Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A New (to me) Voice

A post about disability and feminism that echoes what I and other WWD have spoken about, esp. those of us with CP. I haven't the energy to comment coherently at any unfamiliar blogs, but the author of this post might like to check out the link to the FWD group blog in the post above this one. FWD is making changes and giving us a space to talk about our lives as women with disabilities. I can't write at the moment, life hurts too much, but everyone who posts and comments there says something that means many things to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feminists With Disabilities Unite!!!

Feminists With Disabilities/Forward is a splendiferous and wonderful new group blog written by some of my favourite feminist disability bloggers. They have some beautifully written and fiercely intelligent posts up all ready. Click, read, and spread the (accessible) word.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wot she said...

"Because I Are One"

"Laying your hands on me without invitation, strangers, sure isn’t going to speed me up any, but it may well piss me right the fuck off. With some of my friends with certain disabilities, an unexpected assault may tip them completely over."

Dear ABs, please read, mark and inwardly digest this post (and everything else written about disability at Hoyden About Town). The world does NOT revolve around you.

This includes drivers who park their cars across the fucking footpath. Do I plonk my scooter in the middle of the road and wander off and leave it there? No. So stop parking illegally and putting me in danger.

(Wow, it has been a very long time since I posted here, completely forgot how to post links...)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's been a while...

Over a year since I've written anything for this blog. 2008 was hell on wheels, medically, emotionally, work-ly. I am planning to write more in 2009. More disability writing, and other writing as I'm able to. If things go as planned, I will be more pain-free, which will give me greater energy to do things other than just survive.

Having a disability is a full-time and a half job, and everything is so finely balanced that when one thing is out of wack the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. It has taken me a long time to pick those cards up, and I'm not sure if I have the whole pack. And, having a disability does not mean that you don't also have to worry about the same day-to-day things that every human being has to deal with. It just means that you have more to do with the the same, or fewer resources.

I've been `running on empty' for a very long time, and some things don't get easier as time passes.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

How is it possible...

...to keep going when you are told every minute of every day that you are of less value than others, that you do not deserve the same care, support and consideration as `normal' people, when the abuses against you are excused and reframed into `care'?

How do you keep going when you see more and more people like you abused, murdered, tortured, neglected, abandoned, and the world turns its back?

For Katie, Katie, Ashley, those who came before, those of us who are here now, and those who will come after

And for those who fight when I can’t.

When you will not hear my pain
You cannot share my joy

When you will not acknowledge my hate
You cannot feel my love

When you will not allow my weakness
You cannot be supported by my strength

When you will not accept my difference
You cannot appreciate my beauty

When you will not hear me
That doesn’t mean I have nothing to say

When you do not value me
That does not mean I am not valuable

When you will not see me
That does not mean I don’t exist

Copyright Me, sometime prior to 2001, with lines added today.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dear Able-bodied People....

...your discomfort with me and my very obvious disability and method of getting around is not my problem. Keep it to yourself. And if you can't think of anything sensible and adult to say to me (hint - "does it [my scooter] go in reverse?", and, "Oooh, when do we get a go on that?", are neither of the above), especially when you encounter me at an event for non-profit workers when I am there as someone who has created and developed a non-profit organisation from the ground up, then you really shouldn't be working in the fields that you are. We don't exist solely for you to do good works on.

And I thought I had problems with social contact... :-/

Monday, December 3, 2007

16 Days Of Activism Against Gender Violence

The 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender Violence run from November 25th to December 10th. I always mean to start writing something about this on November 25, but as always, this year I run late. I run late because this time of the year, this close to the `Holiday Season', I struggle with the reality of my life and what my family denied me and stole from me, because I was a child, a girl, with a disability.

I have written a number of posts on this blog about my family and how they treated me as a child, a teenager, a young woman. I have given presentations to various groups in real life on what I went through. I have worked on commitees and contributed to resources about domestic violence and people with disabilities. I live independently and have as much control over my day to day life as anyone in my situation can. I escaped. I got out. But I still struggle with the loneliness, isolation, and betrayal as a result of a family and a community that saw me as less valuable and less worthy of love and support because of who and what I was. The effects of child abuse and domestic violence are long lasting, and affect who we become and what we contribute to the world. Some of us lose the fight to survive, and many of us live on the edge every day, fearing that one day it will become too much and we will also no longer be able to hold on. I struggle daily to keep going in a world that reinforces and perpetuates the violence and neglect that I suffered at the hands of my family.

It should never have been like this. But it is. And some days it is just too hard. Many of us will never have the life we deserve. It is long past time for the world to stand up and say, No, no more. All women should be safe and valued, no matter our race, ability, orientation, class or age.

Please click through to The Carnival Of 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender Violence for more posts on gender violence

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

Infantilising Women and Girls with Disabilities

Disabled 15 year-old girl to lose womb

Doctors are preparing to remove the womb of a disabled teenager because her mother fears she will not cope with the complications of adulthood.

Keep my daughter a child, pleads mother

"Every year Alison Thorpe sees her daughter’s life getting tougher. A victim of severe cerebral palsy, the 15-year-old is too big for pastimes that used to bring her joy."


OK. For those who don’t know. I am a woman with cerebral palsy. Many of the women with disabilities I have known in my life have also got cerebral palsy, ranging from mild to severe forms.

In view of this, I feel I *am* qualified to comment, despite what the parents of this girl, and of Ashley X, would like to think. Many of the activists fighting against this invasion of bodily integrity are women with disabilities, and/or people with CP. We live with the realities of disability every single day of our lives. We do know what we are talking about. There are other options. These families act like they are the first to ever deal with children with disabilities growing older. Bullshit. Thousands of families have been there before, and have not resorted to such drastic measures. They have found ways of coping. And if they are not coping, they need to be given support. Funding for assistance, for workshops on menstruation management for caregivers, noninvasive medical alternatives.

Women with disabilities, including those women with severe forms of disabilities have the right to whole bodies, bodies that are not carved into for no medical reason other than to make life convenient for caregivers, or to spare people from the awareness that PWD do grow up, and become adults.

There is also a very disturbing assumption made about the female body, that it is undignified and messy, that menstruation is something to be ashamed of. This is evident in the way society relates to female bodies in general, and then when you add the revulsion - and it is revulsion, I have lived all my life seeing the disgust in people's faces when they look at me because I have CP - society feels when confronted by severe and/or visible disability.

Oh, and just for the record - reducing someone’s external sex characteristics (ie amputating both breasts, as happened to Ashley X), does not, and never will reduce the risk of sexual abuse. For gods sake, babies, infants, toddlers, pre-pubescent children of both sexes, ablebodied and disabled, are abused in horrifying numbers. Mutilating someone’s body is never the answer - especially when it would never be countenanced for ablebodied children.

And by the way, there is no such thing as a ‘victim’ of cerebral palsy. It is not some horrible spectre deliberately stalking people. It’s just there. It’s not the worst thing in the world - more than a few aspects of it can be difficult, depending on circumstances, but practical and emotional support, and being treated with dignity and respect, can go a long way towards living a good life. And needing assistance with toileting and other personal care tasks is not inherently undignified or degrading - unless people around you behave like it is.

Parents, please remember - there are others who have gone before you, there are people with disabilities who have lived the reality of what your child is living, there are families who have brought up children with disabilities through to adulthood, seek them out, seek us out, listen to what we have to say about what has made our lives easier and what hasn't, what really constitutes dignity. There are alternatives to these mutilations.

And for those who think that people with severe disabilities - including those with cognitive disabilities - cannot have consenting sexual relationships, please read this story.

“A pioneering policy is breaking an old taboo by encouraging disabled teenagers to form sexual relationships, with help from carers if necessary”

“Jan Symes remembered every detail of the scene. A 17-year-old girl with straight brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, heavy purple boots and clothes ill-suited for her age sat opposite her in a small office at Treloar’s College, near Alton in Hampshire.

The teenager had cerebral palsy and was sitting in a wheelchair, using a machine to speak. She lifted her head, looked across at Jan and asked: ‘Do you think it is all right for me, as a very disabled person, to fancy someone?’ Symes was horrified. ‘Will society think it is disgusting?’ the girl went on.

Today the college for physically disabled teenagers over 16 goes public about a ground-breaking ‘sexuality policy’ that began to take shape that day two years ago, when a young woman shocked her counsellor by asking whether she had the right to fall in love.

A policy was designed that aimed to break down one of society’s most enduring taboos: that of disability and sex. And now, for the first time, staff are ready to speak out about the controversy, legal wrangling and heated debates involved in producing a three-page document that fundamentally changed the ethos of the college. Students, it stated, not only had the right to pursue sexual relationships, but would be assisted physically and emotionally by specially trained staff.

Now other colleges for the disabled are looking to make a similar change. Like Treloar’s, they have young people whose disabilities are so severe that even to hold hands, cuddle or kiss is impossible without help.”

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Randomly Me...

Back in July, Imfunnytoo at Midlife And Treachery tagged me for the 8 Random Things meme. I started this post in July and have only got back to finishing it now (in the same year, well done oh chronic procrastinator!!). I think someone else may have tagged me, as well, but I haven't a clue now who that was.
  1. I love musicals and musical theatre from all eras and want to be reincarnated as either Cyd Charisse or Ann Miller.
  2. Before I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at age 2 the doctors thought I might have Brittle Bone Syndrome. In nearly 30 years of wobbly walking and constant falling over and knocking into things I've only ever broken two bones - my tail-bone (yes, I blanked on how to spell the technical term!) at age 18 and the small bones in the back of one hand in my late 20's/early 30's - I'm still at a loss to figure out how anyone even thought of BBS.
  3. I'm scared of the dark - even now at age 33.
  4. I am TERRIFIED of being buried alive.
  5. A distant ancestor on my father's side of the family was a Lady-In-Waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots.
  6. When I was younger, I used to have an imaginary friend that was a flea named Esmeralda.
  7. According to my GP, I have `petite' ear canals.
  8. I luuuuurve stationery and stationery stores. I could browse in them for hours!
I'm not going to tag anyone, I'm assuming that everyone who wants to do this has already done it by this time. ;-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Violence And Women Of Colour

I just received the following comments about an important issue for America women of colour. As I said to Fallon, I'm a white Australian (not that most people who come to my blog would know - I've not mentioned my race or where I live till now), so I'm not really someone who is qualified to comment as she requested, but I do support the efforts of all women from all backgrounds to raise awareness of violence and invisibility, so I'm reposting her comments in this post, and urge others to go to Fallon's blog and support her in this.

My name is Fallon and I’m organizing with other women of color around the Dunbar Gang Rapes and West Virginia Torture/Rape case. Well, I was wondering if you have time to participate in a phone conference on Friday, September 28, 2007 at 9pm/central about organizing to end silences surrounding Megan Williams’ torture and rape in Logan and the gang rape of several Black women in West Palm Beach Florida as well as stories that go unheard because it involves a woman of color such as the Newark imprisonment of the four lesbians for protecting themselves from a male aggressor.
Well, I’ve been circulating a 2 minute movie entitled, “How do you keep a Social Movement Alive.”
This movie documents the silence surrounding Megan Williams’ torture and rape in Logan and the gang rape of several Black women in West Palm Beach Florida. The purpose of this movie is to document the silences within our relationships, within our homes, within our families, within our communities, within our jobs, within our schools, within our churches, temples, and synagogues, within our governments, and within our world.
We have a blog, but given the organizing we are trying to do, I need to reorganize the blog and use wordpress instead of blogger. This is the current blog,
If you can’t do the phone conference would you interested in being apart of the Women of Color Bloggers Breaking the Silences Contingency on the Web which would mean inundating the web with information about Wearing Red Campaign on October 31, 2007 as well as circulating clips and other media trying to inundate the web with stories of violence committed against women of color.
I look forward to connecting with you,
You can email me at beboldered@gmail.com.

here's the movie link,


Violence against any woman is unacceptable. Sadly, the more disenfranchised by society a women is (by race, ability, class, income, sexual identity, age, etc) the more likely they are to be abused and mistreated.

This must stop.

We all have a responsibility to do what we can.

I'm usually more eloquent about this topic, but I spent an hour and a half on the phone today with my best friend. She is being seriously verbally and emotionally abused by her partner, who has also been physically violent - not to her, yet, but has broken furniture and belongings. She has started to realise that she needs to get out, but she is in a foreign country where she doesn't speak the language too well. I know she'll get out, but it's so hard watching someone you love go through this. I'm exhausted. There is so much I should mention here, the violence and abuse Aboriginal women in Australia are subjected to, the continuing silence and denial of the reality of violence against women with disabilities, the way things are so much harder for women who are marginalised on more than on count..., etc, etc. And I will talk about these things and link to those who know more about certain issues than I do, just not tonight.

Until I get back to this, please have a look at the links on the sidebar, there are many others writing about these issues. Read and absorb what they have to say. And don't stay silent on violence and abuse.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm Still Here... Sort Of!!!!

Well, I've been terribly slack, with respect to this blog, despite all good intentions.

It's been a busy few months, stabilising my mood, having a holiday with a lot of much needed rest, and finally finding my way out of a particularly horrific two year depression. I've been revelling in the fact that I can read properly again. One of the worst symptoms of depression for me is a complete inability to read, as reading=breathing for me, it really does my head in. But now I'm back to what laughingly passes for `normal' in my world. All of my recent CP-related phyiscal problems seem to have eased off as well. Yippee!!

Living with disability/ies is certainly a full-time job!

So I do intend to start posting here again very soon - I have links to new resources to share, rants to `rite', and at least one fun meme to do.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I found the following on an email list I lurk on. There was no link or any other reference, this is the entire speech.


This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of at American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.
"I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk or your life on a bus or in a car or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.
People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when
you've received your test results and they're not so good.
Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and them to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, at best mediocre, at my job if those other things were not true.
You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon or found a lump in your breast?
Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.
It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.
I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face.
Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived".

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"Disability Do's and Don't's" Or Damn I Wish I'd Written This

I've fallen off the blogwagon somewhat lately, but I meant to post this a while ago. I'm in the middle of some world class procrastionation at the moment, avoiding important work-related tasks (ones that I'm being *paid* for no less), so of course I must catch up on blogging stuff!

The following is a post that the Ranter wrote at her blog, Disability Rants, a couple of months ago, and I thought it was so good and so important that I asked her if I could post the whole thing here. I can only add a resounding, "hell, yes" to all of her points. Please go and visit her blog as well, she has some fantastic posts.

"Disability Dos and Don'ts


1. Ask us what's wrong with us.
2. Ask us what happened to us.
3. Ask us how we do what we do.
4. Tell us we're awesome for doing the ordinary.
5. Think we're awesome for doing the ordinary.
6. Assume anything.
7. EVER try to freakin' push us before asking if we need help.
8. EVER try to freakin' push us after asking if we need help and we say no.
9. Swear at us when we get pissed off when you don't respect our answer, decision, space (pushing us without asking is as invasive as me going up to you and taking your briefcase out of your hand without asking when you don't know me from Bob).
9. Rush ahead to open doors for us.
10. Apologize for not having helped us in time when it seems we're doing just fine without you.
11. Say stupid things like "I should be doing that for you" when we reach the door first and hold it open for you.
12. EVER pat us on the freakin' head!
13. Ask us what disability we have before getting to know us.
14. Ask us anything disability related before getting to know us "just because you're curious". Who the hell are you, and how important do you think your curiousity is, freak?
15. Ask us if we play basketball.
16. Try to give us money (unless it's a cheque with 6 digits).
17. Tell us how freakin' brave we are unless we just fought a bear.
18. Address our companions when asking questions meant for us.
19. Ask "are you sure?" when we tell you we don't need help.
20. Ask "do you want to go out" if we happen to be sitting by a door.
21. Assume we like to listen to your problems coz we'll "understand" since obviously our lives have been hard like yours, right?
22. Assume that a physical, visual, auditory disability, speech impediment, or other means we couldn't possibly hold a Masters degree, good paying job, own a condo, drive a car, marry, have children, make decisions for ourselves.
23. Shout at us.


1. Use your freakin' common sense.
2. Talk to us.
3. Get to know us.
4. Listen.
5. Establish some sort of relationship before you ask us anything personal.
6. Allow us to be as independent as we can be.
7. Wait for us to ask for help.
9. Let us open the door for you if we reach it first.
10. Give us a chance before you come barging in to "rescue us".
11. Think twice before you open your mouth.
12. Ask us out for coffee.
13. See us as human beings.
14. See us as women or men.
15. Consider us as wives, husbands, partners, friends, lovers, intellectual equals
16. Relax.
17. Laugh.
18. Be open.
19. Remember that we have to deal with people like you every hour of every day."

The Ranter also added a few more in the comments:

24. Don't tell us we're going to get a speeding ticket.
25. Don't tell us we're good drivers.
26. Don't tell us how well we manage our wheelchairs.
27. Don't lean on our wheelchairs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2007

I've been out of circulation lately, had a really bad depressive episode that has resulted in going back on to anti depressants for the first time in over ten years. But if my energy levels allow I hope to participate in this year's BADD. There were some fantastic posts last year, and I highly recommend participating in/reading the sure to be even better posts this year. Click on the banner for more information.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Better late than never... International Women's Day 2007

I just read this excellent post by Andrea, and realised that I had forgotten to write anything about International Women's Day a week or so ago. Then I remembered that I had written something in the last two or three weeks that would fit the bill. Over the last few years that I have been `out' as a disability activist and as a feminist, I've come across many people, online and off, who have been unable to understand that disability issues, and the lives and concerns of women with disabilities are relevant to feminist thought and action. The fact that women with disabilities are actually women is something that a lot of people have trouble grasping. And so, after a lifetime of having my gender denied, of being sexless and not quite human to too many people, I finally exploded a few weeks ago, and this is the result.

Feminism is meaningless if it doesn’t include *all* women and the issues that affect them. Just because some people don’t want to admit the existence and relevance of intersectionality in many women’s lives, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

I can give many examples of the way sexism and ablism intersect in my own life and the lives of women with disabilities I know personally, the following are a very small sample.

The woman with Cerebral Palsy whose husband was violently abusing her and whose speech impediment meant that on the night he attempted to kill her that she wouldn’t have gotten prompt police assistance if the person on the other end hadn’t already spoken to her on other calls and realised that she wasn’t drunk, stoned or kids making prank calls. Her husband abused her physically, sexually, financially, and emotionally for years and when she tried to tell people about it, their response was, “but you’ve got a disability, he wouldn’t treat you like that”. And the custody case for their kids, where he tried to paint her as an unfit mother because of her disability. I have heard dozens of those stories, just change the disability of the woman involved and the partnership status.

A women with Muscular Dystrophy who was told by doctors that she couldn’t have children and when she and her husband tried to adopt was they couldn’t, because she’s in a wheelchair. Never mind that women in wheelchairs and with other disabilities all over the world have been successfully parenting children for years. They did eventually get pregnant, and she had to put up with personal questions and remarks from complete strangers about how she got pregnant and whether she *should* be pregnant. Again, not an uncommon story in the lives of women with disabilities

Me, at 13, whose ‘mother’ had some bee in her bonnet about the fact that I didn’t get my period on the dot of turning 13, and assumed that because I was born prematurely and had a developmental disability that this would affect the timing of my period, had me up on the local doctor’s exam table with this doctor’s hand between my legs giving me an internal examination. Neither of them told me what he was going to do, or why (no medical reason for this by the way - wildly inappropriate and unprofessional on his part - was told by female medics and women’s health nurses many years later that this was totally unwarranted). Invasive and unecessary gender related medical abuse. Not at all uncommon for women with disabilities, and my experience is one of the mild ones. There are women who’ve been sterilised, who’ve had forced abortions, had their children taken from them, all without their knowledge or informed consent and all because of society’s prejudice about women with disabilities.

And do I even need to mention women and mental health issues and the genderbased violence, neglect and dismissal of women as a result?? No, thankfully, for the sake of my overworked fingers, I don't have to, right now. The Goldfish has an excellent post up about women, sexism and mental illness that fits the bill nicely.

From the Women With Disabilities Australia website - the peak body for women with disabilities in Australia (and we have much better health and welfare policies here in Australia than the US does, based on what I hear and read from US women with disabilities):

“Women with disabilities are, from the government record, one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia. Analysis of data available from a variety of sources, gives us the following information about women with disabilities in Australia (Frohmader 2002).

* Women with disabilities are less likely than their male counterparts to receive a senior secondary and/or tertiary education. Only 16% of all women with disabilities are likely to have any secondary education compared to 28% of men with disabilities.
* Women with disabilities earn less than their male counterparts. 51% of women with a disability earn less than $200 per week compared to 36% of men with a disability.
* Only 16% of women with a disability earn over $400 per week, compared to 33% of men with a disability.
* Women with disabilities are less likely to be in paid work than other women, men with disabilities or the population as a whole. In fact, men with disabilities are twice as likely to be in paid employment as women with disabilities.
* The percentage of women with disabilities being assisted by Government funded open employment services continue to decline. Open employment and disability employment services assist twice as many men with disabilities as women with disabilities.
* Women with disabilities’ participation rates in the labour market are lower than men with disabilities’ participation rates across all disability levels and types.
* Women with disabilities are substantially over-represented in public housing, comprising over 40% of all persons in Australia aged 15-64 in this form of tenure. Women with disabilities are less likely to own their own houses than their male counterparts.

Low levels of education relegate women with disabilities to lower eschelons of society, limit their access to information and their ability to interpret it, limit their life choices and limit their ability to achieve financial and living independence.”

“Overseas studies have found that women with disabilities, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or class are assaulted, raped and abused at a rate of at least two times greater than non-disabled women (Sobsey, 1988, 1994; Cusitar,1994; Stimpson and Best,1991; DAWN 1988).

Sobsey (1988) suggests that 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. A qualitative study by Nosek, found approximately one third of women with physical disability had experienced sexual abuse at some stage in their life (Nosek, 1996). Similarly, in Doucette’s study of Canadian women with disabilities, 40% experienced abuse and 12% had been raped (Nosek, 1996).

There are relatively few studies into the incidence of physical violence and rates vary widely. A study for the Canadian Ministry of Community and Social Services in Toronto found 33% of women with disabilities were assaulted mostly by their husbands compared with 22% of non-disabled women (Nosek, 1996). Feuestein estimates that upward of 85% of women with disabilities are victims of domestic violence in comparison with 25% to 50 % of the general population (cited in Waxman, 1991).”

Full article and cites at http://www.wwda.org.au/odds.htm

And if any of this sounds angry, yeah, I’m angry, I’m fucking furious. I’m furious that I constantly have to fight to be seen as more than just a ‘disability’, a ‘pity or charity case’. I’m sick of my very existence being put at risk, at my sanity being jepordised by having to live in a world where I am told - literally as well as figuratively, that other people, other women tell me that they think my life is meaningless, is a life that they would rather be dead than have to live, (and I have been accosted by people, women and men, in person to be told this), is something that they don’t want to concern themselves with.

I am a woman. I am a feminist. And my concerns do not fragment the movement. The inability of ablebodied women to acknowledge that my issues are also feminism’s issues fragments the movement.

My concerns belong in feminism, as do the concerns of all other women with disabilities. It is to your benefit, not just ours, that this is the case. Just because you’re not disabled now doesn’t mean that won’t change in the future, and certain concrete results of sexism - chronic illnesses resulting from poverty and poor health care, domestic violence - cause many disabilities in women.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

This just keeps happening. Again and again.

Couple carry out campaign of sadistic abuse

"A sadistic couple who 'tortured' their disabled toddler during a horrific campaign of sustained abuse just weeks after social services returned the youngster to them were caged for a total of 22 years. [...] When the child, who cannot be named, was taken in by foster carers they referred to her as a "sunny child" who was physically capable despite her disability.

Following the abuse she was left physically incapable of walking."

Just something else to echo in my brain when I have to listen to some dipshit tell me that "No one would ever hurt a child with a disability", or, "But their (your) parents must love them (you)". Denial like that enables horrors like this to happen. It's ironic, or just fucking infuriating, when you think about it. Able-bodied people are automatically assumed as being capable of good parenting, and the saccarhine crap that gets spouted about how `amazing' they are if they do have a child with a disability is endless, even if there is evidence to the contrary. But have a disability and have a child and you're automatically assumed to be incompetent in a parenting role, often with no evidence of incompetence. I've heard story upon story from other women with disabilities I know who've been questioned and attacked for having children, simply because people won't get past their prejudices about what people with disabilities should or shouldn't do.

It is some very small comfort to notice that nobody who is commenting on the story has so far trotted out the usual justification of abuse that many stories about the abuse and/or murder of people with disabilities get. The one where the supposed difficulty of having or taking care of a child with a disability justifies the murder or abuse. That was one I heard personally applied to my own story, too many times told, "But you don't understand, it's so difficult to have a child with a disability."

Meanwhile, the difficulty of actually being subjected to abuse is something that they will not acknowledge. Believe me, there is nothing in the world that is harder than living with the knowledge that your own parents abused you, that they didn't see you as human or worth protecting. The little girl in that story will go through hell dealing with the afteraffects of what was done to her. Living with cerebral palsy is a walk in the park, in comparison.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Disability History and Disability in the Arts

The Seventh Disability Blog Carnival has been up at The Disability Studies blog for a week or two. As usual, it is full of fabulous writing on disability issues.

In the absence of any real writing from me lately, I'd like to point you toward two of my favourite new blogs, Chewing The Fat - gloriously well-written meditations and stories about disability, and Women of Colour Blog, passionate, committed and thoughtful writing about race, women, feminism, and poverty and many more topics. It is one of the few `mainstream' blogs out there that gives time and space to disability issues in a respectful and mature manner.

I seem to have lost the ability to write about anything in a coherent manner at the moment. It's very ironic that this has happened at a time when I have more opportunities to express myself. Some sort of subconscious self-censoring and silencing thing. I'm pulling back from the world more and more these days. It's not a bad thing, and I'm happy to see so many people who are able to write brilliantly and eloquently about issues that are important to me.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Some Thoughts...

"Normal" is a myth.

"Independence" is a myth.

People who say they love someone aren't always telling the truth.

The world is not a just place.

There are always people who will justify terrible injustices if it helps them keep their illusions.

No one is beyond scrutiny.