Welcome to the September Disability Blog Carnival, which has identity as its theme. We have a varied collection of posts many different topics. Enjoy!
Firstly, over at Hand to Mouth there is Words for Me: Assistive Technology, Identity, and Disability:
At the moment I am spelling on my new input device with fingers that are stinging and aching and too thin, gingerly touching Backspace amid every other word to break the stuttering loop of consonant or vowel caused by lifting my fingertip off a sensor it has not completely covered. I haven’t found a typing stick yet.
There are a lot of – perhaps too many – pieces that make up my identity, but first and foremost I am a freak* and proud of it. And while being a freak (to me) means there is an inherent flexibility, I’m finding that some of the changes in my health are forcing revisions I’m not happy with…
I admit the first time I heard the voice of my boss, Mark, while driving down the freeway alone in my car, I was surprised. He wasn’t in the car or on the cell phone, and yet he spoke to me as clearly as if he were sitting next to me. I realized immediately that I had a special power: ESP. It didn’t seem unusual at all to be gifted with special powers, and it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be mentally ill. I was simply gifted.
A lot of privilege is hard to change. For an instance, I will always be white. I will always have a white privilege. I will never have to worry about being turned down jobs because of the color of my skin. I will never have to put up with stereotypes that only exist because of my skin color. I will never have to worry about being murdered because of my skin color. But one of my privileges did change. And it’s something that can change for everyone and at any
Sharon Wachsler of After Gadget writes Without Gadget, Who Am I: A SD-Less Service Dog Partner Identity:
My identity, for years, has been inextricably bound to being a service dog partner. In fact, my avatar is ServiceDogPartner for most sites that require them.
How does this identity play out in everyday life?
A telling, one-word answer is “We.” Any activity, especially if it involved leaving home, required, or was enriched by, the participation of my service
dog; therefore, we were a we/us, not an I/me.
“I don’t consider myself disabled”. I see this phrase a lot in the news, especially when it’s a young person with a disability. The ironic part is, the article is almost always about their disability, whether it’s a discrimination story or a “heroic super-crip climbs mountains” type story. This line is
frequently accompanied by “I’m just like anyone else.”, which I hate even more.
I started to get involved with the BDSM community around the same time as I was exploring and beginning to understand more about myself, including the vast
diversity of physical and mental health issues that would have to be taken into consideration when participating in scenes, interactions with other kinksters, accessibility to play parties, gatherings, munches…
I was thinking about how identity can be something influenced by others and how that interacts with being disabled. In my case, at least in part - how large that part is depends – “invisibly” disabled (inverted commas both because I don’t think referring to sight to explain why people miss it is right, and because I don’t think it’s invisible at all and I don’t really know why people miss it). People will draw their own conclusions about you, even if they don’t mean to (but I don’t think most people put in much effort not to make assumptions).
I suffered from undiagnosed and unmediated General Anxiety Disorder for several years. My mental health deteriorated to such an extent during this time that I began to wonder if I would have to be institutionalized which has always been on of my greatest fears. There are times that are so fuzzy I barely remember what happened but there are other times that I can pretty clearly remember the feeling of being stuck inside this raging, mean person and not being able to do anything to stop it.
I took these pictures because I didn’t know what I looked like when I was stimming and I assumed it probably looked scary. As soon as I started taking them, I realized it looked sort of cool, at least in pictures, so I took a lot more.
Before, I didn’t have an image of what a person who stimmed could look like. I’m not saying I was raised to feel terrible about stimming because I wasn’t really cracked down on by teachers and parents like some people are. But it was sort of similar to how I felt about being queer–I either heard vague negative stuff, or silence.* I saw people on the Internet saying it was okay but I had trouble applying that to my real life.
Last time I looked close to what constitutes normal I was probably around 11 – there were some signs of the RA, mostly in my hands, but I could pass. Since then, in the other 36 years of my life, I’ve been Different. And no matter what the people who love me say, women with disabilities are most definitely not considered beautiful.
Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg of Journeys with Autism writes Am I More Than My Autism? I Refuse to Answer the Question:
I’ve recently read two articles in which mothers of autistic children wrote that their children are “more than their autism.” Something about this assertion
has been bothering me, and I want to explore why.
If I was walking down the street and walked pass you, you probably would not think twice and peg me as disabled.(unless you have a trained eye) I walk with a slight limp and swing from one side to another. So when I tell people that I identify as disabled and with the disabled community they automatically start telling me about how I’m not that disabled, how I look just like normal, and how I should not identify as such. What able-bodies do not understand and will never understand is the long and fundamental history that separates me from the normal majority, the small differences in how I carry out day
to day activities that, when added up, drain the life out of me, and the way it feels physically when I move my body in a supposedly normal way.
There are several posts at FWD/Forward that are relevant. s.e. smith writes Conversations about Body Image: A Place at the Table for Me?:
Conversations about body image come up often in feminist communities, and unfortunately, many of those conversations are predicated on the dual ideas that
all people should love their bodies and that lovable bodies are healthy ones. This can be seen in the language used by campaigns designed to get people thinking about body image; I can’t tell you how many “positive affirmations” I have encountered that say things like “love your body, because it is beautiful, healthy, and strong.” I guess people who don’t have healthy or strong bodies can’t love them, or people who actively reject beauty can’t love their bodies
abby jean wrote Musings: Is Existing as a PWD a Form of Free Speech?:
Recently, the federal circuit court in California heard a case about whether the city of Hermosa Beach could ban tattoo shops entirely. The plaintiff – a man who wanted to open a tattoo shop in the city – argued that the ban was an impermissible restriction of his free speech rights.
The court wrote a long decision (pdf) considering not whether having a tattoo was something protected by the First Amendment, but whether the actual act of tattooing someone was conduct with sufficient expressive content to be considered as speech. So the court was thinking about whether the act of giving someone a tattoo counts as speech – if the tattoo artist is the equivalent of a painter or a photographer and adding artistic judgment and content to the representation, or if they are more like a computer printer printing out text or images designed by someone else.
Today is Labour Day in Canada and the US, which for many people means the end of the Labour Day Weekend Jerry Lewis Telethon. Wikipedia conveniently describes the Jerry Lewis Telethon so I don’t have to:
The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon (also known as The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon and The Jerry Lewis Stars Across America MDA Labor Day Telethon) is hosted by actor and comedian, Jerry Lewis to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). It has been held annually since 1966. As of 2009, the telethon had raised $2.45 billion since its inception. It is held on Labor Day weekend, starting on the Sunday evening preceding Labor Day and continuing until late Monday afternoon, syndicated to approximately 190 television stations throughout the United States.
On the surface this probably looks like a good thing, but digging a bit deeper: For many people, this is one of the few times they’ll see images of people with disabilities on their t.v. screen (and from a noted authority and beloved celebrity), and the entire thing is one drawn out pity parade.
One thing I’ve learned while trying to understand what it is my brain does – how it works and why some tasks that appear simple are difficult for me while other tasks that may be more complex are easy. Or why I simply have an inconsistent ability to be reliable or productive.
Most of the information is from articles I’ve read and lectures I’ve watched. Much of it is from memory, so I’m trying to cite this as more my personal experiences as filtered through information I’ve researched. My first post about ADHD has links to some videos which may help explain some of this, but this post is presented as mostly anecdotal.