29 August, 2008

Sarah Palin

I posted this as a comment on a friend's Livejournal, but I am reposting it here because I: a.) need to update; and b.) feel strongly enough about this latest gaffe by McCain to write about it.

I'm betting that all of the Republican dudes are gonna be foaming at the mouth and/or crotch because Palin is not only female and ultra-conservative, but she's good-looking. Because apparently, a woman's first measure of how well she'll do in any field--particularly if it's a field in which she is in the public eye--is whether or not she's fuckable (Palin is a former beauty queen, and some internet d-bag has already provided a VPILF macro. CLASSY!).

The very sexism that doomed Clinton's run from the start (and I'm not a Clinton supporter at all, I'm just one of those humorless feminists, as y'all well know) is probably going to work very much in Palin's favor. That makes me sad, but not at all surprised.

26 August, 2008

The Outraged Commentary Pretty Much Writes Itself

Wow! I didn't think I'd be feeling uber-white shame this week, but PUMA PAC has changed that! Thanks, PUMA PAC!

This is the sort of thing that makes many people of color NOT WANT TO TRUST WHITE FOLKS.

22 August, 2008

I AM Entitled, Actually...

First, a question: Is there something in the air that has brought the concern trollz out in full force lately around the internet, particularly in progressive and/or feminist blogs?

Cara at Feministe did a great job of analyzing this horrific story about a woman with MS who was forced to crawl off of the Delta flight she was on after it landed, due entirely to the incompetence of the airline's employees.

From the second comment, the faux-cern started:

However, you also hear about these things all the time, so can you really blame people for being cold and weary of being “called into action”? And it’s not like all disabled people are saints- I’ve encountered a few that acted like they deserved more entitlements than the rest of the world just because they happen to have a mild defect that puts them in a wheelchair.

Really? I can't remember the last time I heard about something so epically horrendous. Maybe it's because I myself have a disability and have seen (and experienced) the disrespect/hatred that some able-bodied folks level at PWDs. Such treatment happens on a much smaller scale most of the time, and that is why most people don't hear about it.

Truly, this comment sounds like it was written by someone with almost zero experience with disability, chronic and/or dangerous health conditions, or actual people with disabilities--except for, ya know, all of those people this commenter has met who were in wheelchairs and acted so awful and angry and entitled and what have you, all because of their mild defects. They must have a lot of nerve to suggest that they deserve to be treated like normal human beings!

If you are sick of being "called into action," then you have a choice: Stay in your house and avoid human contact altogether. That way, you won't have any of us pesky, entitled disabled people whining for assistance and special treatment!

Here's the thing: I have a disability. I am also human. Like most other disabled folks, I am not a saint. I am certainly not a Super-Crip--I'm not here to make folks like the above commenter feel inspired and/or grateful to be alive and able-bodied. Like other human beings, I experience complicated, occasionally "messy" feelings such as anger. Like most human beings, I also realize that there are times and places for these feelings. However, I am still entitled to my feelings, and I am entitled to being treated like a human being instead of a (sometimes) walking stereotype--whether that stereotype is the Saint Crip, Super Crip or Token Crip.

All of us disabled folks are entitled to human treatment. We are not here for your inspiration. We are not here to make you feel better about yourself, or more superior to others because you can count us as "examples" of human potential. We are not here to make you feel like a hero because you're "just trying to help" by pushing our wheelchair, or recommending some weird-ass treatment for our condition(s) that totally helped your co-worker's brother's girlfriend. You are not superior to us, and we are not superior to you, though you may wish that one or the other could be the case.

We are human, and many of us would like to be treated as such, instead of dismissed as too much of some human quality, or qualities--too angry, too entitled, too un-able.

15 August, 2008

I Am the Worst Blogger Ever

[This has been cross-posted to my Livejournal, and I felt like posting it here.]

There's an interesting post over at Feministe right now about low-wage work, struggling to get by, and related topics. There are some brutally honest (and heartbreaking) responses in the comments.

And then one person, who goes by the handle "Sensible," jumps in with this doozy:

Over the past few years, I’ve made between 18 and 24k and I live well. I live in a high COL area and spend nearly half my net income on rent and must tolerate a roommate. But I have enough left to eat grass-fed steak twice a week and wild-caught fish the rest of the week. Thanks Trader Joe’s! I even manage to save some money each month.

I don’t know why people are whining so much. I don’t want to live this way forever but as a young, healthy person, it’s fine. Living well is all about figuring out what things you value and spending money on them. For everything else, just skip it.

Because I'm an asshat, and because the above made my blood boil, I responded with this:

Maybe they’re “whining” because they are barely managing to survive and yet working their asses off?

Hmmm, so sorry that we’re not all like you due to various factors, Sensible. Not all of us are “healthy” (I include myself in this category, since I have a chronic illness, but am lucky enough to have insurance *and* I’m young–-youth is NOT a guarantor of perfect health!), and not all of us can afford to “figure out what things [we] value.” As many others in this thread have attested, when one lives paycheck-to-paycheck, much of that money is automatically allocated to things like food and rent.

Of course, there is no response yet. "Sensible's" comment really got on my nerves, and even though I posted the above response a few days ago, I am still thinking about that comment. I know my response was more biting than it needed to be, but I'm so sick of people assuming that just because they themselves can live on x, y, or z amount per year and still be thriving/very healthy/able to eat steak, everyone else can (and, it is implied, should aspire to do so) as well.

It feels kind of weird that comments like these really get to me. Is anyone else bugged by comments like "Sensible's," or comments/attitudes like it?

07 August, 2008

Anger as a Constructive Force

I'm sure that many of you have heard variations on the following:

"You're just too angry. Your anger alienates people/potential allies and might make them afraid to associate with you! They won't want to be on your side because of your anger."

This statement, or a variation thereof, is often wielded at feminists, people of color (particularly women of color) radical progressives, non-mainstream members of the LGBTIQA community, disabled and chronically ill folks, atheists, fat acceptance activists, and others in order to get them to capitulate to some weird, unseen social standard that requires that they not offend anyone even as they fight to be heard and taken seriously, as well as for social and political justice.

There is a difference between being angry for its own sake, and turning one's anger into action. For whatever reason, mainstream Western culture has decided that people who have historically been put down, devalued and mistreated by those in the majority should fight for their rights, but they should "be nice" while they do so. The messages that historically devalued groups have to get across, even if said messages are quite radical, should apparently be palatable even to the people who have the most social currency in mainstream society. What's radical about that?

Anger makes people fundamentally uncomfortable, and I think that this discomfort often discourages constructive work. When those who need to express their anger, somehow, are not allowed to do so, the anger can become toxic. Instead of a catalyst for change, it becomes a symptom of a missed opportunity.

My own anger is something that I've just begun to embrace after years of stuffing it down and having it reappear at other times, often to my own detriment. Certainly, I may be too angry. I may indeed alienate people with some of my words. However, do I really want those who cannot "handle" what I have to say as allies, if I have to add, for example, rainbows and unicorns and puppies to my outlook on the world in order to make my outlook more palatable? No.

Anger, if used in a constructive manner, can be a great creative force. Most of the cartoons that I draw and have drawn start or started as brief doodles about things that make me or have made me angry. When I can create something that has been inspired by my own strong feelings, I feel much better and more able to cope with things such as my illness, and the physical pain and fatigue that come with it. When I take the opposite tack--that is, when I hold my anger in and don't do anything with it--I feel worse.

The mislabeling of anger as somehow not constructive or totally alienating to "allies" also reveals quite a bit of misunderstanding of social privilege, but I'll get into that in my next post.