some way or they must be wrongly searching for the intimacy they so desire.

Reasonable Accommodation

I find myself caught between disabilities.

One of my most promising paths forward health-wise right now is finding a low-impact, non-repetitive form of exercise. Since I have done yoga in the past, I have been searching for a yoga studio. But since I’m in the western suburbs of St. Louis… there just isn’t much here. The most promising place, that offers classes that fit into my schedule, that is likely to be understanding and accomodating of my back issues, is Bikram.

Now I did Bikram a few years ago and loved it – unfortunately, over the course of a couple of months the humidity in the room (Bikram is “hot” yoga, done in a room that’s about 90 degrees) started making my hearing aids go wonky, so I stopped.

You Can Make Fun Of Us But You Can’t Give Us A Chance

The character was dressed in a blue latex suit that covered his head, and he was constantly babbling like an idiot and drooling on himself. I admit that I found the Handiman skits to be hilarious when when they first premiered. The disabled community had been non-existent in Hollywood up until then, and it continues to be non-existent today, so it was good to see some representation, and me not knowing how much of a negative image it was at the time, appreciated the recognition.

I was in my junior year in high school when Handiman made his debut. Ever since I was mainstreamed back in the fifth grade, I have always caught hell because of my disability. I remember being teased many a-day throughout grade school, high school and even college. Handiman perpetuated the stereotypes that people had about people with disabilities. Even to this day, the techniques have changed, but I pretty much know when people are trying to belittle me. Children aren’t as cunning or crafty to hide their emotions, so they would usually laugh or make “retarded-stupid” comments about me.

The Usefulness Factor

Sometimes you can maintain a career from your own home, such as on the computer or as a consultant on the phone. Sometimes you just need to stop and re-think the whole idea of being useful. The question of “why am I here?” seems to become magnified when you become confined to a small physical space with others doing all the things you used to do for yourself.

But that does not mean you have become useless. It is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that, especially when people say things like, “it must be so nice to be home all the time and do nothing!” It is not particularly nice to have no impressive answer when people ask what you do all day, but if you are able to ignore that and realize that everyone is on this earth for a reason, you are on your way to finding a new sense of purpose. Maybe not a financial one, but perhaps a spiritual one, which is even more important.

In the news:
Francesca Martinez: A Wobbly Girl Battles Against The Last Taboo [Although I disagree with the idea that disability is the “last taboo”]

Francesca Martinez’s victim is squirming. Trapped under the scrutiny of the comedian and fellow members of the audience at her show in Edinburgh, he is clearly wishing for the proverbial hole to open up. “What are you bad at?” asks Martinez. “Football,” comes the sheepish reply. “Were you born like that?” she enquires, head tilted in sympathy, “Couldn’t your mum have had a test when she was pregnant?” Turning to the man’s girlfriend, she simpers: “You are so brave. Well done… Does it mean he can’t have sex?”

Martinez’s humour bears a political sting. As one of a tiny number of disabled performers who have made it into the mainstream, she is not about to waste opportunities to ram home a message. Born with cerebral palsy, the 31-year-old refuses to accept the label of her condition, preferring to describe herself as “wobbly”.

Power and Responsibility

An earlier version of this post was published in July, 2009.

When I mention that Don has a homecare worker, and explain what that job is, I often get this question:

“Why don’t you do all that stuff for him?”

This touches on something that I’ve referred to a few times, and that’s the idea that it’s totally okay (admirable, even!) that services for people with disabilities be offered by volunteers. It gets into a lot of complicated stuff.

For example, Don’s homecare worker does things like makes sure he is clean-shaven once a week, washes his hair carefully, and does some of the stuff he needs done for his back, which suffers from a lot of sitting/lying related issues, like heat rashes and sores. She’s there for about an hour or so.

What she does for Don is a huge deal in terms of his personal hygiene. All those little things that allow him to be “acceptable” to our neighbours take energy, such as having clean hair and a neatly trimmed beard. Before homecare, Don would often go weeks, if not months, without a proper shave, and look very scruffy and unkempt. But it would be a decision for him – does he shave today, or does he make a meal? There wasn’t enough energy or concentration to do both.

The question of why I don’t do these things has a few assumptions under it. First, it implies that, because I’m his spouse, I should be in the caretaker role. I should be making sure all his personal hygiene needs are taken care of. There’s a power imbalance there that makes me uncomfortable. It puts me in role as adult, and Don in role of child, and this is just not acceptable.

The other thing is part of why this volunteer thing bothers me. Don’s personal level of comfort should not depend on my energy levels. It shouldn’t depend on my mood. It shouldn’t depend on whether or not I’m angry at him today, or I’m too busy, or if I’m home.

Right now, it depends on whether the woman who is paid to come to our home and do these things shows up. If she calls in sick, there is someone else who will come in. I know she has a degree in nursing, focusing on homecare for people with disabilities. I know she’s a professional, who has been taught the issues around disability and privacy, around personal autonomy, and around sexuality and disability. I know the process we will go through if either she or Don does something sexually inappropriate. I know the appeals process if she threatens him or he threatens her. I know what will happen to Don’s care in those situations. More importantly, Don knows what will happen in those situations. He has personal autonomy.

Don’s health needs shouldn’t be dependent on me in any way, because that’s not safe for Don.

In my experience, Feminism tends to have discussions about caregiving focusing around the fact that caregiving roles fall predominately on women, and lead to things like “the second shift”, or caregiver fatigue, or even directly impact women’s abilities in the workplace. (“I can’t work late because I need to get home now.”) I think this is an important thing to discuss, but I don’t think it’s the only part of the caregiving equation. I think we, as feminists, need to also talk about the power inbalance that comes in when one is a caregiver for a spouse or parent that has a disability.

As well, we rarely talk about what happens when the role of caregiver falls on women with disabilities? What happens to that allotment of spoons then? What view do we have of women with disabilities if their children aren’t “properly” cared for? If some other loved one isn’t getting everything they need? What happens to the caregiver/second shift issues then?

I think feminist discussions about caregiving and responsibility need to broaden out to include these complicated issues.

Quoted: Barbara Smith

“Feminism is the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, disabled women, Jewish women, lesbians, old women–as well as white, economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this vision of total freedom is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement.”

–Barbara Smith, “Racism and Women’s Studies,” 1979 (text is available at JSTOR; unfortunately, it’s subscription-only)

Recommended Reading for November 5, 2009

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot!

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, UK-folks!

Via SpiralSheep: Feminist Spoons

Friends and family are aware enough of my health problems to understand when I have to cancel things, or rearrange them. But these days, I am much less involved in feminist activism than I ever have been.

This is definitely spoon-related, and also directly related to my main local feminist group meeting in an inaccessible venue for so long that I gave up arguing with them about it. (They now meet somewhere which may be accessible, but they’re not sure. I feel so thoroughly disenamoured with them that I’m not willing to test it out).

But I have also found that while individual feminists can be very understanding with my lack of spoons on a day-to-day basis, it sometimes seems less acceptable when it interferes with my ability to attend actions, protests and meetings.

Sick Bodies: Health Care and the Body-As-Machine

But, more fundamentally, I find it problematic that the entire set up of a hospital is about the production of health care, not the recipients of that care. Long after being shuffled into a room filled with equipment and posters not designed with my challenging body in mind, and as I watched the doctor treating me struggle to find words beyond, “Well, I’ve not actually met anybody who has done that,” I wondered seriously about what could possibly be done to fix a system that has so little respect for the bodies of the individuals it treats.

We all carry our scars, surgeries, allergies, broken bones, memories, genetics, blood, hopes, and guts with us wherever we go. We are stunning in our uniqueness, and our bodies are the seat of who we are. Of course, we all have the same basic parts, but I wouldn’t take a car to any old mechanic or my pet to any vet—I want someone who understands the particular quirks of my engine or that my cat needs to be coaxed gently out of her hiding spot.

In the news:

Politics are Crippling State-funded Services to the Disabled [US] [long]

This week, Meyer’s 16-year struggle for a productive life will become more difficult. Scheduled California budget cuts will increase the deductible some low-income disabled people must pay for workers from the In-Home Supportive Services program. The cost hike may leave him with as little as $600 a month to live on, pushing him closer to the point where he’s forced to enter a nursing home. “I just want to be able to stay here, live a healthy life, and be a productive citizen,” he says.

Lawsuit filed against school district:

The suit contends S.G.’s May 2007 Individual Education Program was never modified and he was “unilaterally removed from his ‘inclusion’ classes without notice to (his parents) solely as a result of disability in December 2007 and in direct violation of his IEP.”

The suit also claims S.G. was placed in a more restrictive environment when removed him from his inclusion classes, “caused negative cognitive and social effects as well as mental anguish.”

Moreover, S.G., who has an allergy to milk and soy products, was given them on a daily basis during the 2007-08 school year.

These links are to images that belong to Getty Images, so I’m just going to link to their site rather than post them here. I cannot speak for how accessible their website is, though.

They are shots of wheelchair-using athletes “finishing in the wheelchair division of the New York City Marathon”.

Hugging! Different hugging! Action shot!

Recommended Reading for October 26

Linkblurt: We Are Immobilised

A disabled college student is having trouble getting around campus, after someone stole his motorized wheelchair. […] Horus had locked it up and left it charging overnight. When he returned to campus, it was gone – all that was left was the charger. […] Horus’ wheelchair cost about $5,000 and that means whoever stole it faces grand theft charges.

“It’s really difficult for me to replace it. To replace it, it would take me like a year,” Horus said.

Health Care is an anti-racist issue [US]:

See, I’m one of the 25 million Americans who are underinsured. I have health insurance — pay $350/month for it — as part of a new policy that I switched to back in January when I quit my 9 to 5 to become a freelancer/fulltime writer for awhile. I’m pretty healthy and only in my thirties, but I have a family history of fibroids (like 50% of black women). So every year when I get my annual physical, I also get an ultrasound to check for those. This year the test showed small fibroids — too small to worry about, really, not even requiring treatment, though I need to keep an eye on them in case they grow. No biggie, I thought; my doctor’s efforts at preventative care had done what they were supposed to do, and detected a potential problem early enough that I can fix it easily if necessary. Health care at its best.

When two whole cakes ain’t enough arsenal…

I was leaning against a sign that read “Bus Stops Here” and jamming to some Dresden Dolls, my trusty guide dog sitting politely at my left leg. He laid down impatiently as the minute hands ticked and still no bus in sight. Then, out of what most docs wouldn’t call peripheral vision I spotted a figure stooping for a pet-by.

What is a pet-by, you ask? It’s when a knowing pedestrian sneaks in a pet or smooch or otherwise grossly boundaries-crossing form of affection at an unsuspecting service animal. Not to be mistaken with human grabbings or other forms of harassment but nonetheless devious and irritating for both animal and human handler.

Without missing a beat and sans usual snark I said loud enough for passerby to hear that “that was a shitty thing to do.” There, I said it. That was a shitty thing for person to do. Ask first, respect my answer, move on. Clearly knowing petting wasn’t allowed, ze sneaked on by, hoping I wouldn’t notice. Too bad my dog alerts me, not liking unknown human touch too much.

Where Neurodiversity Meets Feminist Theory: Part I, Part II, Part III:

Another area I see feminism and disability-rights perspectives reinforcing each other is on the question of caregiving. This might not seem like an obvious choice, since you often see feminists and disabled self-advocates at odds over this issue: when disabled people assert our right to adequate care in our own homes (or wherever we choose), feminists argue that we are also claiming entitlement to the underpaid or unpaid labor of women. (See the feminist blogswarm over Ashley X for ample evidence of this conflict).

But when you think about it, modern industrial capitalist society’s way of dealing with children, disabled people, elderly adults and every other group that needs help with daily tasks is exactly what you’d expect from a society in which women are invisible second-class citizens. When women are not valued as highly as men, women’s work is not regarded as real work, and obligations that fall under the umbrella of “women’s work” (say, care for the old, the sick and the disabled) will be more likely to be dismissed as “family responsibilities” in which government meddling is unwarranted.

Post-Trauma.net is “here to help you access information about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and related mental health information.” They have a list of resources available.