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Archive for October, 2009

third wave fail? you don’t fuckin’ say.

Posted by pocochina on October 6, 2009

Prerequisites:  Meloukhia, AmandaW, Anna’s last couple posts on disability fail.

I want to put this out there:  I don’t see this particular problem as just existing at Feministing.  I think that this is an overwhelming part of the problem with the current generation of feminists.  Somewhere along the line, we got the idea that being inclusive meant “being as inoffensive as possible.”  Relax.  You belong in the mainstream culture, really, we’re just like you, come to our party on Saturday.  The unfortunate truth of that is, that challenging kyriarchy, including patriarchy, will offend a lot of people.  It will hurt their fucking feelings to be asked not to use words like “bitch” or “fag” or “crip” in negative ways.  Now, I am a mean grumpy harshmellow, which may make me less of a Fun Feminist, but it allows for a noted lack of distress in saying that I don’t care about their feelings muahahahaha.

I am not entirely sure how much I want to see disability issues covered at feministing.  As I said over at Anna’s, I kind of worry that mention of disability issues will be marginalized to dismissive mentions of disability activists as vague “criticisms of the pro-choice movement by women with disabilities” as if we’re all on Team Roeder because we don’t love the idea that the disabled life is not worth living.  That’s not the case, and it shows some deeply intellectually lazy thinking – that you only criticize someone because you disagree with their argument.  It’s a backhanded ad hominem which says, we’re humoring you and using your issue to look more moderate, not actually listening, because you’re not worth our time.  No, thank you, that is not what I’m saying, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.  This isn’t me saying that I don’t want disability issues talked about, that I’m okay with the code of silence right now.  It means that I am just so utterly skeptical about our tools and means to discuss each other’s pain without causing more of it, that I honestly don’t know where to go.

Let me say this loud and clear:  my experience with disability makes me more pro-choice, not less.  That moralizing, patronizing attitude of prejudiced doctors who attempt to coerce women in their decisions?  That’s ont something I might face if I choose to have an abortion.  I fucking expect it.  So when I tell you how it feels, listen to me. I can help.  Not that I should have to be able (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) to help to be valuable, matter, but, you know, I am.  My depression makes me terrified to have a biological child, even though just the idea gives me the warm fuzzies, because I don’t know if I will suffer from pregnancy or post-partum depression, and even just getting my period (or, hell, getting out of bed some days) makes me wonder if I will die of sadness.  Unplanned pregnancy won’t catch me out of the blue, if I’m ever there, because I think every day about what it could do to me.

It’s hard, you know, to give your opinion as a PWD.  Because  you’re so used to justifying yourself.  Because you’re used to having to explain your presence, your right to take up the space you need.  Because no matter how strong you are, you’re just fucking bone-ass tired sometimes, and the last thing you want to do is fight with someone who’s supposed to be on your side.  It’s why it’s taken me so long to write this post – I need an extra few days on everything I write just to question myself.  I’m in awe of the folks who have been fighting so tirelessly for disability awareness and activism.  I don’t know how to do it.

I’m pro-choice because I believe in human rights, in bodily autonomy and self-determination, and I bang on about my disability because having it means that my sense of bodily autonomy and self-determination is compromised.  So when I say how it feels, listen to me.  I can help.  When I don’t, when I talk about the right of childree women to be unapologetically childfree and to remain that way through any means they deem appropriate, I’m not in it for me, I am in it for you.
I don’t know what the boundaries are for what we have a right to expect from each other.  How responsible are we for covering everything and to what extent?  I don’t do that here, and I’m not about to.  Not because I don’t think the issues I’m less likely to cover (race, transgender issues, fashion, electoral politics, heartwarming nature crap) are interesting or important, but simply because I don’t have the expertise on these things, or the energy to go and get it.  It’s tough, and I don’t mean to project my uncertainty onto other folks.  Does their large number of hits give them a greater responsibilty?  The fact that they come up first on Google sometimes?  The fact that they’re a group?  I am not saying that feminists/womanists with disabilities and our allies should have to have an answer for this in order to expect more, but I am curious.  I think it would help me figure out what I want to see happen there, and in Young Pretty Media-Friendly Feminism* in general.

Since this is a post mostly about mental health because that’s a huge part of my experience with disability, I want to point out the huge and continuing fail on eating disorders.  I know CM is now a Respected Person on eating disorders, and I’m absolutely certain I am letting my seriously negative opinion of her book (which yes, I read, but it was almost two years ago when I was still not blogging anything at all if I couldn’t say something beyond damning with faint praise, but my complete opinion is a story for a day where I’m on the same continent as my copy and have a quart of whisky next to my keyboard) tint my analysis of this.  But there is a pervasive lack of knowledge about weight, body image, and eating disorders which I, for one, find irresponsible and infuriating.  Until you can learn to put a trigger warning on articles which bemoan how women’s “barrel-like” and “enlarging” are, uh, lengthening our life spans, it’s probably not the worst idea in the world to step back and consider how you treat the brain and the body, and specifically, the brains and bodies of your readers.  It’s part and parel of the larger trend that feminists with disabilities are concerned about; that is, the rampant unconcern for those of us whose bodies and brains are not the most capitalist-market-friendly.

I want to take a moment and give a shout-out to Cara of The Curvature and Feministe for her post on sexual violence against folks with disabilities. Not because I think she saw Meloukhia’s letter and went “oh shit I must write SOMETHING,” but because I am absolutely not surprised.  Cara is, IMO, one of the best anti-sexual violence advocates in Blogland, and she is, IIRC, a TAB ally.  In this post, she handled the study just about exactly as a victim advocate with a bullhorn like Feministe should, treating violence towards PWD, particularly women, as a discrete but not isolated piece of the fabric of violence against women and otherwise-marginalized folks, and I expected no less.  Good job, Cara.

This is my characteristically long-winded and barely on-topic way of co-signing Meloukhia’s wonderful post.

*This isn’t meant as a slur at all.  It’s an important job, someone’s gotta do it, and I’m taking my time talking about Feministing because really, I don’t think most of them do a half bad job, and I mean that.  To clarify: morally neutral observation.  Not trifling insult.


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