Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Disability and Aging: A Response

Ideally, I would like to respond to this piece on the blog that originally posted it, FWD/Forward... but (sigh) I don't think that is too likely to happen.* I will instead post my reply here.

I believe the topic is extremely important (indeed, my incessant yowling may be one reason why there is a post on this topic in the first place) and I think more input, rather than less, is necessary and crucial for understanding.

~*~

FWD asked two older women to blog on the topic of disability and aging, Laurie Toby Edison and Debbie Notkin. Edison and Notkin work in publishing, are quite well-traveled, and live in what is possibly the most expensive city in the USA. I hope I don't have to make the obvious point that women with multiple published books to their credit are not typical older women; I assume they are well-educated and do not need to do hard physical work to live. For example, Edison's Wikipedia entry tells us: "Her family intended her for the academic intelligentsia." I will assume from this statement that Edison does not make her living standing on her feet all day (waitresses, nurses, retail) or doing continuous repetitive movements (factory, farm or garment workers). However, such work is the reality for most people in the world. And so, when I read the following, I get a bit confused:

We are 67 and 58, respectively, and both of us are able-bodied, and active. Not because “70 is the new 50″ but because our bodies work just fine.
And of course, this is fairly typical for women of their class, which is a very, very small percentage of the world's population. (Note: I used to type Workman's Comp claims, thousands and thousands of them, from everywhere, and I have never heard of an artsy-photographer making a Workman's Comp claim.)

My question: Why ask two older women who are proudly able-bodied to talk about disability and aging? I mean, shouldn't FWD maybe talk to women who identify as older and disabled? (This is a puzzling choice, unless it's because they don't know any other older women to ask to guest-blog, which is entirely likely.)

And let me be clear--Edison and Notkin's experience is interesting and vital, it's just that they seem to have decided that their experience is true for the remaining 95% of the world's population:
The stereotypical intersection between aging and disability is the cultural expectation that they are the same thing. Whether people are saying “After 40, it’s patch, patch, patch” or just looking surprised if a woman over 50 lifts a 50-pound box, the common assumption is that age and disability are irretrievably linked, just as youth and ability are perceived to be irretrievably linked. While 75-year-old marathon runners and charmingly fragile disabled teenagers both show up as role models, old people who walk to the grocery store and people in their young 20s who are frequently unable to leave their homes because of chronic pain are equally invisible.

[...]

These things, however, are not disabilities. Conflating age and disability is not only dishonest about the realities of aging, it is also disrespectful of the realities of disability. We can both go where we want to go, and get in to the buildings or transit vehicles when we get there. Neither of us is in the kind of pain (physical or mental) that keeps us from living able-bodied lives. To describe our minor aging issues as disabling would be to undercut and undervalue the real disabilities that people live with every day.
Minor?

In the health-supplement retail-business, it is not uncommon for me to meet working-class southerners and Latina immigrants under 30 who already have extensive job-related health problems. In fact, I don't know anyone who doesn't have these issues. My first varicose vein was at age 24. If you work hard all of your life, you will wear out. This is a GIVEN; it is a FACT. It's true for cars, for furniture, for roads, for televisions, for shoes, for umbrellas. It is equally true for people. There is simply no way you can bend a joint over and over a million times, and not have it wear out, just like your tires. After it wears out, it ceases to function, and it is... DISABLED.

Most people in the world must work hard to sustain life. I am not an exception; I am the mainstream. Therefore, most people, when they get old, have bodies that have worn out to the point of sustaining actual damage, yet they/we must function anyway, often in a great deal of pain. We are not as lucky as photographers who have published books. And hey, I don't mind if you are lucky enough to be exempt from hard work, but do not proclaim that your life is typical, when it simply is not. Your aging issues are "minor" because of the life you have been privileged enough to lead. The rest of us? Not so privileged. For most people in the world, aging is a painful process, and the process can start pretty early, depending on the kind of work they must do. (And their example is quite telling: No one looks "surprised" if I lift a 50-lb box, since I do it several times a day, every day. They look surprised on those days that I can't do it, actually.)

And so, we have older women blogging on aging and disability who start out by bragging about their good health, and then inform us that those little "minor" aging issues (!) are not important enough to be labeled disabilities. However, most working-class people around the world are not as fortunate and have always been required to do hard work.

Thus, MOST old people in the world become disabled. It is simply unavoidable.

Edison and Notkin continue:
At the same time, the stigma of aging (which is partially fear of death and partially the culture’s definition that beauty must be youthful) puts a disturbing spin on diseases and conditions which are associated with aging. If someone over 60 has mild to moderate arthritis, almost everyone (including her) will view it as evidence of her body’s degeneration and eventual demise, while if someone under 40 has mild to moderate arthritis, it will be just something she has to live with, and not evidence that she’s falling apart.
This is another deeply classist comment. I've always known I was falling apart (arthritis diagnosed at age 37), since I know that my arthritis was caused by overuse of those particular parts of my body. Most working-class people know that osteoarthritis (as opposed to rheumatoid arthritis) just comes with the territory, and fully realize it's a matter of WHEN, not IF, they should develop it. You simply can not wait tables for decades on a hard-tiled floor and not get arthritis/varicose veins/foot problems/etc.

The next time you go to a store or restaurant or Starbucks**, please be aware of the ages of the people who work there. You will notice a cut-off point (usually between 40-50) and very few visibly-old people will be employed there. What happened to them? Did they all just decide to quit? No, they WORE OUT. These jobs are ROUGH, and after a certain point, they become almost impossible. Older workers have to make the decision, at some juncture, to transition out... or apply for disability.

Edison and Notkin:
[One] of the major medical problems with aging is that people expect their aches and pains to be permanent, and thus don’t address them.
If they are due to the body wearing out, then the aches and pains ARE permanent. Degeneration of joints, tissues and organs is not reversible.

Edison and Notkin wind up:
It comes down to rejecting stereotypes: the two stereotypes of aging are the ever-increasing decrepitude and incapacity on the one hand and the cheerful, active grandparents in the Depends commercials on the other hand. Like stereotypes of disability, or of women, or of people of color, these are not true. The truth is much more layered, complicated, and different for every individual.
The truth is that most people in the world work very hard to earn a living, and for even longer hours than we work here in the USA. Immigrants tell me of their earlier lives in countries with no labor laws and no days off, ever. The Latino workers doing construction adjacent to my apartment complex, tell me of the copious "aches and pains" that they must work through, or risk deportation. The women who work in the textile mills tell me of their co-workers' first mesothelioma symptoms (often manifesting obscenely early in life)... and they worry, rightly, that they could be next.

For the working classes, aging MEANS disability. Period. They are synonymous. There is simply no way that one can work at physical labor for 5-6 decades without the body showing extensive signs of wear.

There is nothing in this world exempt from this rule.

~*~

On another note, it is thoroughly dismaying to me that a blog supposedly about feminism and disability, would bring in two older able-bodied feminists to authoritatively proclaim that aging and disability are unrelated, when for the majority of women in the world, this is not the case.(???) I can only surmise that FWD is not addressed to the majority of women in the USA or the world, and is basically directed to educated feminists of the professional-classes, a very small minority. And that's okay, but please be aware that the reality you describe (women of 58 and 67 who are relatively free of all signs of wear and tear), is not the experience of most older women in the world.

~*~

*As I said in this post, I have been banned from FWD for reasons never explained to me. I attempted to post three separate comments back on 11/18, all censored. Consequently, not bothering with that anymore.

**Starbucks seems to only hire people under 30 or so; I think it's an unwritten rule of some kind.

25 comments:

passinthru said...

Well, and you know very well the answer to your question is that excluding disabled old women (oops! Did I forget to mention "working" women? I'm so silly) leaves us free to go on bitching about how tough our lives are while ignoring those tedious "second wavers" who imagine their insights are relevant. Which they aren't. Because WE thought up oppression language ALL on our ownsome.

Someone quoted TOM F-CKING HAYDEN to me today. REALLY? The man whose assholery was so considerable he almost singlehandedly revolutionized women on the left? THAT guy? He's quotable, again?

We're sand on a beach. The castle is gone.

Dave Dubya said...

Most of us go through the school of hard knocks. I share with many the experience of work related disabilities and injuries, through wear and strain, and also by physical violence. Working class disabilities are serious concerns that require a sensible health care system.

White collar folks have their stress and resulting physical effects too. They are usually lucky enough to have insurance.

The time is coming when both groups will understand their mutual interests will converge.

Jon said...

Thanks for this. I am being forced into early retirement at age 56. Good news is that I have a pension and health care. How many busted up workers do I know who have to keep working through the pain? I liked this so well I reposted it on my facebook wall.

Ruth Moss said...

My Mum in law worked as a mill girl in the Horwich (near Bolton in North West England) mills for most of the earlier part of her life. (She's 69 now.)

She learned to type in her late twenties, and this afforded her with what was like a "holy grail" amongst her peers, an office job.

As a result of this, she managed to avoid many of the stresses and strains on her body that her peers had, and she's in relatively good health. Unlike some of her friends (especially those who are say ten years older than her, for whom the mill was a way of life [they don't have people-run mills in the UK any more]) and for whom this hard work continued into their thirties and forties.

That's not unusual. At all. If anything, my Mum in law is unusual for a woman her age, upbringing and class not to experience much in the way of physical disability.

Why would they pick the exception, and not the norm? Sounds a bit odd to me.

La Lubu said...

Wow. Shit, I gotta get to work, so I can't get started, but....this reminds me of all the bitching and moaning (from *certain* quarters) about how people are "retiring too young" and how we should basically just stay on the job until we're in our mid-seventies.

Ramone Smith said...

Very thought-provoking post. One of your best IMO. Bravo.

prefer not to say said...

daisy, cmon. they're kids. u should know how clueless they are. they already deleted track back to yr post like frightened babes in the woods. boo!

chances are - FWD posse has zero expereince in political groups IRL & never learned compromise or consensus. even yr expectations r misguided 2nd wave expectations. for example you assume they mean well. i assume they just want grad school recommendations or a book contract.

& what passinthru said.

lol @ hayden the horror.

Bryce said...

awesome post, d.

Virginia S. Wood, PsyD said...

Excellent post. For me, the intersection between aging and disability means something entirely different to me. My disability dates from childhood. I am a professional, thanks to race and class privilege, so have been able to work for decades. But as I age and my disability gets worse it is definitely interfering big-time not only with work (even sitting gets hard!) but also with ADLs.

The other intersection to me relates to sexism: I did not meet a feminine ideal as a disabled young person, and now, to top it off, I'm -- gasp! -- getting OLD!

When you are fat, aging, and disabled, it's hard to have any professional credibility in a society that conflates the perfect body with morals/self-control/self-discipline and intelligence.

I too am disappointed in FWD/Forward's post, which I had been looking forward to. In addition to the points you made, the posters are also Othering us. Disabled=bad, and they don't want people to think they are bad (defective) just because they're old. In other words, I feel they approached their topic with strong ableist attitudes.

Plus, they aren't old.

Anonymous said...

I kind of had to laugh at the idea that women who write books, are photographers are somehow immune to disability. And, geez, I've even got friends who SHOCK work at Starbucks and are over 40 years old. In fact, several Starbucks out in the "rich white" suburbs have many women over 40 working, because they get medical benefits.

The photographer multi-book deal artist I know was struck down with a serious disability at the age of 37, and has been unable to work ever since. Her working class boss fired her and almost cost her her medical benefits... hey she was just too white and too middle class right, so let's just pile on. Her hair is completely grey now, and nobody much gave a damn when she got sick. Heck, just another privileged woman needing some good trashing I guess.

No, not all older women are disabled, and I think sterotypes are fine to challenge all the time.
I think we have to get over this idea that women are victims, that aging is bad for women, or that all women face the same health issues at the same age.

I actually enjoyed what the feminist duo had to say about aging women. You can sick and die at any age, but one thing's for certain, disabled women sure get attacked everywhere, and fortunate women get attacked everywhere. It's never safe to be a woman who is honest about her real life I guess.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Loved Hayden the Horror... what a jerk indeed. But, gotta give the guy credit, the cretan got leftist women so mad, the women's movement was born anew.

We need a whole session on Hayden the Horror sometime soon! :-)

DaisyDeadhead said...

Anonymous: I kind of had to laugh at the idea that women who write books, are photographers are somehow immune to disability.

Um, where did I say that? ((((reads back)))) Quote, please?

I think you need to take that concept up with Edison and Notkin, not me. They are the ones bragging about their health. I was simply trying to figure out what some of the contributing factors might be for their excellent health, that they pointedly overlooked.

Anon: And, geez, I've even got friends who SHOCK work at Starbucks and are over 40 years old. In fact, several Starbucks out in the "rich white" suburbs have many women over 40 working, because they get medical benefits.

Never seen any, but then perhaps I don't go to enough Starbucks, which is certain possible, since I consider them a blight upon the land.

Anon: The photographer multi-book deal artist I know was struck down with a serious disability at the age of 37, and has been unable to work ever since. Her working class boss fired her and almost cost her her medical benefits... hey she was just too white and too middle class right, so let's just pile on. Her hair is completely grey now, and nobody much gave a damn when she got sick. Heck, just another privileged woman needing some good trashing I guess.

Fuck off.

No, not all older women are disabled, and I think sterotypes are fine to challenge all the time.

Did you read?

I didn't say ALL were, I said WORKING CLASS PEOPLE (not just referring to WOMEN either). Of course, I realize privileged women's joints are in better condition than mine; I said that, didn't I?

And what is your job description? How long have you worked at this job, and how strenuous is it? Because if it isn't, I don't expect you to get it.

In fact, bank on it: you won't.

It's a working-class thing, you wouldn't understand.

Anon: I think we have to get over this idea that women are victims, that aging is bad for women, or that all women face the same health issues at the same age.

And I said they did NOT; that was the WHOLE POINT of my post, which you obviously didn't read in its entirety.

I actually enjoyed what the feminist duo had to say about aging women. You can sick and die at any age, but one thing's for certain, disabled women sure get attacked everywhere, and fortunate women get attacked everywhere. It's never safe to be a woman who is honest about her real life I guess.

Tell me about it, "Anonymous"--I guess that's why you have chosen not to sign your name, huh?

DaisyDeadhead said...

Tell me, Anon, do old people simply DROP DEAD one fateful day, or do they become sick and disabled FIRST and then die of one of their illnesses?

Because the whole idea that age DOES NOT mean disability at SOME point, is simply a joke.

Otherwise, you know, we'd live forever, and be fit and young in the bargain.

Anonymous said...

Hey no one is holding a gun to the head of women telling them to do dangerous jobs. I think the age of the helpless female ended I would hope. It's why it is important for women to get serious about choices early in life, and not get stuck in the world of low expectations. Low expectations = low wages = increased danger on the job. Change the equation, change the outcome.

Jon said...

Anonymous, Ain't it grand to be living in a time when choice is king. Isn't it a shame how the vast majority of the human race seems to make bad choices? Why don't they just smarten up?

passinthru said...

Oh, see, had I only KNOWN!

Changing my expectations would have made paying for college SO much easier. I walk into the financial aid office. I say, "You recruited me for my GPA , test scores and background. I'd like financial aid" They say, "Awesome! Can we have your FAFSA, please." I say, "I'm an emancipated minor and my father won't fill out anything the government sees." They say, "Well, we award financial aid based on a signed FAFSA, but since you have the proper EXPECTATIONS, we'll hand you cash, anyway."

Clearly, I approached this all wrong. @@

Anonymous said...

Who says you have to go to college to eventually find a safe job? Our company is dying to hire really good young people who show up on time, want to learn and be mentored, and eventually want to move up in the world. College degrees are wonderful, but you don't need one for everything.
My boss is eccstatic over motivated young people, he'll mentor them, eventually help with college or credentials if they do good work. Lots of rewards for this. Positive attitude helps too.

You can learn how to use a computer without going to college, talk to a computer repair person, and they'll set you up very cheaply. Again, we don't live in China, we don't live in Afghanistan, we don't live in Tibet, we live in a very desirable part of the world. You're on the Internet, check out the world of work, you'll be amazed. Good manners helps when interviewing by the way. You wouldn't believe how simple things matter out there.

Sure we can sing the blues all the time, but we can also raise our expectations in life, and look for the people who will help us. Somethings are harder than others, some challenges are there now that weren't as present a few decades ago. Everything changes, just don't settle, and be alive! And don't make excuses, this doesn't get anyone anywhere that's for sure.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Anon: Hey no one is holding a gun to the head of women telling them to do dangerous jobs.

What are you talking about? Nursing and waiting tables are not "dangerous"... I am talking about TYPICAL working class jobs.

You know that, right?

I think the age of the helpless female ended I would hope. It's why it is important for women to get serious about choices early in life, and not get stuck in the world of low expectations.

Who paid for you to go to college? Did you pay for it yourself? Doing what? How long did it take you to finish?

What should women from poor families do, with no parents able to pay for college, in that case?

What about women who have children when they are young, preventing them from obtaining an education? (What are you doing to encourage fewer teen pregnancies?)

Low expectations = low wages = increased danger on the job. Change the equation, change the outcome.

I wasn't talking about "danger"--I was talking about typical female occupations, like typing every day. Where did you get "danger" from what I said?

(PS: If you DID go to college, I'd ask for a refund. Clearly, you didn't learn reading comprehension.)

DaisyDeadhead said...

Anonymous/Ayn Rand's ghost says: Who says you have to go to college to eventually find a safe job?

Again, nobody but you is talking about "safety", asshole.

Anon: Our company is dying to hire really good young people who show up on time, want to learn and be mentored, and eventually want to move up in the world. College degrees are wonderful, but you don't need one for everything.

I know that, since I don't have one.

My boss is eccstatic over motivated young people,

Is he ecstatic over your spelling, and that fact that you don't even know how to use spellcheck? ;)

(As I said above, you might want to ask for a refund on that college degree.)

Take your rotary club propaganda and shove it up your mindless, pro-capitalist ass.

he'll mentor them, eventually help with college or credentials if they do good work. Lots of rewards for this. Positive attitude helps too.

What makes you think I don't have a positive attitude? I am very good at what I do, and I have been good at any work I have undertaken.

I am referring to HARD WORK--what makes you think this kind of work excludes feeling good about your job?

Question: Who else will fix your car, wait on your table, sell you what you want, type your medical records, clean your public toilets, etc etc etc? You do realize that SOMEONE must do these jobs?

I am talking about those someones. You seem to think SOMEONE can avoid doing those jobs. Sure there are, but I am referring to the someones who will be doing them, regardless. And someone WILL.

You can learn how to use a computer without going to college, talk to a computer repair person, and they'll set you up very cheaply.

Yes, I am aware of this fact since I didn't go to college, and I'm right here... certainly you DO know that the vast majority of people learn about computers ON THE JOB? (as I did?)

Your classism is really something else.

Again, we don't live in China, we don't live in Afghanistan, we don't live in Tibet, we live in a very desirable part of the world.

Ayn Rand's ghost, Jesus H. Christ.

You're on the Internet, check out the world of work, you'll be amazed.

I'm 52 and have been working all of my life. What makes you think I haven't?

You're an offensive ass.

Good manners helps when interviewing by the way. You wouldn't believe how simple things matter out there.

I usually get the jobs I interview for; why do you assume I don't?

You're an offensive ass.

Sure we can sing the blues all the time, but we can also raise our expectations in life, and look for the people who will help us.

We can "help" by overthrowing the ruling class. Short of that, we must aid the working classes. I don't expect you to understand that, Ayn.

Somethings are harder than others, some challenges are there now that weren't as present a few decades ago.

Stop patronizing me, asshole.

Some things = two words, not one. (check out that tuition refund)

PS: One job I've had is proofreading what kids from pricey colleges "write"--which usually meant re-writing their badly-spelled, ungrammatical gibberish.

Everything changes, just don't settle, and be alive! And don't make excuses, this doesn't get anyone anywhere that's for sure.

Who "settles"? What the fuck are you talking about? Alive? Does my blog seem like a dead (haha) persons's blog to you?

Maybe I need some nudity to jazz it up; but I don't want to scare people away! :P

Warning: No more offensive bullshit, Ayn Rand. Do not preach to me; chances are I've worked more years than you've been alive.

Gramsci's apprentice said...

"Question: Who else will fix your car, wait on your table, sell you what you want, type your medical records, clean your public toilets, etc etc etc? You do realize that SOMEONE must do these jobs?

I am talking about those someones. You seem to think SOMEONE can avoid doing those jobs. Sure there are, but I am referring to the someones who will be doing them, regardless. And someone WILL."

righteous! truth!

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm an optimist, what can I say.

DaisyDeadhead said...

No, you're a capitalist-apologist, which means you are devoted to selfishness and destroying the planet. That has nothing in common with optimism.

Anon for this one said...

(part 1)

You make so many righteous points in this post, Daisy.

My reaction to the FWD post was also ???, since for every good point there were baseline assumptions I found at best strange and at worst offensive, and most importantly, the fact that two non-disabled women were the authors on the subject was bizarre.

I know that as an individual activist shaped by my own experience of my life and the lives of those I love and struggle with, I'm going to be reactive about some things that don't bother others, and find some of the things that others rally around to be absolute horseshit. This happens even more than elsewhere in the blogosphere, since it is indeed an overwhelmingly youth-centric culture, and a pathologically self-referential one.

So: I try to keep my mouth shut unless I'm damn sure I have something useful to add, and I also try to practice the 'praise what's good, patiently re-direct what's not' thing - and recently, I'm trying to be really rigorous about this because of my own past experience of both being constantly targeted (by other 'feminists') in the blogosphere and also seeing myself engage in nasty behavior I now wish I hadn't done.

This approach, though, basically means not engaging the blogosphere at all. I dumped my blog and all the harassment associated with it, and have re-focused all my effort in 3D world stuff. The problem with that, of course, is isolation when 3D community is lacking, and loss of dialogue with what and who is *good* in the blogosphere.

The frustrating piece for me here, and where I spin off from your post into crap of my own that your points about economic privilege raised, is that I NEED a place like FWD for comfort and community, and I don't feel I can have it, or that the blog is geared toward people like me, in spite of its apparent mission.

Why?

*Because I don't have the privilege of being able to be out about my disabilities - and even under a pseudonym, I don't have the energy or resources right now to fight my supposed allies for respect of experiences and opinions different from their own.*

I so often feel like in order to be heard, I have to make a public checklist of my various identities and categories so people can judge whether or not I deserve to be included: to feel this way so clearly in a 'community' which openly states that disabled people have the right to self-define and may not be able to come out for economic and safety reasons is depressing at best.

The primary thing I have to do right now is maintain a public face which will allow me to get a job. That will allow me to get out of extreme and dangerous poverty which has me in a horrifying living situation which has me even less able to publicly tell the truth about my life because the one way out is by NOT appearing desperate, NOT appearing disabled, NOT appearing argumentative or difficult or high-maintenance. So everything that goes out into the world under my real name is carefully NOT desperate-sounding, carefully does NOT out me as disabled or in need of any accommodations, because public display of how bad things really are or of any special needs will hurt me, not help me. Is that right? Of course not. Is it how it is? Yes.

I'd LOVE to be in a privileged enough position to be calling on the ADA for help. You have to have a JOB to be protected in your job.

I'd love to qualify for Disability payments (I don't). You have to be able to prove you can't work at all (I can) to get Disability, and Disability isn't enough money to pay rent anyway.

I'd love to qualify for unemployment benefits (I don't).

I'd love to believe a pseudonym online would fully protect me (it doesn't: from whois (dot) com to personal outing, I learned my lesson about thinking psychos who were apparently my allies would respect my need for safety and employment).

Ugh, now I'm getting all shouty and upset.

(continued)

Anon for this one said...

(part 2)

Point is, in this economy, those of us who are already casualties of the job market don't have the luxury of handing out a checklist of all the ways we're special and different and a protected class and whatever else: we're trying to stay off the street by any means necessary, and to get hired into something. Anything. Maybe after that happens – if it happens – we can more safely ask for accommodation.

Until then, we hide the physical and psychic pain, the exhaustion, the anxiety, the depression, and use every ounce of our being for survival and getting into a safer and more sustainable circumstance.

And yet: this makes us not count in the 'communities,' because we're not leading with our checklist of special categories. Fighting for the oppressed, creating community for the oppressed, somehow becomes something only the privileged have access to.

I just ended up ranting about my own circumstances and experience way more than I meant to, because all your points about women and disability *when those women are not economically secure* hit a lot of sore spots.

Hopefully it's useful to put all the ranting out there – it would be really great if people would consider that not all of us have the privilege of leading with our vulnerabilities.

To get back to the prompt of your post, DaisyD: your presence in the blogosphere as a tenacious and consistent voice for including an analysis of ageism and classism is incredibly valuable.

I've seen you treated as the gadfly over and over, but I also see you *have an effect* - you've been a powerful change-agent in un-countable small ways which add up to big, real shifts in how people think and behave. I'm glad you're out there. If you're a gadfly, buzz on.

And: seeing anyone question your 'cred' for speaking about disability gives me a stomach ache. You determine your identity, not me. You know your experience, not me.

Being a single-issue human being – whether that means in general or on a blog - is also a privilege (never mind being antithetical to disability rights activism: what kind of message is 'don't reduce me to my disability! but you don’t count unless you reduce yourself to your disability!').

People who walk around experiencing intersecting oppressions is may have other stuff to talk about. People – 3-dimensional, complex people - may want to blog nature poetry, gripes about the asshole on their local radio station, how bad their pain is today, how cute their kitten is, the latest antics of their local politicians, or any number of other things.

Single-issue group blog? Fine. Great. Potentially very useful.

Requiring those who blog or comment there to be single issue human beings? Not so much. Defining who is affected by the issue? Not so much. Preferencing and showcasing the opinions of people who are not disabled on some issue, then not listening to the disabled person who *lives* that issue? Not so much.

Requiring disabled people to explain why they deserve access to a disability blog?

Requiring them to publicly spell out the medical details of their disabilities to total strangers – and to the entire world, in a public arena over which the person disclosing has no control - in order to prove that they have the right to be there?

Requiring them to prove that they are in fact the authority on their own experience?

Um, what? This doesn't ring any bells?

You're kidding, right?

It's really disheartening and painful.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Anon, great comments. And especially, have to single out this stellar paragraph:

And yet: this makes us not count in the 'communities,' because we're not leading with our checklist of special categories. Fighting for the oppressed, creating community for the oppressed, somehow becomes something only the privileged have access to.

YES.

And this seems reminiscent of so much else; so many other people's ongoing experiences with oppression and struggle.

Thanks again for your insights.