November 17th, 2009


She said what I've been thinking

Just reading jumbled_words' post on her response to the Disabled Feminist blog post on the wheelchair episode of Glee. You should read jumbled_words' post, it's really good. I'll wait.

See cause I went to read the response to Glee when it was first posted, wondering why people had gotten so upset - I wanted to understand something that clearly I did not. And I read the post and this post actually made me walk away and stop listening to that group of people.

Change doesn't happen in a day or a week or a year. And standing here at this point in time after this many years of active feminism, I get how frustrating that is to constantly feel marginalised. But the thing is, whilst that episode of Glee was flawed and wasn't perfect, it was also a really great step forward along the path to change and along that path things won't be at the ideal point yet, cause their still along the way.

The thing is though, the Disabled Feminists blog alienates me. I don't like the way the posts are so absolute in the way things are and the way all disabled people (supposedly) feel. I was just trying to think about whether I am disabled, whether I am in their definition, and the things that immediately came to my mind made me think that "I pass" and then I remembered that I wear glasses. And have worn glasses since I was 4. And that I had an eye operation at 4 after which I had to wear an eye patch to kindy every day for ages. I remembered that I've spent the majority of my life not passing - being pointed out first as a pirate when I was at kindy, and then as four eyes (OMG get new fucking insults already) or my absolute favourites - "you look so much prettier without your glasses on (so do you, I can't see your face in detail anymore) AND this one - "you look so much smarter/sophisticated/authoritarian with your glasses on (what am I? Superman and fucking Clark Kent?)

There's lots of things you can't do when you wear glasses that "normal" people can do. Off the top of my head - eat soup, walk in the rain, peer out over the edge of things like buildings or mountains, swimming or yoga is weird when you can't see. My mother asked me why the two bottles from Garnier for shampoo and conditioner were different, one has a bobble on it and one doesn't, and had never thought about it before - I replied, "so people like me can tell the difference in the shower."

But you know, whatever, lots of people wear glasses. I've developed thick skin about it - after like 30 years, it tells me more about who the person reacting is than it says anything about me. And everyone has something. And it's not like it's a major life impairment (most days). Which is why it didn't occur to me as a visible impairment when I started writing this up.

Because what actually shits me about the discussions of ableism on that blog is the way the discussion makes me feel bad about myself in other ways. I have a chronic bowel disease. I take that with me everywhere I go. But I don't let it stop me from doing (see I was gonna write "shit" there ...) stuff. I have this disease for life, probably. There's no cure. It's an autoimmune disease. And I'm allergic to the drugs that do exist to try and control it. So you know, I have two choices, I can feel sorry about it and myself or I can get the fuck on with life despite it. (My Dad has the same disease and set this example for me) There's daily stuff, some gross, some painful, some annoying, that only someone who is very close to me, most likely living with me, will ever see. But you learn to just live with it, you know?

And then there's the mental health stuff - some of it is related to the Crohn's Disease, probably, but mostly it looks like one side of my family has a predisposition to depression. So yeah, I suffer (yep, I'm fucking using that word, it's mine to use and own) and struggle with depression. And a couple of years ago I had this ... flip out? breakdown? freakout ... where I developed a pretty crippling case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. See how I used a bunch of words there that Disabled Feminists would frown upon? Thing is, they *describe* how it feels to be bumbling along in life, pretty normal, and then for your brain to just veer off sideways and no longer process and think the way it used to do. It just functions entirely differently. And in it, it was very upsetting, anxious, panicking, frightening, uncontrollable, unstoppable, scary, overwhelming, consuming, destroying. It FELT INSANE. It FELT ABNORMAL. It FELT LIKE I HAD FREAKED OUT and TURNED INTO A NUTCASE. It FELT MAD, CRAZY. And sometimes I really did act like a lunatic - because I *was*.

I got help and I'm still getting help for this. But what upsets me about the way people talk on that blog is that I should not talk this way about my own experience, that it's wrong to want to use the words that express how I feel/felt, and that therefore how I feel is wrong. That blog makes me feel unwelcome. It makes me feel like I should be ashamed. It feels like it does not speak for me and that therefore I do not belong. That blog feels very exclusive.

And I too have stopped reading and wanting to associate with it.


Organisation for Transformative Works/Dreamwidth

I read this shout out to the Organisation of Transformative Works in the Dreamwidth weekly newsletter. I think it's a really succinct explanation of one aspect of why these two projects are important:

And speaking of Open Source, this week, we extend our congratulations to the Organization for Transformative Works, whose Open Source project Archive Of Our Own went into open beta this week. They've been working on it for a long time, and we know how awesome it is to watch people starting to use your stuff. We're often mentioned in the same sentence because to the best of anyone's knowledge, we're both the only two majority-female Open Source projects out there and the only two that concentrate on teaching and coaching new developers, and we're thrilled to see the OTW moving into Open Beta and watching more people use the tools they've built. Congrats, folks.


running behind

I got my first issue of Locus in the mail today - I am excited since I finally subscribed and then found out it can take up to 6 weeks to get here. It's the November issue and its Nov 17 - that's not too bad.

I had one G&T too many tonight (I had two) and have decided to call it a night.

Just to say that my inbox is overflowing, all sorts of interesting things keep coming through, and I hope to get to answering emails very very soon.