29 October, 2009

Guess What?

Dear Certain Able-Bodied Bloggers Who Are Trying Soooo Hard to Stop Fucking Up,

I and other people with disabilities are not your Very Special Learning experience, no matter how much you may want to put us in that box.

As one of the original PWD blogger participants in the chat, furthermore, I'd really like it if the person who apparently believes that we are her Very Special Learning Experiences would a.) Apologize to Amandaw for breaking out the tone argument during the course of the chat (full transcript is here), and b.) attribute sources properly for the suggestions at the end of said Very Special Learning post. Part of the post makes it sound like the Feministing editors came up with the suggestions for improvement. Observe:

"The full summary of the suggestions from the group we engaged with appear after the jump. You can also see the transcript of our chat here.

And here's a quick recap of our substantive suggestions:

* A concrete statement of the site's commitment to intersectionality issues, to address what seems to be a popular feeling among commenters that the site is "Feministing, not SocialJusticeing." Whether a joint post for site authors or another mechanism turns out to be the best way to make this statement was undecided during the chat.

* Guest posts from people with disabilities focusing on a wide range of disability issues. Talks with Patty Berne had begun before these issues were raised and she may do more guest posts or potentially contribute to the site. We clarified our desire to see a wider range of issues addressed than have been in the past 2 years or so, when the only explicit focus on people with disabilities has been about performance art groups. Other potential areas to cover include political issues, health issues, employment issues, etc.

* Increased accessibility of the site itself. Miriam mentioned a current site redesign is in process, so it would be an excellent time to incorporate some increased accessibility. We suggested using this site to identify accessibility barriers and suggestions for fixes: http://wave.webaim.org/

* A clear and reliable mechanism for user flagging abusive comments and getting a response - currently it's unclear where those go, what criteria is used to determine whether it stays or not, with no feedback on criteria. We have noticed that the "report abuse" button now seems to direct emails to the author of the original post, rather than a general email. Miriam also mentioned plans to focus more on comment moderation, including creating a community editor/moderator position and incorporating community members in comment moderation.

* Current and updated contact information for all authors."

You call these YOUR substantive suggestions? These were OUR suggestions, and were not properly attributed to an email sent to the group by abbyjean, who was the organizer/official organizational muscle on our side of the chat.

The mis-attribution could have been a (big) typo, but on the other hand, given what went down in the chat, I am strongly adverse to giving certain folks the benefit of the doubt for any longer.

Oh, one more thing, Certain Able-Bodied Bloggers: IT'S. NOT. ALL. ABOUT. YOU.

Take from this statement what you will.

[I am speaking for myself here, and not as a representative of FWD//Feminists With Disabilities.]

ETA: The irony is killing me. The mere fact that a certain someone can break out the "tone" argument and then, in all seriousness, post something like the above--emotions for me, but not for thee--is truly stunning.

18 October, 2009

IIB v 1.0

Note: This is a revised version of a bingo card that I made some time ago. I will be moderating the crap out of this thread, meaning that I will expect comments to follow the comments policy to the letter.

While I don't feel like I should be required to justify the lowermost right square, there was some confusion and pretty ooky pushback when I posted version 1 on my own blog. I'll explain that square anyway, for CMA purposes: I am aware that pot works for many people with chronic pain, and personally have no issue if people other than myself use it. I'm an advocate of finding what works for you; whether it's a pill, plant, pilates-esque routine, or something else, your course of pain management should be your choice.

What I am referring to with this bingo card -- as a whole -- is the commonplace, rather irritating tendency of some able-bodied people to suggest -- without knowing about the medical history of (or, indeed, much about) the person they are "trying to help" -- remedies or treatments that may be totally inappropriate for that person, due to various (personal) reasons. In short, what works for you may not work for me, and vice versa; how I wish I could have articulated this to the folks who have "helpfully suggested" that I smoke pot or obtain other illegal "meds" to help with my pain!

Okay, explanatory note/rant over. Onto the bingo card! I hope you all have your chips ready.

Also, special thanks to Ouyang for suggesting the "Diet and Exercise!!1" free space.


Text translation: card has white text on a black background. Title (in white) reads, “annaham presents: Invisible Illness Bingo 1.0,” followed by “Now With Straighter Lines” in red:

First Row, Square #1: All that’s keeping you from being healthy is a positive attitude!

First Row, Square #2: My ex/friend/co-worker had that, but he/she was just a hypochondriac.

First Row, Square #3: Maybe if you lost weight/found a man/read The Secret, your problems would be solved.

First Row, Square #4: Why can’t you just suck it up, get out of bed, and find a job like the rest of us?

Second Row, Square #1: Lucky! You get to stay in bed all day.

Second Row, Square #2 (middle square): Free Space/DIET AND EXERCISE!!!11

Second Row, Square #3: You don’t look sick/you’re just complaining too much

Third Row, Square #1: Obviously, you get something out of being sick. Otherwise, you’d get better!

Third Row, Square #2: If I haven’t heard of it, then it doesn’t exist.

Third Row, Square #3: But I went through hard times too, and I got through it. Let’s talk about what a great person I am.

Third Row, Square #4: You have it so much better than some people! Think of the starving children in Africa…

Fourth Row, Square #1: Let go and let God/Power of prayer/God is punishing you

Fourth Row, Square #2: You just want an excuse to be lazy and have people pity you.

Fourth Row, Square #3: Why haven’t you tried crystals/vitamins/other dubious “cure”? IT REALLY WORKS!!!

Fourth Row, Square #4: Smoke pot/take illegal drugs. It will totally take care of your pain, man!

06 October, 2009

Song of the Moment, or a Follow-Up of Sorts

Diamanda Galas always has an appropriate song for every occasion, especially the ones that involve lots of RAGE. To wit:

And with that, currently able-bodied white privileged feminists, I would like you to know that we will NOT be silent, nor silenced.

Background: here, here, here, here, here, here, and right here.

05 October, 2009

Confessions of a Reluctant Young White Feminist

Dear Feministing.com,

Once upon a time, I posted this on my Livejournal: "One day, I will write about my numerous issues with Feministing.com."

Guess what? Today is that day! Lucky you.

Let me introduce myself: I am a feminist, an occasional blogger, a person with disabilities (fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy), and am currently getting my Master's Degree in Women & Gender Studies. I am also white, heterosexual, cisgendered, have a college degree, and am relatively economically privileged. I, at first glance, seem to embody many (stereo)typical qualities of a young, white feminist: from the type of music I enjoy, to how I dress, to the fact that I sometimes wear makeup, and, on occasion, read BUST magazine when I need a break from "serious" literature. Because I am white, I have the choice to ignore issues surrounding race, and those surrounding white privilege. Because I am heterosexual and cisgendered, I can brush off queer and trans issues if I so choose. Because I am white, economically privileged and have a college degree, I can probably rest assured that I will have a job in the future, even with my rather esoteric choice of college major and advanced degree.

One could argue that your site is pretty much made for people like me: the "fun" feminists who can wear makeup and heels [I can't wear heels, but that's for another post], go out and party like it's 1999 [I don't, but that, too, is for another post], and still fight for [their own] rights the next morning. One could argue that your contributors do, in fact, speak for folks like me, and that since they are the face of the fourth wave, I should just be thankful that feminist issues are getting any airtime or page space in the mainstream media at all, and/or that people who look like me are getting book deals.

But here's where our feminisms differ, Feministing.com: I am saddened by your numerous issues when it comes to representing people who are not like you. You all don't have the greatest track record when it comes to race and white privilege, trans issues, disability issues, economic privilege, and a ton of other things that I am probably accidentally leaving out. If someone new to feminism were to look at your website--which, not incidentally, is one of the "top" feminist websites, at least in the U.S.--they might conclude that feminism is a movement that is exclusively for young, white, heterosexual, able-bodied, sexually active, upper-middle-class women. If you know about the history of feminism in the U.S., and I assume that you do, you will see why this is so troubling.

There is more to the feminist movement than fighting for the rights of white women. Feminism is more than allowing your or your commenters' racial, economic, heterosexual, and able-bodied privilege to go totally unchecked. If you are so committed to "intersectionality," as you have claimed several times, where is it? True efforts toward inclusivity and intersectionality constitute more than simply talking about those things, or throwing around whatever blogular buzzword is currently hot, or thinking that droppin' those terms like they are on fire will suffice. There is an enormous chasm of difference between talking about doing something and actually doing it.

There is no gentle way to say this, Feministing.com: You do not speak for me, and I'm not sure that you ever will. I want to give you a chance, but until you actually start to make changes instead of alternately talking about making them and ignoring those of us who have asked you to, it is going to be difficult for me to hold out any hope.

You've already made it clear that I am not like you; apparently, neither are the people who have asked you, time and time again, to take what they have to say seriously, and to make changes accordingly.

You have also made it clear that there is no room for people like me in your version of "fun" feminism. There is no room in your world for my brothers and sisters: feminists and womanists of color, feminists with disabilities, working class feminists, fat feminists, queer and LGBTI feminists, asexual feminists, older feminists, or trans folk.

I understand. Boy, do I understand.

I will end with the following quote from the great 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." [From "Racism and Women's Studies," 1979]


ETA, 7:27 PM PST: There's been an important update from meloukhia on this whole situation; Anna also has a lovely link roundup.

ETA II: I will be modding the shit out of both this and related posts; leaving trollish or inflammatory comments might spell D-E-L-E-T-I-O-N for you. Don't like it? Don't comment.

02 October, 2009

OFFS, Feministing.com

I don't know if I'll ever truly expect that Feministing will get it when it comes to disability and ableism issues, but some of the language in this post is simply appalling:

If having my car door opened makes me feel like lover man thinks I'm an invalid, not so feminist.


Therefore, I enthusiastically endorse and co-sign meloukhia's Open Letter to Feministing, because the Feministing bloggers' and commenters' fashionable ableism, along with the seemingly tacit refusal to cover disability issues (except for when, as Amandaw points out, a disability issue is connected with reproductive rights in some way), are not new things.

Feminists with disabilities are people too, bloggers and commenters of Feministing.

This is why I don't read your site, and will continue not to until you do something about this problem. I mean, really, Feministing crew--it's time to get out of your incredibly privileged bubble and acknowledge that disability and ableism ARE feminist issues, and that the current way in which you treat feminist disability issues (see what I did there?) needs improvement.