Liberation by Disability: the paradox of Competency and Inclusion

“Because there is no way for good people to admit just how bloody uncomfortable they are with us, they distance themselves from their fears by devising new ways to erase us from the human landscape, all the while deluding themselves that it is for our benefit.”
~Cheryl Marie Wade

Disability is usually defined by what a person cannot do. But outside of the normative social realm, disability is really about how a person does things differently.

Within the cultural status quo, the onus of being “acceptable” for consideration to being included by others, is placed upon the person in question, rather than by those who are creating the standards and are choosing to accept or not. Frequently, inclusion must be “earned” by first Read the rest of this entry »

It was a dark and stormy night …

and it continues to be a dark and stormy day, at least in my corner of the planet.  What a great day to stay home cozied up with a pot of tea and do some blog reading and writing.

But instead, this afternoon I need to throw on my rain cloak and venture forth to teach a class, and run some errands (tarantula needs crickets, cats need catnip).  I’ll probably get around to some blogging later on.  Meanwhile, you all should check out Disability Blog Carnival #24:  the 1st Anniversary Edition!

The deadline is in just a few days!

We all have our very favorite blogs, those that we make a point to read even if we don’t have time to read much else before going to breakfast, during lunch or whenever we do our online reading time.  We love these blogs because the writers provoke thought, because they introduce us to news or ideas we weren’t aware of, because they entertain us, because they are able to express shared opinions or experiences in a way that create commonality among diverse people, or any number of other attributes.

Well now is the time for giving those bloggers your kudos!  Nominate them for the Blogger’s Choice Awards!   (boldface mine)

Not only can you nominate your favorite blogs within a slew of unique categories but you can also vote and comment on others that have already been submitted. In turn, others can also vote and comment on the blogs you’ve nominated. Votes will be displayed on the site in real-time, so you can see who’s leading within each category at any moment! The voting for Blogger’s Choice Awards 2007 will end at 11:55pm on October 19.

Not sure which for category your blogger qualifies? (After all, I don’t see categories for “Best Science Blog” or “Best Advocacy Blog”.  Hmn, we should probably make a noise to the peeps* to include those next year.)  Make a comment on a recent post and ask them, because readers’ votes need to be concentrated to a category for the blogger to be awarded.

Here’s the rules.

*  mail to:   subect = Question about Bloggers Choice Awards

How and Why

ABFH composed a new blogging meme, which unlike many that are transmitted by assigned infection, is open for anyone to self-select. I thought her questions to be rather interesting, as the overall topic of “how and why one blogs” is something that I myself have contemplated upon occasion.

1. Is there a regular time of day when you compose your posts? Read the rest of this entry »

Go up to BATT

It’s BATT — Blogging Against The Telethon day over at Kara’s Place, and like any other self-respecting bee, I’m swarming with the other bloggers. Go check it out!

(while I sit here and try to figure out why my toolbar is in Russian…)

Animal Farm

Yes, that “Animal Farm”, the book by George Orwell. That’s what I was reminded of, or rather, I was reminded of the famous quote, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Painting walls certainly gives one time to think, and I was stuck on the annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Jerry Lewis is the comic who for years has been the host of the annual MD Telethon broadcast on US television. The program itself is designed to be a real tear-jerker, prompting people to send in money out of pity and guilt and good intentions. Lots of people hate the program. We hate the paternalistic attitudes that perpetuate the whole medical model of disability, and reinforce the warped picture the equates disabled people as helpless, hopeless victims needing cures and charity, rather than accommodation and equal social standing and social rights.

In the negatively stereotypical telethon world, the disabled person can only be brave by quietly clinging to others and not advocating for themselves, by staying hidden out the way and not asking for equal access, and by cultivating “hope” that someday they can be “cured” to become normal, thus regaining their status as a full member of society and become a real person.

Well, medical cures and preventions are well and good, but are nowhere near soon, and what people really need are more practical things, the equipment and accommodations and acceptance into general society that will let them live their lives. No one wants to put their life on “hold” waiting for some possibly non-existent, or distant future mythical-magical cure. No one wants to be stuck at home, much less in an institution, and thought of as a horrible burden, a non-functioning person who has nothing to contribute to their family, a non-working person who has nothing to contribute to their workplace, a non-sexual person who has nothing to contribute to their spouse, or a non-adult person who has nothing to contribute to their children.

Jerry Lewis plays up the pity card heavily. I’ve previously discussed the various social problems created by pity, so I won’t go repeating myself on that score. What choked me up (in disgust, not in sadness) was his “half a person” quote. It originates from the September 2, 1990 issue of Parade magazine, from the article titled, “What If I Had Muscular Dystrophy?”:

When I sit back and think a little more rationally, I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person … and get on with my life.

Ick. That’s when the Animal Farm parallel hit me:

All humans are people, but some humans are more people than others.

Half a person. Not a real person. Not a full citizen in society, but someone second-class. Forever dependent, focused upon all the things they cannot do, always left out. And why are people left out? Not because they’re disabled, but because of the entrenched bigotry against disabled people that permeates our cultures. Simple things that should be ordinary, practical, sensible things, are instead viewed as horrible hardships upon everyone else. Problems are seen in a warped world-view of false dichotomies: either the person cannot do something the normal way, or they get cured and then they’ll be able to do things. There’s no accommodated way of doing things in that unrealistic story.

I can’t stand to watch the program. I can’t stand the crass exploitation, seeing children (and their families) used as tragi-cute pawns for pathos. I can’t stand to hear Jerry Lewis snivelling. I can’t stand to see the whole routine repeated year after year after year, the horribly treacly music, the pleas to “save Jerry’s kids”. The program is a tear-jerker, and Jerry Lewis is a jerk.

“It is an uncomfortable truth, in social work, in government activity, and in charitable endeavors, that actions which are intended to help a certain group of people may actually harm them.”
~Laura Hershey

New tools you didn’t even know you needed!

For all of the philosophic ruminating about words and language and the uses of signifiers, there is yet a power to creating words, to naming things. Once we create a word, we now have yet another handy mental place-maker for retrieving that information. Once we create a word, we can share it with other people, thus giving ourselves a tool for introducing ideas and discussing them. Naming is a kind of power, for it can help create something de novo, and “give flesh” to nascent ideas.

When we find or create and use words, we can spread these new ideas and discuss them. Just as disciplines need their specialised jargon, and new disciplines need new specialised jargon, other fields of human endeavour need their jargon. Although the jargon of a group can be used badly to outgroup, it can also be used constructively to serve as a tool for unifying dissimilar people and sharing ideas, and it can also “legitimise” groups by giving them something of a more “real” or “solid” presence.

Sometimes I make up words because they don’t exist, but I still need them. Frequently I borrow somewhat obscure words from various disciplines. And sometimes people borrow words from other languages. One of my favourite word-nerd books is, They have a word for it: a lighthearted lexicon of untranslatable words & phrases by Howard Rheingold.

As we endeavour to create new paradigms in the world, we need extra tools and new tools in our toolboxes. So here’s my first installment for you (I’ll add some words of my own eventually-soon). Here’s a list of words you didn’t even know you needed, many with my own (necessarily briefer) definitions, and my own pronunciations: Read the rest of this entry »

Go hunt down

the invertebrates at the latest Circus of the Spineless.  It’s a crunchy feast for the eyes! Our intrepid host, Roger, is posting from super-soggy South Yorkshire where they’ve been having the worst floods in living memory …

More than an uncomfortable trend

I shouldn’t read the news before breakfast — it’s bad for the happy digestion of my food. These Acts, Bills and Executive Orders keep piling up. It reminds me of the scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Professor Dolores Umbridge took over as Head Master, and the walls of Hogwarts were being smothered in edicts. The latest item is just one in many, which creates a more than uncomfortable trend. It’s now a disturbing reality. Let’s see, now we have: Read the rest of this entry »

Buying Citizenship

I just got back from an “open house” hosted by my former uni. Happened to get some nice insect photos along the way, which pleased me. But I had an annoying experience talking to a researcher who’d recently been made a full professor. He told me about his students, and how they’d graduated and gone off and gotten jobs. I mentioned that over a year later, I was still looking for a job that reflected my post-graduate degree. What, he asked me, hadn’t I been applying for This job and That job? Yes, I had, I replied. Once again I had that bewildering sense, the vertigo of the psyche, where it seems like everyone else graduates and goes off to get gainful employment.

He couldn’t understand my dilemma. There were jobs out there (obviously, if his graduate students had been getting them). Unstated, but staining the tone of his questions, was the disdain of what was wrong with [me] that I couldn’t get a job? I ended up feeling like an unemployable idiot.

I’m not of course — actually, I have three different jobs. Put them together, and I have something almost like a full-time job. I get excellent employee reviews on my jobs. But it’s still patchwork employment at low pay. Jobs are not a given, under any economic circumstances. Sure his students got jobs — but for every person who does get the job for which they applied, there’s a score or more of other people who didn’t get that job. And despite my academic achievements (completed with great struggle against health issues), in the realm of employment I have “failed” to succeed at the appropriate performance levels expected for someone of my social station. I’m bidding too low in the marketplace for citizenship. Read the rest of this entry »

The pleasure of your company is requested

Zephyr’s getting the Disability Blog Carnival #19 set up over at Arthritic Young Thing, and it promises to be exciting because it’s about SEX!

So wow, I get to follow that. That’s about as great a slot as getting to do an hour-long presentation in a warm, dark auditorium right after lunch when the audience is stuffed full of turkey sandwiches (ooh, tryptophan, zzzz…) Hey, I’ve done that gig. And I tripped spectacularly en route to the lectern (tripping over nothing, because I’m just so talented that way). And then the AV equipment didn’t work at first. And I was coming down with the flu. But public speaking is still theatre of sorts, and I joke about my clumsiness and the malfunctioning equipment (“This stuff never happens to you all, right?”) and the show goes on, because this is What We Do. They even laughed at the jokes, bless them.

But it’s time to take a break from work! I selected “On Holiday” (on vacation) for my Disability Blog Carnival theme, Read the rest of this entry »


As blog manager, this morning I made an Executive Decision to use the More button to split posts. This does several things.

On your end, you will notice that you now have to click the coloured text that says, “Read the rest of this entry >>”. (Yes, I’m trying to intentionally pick “cliffhanger” points to insert those More links; they serve as a good check for the editor part of my brain.) My apologies to those on slower dial-up connections; I’m not doing it to be aggravating.

Rather, I am trying to tighten up the front page, so people can see more post headlines/topics. I’m a loquacious essayist, not doubt of that, and post lengths can obscure the headlines that would demonstrate the variety of subjects, to draw people’s interest in them. In this regard, it’s meant to be a browsing aid. Using the More button also allows readers to automatically see the comments posted at the end of the posts. I really, really encourage people to comment. Yes, YOU.

(By the way, if you include a hyperlink in your comment or use any one of a number of words flagged as potential spammage — WordPress’ filter is fairly sensible, as such go — your comment will get hung up in my Moderation queue for approval. Don’t panic; I check my email frequently during the day, and as long as your not hawking commercial links or being the worst sort of troll, I’ll let your comment through.)

Were I writing to just be writing or to be working out ideas in my head, I’d simply have an enormous word-processing file sitting in my computer. Were I just writing at the world, I would turn the comments off. But I’m not — I am writing to add to the public discourses about various topics. I blog to provoke thought, to express my opinions, to support people and causes, and yes, to have fun. I use the medium of blogging because I find it an easier medium for communication, and because it can be more accessible. Kindly let me know if there’s something I can do to make it more accessible.

Blogging is indeed an ego-driven phenomenon, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s narcissistic, but that people want to express thoughts about things that are important in their lives. But what makes blogging great is that it can be a substrate for dialogues between people all over the world. So, back to the blog.


Okay, having created a mutant meme … I finally think of 8 things for the original one. And so it goes. See previous post for meme rules. I’m not going to do any extra tagging, tho’.

Odd things I like:

1. Spiders; I have a pet tarantula. Watch this space for Garden Buzzing about spiders (I’ll put a link here for the pictures that will be on another page, so arachnophobes won’t have to see them.)

2. Bees. (duh) Bees are fabulous, little golden-fuzzy honey machines, or metallic green wonders, or fat teddybear-ish bumbles, and essential to our food web.

3. Snakes. Alas, the cute one I was ogling at the pet shop got sold.

4. Heights. My son and I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon and Read the rest of this entry »

Meme Mut8nt-R4

(Andrea pulls on her lab coat and disinfects the benchtop.)

Steve D at One Dad’s Opinion meme-tagged me. I don’t know what the official name for this is, so I’ll refer to it as the Random-8 meme. Random-8 has the following genes:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

While entertaining some insomnia during the wee hours of the morning, I realised that this list was going to be difficult, having already done the Five Weird Things meme. But then I had an idea — a wild idea — a wild, wee-hours idea that unlike most such, still sounded cool the next day. Read the rest of this entry »


Timing is everything, and I’m running late here mentioning this.  The current Disability Blog Carnival can be found at Retired Waif.  Go check it out and find out why timing is so important!


“So what do you want to do?” asks hubby.

I sigh. It’s summer, ergo obnoxiously hot and humid and buggy, so activities involving the outdoors would result in a lot of sticky sweating and itching from mosquito and chigger bites. (A chigger, in case you don’t have them in your part of the planet, is a minuscule mite whose feeding leaves ferociously itchy welts. I am apparently an absolute chigger magnet.) “I don’t know,” I reply, thinking aloud, “I’m not really in the mood for coffee or ice cream. Actually, what sounds good is going down to the pub for a pint of ale.”

We stop to recall local establishments that fit the bill of “pub”, and remember one not more than a couple kilometers from home. Stepping out the front door, we were immediately “smacked upside the head” by the tropical effect, not unlike entering the Palm House at Kew Gardens. This cuts short his reverie about great pub-finding walks about Edinburgh and Ambleside, and his enthusiasm for an evening stroll wilts quicker than his linen shirt. Rather, he has the urge to hibernate until 1st October, when the weather ought to break. So we take the less-than-green option to drive through the eight-lane interchanges and tarmac oceans of parking lots. Read the rest of this entry »

Coffee Break

Go check out Disability Blog Carnival #17, “Laughter, the best medicine” being held at the Kuusistos’ blog, Planet of the Blind.

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