jesse_the_k: those words in red on white sign (be aware of invisibility)
What We Lost: Undoing The Fairy Tale Narrative Of Adoption by Liz Latty

Until reading this piece, I’d thoughtlessly hummed along to the stereotype that adoptions are about how wonderful the adoptive parents are.

read it now )

I’m Done Debating Racism With the Devil: White people playing devil’s advocate in conversations about race are completely counterproductive to actual progress. by Maya Rupert

“Devil’s advocate” arguments have always annoyed and angered me, but this essay explained why.

now you can too )

jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Beating heart of love GIF)
Thanks to a [personal profile] liv-triggered happy rabbit-hole I just read Marissa Lingen's fabulous post illuminating why most people find the experience of impairment so mystifying.


if you need convincing: an excerpt )
jesse_the_k: Text reads: "I'm great in bed ... I can sleep for days" (sleep for days)

Disability Studies Quarterly is available free online at The Summer 2017 issue of Disability Studies Quarterly is full of interesting reading that's accessible to folks without a graduate degree.

Acknowledging pain and limitation is a welcome turn in Disability Studies theorizing: a long-term consequence of the intersection of feminism with DS. Women's disability is so often driven by illness, that we've brought willingness to profess that pain.

UW-Madison Prof. Ellen Samuels writes so well, so deeply, so clearly about living as disabled people in time:

Three meanings of 'crip time' )

Three more viewpoints on "crip time" in the complete article at

jesse_the_k: Underwater picture of chubby woman stroking and blowing bubbles with a grin (lynne cox swimming)

After reading Ursula K. Le Guin's essay on the election, I was, for a few moments, able to breathe deep and focus on the long view. I recommend it to all, especially the anxious & paranoid:

begin quote
My song for many years was We Shall Overcome. I will always love that song, what it says and the people who have sung it, with whom I marched singing. But I can’t march now, and I can’t sing it any longer.

My song is Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.

Though we’ve had some great scholars of peace, such as Martin Luther King, studying it is something Americans have done very little of.

The way of the warrior admits no positive alternatives to fighting, only negatives — inertia, passivity, surrender. Talk of “waging peace” is mere glibness, you can’t be aggressively peaceful. Reducing positive action to fighting against or fighting for, we have not looked at the possibility of other forms of action.

end quote

Thanks to [personal profile] sonia for the link.

jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)

In the blog “People Aren’t Broken,” Jen discusses disability issues in a very useful way, while also examining her experience, politics, sexuality. two paragraphs to make you think )

jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
Dave Hingsburger is a reliably educational blogger. Today's post about a TV show not only demonstrates excellent rhetoric, but offers some useful history on getting it wrong, and then facing the facts and doing it better.

begin quote We planned a weekend where we could simply dive into the show and enjoy being entertained. And, we were. Because of the nature of the character we were a little worried that, in proof of his 'coolness', he would let slip with the 'r' word. But, no, episode after episode passed and we thought we could relax.

Then in an episode written by Mr. Boxen, the character created and played by Mr. Hawco, tosses the word, of course as a pejorative, at another cast member. We actually paused the episode to calm ourselves. It was clear that the word was carefully chosen and purposefully used. Unlike with epithets used against other minorities, which are employed to demonstrate the negative nature of a character, this is a word (which is widely and openly reviled by the disability community) that is actually used to increase the 'coolness' factor of a character. The use of the word, in the manner it was used, shows a knowing willingness to hurt one group of people to curry favour and impress another. This kind of purposeful bigotry ought to be loudly condemned, however, it is this - my complaint - that will be attacked. Every legitimate call for the concept of respectful language to include disability concerns are ignored by the powers the be and attacked by supporters of the status quo. Those who wish the freedom to hate mask themselves as fighters for the freedom to speak. quote ends

Then Dave details how Charles Dickens entertained complaints about his anti-Semitic framing of Fagin in Oliver Twist. Since his works were published in serials, he was able to make some changes mid-novel — and did so. I'm not holding Dickens up as a perfect exemplar — I don't think there are perfect humans — but he's certainly outside the "cruncy granola circle" I hear invoked when folks like us get mad about bigotry in literature and performance.
jesse_the_k: White woman with glasses laughing under large straw hat (JK 52 happy hat)
I've been busy recently. Here's what I know

I'll be at WisCon )

I'm channeling Alex Trebek )

How (& how not) to write about disabled characters )

Particularly for [personal profile] sparkymonster, but I think everyone can benefit from a wee octopus:
a very tiny pink and almost transclucent octopus flat on its belly, with all 8 legs splayed out )

Today has been really, really, really, hard. Here's some of why:

Today has been really really hard. )
jesse_the_k: uppercase Times Roman "S" with nick in upper corner, text below reads "I shot the serif." (shot the serif)
The What Sorts of People Should There Be? project considers "concerns around human variation, normalcy, and enhancement" with contributors from inside the lives of people who are often the objects of study. Contributors include philosophers, scientists, and community activists.

They host a blog at, with several years of discussion. Many of the participants are tenured academics, pioneers in the creation of disability studies. The discourse level often is above my head, although some of the sentences do yield their meaning on fifth or sixth rereading.

Lazy me wonders "why bother?" but there are definitely pearls:

This discussion of how to label the two groups to be studied in cognition research neatly demonstrates how the idea of "objective science" is reinforced through language and exposed through contemplation. The researcher wants to find the right labels for "kids on the autistic spectrum" and "the others" in their project. Yet assigning the label scrawls all over the blank slate of research.
jesse_the_k: Cartoon of white male drowning in storm, right hand reaching out desperately, with text "Someone tweeted" (death by tweet)
This is all over the nets this morning. It's the perfect "tag" or "stinger" for news machines: it's got Web 2.0 tech, plus a stigmatized unseen impairment (mental health, in this case, major depression), plus a thin woman wearing a bikini.

Canadian insurance company cancels her disability benefits, claiming her happy Facebook photos demonstrate fraud by payee with depression

More reasoning errors thanks to over-broad metaphor. Major depression is not simply "sadness." It's emptiness, it's exhaustion, it's pain, it's worthlessness, and most perniciously, it's isolation. On my own, it's even harder to believe that I have things to give, a will to act, access to succor, or valuable qualities.

That's why I treasure the regular activities which drag me out into a social universe.

Also, I adore that a trip to somewhere warm or light is economically termed a "sun vacation" from the cold & dark Canadian perspective.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (loved it all)
Abound at the new blog:

FWD/Feminists With Disabilities

Every post is gold, and today's favorite delves deeper into the disabling metaphor issues so close to my heart.
jesse_the_k: Ultra modern white fabric interlaced to create strong weave (interdependence)
Any reader of this journal won't be surprise to hear how I feel about feminism and disablism. I've ranted many places about the harm caused by disabling metaphors.

I care about feminism because it saved my life: provided connections with women who helped me think and learn the world. It was feminism that taught me to challenge received wisdom; that the personal was political; that language mattered. As my impairments worsened, I began to experience disablism on the job, among my friends, from the medical establishment, on the bus, and most troubling of all, in my soul.

Women are definitely more likely to live with impairment in all societies. Our lives are longer, so we have a better chance of experiencing hearing and vision and stamina losses. Women get significantly more auto-immune illnesses (arthritis, diabetes, MS).

Even if you have no impairment now, chances are excellent you will be later in life. Losing one's typical privilege is a difficult experience without battling the bad attitudes inside one's own head. Learning why disablism is wrong now will make your life easier later.

The occasion of impairment offers Western society ample opportunity to poke into women's lives, even if we are ourselves typical. Three top intrusions:

1. The default responsibility to provide unpaid care to family members
2. Our duty not to have disabled children
3. The expectation that the final years of our lives are "useless."
jesse_the_k: Elderly smiling white woman captioned "When I was your age I had to walk ten miles in the snow to get stoned & have sex" (old fogey)
Herding my various tech into workable shape. Details when it's all in the paddock.

In the meantime:

ToyViewer is free (as in napkins), and nimble Mac OS X (Snow Leopard compatible!) photo editor more capable than Preview and less intimidating than GraphicConverter.

Language Log, a delightful ongoing lesson in how snarky thoughtful linguists do meta, does a two-fer. It's a meditation on how quickly jargon words (like power and duration) lose their technical specificity and acquire their everyday meanings. Interesting in its own right, and we've all seen the parallel development of technical medical terms—moron, imbecile, schizophrenic—into casual epithets. PLUS the seed is a funny XCKD cartoon!

Wheelchair Dancer is an eloquent writer who makes art at the intersections of dance, disability, and race. She meditates here on a typically annoying New York Times piece:
 begin quote  Disability figures here in archetypal societally negative ways. We can't live actual physical lives, we live lives of the spirit and of the heart; our bodies are useless and broken. Disability is both a burden (sigh) and a passage to being a better human. No longer the rebel youth, Mr. Addison is now a societally useful person: a healer. And regardless of whether it is true that he lay on a slab in a morgue, does the story have to be one of rebirth -- rebirth into a crippled life that ultimately is his healing?

These are cliches. Broken. Useless. Spiritually barren cliches. How bad it is it? Well, what do people think? The NYT comments on this story are what you would expect -- of the "oh, this is so beautiful, so inspiring type." People know how to read this stuff. Ms. Jones even becomes an "angel" (Commenter #46). This is the danger of writing this story in the way that Ms. Jones does. It's an exoticized "chicken soup for the soul" memoir (my phrase). As a writer, Ms. Jones has a responsibility to do better. quote ends 

I first read Wheelchair Dancer as a guest poster in the fabulous Rethinking Walking at Flipflopping Joy. Where the most recent item is a thoughtful and necessary shout-back to the Ken Burns 8-hours-of-nature-porn series that's just concluded on PBS.

 begin quote And knowing [passing details of Native objections, exploitation of Japanese and Chinese workers] made it easier for me to deal with. Easier for me to just glory in the story telling and admire the nature porn.

But then last night, FOUR NIGHTS into the series, I find out that these little epicenters of light and DEMOCRACY—these pantheons of joy and DEMOCRACY, these schools of enlightened thinking and DEMOCRACY—were actually racially segregated until at least the late 1930s.

Overall—I am really glad that he made the series. I’ll even watch it again. He makes a compelling argument against unfettered capitalism that I think many mainstream liberals really desperately need to hear. …

He’s used his privilege and his power to put the environment and a different way to understand masculinity, public service and nationalism on the table.
 quote ends 
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Flashy Bipolar means 2x fun)
is available in this thread from Alas, a Blog, hosted by Wheelchair Dancer with major lifting from Leora.

Yes it's long, but for analogy-loving me, it's a gold-mine. Commenter Leora, in particular, explores the "disability is a natural part of life" issue by comparing "mental retardation" to math skills; using public transit vs driving; differential muscle strength between men and women; black and white; and most memorably, the "loss" of disability to the death of one's parent:
 begin quote  For example, my mother died [... snip ...] and I grieved that loss, not unlike the times I have grieved for the loss of my sight. But people’s parents die. It happens to all of us. And others might say, how sad that your mother died. But after the initial grieving period, people don’t think about it much in regards to you. They do not define you by what they perceive as what they think your loss feels like. Different people are going to react to losing a parent differently. Some might find relief if their parent was abusive, some might be devastated for years, some might be sad about it and then move on. Other people allow you to do that. They don’t define every conversation, every thought, every perception and judgment about you by how they think THEY would handle your loss. Would you like it if five or ten years after your mother died, every single person you talked to said, “Gosh! I’m so sorry about the loss of your mother. It must be so hard to get through the day. Oh? You’ve moved on and now you want to talk about the job opportunity? Well, I just don’t know if we can do that! If I had lost my mother, it would be such a loss. I don’t know how I would even work and enjoy life if my mother had died. I mean, having a mother alive is so much better than having a dead one. There is no way you can say that you’ve learned and grown from the experience and you are a better person for it. I think you are wrong about being okay with the loss of your mother.” And on and on and on infinity with every single person you ever talk to for the rest of your life. quote ends 

Foolish me didn't research in the blogosphere before the "Disabling Metaphor" panel, and it turns out there's tons o' post on this topic. And that's probably why so many of the folks at the panel were so primed to discuss it!

The Feminist Philosophers' take on the topic includes some close reading of the language that I'm too medicated to decode. Commenters to Tekanji's post at the Official Shrub Blog unlike the folks at Alas, are not too painful to read.
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Flashy Bipolar means 2x fun)
...I've been obsessively contemplating and editing and researching, I must fling this out from Mandolin at Amptoons :
 begin quote It’s not okay to call a coward a pussy, or a bad thing gay, they argue, because there’s nothing bad about having a vagina or being homosexual. But there IS something bad about not being mobile! In fact, it’s no fun at all, just totally miserable. All other things held equal, isn’t it better to be not-lame than lame?

[... snip ...]

But even accepting that impairment to mobility is itself a sucky thing, MAYBE DISABLED PEOPLE DO NOT APPRECIATE BEING THE CULTURAL GO-TO FOR THINGS THAT SUCK. quote ends 

Yes yes yes yes yes! This post (as supplemented by commenter Lexie) succinctly explains why epithets-based-on-impairment* are not just rude, but actively disabling—they create the social conditions that make living with bodily difference difficult.

* E.G., "Iranian ruling classes are deaf to the chants of demonstrators."

ETA Hah! Mandolin's insight was nourished at WisCon!
jesse_the_k: Scrabble triple-value badge reading "triple nerd score" (word nerd)
[ profile] resonant8 is hosting a delicious discussion
A few entries in our family glossary

Hundreds have chimed in with other examples of "words and phrases that only have meaning in their own families"

(Also a chance to tout my new icon, thanks to the incomparable Mr Shoegazer's [ profile] iconomicon)

BADD 2008

May. 1st, 2008 08:09 am
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (insane smarty)
May 1st is Blogging Against Disablism Day. I'm at a loss for words, but others are full of great ones. I hope many people read Wheelchair Dancer's and Mandolin's examination of the disabilist language permeating the rhetoric in the important recent discussions in/on feminism and women of color.

I'd like to suggest that society as a whole has not paid the same kind of attention to disabled people's concerns about language. By not paying attention to the literal value, the very real substantive, physical, psychological, sensory, and emotional experiences that come with these linguistic moves, we have created a negative rhetorical climate. In this world, it is too easy for feminists and people of colour to base their claims on argumentative strategies that depend, as their signature moves, on marginalizing the experience of disabled people and on disparaging their appearance and bodies.

I've posted about this before, and I'm thrilled that WCD has made such a comprehensive and thoughtful case. And in that comments thread, I came across the best. analogy. ever. "Mathtitis": or why & how disability, just like femininity, is a social construction. If you've ever thought, "but surely being disabled is bad, it's different than being female or Black or gay" for the love of Lucy go read that thread!

So, say you have a characteristic that society sees as less than. Oh, what is a good example? Say you aren't good at math, for whatever reason. (Many people aren't good at math, but it isn't considered a disability. People just work around it.) Say all the sudden, your deficiency in math (which, I guess isn't as "good as" someone who is good at math) is visible to the naked eye and seen as a disability. Say every where you go, people treat you with pity, and they don't let you handle money because you aren't good at math. And you aren't allowed to drive a car or hold down a job because you aren't good in math, even if a simple calculator or a talking pedometer would accommodate you. And whenever anyone makes a mistake mathmatically, they are teased and said to have Mathitis, like you do. They must just be a mathtard. And the implication is that they are less than and can't do anything for themselves. And perhaps when you went to the doctor, they didn't treat your cancer as aggressively as they would someone without mathitis, because your quality of life isn't as good as others and so you would just be wasting resources. And say people asked you all the time, even on the streets, if you have checked into this cure or that cure for your problem, or if you've ever thought of killing yourself because of your problem.

If that seems extreme, it's useful to remember that up until the middle of the 18th century, long division was an arcane art that not even Oxbridge scholars were expected to master. (That from Georges Ifrah's The Universal History of Numbers, definitive proof that independent scholars rock the world.)
jesse_the_k: Fully unclothed dorsal Paul Gross from Slings & Arrows (naked & proud)
Many artistic expressions of life with chronic pain appear at the Mark Collen is the founding artist, who continues to solicit submissions from around the world.

I'd idly dreamed of transforming some of that thick stack of test results into sculpture:

"Hey Doc, Have You Figured It Out Yet?" does just that. Collen's illuminated tower of radiographic images brings to mind a kiosk advertising cultural delights, as well as a cooling tower on a power plant. Powerful images indeed--these could be helpful exemplars when trying to convey the reality of chronic pain to those around us who don't get it (yet).
Collen thumbnail
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
The I'm not colorblind, I'm TOTALLY BLIND! thread at [ profile] coffeeandink's journal pushed my "frustration with disability-as-metaphor" button. (Let me open my jacket, you'll see it's the large bright red target that covers my entire belly.) I rudely hijacked that thread, and so have moved the discussion here.

I think Micole is right in her analysis of "color-blindness": its metaphorical strength depends on two stereotypes: "blind people are unable to discriminate because they can't see someone's skin color" and "blind people are inherently noble because they're living a fate worse than death."

The antiracist critique says that's crap because American 'race' consciousness is not about physical appearance; one can't "unsee" 'race'. Happily this has been recently addressed in the abundance of IBARW posts.

A gaspingly awful instance of literal blindness as racial acceptance is the 1965 Oscar-winner A Patch of Blue, where the white 18-year-old sexual innocent Elizabeth Hartman makes friends with a "gentle Negro" in the person of Sidney Poitier. She falls in love with him because "love is blind." He helps her break free of the abusive, controlling relationship with her drunk mean mom, Shelley Winters. This movie strongly imprinted me at age 10. I'm afraid to rewatch it forty years later given all I've learned since.

The disability-rights critique is that when blindness is equated with ignorance or defiant refusal, then people who are actually blind are similarly devalued. First off, we know that race isn't about skin color. It's not hard to find White people who "talk black" as well as African American people who must learn to "talk white" (if only to get a chance to see the apartment). Actual blind people can perceive racial identities.

People with disabilities end up dealing with positive and negative stereotypes. Blindness doesn't endow one with greater spiritual insight nor better hearing than sighted people and (just like African-Americans) they're not all musical, neither. In fact, the meaning of blindness is culturally determined.

Micole ponders whether it's possible for humans, who experience life in bodies, to eliminate any somatic metaphor.

And I'm not sure I *want* to undo that metaphorical link--I think (and you may correct me on this) that all English (I suspect all human) words for thought, understanding, recognition, and knowledge contain some sensory, tactile, or motion metaphor in their geneaology, because our thoughts are based on and shaped by our physical experiences.
I believe it depends on the use to which the metaphor is put. To overlap what I said the starter thread, I agree that countless words for understanding and knowledge reference all the physical senses people typically come with. They are deeply embedded in our language and literature. That's why the blind people I know use "see" freely: I see your point, she spied an error in your logic, he looked on my resume with great enthusiasm.

I object when blindness, or any impairment, becomes an epithet unto itself. Perhaps the metaphor entanglements might be easier to spot in another area of power relationships. I find all these similarly offensive:

  • He's not ill-informed, he's Polish.

  • She's reluctant to buy a new car, but then, she's Jewish.

  • Of course you crashed, you let your wife drive!

  • He's not colorblind, he's totally blind

Here blindness is synonymous with someone who's stubbornly racist and proud of it. Both these sorts of negative metaphors and the positive stereotypes create a barrier between us when we meet. Not only does this suck, but, as I've discovered, it's even true of people who acquire an impairment like blindness later in life. Unlike 'race', but definitely like queer folks, people can change from "normal" to "outcast" overnight. It was very challenging for me to unlearn all the normative values I'd grown up with. One of my life projects is helping people avoid that pain.

Nine fifteen! That's bed time for me! Those interested in disability studies from the front lines, please check out the monthly Disability Blog Carnivals listed at this site (scan the 22 so far at the "Past Posts" tab). If you read just one disability-related blog, make it Ballastexistenz by A M Baggs

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