Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Rights? I Want Liberation – BADD 2017

It’s blogging against disablism day today so I thought I’d get on and blog. For non-UK readers, or those in the UK that have grown up on US blogs, I’m going to use the following language here because;

disability defs

I’ve got to the point where I don’t think being for rights and social justice is enough to get rid of disablism.

When we look at the patriarchal capitalist system we live in, it becomes clear that disablism is a function of it. Anyone that doesn’t fit societies standard of “normality” due to a perceived impairment experiences it. The looks, the “oh, people like you can’t come in here”, the pity, the stereotypes, the anger, the judgement. As long as we live in a world that believes that the ideal body and mind is that of a “healthy” person, where “healthy” is a way of describing an “ideal” worker in a capitalist world, we will always have disablism.

To fight for rights and the associated justice, we fight to make this capitalist system more accommodating. But as long as it remains no amount of rights or justice will provide us with an end to disablism. Society will continue to praise the non-impaired, the non-disabled, and to look at those of us that don’t fit the bill as abnormal. Society will continue to make the harmful moral case that to be “healthy” is to be a “better person”. People with impairments will still be disabled people.

No. If we want to end disablism, and achieve liberation then we need to end capitalism and build a new society that no longer idealises certain types of bodies and ways of thinking over others.


Respecting Intersecting Oppressions

We need to talk about intersections, or overlaps in disability activism. You’ll be used to me banging on about how feminist and queer spaces need to make room for disabled people. But this time I want to talk to disabled activists, campaigners and interested parties. We need to learn to tell the difference between asking people to remember disability, and shouting over important conversations.

We know that disability is often the last oppression picked by non-disabled people to think about. Partly because it’s not seen as sexy or current, partly they don’t want to think about us because it is hard on many levels, and partly because they don’t understand us outside of the medical & charity models of disability. It leaves many left leaning, socially aware people with the odd belief that disability activism is all about raising money to end various maladies. Of course while most of us are pro-medical research into conditions, we realise that the eradication of them as a method to eradicate disability is a nigh impossible thing to be aiming for (even with unethical things like eugenics being brought in). Especially given that it does precious little to help all of us in the mean time. Our struggles to achieve equality in basic areas, like daily living activities, being treated without disablist prejudice, accessing the law, accessing shops and residences, as well as benefiting from decent medical research and access to good quality healthcare (the social model).


A Venn diagram showing how disability overlaps with race, sexuality, gender and nationality.

It’s really frustrating to see disability left out of conversations about oppression, and even more so when our attempts at starting a conversation fail because we end up preaching to the choir when non-disabled folk fail once more to either listen to us or interact with us. So, I totally understand the urge to shout “What about disabled people too!” into conversations about feminism, racism, sexuality, transphobia and so on. You know what, it’s important to remind people we exist, it’s important to remind people that in many cases of police mistreatment, domestic abuse, murder and so on the victim is disabled as well as having other identities.

It becomes a problem when our desire to do that ceases to be a desire to see disabled identities included, and becomes a desire to see the conversation be exclusively about disability. It’s one thing to add to an important conversation, it’s another to force a important conversation to stop so that we can talk about what we want to talk about. At that point it’s no longer intersectional, it’s only about disability. We have no right to demand that conversations around oppression include us, while we refuse to include others. No one wants to talk with people like that.

This is not supposed to be a tone argument, you can say it in any tone you please. This is more of a calling out of hypocrisy that is damaging to the cause.

The next bit might not be relevant for you, but if my point above wasn’t clear I’ve done an example to attempt to elaborate.

Example 1

(At a Black Lives Matter protest)

Protester: Black Lives Matter! Stop the police killing us!

Disabled Person: Lot’s of those people are disabled, as are white people they kill! It should be disabled lives matter instead. Disabled lives matter!

Example 2

(At a Black Lives Matter Protest)

Protester: Black Lives Matter! Stop the police killing us!

Disabled Person: Lot’s of those black people are also disabled, let’s remember that disabled black lives matter!

In Example 1 the disabled person starts by making a fair point, about the high incidences of disabled people killed by police/in police custody, but then completely ignores the fact that they are interrupting a conversation about racism and inappropriately brings up white people. Then they go a step further and try to erase the race element from the discourse by focusing solely on disabled peoples lives. It’s a dick move, and not a good way to win allies. In Example 2 the disabled person also raises the higher incidence of disabled peoples deaths, but focuses on disabled black people which is far more appropriate given that it is a Black Lives Matter Protest.

You don’t have to listen to me, you can ignore all that I’ve said, but I honestly think this is a better way to go about things.

Love to you wherever you are xx

Thoughts On Trauma, Setbacks & Recovery

I’ve been struggling to write so I’m trying to force myself to do so. This post & some that will follow will probably be of limited interest to many, and will involve a lot of navel gazing 😉

The simple act of living after experiencing trauma can be extraordinarily hard. Not all of the time, but for many of us the feelings of struggle hit in at least some of the time. Right now I am in that place and it’s painful, desperate, and scary.

I’ve had to come face to face with my own mortality far too many times in my life and each of those events gets tangled up with one another. Unfortunately it leaves me in a position where one of those threads of trauma getting pulled also pulls on the rest. My kidney cancer diagnosis has become one of those tangled threads and it’s something that gets pulled daily right now. The large wound around my side healing, the appointments, the questions, the uncertainty, it all keeps this and past incidents fresh in my mind. I am currently living in a world of flashbacks, lost time, dissociative ‘catatonia’, somatic re-experiencing, and the deepest mortal dread. It’s pretty shit to be honest.


A picture with a straight arrow labelled Expectations, and a messy arrow labelled Reality.

Continue reading

Body Positivity & Disability

The body positivity movement is an extension of the fat acceptance movement, but designed to be more inclusive to all body types. The goal of working towards loving your body for what it is, rather than what it is not, is laudable and a state of being I would love to achieve for myself one day. It sounds like a really useful arena for visibly disabled people to counter the negative looks and comments that come with it and also a really useful tool for every person living with chronic health conditions that cause pain, fatigue, discomfort, and other often unwanted and unpleasant effects.

Sadly the movement is based in an unequal world, and is therefore shaped by people who often have internalised disablism, sexism, racism, and a whole host of other issues too. It unintentionally forms barriers to disabled people and I want to take a few minutes to talk about them. Continue reading

What if Mental Health Was Treated The Way Physical Conditions Are?

If you’ve lived with a mental health condition then you’ve probably noticed people often say unhelpful things like “Time to move on & get over it” or “You don’t seem that sick” or “It’s just in your head”. You’ve probably thought to yourself, “No one is that mean to people with broken legs or food poisoning” and either wished they’d take you more seriously/fallen into a tasty vengeance fantasy/felt even worse than you did before. There is a good chance you’ve been shown this webcomic by Robot Hugs, often with this header attached, and nodded along:

A comic strip from Robot Hugs captures the differences between the way we treat physical health problems and mental illnesses.

I can see why you are nodding along, I’ve been there myself. People can be extremely hurtful when your problems are often invisible to the naked eye. The thing is, I really think this is the wrong way to go. In fact, I think it’s harmful and, comes from a position of privilage. “Why!?” I hear you cry. “This articulates the struggle many of us live with daily! How is that a problem?”. Well, I shall explain. Continue reading

Can We Stop Pitting Visible Against Invisible Disabilities?


Today I read another post about how people with visible disabilities have it so much easier than over those with invisible disabilities. I have, in my time, also read posts about how people with invisible disabilities are have an easier time than those with visible disabilities.

Who is this helping? No one.

It’s one thing to raise awareness of the different challenges that arise from the wide array of impairments disabled people have. It’s another to wallow in “who, in this group of people who are all oppressed by a disablist society, has it worst” .

Passing as non-disabled (having an invisible disability) means you probably don’t get the constant stares in the street stemming from your impairment, the “what’s wrong with you?” questions from people you’ve never met when you are just trying to eat a sandwich in a park, the constant pressure to become a paralympian, random people telling you that you are cursed/are being punished for past life transgressions whilst you are window shopping (and that they can fix it if you give the £250), you probably have never been in a situation where two small steps have meant you can’t physically enter a building or experienced the bus-buggy-war first hand and you probably haven’t had people assume you can’t communicate for yourself on a regular basis. But it also means you have to deal with other problems arising from a lack of visibility. Such as constantly running up against people who don’t/won’t believe your impairment is disabling (because if it was you’d have a wheelchair), being told off for using accessible toilets or parking spaces, having your own bus-war when it comes to using the priority seats and a whole lot more that comes from living in a world where people think disabled people look like “x” and anyone else is either non-disabled or non-disabled and lazy/on the scrounge/attention seeking. Continue reading

One Survivors Perspective on Trigger Warnings

We all hear a lot about Trigger Warnings, love them or loathe them everybody’s got a view and I’m no exception so here is my take on them.

As you may or may not know I’ve got complicated PTSD. I’ve experienced quite a few traumatic experiences in my life (which will get some passing mentions in this), from being severely burned to being trapped in an extremely violent relationship where over 5 years rape, sexual assault and attempts to kill eventually became almost everyday experiences. When I talk about being triggered I’m normally talking about flashbacks. These situations lead to me physically, mentally and emotionally re-experiencing traumatic events the way I did when it occurred. I’m not sure if any of you have been burned neck to ankle but I can assure you it is excruciating. It’s the kind of pain that you hope you’ll only ever experience once in a lifetime, not every time you watch an action movie with a lot of fire effects in it (pro tip: that’s nearly every one). Sometimes I also use the word triggered to describe the non-flashback effects that happen when I disassociate from the traumatic memory; behaviorally I might completely shut down for 30 seconds to an hour, unable to speak or think, or I might be hit with a sudden wave of mortal terror or righteous anger as my fight or flight responses kick in. In short, getting triggered sucks for me and for those around me. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: