sasha_feather: the back of furiosa's head (furiosa: back of head)
If you are interested in the general strike on January 20th (anti-inauguration day), here are some things I thought of that would be useful:

Make flyers to advertise it to non-internet people. Print, distribute, and hang flyers.
Make a press release and send the release to friendly newspapers and periodicals.
Buy ad space and/or write articles and blog posts.
Contact your local unions to see if they are interested.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
To help myself fall asleep I told myself a story about two queer dragon riders and their dragons.

Dragon 1 is Iris and her rider is Avery. They do search and rescue and Iris got injured protecting Avery from a rock fall and lost her right wing.

Dragon 2 is Tailwind. Her rider is Geneva. They are an engineer pair who come to the hospital to consult on making a prosthetic wing for Iris.

I don't know if I have the energy to write this story but I'm enjoying thinking about it.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
Thanks to Gregg Beratan on Twitter for this idea.

Spoon Theory is useful to many people as a measure of energy and fatigue. It is difficult to wrap your head around what chronic pain, fatigue, and illness are actually like, and I say this as someone who has them. We all tend to normalize our experiences and we think that everyone around us must feel like we do-- and yet other people are somehow accomplishing more. So spoon theory is helpful in validating our fatigue and providing the phrase "out of spoons".

Yet a limitation of this theory is that it's a deficit model: It assumes that something is wrong with us, rather than something being wrong with society.

Instead of saying "I'm out of spoons," try saying "The world needs to give me more time to rest" or "Accommodations for my fatigue will help me accomplish this task."

The deficit model is the dominant narrative of illness. And it can be seductive: it feels like there is something wrong with me. But the social model of disability states that it is society that disables us-- that it is moral and normal to need more time and more support and more rest.
sasha_feather: the back of furiosa's head (furiosa: back of head)
I'm going to write about seeing Mia Mingus! She is so awesome, has so many great ideas, such great open energy. By culture and personality, I am somewhat conflict averse, and yet also drawn to things that involve cognitive dissonance, which is a problem. Mia has this way of being hungry for the conflict, of digging into with enthusiasm. Like, YES, let's TALK about that uncomfortable thing! And it is just honestly such a relief.

I went to a small group session where we talked about a couple of her essays from her website:
1. Changing the Framework: Disability Justice

2. Access Intimacy: The Missing Link

3. Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability

The third one really blew my mind. LOVED it. Here is another way of resisting respectability politics: embrace magnificence instead of prettiness. Be memorable, own the way you look and are.

We talked a bit about being uncomfortable with "body positivity", and the intersection of disability and fat politics. This is an exciting area to me and I'd like to see more people talking about it. These are both highly stigmatized categories and activists from the two groups seem to want to avoid each other due to this stigma, even though the intersection between the two groups is pretty readily apparent. Think of fat activists emphasizing "health at any size" and talking about how they are healthy and active at their weight--centering health, which is not exactly friendly to those of us who are not in good health. Meds can cause weight gain or loss; weight (high or low) itself can be associated with certain illnesses; etc. Anyways, Dave Hingsburger writes about this a bit (mostly the stigma of being a fat wheelchair user). And I always, always rec The Fat Nutritionist, especially this post: You have no obligation to be healthy.

Mia Mingus talked about how when we are so committed to the social model of disability (or any kind of social model), we can run up against the wall of our bodies. And so we need to talk about embodiment. I think part of loving and caring for our bodies is acknowledging that being embodied can totally suck sometimes. It is ok to feel negative.

During her key note, Mia Mingus talked about transformative justice and her work using it to address child sexual abuse (often adult survivors of same). She works with Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. One of the themes of her talk was building alternatives to our state institutions, because how can we depend on the state to address violence when the state uses violence and oppression against us?

This event was part of the Gender and Women's Studies 40th anniversary event on campus. I went to some of the events the next day, but they were... much more academic and kind of not my thing.


Jan. 6th, 2015 10:01 pm
sasha_feather: dog looking over a valley (dog and landscape)
What's Wrong with Me? by Meghan O'Rouke, in the New Yorker, 2013. A fantastic personal essay on having an autoimmune disease.

Lately I feel like while my peers and friends are making progress with their lives, I am barely maintaining mine. It's hard not to compare myself to other people and find myself coming up short. I'm permanently poor, my career is going nowhere, I'm chronically single, and I have no energy, etc.

It's comforting to be around animals, who are better at living in the moment. I'm meditating upon the tortoise, a cool animal that takes its time.

When I was about 18 or so, an adult friend of mine from 4-H and I were discussing shyness, and how she used to be shy. Her advice was, "give yourself ten years." It was good advice.

Give yourself time. Be the tortoise.
sasha_feather: Avatar Kyoshi from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Lady avatar)
Attempting to post more. Thinking about weight / size politics under the cut.

Read more... )
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Pursuant to my post about conferences, I've been thinking about how making events affordable is an access issue.

Making your event affordable attracts people of different classes and backgrounds and locations. It also makes your event more welcoming to disabled folks / PWD. People with disabilities are more likely to be poor for structural, societal reasons. Being disabled can affect a person's earning potential due to discrimination and impairment-related reasons; it also is just plain expensive. For me, for example: There are co-pays on prescriptions and doctor appointments; health services that are not covered by insurance; supplements to buy; expensive shoes that don't hurt my feet; the list goes on and on. For people on special diets, food can be more expensive. A 2008 study found gluten-free products to be much more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts.

Worry about money is a near-constant source of stress for many people, and some studies link this stress to negative health effects.

If we are planning events, what can we do to help make them more affordable?

Here are some ideas:

Registration and Programming
Sliding scale registrations; day memberships
Member Assistance Fund or Scholarships
ConSuite (hospitality suite)
Free Childcare
Kid, Teen, Youth programming tracks at fan conventions so people can bring their kids
Rebates or refunds for volunteering or presenting

List area hostels
Have a room share board on social media

Provide cab vouchers and/or mass transit fees so people can get back to their lodging late at night
Have a ride share board
Choose a venue that is on bus or mass transit lines

List local restaurants, grocery stores, and markets. Note if the markets accept food stamps. note if the grocery stores deliver.
Note if they hotel has fridges or microwaves in the rooms or lobby.

Look for grants and sponsorships to help off set costs.
Ask for donated items for prizes and gifts.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
Saving my tweets on this as I think it through.

The "Man of his time" argument assumes that everyone in that time period felt the same way. Erases nuance and difference.

It also erases experiences of dissents and marginalized people. Those people existed even if history has forgotten them. (For example: I learned from Rachel Maddow tonight that Vince Lombardi was pro-gay and had a gay brother. He was a famous football coach that lived from 1913-1970).

Me and my friends don't hold the prevailing views of mainstream society. I don't think of us as "products of our time."

This argument also assumes that society progresses forward thru time, that people in the past were worse. Which is not true. (History does not go forward in a upward line. It's more like a sine wave maybe.)

We are all influenced by our time and society, but we can all think critically and listen to our consciences re right and wrong.

Saying that someone was "a product of their time" is usually just apologism for their bad behaviors.

If something is wrong today, it was wrong 100 years ago. (Ethical behaviors, possibly, have some standards across societies and times, even if morals are relative. Have to think on this more.)

Just because people in power endorsed it, doesn't make it OK for everyone else in society to do so.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
In June I had the privilege of attending SDS2014, the Society for Disability Studies conference in Minneapolis. SDS did a lot of things right concerning accessibility for people with disabilities. It did not appear that the organizers had put as much thought into economic accessibility. For instance, the venue was an expensive downtown hotel. The nearby restaurants were mostly sit-down restaurants. The convenience shop in the hotel had some bottled beverages and foods at airport prices. Lunch time meetings at the conference felt inaccessible to me, because I didn't know where to grab a sandwich or take out food at a place that I could afford to eat, and get back in time for the session. So I skipped the lunch time sessions; I need to eat according to a set schedule, as I'm sure many folks do. (Note that SDS' discussion of anti-harassment policies occurred during a lunch time session.)

Many academic conferences are similarly expensive, and do not seem to care about being affordable. The registration prices alone can be close to a thousand dollars. This is before hotel, travel, food, and any incidentals for conference participants. Presenters many want to get new clothes or travel gear, for instance. Many people attending academic conferences have their institutions pay for these expenses, or get grants or scholarships to cover them.

Check out two price listings for conferences, just as examples:
An epidemiology conference in Spain
Grace Hopper Women in Computing

I attended SDS as a community member rather than as an academic-- ie, not affiliated with an institution. A friend paid for the reg fee and hotel, and we carpooled there and brought some of our own snacks. SDS does have a sliding scale for their reg fees. Disability studies, unlike many other academic disciplines, values the role of community members and lay people because your lived experience counts. Your embodiment and activism count. You don't necessarily need classes, degrees, and publications to contribute. (I do have some independent-of-the-academy publications.)

My main convention and social event of the year is WisCon, a fan convention, which prioritizes affordability. Many of our affordability issues intersect with other social justice issues, such as disability access and emotional access.

For instance, WisCon provides late-night cab vouchers to get people home from the convention. I imagine the original intent of this service was safety: prevent drunk driving and the like, since alcohol flows fairly free at convention parties. But it also provides an affordable means for people to get home without having to pay for a cab or rely on bus schedules or friends, and means that some people can stay other places than downtown hotels, such as on the outskirts of town at their own or friends' houses or cheaper hotels. It provides independence-- the means to leave the convention when you want (also a safety feature). The cab service we use is a co-op and a union, allowing us to support a local business with shared values. And cabs can be reserved online, which is another accessibility feature.

All of these things intersect. Feeling like your finances are stretched and you can barely afford to be somewhere is stressful and adds to cognitive and emotional load. It means you can't be as present and contribute as fully as you might like. Worrying about affording a meal when you want to go out with friends or colleagues can be embarrassing.

So why are academic conferences so expensive? Not having organized one, or even gone to many, I really have no idea. Looking around on the internet, people say that the fee covers venue, food, and keynote speakers, etc. Probably professional conference organizers plan these things, and take their cut. But conferences can leverage their power as clients to negotiate better deals with hotels and convention centers. They can use university or public venues which are sometimes cheaper. First and foremost, they can simply think about how to lower costs and reduce the economic burden on their participants, instead of assuming everyone who comes is able to blithely afford it.

I do know that charging so much money functions as a gate-keeping mechanism to keep people out. It creates a space where the conference itself is an in-club for people who can afford to be there: a country club effect. The privileged rub elbows and make connections with each other.

This affects the quality of academics. Science, my field of employ, has a myriad of problems with diversity. These things are connected.


Mar. 5th, 2014 03:35 pm
sasha_feather: a fox curled up around a rabbitt (fox and rabbit)
Wisdom from [personal profile] jesse_the_k (paraphrased, from last week):

"Sometimes people think that violence is the only way to get attention from the powerful. But the problem is, it brings the wrong kind of attention. Violence makes the powerful feel like victims and they can use it to justify their further actions." (ie their own further violence).

We also talked about how access is like a living organism, that you have to keep tending it so that it doesn't wither away and die. You can't do access for a group or event once and be done-- you have to keep doing it, keep tending that living organism.

These days I find activists to be the most inspiring people. For instance I found this obituary for civil rights activist Lee Lorch super fascinating. He was a math professor and involved in de-segregating housing. He was a white person who taught at a couple of historically black colleges; he kept getting fired or denied tenure at his jobs due to his activism. He seemed to have no regrets.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
Occasionally I wonder if maybe I *am* the language police! Maybe I *am* too sensitive and it's not my job to tell other people how to talk or write, etc.

A few things reassure me.

One, lots of other people pay just as close attention to language and its political uses as I do, and some of these people blog about it. Some people blog about things I've never thought about, so maybe the things I notice are worth writing about.

For example:
Dave Hingsburger: Non-traditional doesn't mean unimportant.

The term I use, I insist that others use when they are speaking with me about someone they support is: non-traditional communicator. (As opposed to "non-verbal".)

Lydia Brown: Why the term 'psychopath' is racist and ableist. (Note: this post contains some upsetting language.)

Antisocial Personality Disorder, the diagnostic category that comes closest to approximating the lay definition of psychopathy, is most often a tool for criminalizing poverty, blackness and brownness, and disability. It is the diagnostic label that legitimizes non-compliance as a mental health problem.


Two, I find language and its uses fascinating. I will think about it anyway, so I might as well write about it.

Three, there are some phrases I use that make sense to me because not only do they seem like more accurate metaphors, they make the world a little kinder to live in.

For instance, when we speak of "lowering barriers" or obstacles, that seems kinder and easier than "overcoming obstacles". Lowering barriers is a group effort, a structural accomplishment that is done by many and benefits many. It agrees with the idea of the social model of disability. Overcoming obstacles might take teamwork, but it tends to focus on one person's drive, ambition, and success, and falls in line with the "supercrip" stereotype.

The same is true of interdependence vs. independence.

Language is subtle and it influences the way we think about ourselves and our world.
sasha_feather: "subversive" in rainbow colors (subversive)
Actor Wentworth Miller of "Prison Break" came out publicly, making it politcal, making it about Russia.

George Takei posted this on Facebook:

["Wentworth Miller reveals he's gay." Photo of Miller. Photo of Obi-Wan Kenobi. "I feel a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of women suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly followed by millions of gay men crying out in joy."]

I saw a similar reaction on an acquaintance's Facebook feed, where a gay man posted in support of Miller, and a presumably straight woman said, perhaps in jest, "I am not pleased!"

The microagressions here are many. I wish his coming out were a neutral piece of news, or focused, as he meant, on Russia. Instead we get this.

There is something here about Miller's body as public property, which is part of being a celebrity, and I don't think it's wrong to admire and sexualize celebrities. In fact I think it's often great! But I think it goes too far when people express this creepy sort of ownership over celebrities' bodies, and rules about who can and can't desire them. Because Miller is gay, now suddenly women can't desire him anymore? Who made up that rule?

The Obi-Wan meme erases the experience of queer women entirely, assuming that all women are straight. It also ignores bisexual, asexual, and other queer people. Yes, I realize that it's just a meme, and meant for humor. But it isn't funny. I am really glad about Miller coming out, and doing so in an explicitly political way.

The women saying "I am not pleased!" no doubt think they are saying this statement in humor. I always want people generally to say they are pleased by queerness. Expressing displeasure at someone's queerness sure sounds like homophobia even if you don't mean it that way. It also centers these women's own feelings as hetero women, and assumes that all good looking actors should somehow be available to them sexually. This sort of magical thinking is really strange.

Malinda Lo said the other day on Twitter, that people are shocked and appalled when a character they think should be straight turns out to be gay. I think there is some of that happening here. Miller is a very good looking hunk, someone "masucline" in appearance, not stereotypically gay, and so some people react with a kind of outrage. A hunky man like that is gay??
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
I would like to start a public-facing disability blog: something that I can post links to on Facebook and attach to my wallet name. I'm tempted to simply create another DW account since I understand this platform so well; what are the downsides to that idea?

People on Twitter seem to think that Wordpress is the way to go.

Advice? Suggestions? I will of course also need a name for this blog.
sasha_feather: kid from movie pitch black (pitch black)
I slightly unwisely got into a discussion around this article on Jezebel: Will Everyone Please Eat Gluten Because You are Literally Killing Me Kind Of.

I disagree with the article. Full disclosure: I'm not celiac; I have done dietary restrictions but felt no better when I was on them so gave them up.

Point 1:

You see, when something that is medically necessary for some of us becomes something cool and trendy for the rest of the world, shit gets messed up. Waiters, thinking I am just another ankle-boot wearing Gwyneth wannabe, no longer take me seriously. It is actually harder for me to eat out now than it was a few years ago because a little dusting of flour on a piece of flounder equals a few days in bed for me.

The problem is people who prepare food wrongly. They are the ones responsible for the error and should be blamed. The article writer is placing blame on "fad dieters" and people who are doing it "just because". People can eat what they want and shouldn't have to defend their choices. Food preparers who make mistakes don't get to blame their mistakes on these people or these resulting cultural beliefs that "it's no big deal".

As an aside, this is also the reason I had a rare disagreement with a column by s.e. smith, this one about allergies: Food Allergies, Food Politics, and Taste. S.E. instructs us not to lie about food allergies, for similar reasons that Ms. Strauss does. I say, don't lie about what is in the food you make!! You can lie about your food allergies all you want, in my book.

Reasons people might dissemble about food allergies:
--It's easier than explaining your complex Syndrome
--It's more polite than explaining that said food gives you the runs
--Because someone actually is slightly allergic but wants to eat that chocolate anyway (my old boss)
--Because *!$#* why should people have to defend their food choices!

Point 2:
As I mentioned already, gluten-free is not the answer to your dieting needs.

This assumes that people do GF for dieting (weight loss) reasons, which may be true, I don't know. Most people I know do it for general health-related reasons: they want to feel better. They, like me, have Syndrome (TM) and are trying different things to see if anything works. They might be cutting down on gluten rather than eliminating it, because it's hard to change your whole diet at once. But I honestly don't care if people do this for weight loss reasons, as long as they don't talk about weight loss in front of me at length.

Point 3:
For those of you who swear off gluten not because you want to lose weight, but just because you think it will make you healthier: please stick with the whole wheat. Fiber is one of the most important things you can eat for health's sake and it is extremely difficult (and pricey, see below) to get your hands on when you are strictly gluten-free.

Fruits and vegetables have plenty of fiber!

Point 4:

Also, this life is expensive!

I imagine most people doing it "just because" have the funds for it. And actually, their demand might drive down prices for the celiacs!

Here are some reasons ("just because") people might decide to go GF:
--In solidarity with someone who is ill (I know someone doing this)
--To see if it helps them feel better
--Because they have an autoimmune disease, diabetes, or other illness
--Because sometimes fashions are actually on to some kind of good idea (see blue jeans)
--Because *$*%&^*! why should people have to defend their eating choices!

There is my rant for the evening.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
This talk was part of UW's Distinguished Lecture Series, and was given by Dr. Michelle Alexander, speaking about: "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement."

Here are my notes.

An introduction was given by a professor of law? politics? who was a white man. He said that at the start of the U.S. there were only 5 laws; now there are something like 2,000, and all of us break laws. This overcriminilization leads to overincarceration. Discretion must be used to enforce the law, but this opens the door to bias. Federal laws are vague, and plea bargaining is rampant. There is a decline in the use of juries.

From 1990 to 2001, there was a doubling in the number of people in prison. The number of prisons rose by 41%. There are 2.1 million people in prison. Although blacks use drugs at about the same rate as whites, they are 9 times more likely to go to prison for drug crimes. Equal protection is not in play, which is a political issue. Other issues inc lude the fact that prosecutors often live outside of inner cities, and intraracial crime is not addressed, leaving black people unprotected.

Michelle Alexander spoke about the Invisible Undercaste in America. We see the Obamas on TV but that image does not match up with the "other America". Dr. MLK Jr. said there is no greater sin than sleeping through a revolution. We've slept through a counter-revolution: one that fought back against the civil rights movement. Poor folks of color are shuffled from under funded schools into high-tech prisons.

In this era of "color blindness", we aren't allowed to see or name race, so the word "criminal" or "felon" replaces race and becomes a legal form of descrimination. Being a felon makes one a pariah. She talked about her own awakening here and her own prejudice against a particular person with regard to this label, while she was attempting to bring a lawsuit against the Oakland police for "Driving while Black/Brown" stops. Felons often can't get food stamps, public housing, or jobs. The cops get to everyone in the neighborhood. The path to racial justice includes those that we see as guilty. Felon laws keep people from voting in the same way that poll taxes used to. Felons are permanently unemployable. Black families are decimated.

Incarceration quintupled over a 30 year period while crime fluctuated. This was because of the war on drugs. Our stereotype of a drug dealer is of a black person which is not true. Violence is a part of daily life in some communities: why? Because of Joblessness. Work disappeared, Factories closed in black neighborhoods in Chicago. There was no bailout for this, when there could have been. The war on drugs is a backlash to the civil rights movement! Felons can't get food stamps! This was a bipartisan effort --- being tough on crime-- Joblessness is a major predictor of violence. Incarceration does not solve crime. Law enforcement makes major money off the war on drugs. They are allowed to seize assets from people only suspected of drug crimes. Clinton escalated the drug war especially for marijuana.

The Supreme Court has supported all of this, gutting 4th amendment rights (search and seizure), much as they supported Jim Crow laws. She talked about "stop and frisk" actions.

When people get out of prison, they have many obstacles, including having to pay back child support, legal fees, and sometimes having to pay for their incarceration, all while being unemployable and having little to no access to services. This system is designed to send people back to prison. The prison industry employs white people, and private prisons are listed on the NYSE.

We need a Major Social Movement for all poor people of all colors. It needs to be a Human Rights Movement. There should be no discrimination against people released from prison. There should be an underground railroad for these people to help them get back home and get food, shelter, and work. She mentioned the local group "Voices Beyond Bars". We also need to work for the abolition of this system. We need to end the war on drugs. One trillion dollars has been spent on this useless war! We need to shift to a public health model of addiction. We need to shift away from a punitive model of justice and towards a model of restorative justice and rehabilitation. We need to challenge the belief that some people are unworthy: we need to recognize the dignity and humanity of all people!

"Illegal Immigrants" is the same game and we must reject that discourse. We must be a multi-racial and multi-ethnic movement.

Q and A: the questions were mostly inaudible but I took notes on the answers.

MA: the 13th Amendment (which bans slavery) has an exception for prison labor. This is wrong and must be fixed. Work is good, but must be by choice and be paid. Corporations profit in many ways from prisons, and it's a virtual slave system. Book rec: Prison Profiteers.

Audience member: The 11x15 campaign seeks to reduce the prison population in WI to 11,000 by 2015.

Audience member: A woman talked about her son who is in prison. His name is Lawrence Tucker and he is a father. She talked about how dehumanizing prison is. This situation is very hard on her family.

MA: She is a prison abolitionist. Solitary confinement is used here in the states for years on end, and it is torture.

Question from a law student about getting into the field.

MA: Takes courage to get into the system and speak the truth and have compassion. Book rec: Let's Get Free.

Q: inaudible
MA: We need to transition from protest politics to movement building where the message is a critique of the system and energy is sustained over time. We would never have heard about Trayvon Martin if he'd been killed by a police officer, for instance.

Q: Suggestions for multi-ethnic movement building?
MA: Who is already doing the work in your area? Support each other's work.

Q: inaudible
MA: "Tinkering with the machine" isn't the way to go. Aim a larger goal. Have a comprehensive vision and broad picture for your activism. Her example was not to focus on just one narrow issue but when someone asks you about violent offenders, include them too and talk about restorative justice. Don't avoid the question! (As an activist I really appreciated this tip.)

Q: Incomprehensible convoluted question/story/statement which I think might have been about student activity fees?
MA: Very graciously brushed him off.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
“Another myth that is firmly upheld is that disabled people are dependent and non-disabled people are independent. No one is actually independent. This is a myth perpetuated by disablism and driven by capitalism - we are all actually interdependent. Chances are, disabled or not, you don’t grow all of your food. Chances are, you didn’t build the car, bike, wheelchair, subway, shoes, or bus that transports you. Chances are you didn’t construct your home. Chances are you didn’t sew your clothing (or make the fabric and thread used to sew it). The difference between the needs that many disabled people have and the needs of people who are not labelled as disabled is that non-disabled people have had their dependencies normalized. The world has been built to accommodate certain needs and call the people who need those things independent, while other needs are considered exceptional. Each of us relies on others every day. We all rely on one another for support, resources, and to meet our needs. We are all interdependent. This interdependence is not weakness; rather, it is a part of our humanity.”
— AJ Withers Disability Politics and Theory p109 (via some_stars via dandyfied on Tumblr)
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
3 Links I found really interesting!

James Sheldon: Intelligence as a Compliment, Stupid as an Insult: Rethinking Normal, Rethinking Attraction, Rethinking Society.

The question, though, that I have for geeks is … can you give up your need to have been right, the self-righteousness that comes with putting down those who were putting you down all those years for being geeky? And what are the consequences that come with attempting to judge others’ intelligence. Many people process information differently or have different perceptions than you do. And there’s a long history in our society of those people being marginalized and oppressed for being that way.

Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic: Through the Lens of Disability

But here is what I think: so much social justice writing is about what society owes those who we perceive as getting the short of end of the stick. It's called social justice for a reason. But what I like about this post is that it isn't simply about what the world should do about physical disability, but how a physical disability shaped a person's life, regardless of societal responsibility.

Tim Chevalier at Geek Feminism: Being a Better Ally to Trans People

Sometimes claims that trans people are “unnatural” are really claims that trans people are some sort of modern creation of medical technology, as if we didn’t exist before medical interventions that sometimes make our lives easier existed.
sasha_feather: rocks arranged in a pattern (pretty rocks)
One cool thing I learned from disability activism (and [personal profile] jesse_the_k) is the idea of scarcity vs. abundance. This helps me make sense of my daily life.

For instance, when I go to get groceries I often bring my own bags. The store gives 5 cents credit for each bag and it's better for the planet, etc. The problem is, the cashiers seem to shift from an abundance mentality (limitless plastic bags) to a scarcity mentality (only 3 bags that I brought). And even though I say to them, use plastic for whatever doesn't fit, they seem to take pride in saying, "Oh, I think I can make it all fit into your bags!" So then they load up my tote bags and make them super heavy and difficult to carry. I haven't yet figured out a solution to this, except bringing a huge amount of bags with my every time (even though I'm not sure how much I will buy), or teaching/training the baggers little by little not to over load my bags. This store is not designed in a way that would let me bag the groceries myself. I'm sure I look able bodied to them, like someone who would have no trouble lifting really heavy bags.

In terms of disability, abundance does us much better than scarcity: let's believe that there can be enough elevators, enough pain medication, enough time to get where we need to go (and to rest), enough access to medical care, enough support from our friends and loved ones. More than enough.

I believe in abundance.
sasha_feather: "subversive" in rainbow colors (subversive)
There's a famous clip where Barney Frank lays out the "radical gay agenda" (wink wink that it is not radical at all), and says it consists of:
1. Marriage equality (I've already griped about this here, but to recap: it leaves asexual, poly, and single people in the cold, and privileges monogamous relationships)
2. Protection from Employment discrimination
3. Serving openly in the military
4. Hate crimes legislation

I actually support 2 and 3, so let's talk about 4. The reason this plank of the platform troubles me is because is about punitive justice rather than transformative or healing justice. It is about punishing bad behaviors, but not about addressing root causes of those behaviors, such as the widespread acceptability of violence and homophobia in US society, and maybe some things about masculinity, and gender policing.

Also, it feeds people into the prison-industrial complex. The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. In particular, black men, gender queer people, and other oppressed groups are disproportionately imprisoned. Prisons themselves are places where rehabilitation is rare. Sexual assault is a known prison problem.

Black and Pink outlines a bunch more reasons for being suspicious of hate crimes laws: They do nothing for the victims or their families, they are easy ways for states to score points with oppressed groups without actually providing any services for us, and more.

You can read more of my rants at my ideas tag!
sasha_feather: "subversive" in rainbow colors (subversive)
Lately the media, and people in general, are talking about queerness again because of Chick-Fil-A and whatnot. I posted something earlier, filtered, that I am going to repost publicly because I believe it strongly and I seem to be in the minority in my belief.


I keep thinking about something I call the "choice dialog" (a term I may have heard somewhere, or may have made up). Watching Coming Out stories on Bravo, I see people say to homophobic relatives, "It's not a choice." My heinous former co-worker P. asked it of me at lunch one day, "Do you think that being gay is a choice?", to which I had to say, "Of course not, but wouldn't it be nice if it were?" (I was cornered.)

In reality I think things are more complex. They are always more complex. There seems to be some debate here that is controlled by homophobic ultra-Christian right-wingers that say we are choosing a sinful path, and that we need only to alter our choices to come back to the right path. Saying that we are born this way is a way to respond to these folks, and I respect that as one activist tactic. But I am no longer interested in engaging with such people, because to say these things is to start with an assumption that being queer is bad. If you change that assumption, then you change the dialog.

If queer is something good, to be celebrated, or if it is neutral, than you can choose to be queer.

And some people do. Some people's partners transition, and they choose to stay with their partners, or not. Some people are bisexual and they choose to act on it, or not. Some people choose celibacy, or not. Some queer people certainly stay in straight marriages. Some people simply choose to have experiences that don't fit inside labels.

That's the other thing about embracing a choice dialog: it opens up possibilities for people who identify as straight. You can choose to date someone of your same gender, and see how it goes! It doesn't have to mean you are one thing or another.

What I like about classifying things as choices is that it emphasizes autonomy and free will. Sure, neuroscience and biology probably do govern us. But I'd rather think that I have some choice in the matter.

Other excellent posts on this topic:

Fauxgress Watch: Born this way

[personal profile] thingswithwings: Who would choose this?

Frank Bruni: Gay Won't Go Away, Genetic or Not


sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)

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