|trouble (trouble) wrote,|
@ 2009-07-24 02:37 am UTC
|Entry tags:||disability, feminism, feminism & disability|
I check out Kate Harding's blog about fat acceptance, Shapely Prose, on a regular basis, although currently that means "twice a month", and caught this post from her today, which is about a BlogHer Talk on body image and related issues. The talk and the group blog related to it* are called We are the Real Deal.
It wasn't until I checked out the contributors to that site that I realised how much "Gosh darn it, women, you are beautiful as you are!" talk is rarely, if ever, directed towards women with disabilities. (Or men with disabilities, or genderqueer people with disabilities.) It irritates me, partly because I should have noticed sooner, but also because there doesn't seem to be an understanding of how much information is thrown at people with disabilities that they are basically horrible and uncomfortable to look at, and they should do things to make themselves less unappealing to people.**
[See, for an example of someone trying really hard to be helpful, this response to a post by mariness about her experiences of people turning away from her as soon as they saw her cane, amongst other things that went incredibly poorly at ReaderCon. Essentially, she should make herself more interesting and appealing to people by putting stickers on her cane. I'm all for stickers on canes, should one want, and we've got a set of wings that I hope to add to Don's wheelchair at some point for formal occasions. But, it shouldn't be mariness or Don's job to put pretty things on their mobility aids to make it easier for the nice able-bodied folks to cope. Plus, there's an infantizing effect going on here. When I, as a currently abled woman, act silly and wear purple hats and t-shirts with sparkles and care bears on them, it sends the message of "immature and/or silly". If Don, in his chair, did the same thing, it would reinforce the image that a lot of people already have - that it's okay to baby talk to him because he's obviously got the mind of a child.]
Anyway, before I get totally sidetracked into every aside imaginable, I left a comment about this, both at Kate's here (although the one there is phrased as a broader question, for the contributors to the blog, at least, seem to be all white as well as able-bodied, and I know Kate has received criticism she's very concerned about regarding how white-focused Shapely Prose is) and at the main blog here, although I'm quoting it below. I'm mostly reacting to their sentence "We are YOU", because... well, they aren't.
Will you be recruiting any contributors to this blog who have a disability? From my reading of your bios (which may be wrong! – my reading isn’t always as clear as it should be, and I admit, I haven’t been to any sites except Kate’s), there are no women contributing who have a disability.
People with disabilities, especially women, have all the same pressures currently non-disabled people do to look “good enough”, with added bonus of being either non-sexualised or hyper-sexualised, as well as having people infantize them to an incredible degree.
I have no doubt that there is a desire to represent this in your blog. I notice the two figures with canes, and the one with glasses, and I know you’re trying to include me and mine. I think it may be worth contacting some women who blog about disability and see if they have time or energy to contribute.
I'm afraid the response of this is going to be "Well, you do it then!" Meant, I know, to be supportive and outreaching. I hope they don't, though, because I just deleted two paragraphs (long, long, paragraphs) about how tired and stretched out I am right now, and that is not going to get better with the thesis in the fall. (And I should know, shouldn't I, who is blogging about self-esteem and disability right now, but I don't.)
The answer on many blogs, when you point out a deficiency in their coverage of Big Issues, is to suggest people submit guest posts or "do it themselves" or similar things. But, having watched Amandaw's posts on Feministe this summer (again!) turn into "Please explain the last 10 years of disability-related activism to me, and also I don't think you're the expert on your own care", I know I'm not up to explaining over and over and over again that yes, people with disabilities are people, they are not an amorphous blob that all agree on everything, they can get jobs, they can get married and have children, they can be queer or asexual or straight or pansexual, and that wheelchairs are not a fucking tragedy omg***. There are people who have the time and energy to do that. I am not one of them.
One of my frustrations with various progressive groups I've been a part of has been this strange reluctance to aggressively recruit. I was on a sexual diversity committee that felt it was "diverse enough" when there were no trans people on it, no people who weren't white, and the only person who talked about disability was me. "We sent out emails to all members of the Party!" Yes. One. And then assumed everyone read it and that was that. One needs to go out of one's way to look for diverse voices, though. We have our own spaces. There's a reason I love accessibility_fail - it's a space I don't have to explain anything in. Same with disability. Same with Hoyden about Town. There are a few mailing lists I'm on, too. (Yes, they still exist.) (Not just on Yahoo!Groups.)
If BlogHer and associated folks want to reach a diverse audience, and want to include women with disabilities in their discussions about self-esteem, they need to ask them to participate. Not just a "Anyone who wants to join can!" statement, but an actual "We want your voice included."
Because we're here.
* I spent ten minutes trying to sort out where to put the commas and is/are and all this stuff. Note to self: Get a book on that stuff. Other than Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.
** Really, I could talk on just this topic for hours. It gets into why I think the response of "We'll get more volunteers!" is problematic. A lot of folks volunteer because they want to be thanked, and they want it to be a rewarding experience. But Homecare comes by even if Don's in a shite mood and isn't nice to her and the flat looks like a cyclone hit it, because she's paid to. I have no doubt that Don's homecare worker is a nice woman, and I also know if Don was being abusive towards her there would be repercussions, but he shouldn't have to be suitably inoffensive to get aid.
*** I type this often, I now have a macro set up. I think I need an icon, and a t-shirt. And maybe a flag.