I’m going to try and discuss the born-with versus acquired experience of disability…
Looking back on my years only-with-cerebral-palsy, they were my most active years, and eventually, the most integrated. Most of my friends when I was 29 were able bodied, I had a husband, a job, an apartment and shared expenses on a car even though I couldn’t pass the permanent driver’s test.
Intellectually, I will always support anybody in regard to disability rights, whether it’s born-with, acquired, just-found-out-about-last week. Intellectually, when working on these things, I will never differentiate between one experience and another in a way that raises one at the expense of the other.
I refuse to be so divisive out in the world.
But if I’m honest, don’t I have to admit *somewhere* when I hear these courageously battling back from injury stories…and how it’s so tragic, I sometimes think “Welcome to my neighborhood formerly Privileged Person. You’ve had X years of being able bodied. I’ve had none. You have the mental experience of what it’s like to run, to jump. You at least *know* what that’s like. I can only guess. So stop kvetching (complaining) and suck it up.”
But of course….Karma gets you for that kind of thinking.
I’ve had several acquired impairments between the ages of 30 and 50.
Because I now understand the two part life, the before/ after problem, I *empathize* profoundly with others who’ve acquired disabilities. Prior to stacking up my list of acquired stuff…it was one life…bumpy but one life…now it’s a series of cracks that need adaptation…and both sides are visible.
The huge frustration, of knowing you used to be able to do X thing…and now cannot (when you’ve not yet found an adaptive way that suits you.)
The suddenness of the difference in the way you’re treated in public spaces. (when I went from crutches to a wheelchair I noticed this a great deal.)
Often, there’s a fairly quick shift in socialization. Acquired disability has cost so many people relationships, friends, lovers, spouses…in who stays in your circle and who decides to leave…(this can be very painful and contributes to the ‘disabling’ aspect of any impairment.)
In those of us ‘born with’ disability…a lot of my associates have worked out long time friendships/support systems that are just subject to life changes, the same as the able…in other words the friendship isn’t likely to turn on the disability itself.
Anecdotally, I believe the ‘born with disability’ crowd is less likely to have an officially sanctioned romantic partnership. They work out solutions, but it’s different than the piece of paper. I have no clue why that is…but it’s out there. If you acquire disability, and you have an existing marriage…it’s tough, see above, but you may very well keep that. You keep some pieces of able privilege.
One of the reasons I’m talking about this is a fine piece by Laurie Crosby
that really brings out the two different lives, pre and post disability…while showing someone who is doing the hard work of accepting the good in our community.
Holding on to this division is a drag and a detriment to discovering each other. Discovering our ability or skills or gifts, what we can bring to the work of disability rights…
By the same token, if we deny this is a long standing divide for some folks, we’ll delay the best strategies for trying to cross it or put it down.
Nothing about us without us.
All of us.
Not linking ‘cuz he knows who he is…and prefers his anonymity.
and also to Keith Olbermann who mentioned this briefly on Countdown last night [Does he *have* to keep being so appealing and unatainable at the same time? I wish he’d turn out to be a real jerk…so I could stop wishing]
A London club banned a woman on crutches from entering the venue. The manufactured reason was concern that the crutches might be used as weapons.
Bu!! and Sh!t.
‘Weapons’ my shrinking but still oversized @ss.
By that logic, any expert in martial arts cannot be allowed into the club either, because their mobility devices, their limbs are deadly weapons…..
In my opinion, the real reason was that *someone* thought they were the Arbiter of Cool a la Studio 54, and that crutches *automatically* assign this woman to Those who will Never Be Hip Enough to Party Here.
From the article:
Disabled people face many hurdles and to deny a young person access to a nightclub, effectively because of their disability, creates yet another barrier between her and her friends. While they party, she is meant to sit it out.”
She went right to her MP with this.
Good for her…and if any other UK’ers with impairments manage to get into that club….
Party with her and for her all night long….
The club states in the article that there had been two previous violent incidents in the club and that based on legal advice they had banned this patron, but the tone and phrasing makes it clear *her* banning from the club is *unrelated* to any previous violent incidents, and in fact she had been admitted to the club on two previous occasions.
This and the Jena Six in the same month.
Someone’s been using timewarp technology on us, surely.
The following links
are from Ragged Edge, and are from “before my time” in the blogosphere, beginning in 2004 Read them….it’s where people with impairment find ourselves…
And, the absolute Best Money Quote Ever, from the first link:
“Liberals say, ‘we support the social programs that you depend on, that you agree with — and because we do that, we should have your unqualified support, even when we support every ‘better dead than disabled’ cause that comes along.’ Folks on the right say, ‘Look, we’re out there on the protest line in Florida; we’re fighting for the lives of people like Terri Schiavo, so we should get your unqualified support, no matter how much we cut the social programs you need to function and even survive.'”
But why inthehell do I drag these out now?
There’s an election coming up. An important one… and no pollster has asked us, so no one really knows how we will split out what we think…so our vote, when we are able to cast it, won’t fall on one side or the other, and
will not be counted as a constituency per se, by either side…
I have heard, that we are, “such a small portion of the population…”
58 million, I believe, per the 2000 census…
Why is it okay for either side to ignore, as a constituency, 58 million persons?
I’m so *tired* of hearing the “We’re scared we might end up like you,” sociology argument.
If you might, then for *** sake, face it, prepare for it by giving reasonable accommodation in your head to the idea that access in the public (and one’s home) is a fundamental civil right as is access to affordable health care (the irony of being seen in only a partially acessible doctor’s office, believe me is not lost on me,) *as well as* the right *not* to die, so that a government or business or hospital or nursing home can save money, or that those observing us feel that we left this world with the correct amount of dignity…so that *they may feel better.* Think critically, as a self educator about these things…so that it will become easier, more common, for able people to know and interact with disabled people…fewer people will give into this internalized fear, things continue to get better ….
It seems that even amongst women working for change. disabled women might as well be talking at the wall.
If other minority women don’t hear us….then what’s left?
As the comment states below, links don’t work to get there unless you have a livejournal footprint.
If you are so inclined, create a livejournal account and go to: