Tag Archives: pride

Recommended Reading for November 30, 2010

Jessica Pauline Ogilvie for the Los Angeles Times: Stuttering: Working to free the words

An estimated 3 million American adults have a stutter that didn’t resolve in childhood, according to the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation of America. As kids, many dealt with the giggles of classmates and confusion of teachers; as adults, they often deal with uncertain glances and the impatience of strangers. They’ve long sought comfort from each other, sharing their experiences at conferences and advocacy groups.

Eli Clare at eliclare.com/blog: Disability Pride (from a few months ago, but definitely worth a read!)

Disability Pride calls for celebration, hope, rebellion. We take shame, fear, and isolation, turn them around, and forge wholeness. Pride refuses to let the daily grind of ableism, discrimination, exclusion, violence, and patronizing define who we are. Pride knows our history, joyfully insists upon our present, and stretches into our future.

Wheelchair Dancer at cripwheels: disability is a feminist issue

By using disability as she does, she makes herself smaller, less objectionable to the man; she dismisses herself and undervalues herself. She does her best to dodge what might be a harsh remark
about her intellectual capacities. She does disability in the old way, a way in which the value of our diverse minds and bodies is not acknowledged. Her disability is a weakness that separates her from an actively feminist goal of being an equal partner in the conversation and the game.

Brittany-Ann at A Bookish Beemer: A Glimpse of an Employed Epileptic

I know. I’m saying it’s wrong. I’m saying that the hoops one has to jump through, if neurologically atypical as I am, just to ensure you’re not fired because of being neurologically atypical, is ridiculous. That I should first have to reveal my medical history (which is private) to my managers, then explain to them what epilepsy is, THEN explain how it affects me, to finally say that it might prevent me from coming into work someday in the future, maybe, is ridiculous.

WHEELIE cATHOLIC: Dear Illegal Parker

As I passed the half a dozen handicap spots, I noticed that your car didn’t even have a placard or plate. I wondered why even on Thanksgiving at a senior housing complex, someone would illegally park in an accessible spot. I suppose you didn’t think someone in a wheelchair might really need that spot.

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.

Yes, I have a limp, and no, it’s not really any of your business

I have dealt with disability, in various capacities, for my entire life — this started when I was born three months prematurely and was affected by cerebral palsy (left hemiplegia, if anyone really wants to know) as a result.

I know what you might be thinking: You cannot possibly have CP, Annaham! CP is always severe.  It’s always noticeable to people other than the person who has the condition. CP always sticks out, blah blah blah, insert other sundry stereotypes about CP here (because there seem to be a lot of them).

And you’d be partially right, sort of like how my left leg is partially paralyzed. Oh, people notice my limp. Sometimes, they even point it out to me or concernedly ask about it, as if I am too stupid to notice that one of my legs is too short and that my left foot constantly makes a valiant effort to make up that difference:

“Are you okay? You’re limping.”

“You have a limp.”

“What’s wrong with your foot?”

“Why do you have a limp?”

Now, since I have no obligation to a.) respond, b.) educate these potentially well-meaning folks about my condition, or c.) give a shit, I have developed a coping strategy that works best for me, and it is to ignore these people and/or pretend like they might be talking to someone else. Surprisingly, it usually works, particularly when I do not care about seeming rude.

I don’t know what it is about certain bodies and the fact that some people feel entitled to treat said bodies as if they are public property. This body-as-public-property trope is commonly wielded at people with bodies that, through no fault of theirs, don’t fit the expected “norm” and who may be marginalized because of it: women, non-white people, fat people, trans and genderqueer people, people with disabilities, and others. And woe betide you if you fit more than one — or even several — of these non-normative categories, because then people might feel really entitled to comment on your body or its workings (or non-workings), if these things are at all apparent. In my fairly limited experience, it seems as though certain bodies and their parts constitute some sort of threat to an established order (in my case, this would be the abled order in which “normal” legs or feet do not have limps) that needs to be constantly pointed out and then monitored for the person’s “own good,” whether they are fat, disabled, unexpectedly gendered or not-gendered, or otherwise.

It seems vaguely panopticon-ish, and more than a tad creepily paternal: Hey, she has a limp, but she must not know it! We need to tell her for her own good, so that she knows and can maybe work on correcting it. No matter what the person’s intentions are (because these intentions may be sort of twisted “good samaritan” intentions), that’s the subtextual message that I get when somebody decides to inform me about my limp. Regardless of intentions, this sort of monitoring mostly ends up looking creepy and awkward for all involved. Some “good samaritan” may want to focus on my limp and how out-of-place or weird it looks, but just because I am out in public — limp and all — does not make the way that I move around (when I am not in too much pain to move, that is) any random stranger’s business.

Finding Myself in Unexpected Places

On the way home from work the other day, the classical music station in Dallas, WRR 101.1*, played a really good performance of Beethoven’s Bagatelle for Piano in A minor, WoO 59 “Für Elise”. It’s pretty, of course, which is all it needs to be. But every performance (and every work of art and every published document) is an act of communication among the composer, the performer, and each person sensing it. Every person involved in every act of communication brings xer own perspectives and experiences to the social transaction.

I mention this to provide some context for how I reacted to this particular performance of this piece. I’ve it heard scores of times, probably, but I don’t know if I have since I’ve been thinking of myself as a person with a disability. The parts of it that rise to no real musical resolution felt, to me, like the steps of a dancer with a mobility impairment moving across a stage. Xe walks with a gait and doesn’t move with the precision of a physiotypical dancer, and sometimes it feels as though xe might fall (when the music rises in pitch and stops short of finishing the phrase to return to the core, lower-pitched theme), but xe dances anyway. And xe and xer dance are beautiful anyway. It could’ve been someone a lot like me.

It felt pretty damn good, actually.

Has anything artistic — and I include popular culture in art — recently (or memorably but not so recently) made you feel included? Even if it wasn’t necessarily the creator’s intent?

* It’s owned by the city and actually makes a profit. Naturally various Republican mayors and city council members have called it unfair competition (not that there’s another classical music station in the North Texas broadcastmarket) and have tried various times to get it or the transmission station or the broadcast license sold off. Fortunately for us, they’ve been unsuccessful every time.

Feminists With Disabilities Love Their Bodies

Today is Love Your Body Day, so a few of us are going to talk about why we love our bodies!

I’m meloukhia, and I love my body because, well, without a body, I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun, seeing as how we haven’t quite gotten to the state of being able to exist as floating brains just yet. Sometimes, my body and I fight. We disagree on things like when I should eat, how far I should walk, whether or not I am allowed to breathe, whether or not I should stumble into things, when I should fall down, how to get out of a car in a short skirt. But, you know? My body is pretty cool even if it does seem to have a mind of its own sometimes. It’s kind of like a cat, that way, sometimes it really pisses me off, but, you know, it always comes and lies on the bed at night, and that makes up for it. My body tells a story, my story; it has marks that I put there, that other people put there, and each one tells a history. That scar on my upper right arm is from fencing without a jacket. Those white marks in my left hand are from when someone put a fork through it. That tattoo behind my ear, it speaks to my love of language and history and the printed word. Sometimes, I stand in front of the mirror, mesmerized. This is my body! It’s all mine! And I can do what I want with it. That’s pretty terrific.

Chally here. There are so many ways in which I love my body. I love it because it is utterly mine and no one else’s; it is mine to love. I love this body that got me through endless rehearsals and pracs, my actor’s tool, I revel in it. I love these long toes, this mole on my earlobe, these pianist’s hands, my breasts, my back, because they have been my companions. I love my fabulous, gravity-defying hair, the inheritance of my foremothers, even if I otherwise don’t look much like them. This body and I have been friends on balance, no matter how much magazines, snide comments, cultural influence tried to make it otherwise. This body has been uncontrollable and put me through pain and fatigue, but I’ve learned to look after it, take care of it, keep in touch with it and respect the pair of us. I love this familiar face in the mirror. I love to see my body change, and I love that it reminds me of my mortality, so I must keep on. I love to nourish it, I love to keep it safe. Mostly, I love it because I have taught myself how valuable loving my body is, how revolutionary, how affirming.

Hi, I’m Kaninchen Zero, and I love my body. I love how tall I am, love my narrow feet and long toes, love my small breasts and sagging belly. I love the crow’s feet around my eyes and the discolorations on the backs of my hands. I love how each scar has a story behind it: This one on my knee is where my knee caught on a nail on a low-rent apartment’s cheap playground and almost tore off a piece the size of a penny. These here, on the knuckle, there were paint mixer things when I worked paint crew at university and they were all broken. Everyone who worked paint crew jacked it up at least once, pulled the shaft out the paint mixer and tried to jam it back in — zip! diced knuckles. The other ones on my knuckles are rabbit-inflicted. This on my leg was when some kid with too-jagged-for-regulation cleats stepped on me in a rugby match. The left hand? I shot myself. And I suppose I probably shouldn’t love my body what with the fibromyalgia beating me up and stealing my lunch money, but I do. Because it’s my body. A woman’s body (and a darned attractive one!). My wife’s dyke lover’s body. And it’s my canvas for tattoos. There are five so far but I’m nowhere near done yet.

I’m abby jean, and I love my body. I love that my body gives me more tangible and concrete ways to identify when I’m stressed or upset than the sometimes swirling and contradictory emotions in my mind. I love the way that using my body for yoga, or hiking, or most especially dancing, lets me get out of my head and my sometimes obsessive and circular negative thinking and forces me to focus on my sensory input. (A hot sweaty dance floor where the music is so loud you can physically feel it when lights are flashing and my hair is flying in my face and I’m just dancing, no room or space for thinking, is one of my primary self-care methods.)  I love my body because it experiences things directly and immediately instead of processing and filtering everything. I love my body and its immediate and undeniable needs (hunger, sleep, etc) as a contrast to my sometimes paralyzing indecision and uncertainty.  I love my body for the counterpoint it provides, for its ongoing insistence that I not get lost in the clouds of my brain. I love my body.

I’m Anna, and I love my body because it’s the part of me that keeps me in the here and now. My mental health condition causes me to often lose the sense of where I am, and what I’m doing – I get caught up in negative thinking and reminding myself of past mistakes to the point of self-destructiveness. My body reminds me that I am here, that I am in this place and this time, and not 10 years ago or even 2 months ago. I love my body because it reminds me of how far I’ve come from those negative times and places. My body is also pretty awesome in terms of way of carrying my brain around at the moment, and since my brain and I have to go, I’ll cut this off there. I love my body.

I’m amandaw. I love a few things about my body. It is squishy and fun to play with, for one. But my body has also taught me to respect myself. To love myself and care for myself. No healthy person has the pacing ability a chronically ill person has, and there is a reason for that. And that self-care, that pacing, that evaluation of whether something is good for you (eff whether it’s “objectively” good or not) is something to admire, no matter who you are or what body you live in. My body has given me that and for all the negative that I’ve gone through, I am grateful for that hard-won respect and self-knowledge.

I’m Annaham, and I love my body. We may get into rows from time to time, but it allows me to do many things that I love: eating, listening to music, drawing, swimming, sleeping, and hanging out. It allows me to experience certain tactile sensations that I especially treasure: the comforting touch of a loved one; my dog’s (admittedly stinky!) fur running through my fingers; my fingertips on the fretboard of my guitar; gripping a pen in my hand as I prepare to draw; preparing food using the best mixing utensils that evolution has given me; fresh grass under the soles of my feet when it’s warm enough outside to go barefoot. Oh, and my body also houses both my brain and my hands–used together, they allow me to write, even when getting the words out seems difficult.

Quotations

Definitions of disability affect people’s self-identity. Recognizing yourself as disabled and identifying with other people who are disabled and learning about their experiences can all contribute to understanding and interpreting your own experiences, and to knowing that you are not alone with problems you may have believed were unique to you. But being identified as disabled also carried a significant stigma in most societies and usually forces the person so identified to deal with stereotypes and unrealistic attitudes and expectations that are projected on to her/him as a member of this stigmatized group.

– Wendell, Susan. The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability. New York: Routledge. 1996. pg 12.

Recommended Reading for October 14th, 2009

A bit shorter today – Wednesdays are always busy for me!

In the blogs:

if it wasn’t so necessary, the whole thing would be impossible

# all of us are learning about our own disabilities and each others
# hard to figure out who our allies are. in nonprofit industrial complex, when we make a decision that isn’t popular with allies (like using the word “disabled” as a political word of power in our name), we don’t just lose support, ageist and ableist tactics are used to try and take our power
# this is honestly first time a lot of us have been asked: what do you want? what do you see for yourself & yr community?

In the news:

Saving Alex: A Mother Finally Got Desperately Needed Help for Her Troubled Son — By Having Him Arrested

And here comes the dirty little secret of the so-called juvenile justice system. If you have a seriously mentally ill kid, and you can’t afford treatment, you can have your kid hauled before a judge. And if the judge is particularly empathetic, he or she has the power to get services for your kid.

As long as you’re willing to give up custody of your child to the state of Arizona.

[I find this especially troubling in light of the Hyde case here in Nova Scotia.]

Campaigns:

Follow ADAPT’s twitter feed as they protest for inclusion in health care reform, housing, and the American Dream. [US] Ms CripChick’s got a report.

Dont Write Me Off [UK]:

There are hundreds of thousands of adults with autism in the UK, all of whom have the right to lead a dignified and fulfilling life. Sadly, the majority of people with autism are not getting the support they need to find a job, and many more cannot access the benefits they need to live on.

The research that we carried out among adults with autism showed some worrying statistics. Among the people we contacted, we found that:

– one third are currently without work or benefits
– over half have spent some time without work or benefits, some for as long as 10 years
– just 15% have a full-time job
– but 79% of those on Incapacity Benefit told us that they want to work.

Through this campaign The National Autistic Society is calling on the Government to make the system fair for adults with autism, so that it takes their needs into account at every step.

October is National Disability Awareness Month [US]

“Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation” is the 2009 theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Sponsored by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, NDEAM highlights the contribution of American workers with disabilities as well as increases awareness of their challenges.