Recently, I was on the commuter train home. I happened to be reading Susan Schweik’s book Ugly Laws: Disability in Public for a research paper. Two middle-aged women sat down opposite me, and one inquired as to what book I was reading.
Me: It’s a book about 20th-century ugly laws in the U.S.
Woman #1: What’re those?
Me: Oh, they were regulations that prevented people with visible disabilities from panhandling in public, but more generally, they also kept people with disabilities out of the public eye.
Woman #2: Wow, that is so interesting! Are you in school?
Me: Yes, I’m reading this for a grad school paper.
Woman #1: You’re lucky you’re in grad school! The great thing about being in school is that you get to learn about things you might otherwise never learn about.
Me: Yeah, I suppose so.
Woman #1: And…why are you interested in that topic?
Me: I’m interested in feminist theory and disability, and how those things intersect with race, gender and class, and other stuff. That’s the short version, anyway.
Woman #1 [After a long pause]: Of course, I didn’t mean to imply that you are disabled or have a deformity…
Me: Uh, okay. [Pause] You can’t see it, but I do have chronic pain.
And the conversation sort of stopped after that. For some reason, I suspect that this is not an uncommon occurrence.
This post is not spoily for the Dexter TV series to date, except perhaps for the premise. It contains a very minor spoiler for an event that occurs at the start of Dexter By Design. Comments may contain spoilers up to the Chapter Ten of Dexter by Design, but no further please..
At the moment I’m reading Dexter by Design (2009), by Jeff Lindsay. It is the fourth book in the Dexter series, a thriller/crime series with a touch of spec fic, set in current-day Miami. Dexter Morgan and his foster sister Deb are both police officers working in homicide; Dexter a blood-spatter expert and Deb a sergeant. Dexter is also a serial killer, brought up by his police officer foster dad to follow “The Code”, to only kill murderers who have escaped justice, and to not get caught.
Last night I read the scene below, and it hit all my rage buttons. Coming on the heels of the Ayr incident where a police officer stolen a woman’s mobility scooter, and the episode in Colorado where a teacher duct taped a disabled 12-year-old’s only communicative hand to his wheelchair, it was all too much.
The scene is excerpted below the cut. Additional warning for lots of taboo language; NSFW.
Continue reading On Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter: It’s not ok for police to immobilise PWD for questioning
fiction_theory (LJ): The internet IS real life
The problem with impeaching someone’s anti-racism based on attendance at a specific march or even public rallies and protests in general is that it assumes that a) attending such events is a more real, valid, and important means of expressing anti-racism than any other means, specifically online and b) that attendance is a feasible option for everyone.
Marching at a rally or attending a protest is all well and good, but it’s not something that is an option for everyone. It’s quite ablist to ask such a question as though the privilege of being able to attend excludes the antiracist work of those who use other venues.
Mattilda at Nobody Passes: Closer
Somewhere between sleep and awake, a new day and last night and tomorrow, like they’re all in a circle around me but I’m somewhere in bed where I can almost read the sentences except they blur away from me, and I keep thinking maybe sleep, maybe this is more sleep except I don’t know if I want more sleep.
thefourthvine (DW): [Meta]: The Audience
I will not bring up my disability, because I don’t talk about it here, except to say that if that part of me appears in a story, it will be as either a clever gimmick (and a chance for a main character to grow as a person) or a sob story (and a chance for a main character to grow as a person). (No, there will never be a main character just like me. Most of the time I think that’s normal, and then I look at, say, SF and think standard-issue straight white guys must have a whole different experience on this issue. How weird would it be, to have basically all mainstream media written for you like that?)
Ian Sample (at The Guardian online): Bone marrow transplants cure mental illness — in mice
The team, led by a Nobel prizewinning geneticist, found that experimental transplants in mice cured them of a disorder in which they groom themselves so excessively they develop bare patches of skin. The condition is similar to a disorder in which people pull their hair out, called trichotillomania.
lustwithwings at sexgenderbody: Do I Owe Everything I am to The Internet?
Despite their lack of a body, my friends are still quite active in the world of Social Networking which acts on the physical world in much the same way things on our mind do. The contents of the Internet affect the physical world through many of the same processes as the contents of a mind, yet the contents of the Internet as a public mind can affect many more minds, and many more bodies than a private mind.
A word of caution: This review is going to be quite short, as I have been struggling with “getting words out” for the past few days. Regardless, I think this is an important book, and might be of interest to my fellow FWD-ers (bloggers and commenters!).
I touched upon the whole positive thinking movement (and why it offends me) at this very blog a while back; I’ve long had problems with the “Just think POSITIVE!” suggestion and attendant movement, and one piece that really got to the root of things, at least for me, was Ehrenreich’s 2001 essay, “Welcome to Cancerland,” which is about how positive thinking–bejewelled and be-ribboned with a heaping helping of traditional femininity and stereotypes about women, and particularly women who have survived breast cancer–has, for lack of a better word, swallowed the breast cancer “awareness” movement. [The essay is available at her website.] A revised version of the essay appears as the opening chapter to Bright-Sided, and Ehrenreich adds just enough salient facts to make reading the newer version worthwhile and not at all confusing to non-sciencey types like myself. (Ehrenreich has a PhD in Cell Biology.)
That said, the remainder of Bright-Sided proved to be a fast, engaging read. In fact, I wish it had been longer, and one chapter that could have used an expansion was the closing chapter on positive thinking’s effect on the recent U.S. economic crash. The book is also extremely U.S.-centric, but since positive thinking is one of those things that seems to have really taken flight in the North American consciousness, this is not particularly surprising. Unfortunately, with the exception of the breast cancer chapter, Ehrenreich does not specifically cover disability and/or chronic illness issues as they relate to the positive thinking movement. However, her book as a whole may have been designed to be rather “general” since the positive thinking movement impacts many people (for better or worse), not just those with disabilities. This generality is both a strength and a weakness, and I think Ehrenreich’s writing saves her points from being too non-specific.
I will leave you with a quote that stuck with me, from the book’s second chapter:
But in the world of positive thinking other people are not there to be nurtured or to provide unwelcome reality checks. They are only to nourish, praise and affirm. Harsh as this dictum sounds, many ordinary people adopt it as their creed, displaying wall plaques or bumper stickers showing the word “Whining” with a cancel sign through it. There seems to be a massive empathy deficit, which people respond to by withdrawing their own. No one has the time or patience for anyone else’s problems…When the gurus advise dropping “negative” people, they are also issuing a warning: smile and be agreeable, go with the flow–or prepare to be ostracized. (56-57)