Not Slacktivism After All

Blogging often gets criticised as being a form of slacktivism: a way of looking like you are participating in social change without actually “doing” anything.

There have been some great pieces out there criticising how this idea is ableist, classist, and I’m sure several other isms as well. Moreover, as someone who is descended from several people who participated in major revolutions, I am more aware than most of the awesome impact that words and writing can have in promoting social change.

Today however, I got to have physical proof that my writing does in fact make a difference. I received a call from an official at the City of Ottawa. Apparently my blog post about how ableism almost killed me last week, made its way to their Facebook page.

I was being contacted so that they could tell me that the sidewalk where my accident happened has had a concrete ramp installed as a temporary measure until they can replace that part in the future with a proper dip ramp that usually serve as accessible access to street crossings.

Because of my blogpost, that curb is no longer a hazard for other people like me. Not going to lie, that news made my day.

Not Slacktivism After All
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Ableism at Kanata Centrum Almost Killed Me

Today, I decided to take a break from the manual labour I’ve been doing, while trying to rebuild my office. I had a plan for the day: I was going to grab my wheelchair, take the bus down to the strip mall that has the dollar store, value village, and Michael’s that I’ve been wanting to browse for some time. With the chair, I would be able to actually take my time and look around the stores. Get to know what is really available, without the distraction of my spine starting to seize up and burn.

It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for travelling around the city. Being in the chair let me explore areas that I can’t see in a car. I found out that there is a great path down by the river underneath Carp Bridge. I was able to do some poke-hunting, and explore the park with the lakes down on Terry Fox. It was perfect.

I was heading back to the bus that would take me back to my own neighbourhood. I was hoping to relax a little under the stars in the park, before finally heading back home. Kanata Centrum is a big strip mall with several different sections, all connected by sidewalks. It’s also where I had to go to get to my bus. I was making my way along the sidewalks coming up to a road crossing. At the end of the sidewalk however, instead of the dip that serves as a ramp, it ended in a straight curb.
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Ableism at Kanata Centrum Almost Killed Me

9 Realities of being on Disability

Every election cycle, every time disability comes up in the news, there will be at least one mention of the lazy people who live on government assistance. It seems at least every year, some new bill adding barriers to receiving disability or attacking so-called fraud in the system will be put forth.

There seems to be this mistaken perceptions that disability is filled with abled people who are lying about being sick in order to lead the “easy life” of living on disability. This idea that fraud is rampant and that people are living in the lap of luxury.

This idea is so ludicrous compared to the realities of what it is really like living on Disability. So here are 9 and one bonus, realities of living on disability.

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9 Realities of being on Disability

Making Peace with my Body

CN: This Post includes mentions of assault, drug use, and body image issues

On May 14th, I finally managed to get my first tattoo. Ever since I was a kid, I had an obsession with drawing pictures on myself. Whenever I was able, I would get henna tattoos of various sorts. I loved the idea of wearing art on my own skin.

Growing up, my parents would appreciate the art, but still disapprove of the whole concept of tattoos. They believed them to be irresponsible, silly, and a waste of money. They made the jokes that have become a social trope, about the hilarity of aged skin and what those tattoos would look like on a senior. It’s not uncommon to hear boomers of all sorts complaining about them and about the people who get them.

Until I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and lost major functionality in my legs, I expected to grow up to be a doctor. If not that, I at least expected to be a professional of some sort. I knew that I would be doing myself if I got a tattoo somewhere visible, and so I made myself a deal: I wouldn’t get a tattoo until I turned 25. If I still wanted it by that point, then it was something I truly wanted and could find a way to make it happen.

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Making Peace with my Body

Dismissed By People like You

CN Spoilers for Grace and Frankie, NSFW, Discussions of Sex, Consent, Mentions of Rape

Note: The bottom quote does not include some of the text, but has been edited down to contain the relevant parts of the discussion.

Grace: What are we doing? I’ll tell you what we’re doing. We’re We’re making vibrators for women with arthritis.

Frankie: Yes! Vibrators! Brilliant!

Grace: Oh, grow up. Older women masturbate too.

Frankie: And we have vaginas.

Brianna:  I highly doubt there’s a vibrator market for geriatric women with arthritis.

Grace: There is. I’m in agony.

Frankie: It takes a lot longer for us to get off, Sol.

Grace: She’s right. Our blood doesn’t flow as easily – and our genital tissue is more delicate. I did some reading. The more effort it takes to orgasm, the more you irritate it, and the more it inflames your arthritis. And I mean shouldn’t older women have it better than that?

Mallory: How do I explain to my children that their grandma makes sex toys for other grandmas?

Grace: I’ll tell you what you can tell them, honey. We’re making things for people like us, because we are sick and tired of being dismissed by people like you.

So ends the second season of Grace and Frankie. The line “We’re making things for people like us, because we are sick and tired of being dismissed by people like you.” Seems to me like a perfect summary of the first two seasons of Grace and Frankie. Nominally the show is about two older women relearning how to live on their own after their husbands leave them for each other.

More than that, the show is about two older women realizing the extent to which they have been taken for granted, and the extent to which women past a certain age get treated as invisible and irrelevant. The level to which women’s identities are subsumed into that of their families and especially their husbands.

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Dismissed By People like You

Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2

Part One Here … 

This is a fairly long post, so I split it into two parts. I ask however, that you not respond to either of them unless you have read both. There are nuances to both parts that I think are pretty essential to one another. Because this is dealing with some heavy and possibly delicate areas of theory, I’m pretty terrified of some of it being lost. 

I’ve run into similar arguments before at different times, being told that black people cannot be ableist. At the time I believed, and still do, that the statement is completely false. Not only is claiming that black people are not influenced in the same way by social prejudice as everyone else seems to me like a form of benevolent racism which is still harmful, but it is especially damaging to disabled black people. By that logic, a disabled black person who has to struggle with ableism in her community and in her family would be told that her experiences are not real.

It can be tempting to excuse a black person’s ableism towards a white person given the history of racism, but even with the racial power dynamics at play, ableism hurts black people too. A person who feels comfortable insulting someone on the basis of disability because they are white, is unlikely to treat disabled people of their own race any better. The ableism will inform their actions towards other disabled people, and even when it doesn’t, the ableism they display at disabled white people, will cause splash damaged to disabled black people.

However, in having the discussion, it is important for me to be aware of my own privilege.

I commented to a friend recently, that in these discussions the framing is always a white woman talking to a black woman, but why can’t it ever be framed as a disabled woman talking to an abled woman. This was, after all, a discussion about ableism and I was speaking as someone affected by it.

The answer of course is because it is always both.

Continue reading “Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2”

Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2

Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2

This is a fairly long post, so I split it into two parts. I ask however, that you not respond to either of them unless you have read both. There are nuances to both parts that I think are pretty essential to one another. Because this is dealing with some heavy and possibly delicate areas of theory, I’m pretty terrified of some of it being lost. 

Earlier, I participated in a bait thread on a friend’s wall that made the statement: All men who do not stop street harassment, are complicit in it. Many of us came onto the thread to agree with this statement, until someone jumped in to accuse all of us of being racist. The argument was that it is not always safe for certain men to speak up in certain circumstances. I agreed that this was true, but argues that that didn’t change their complicity. The responder then accused me of having said that all men are culpable always.

I will concede that perhaps a clarification could have been added specifying that this was referring specifically to gendered street harassment, and not other forms of hate speech that may get thrown about on the streets. While all forms of harassment on the street are bad and should be talked about, there is something unique about gendered harassment in that many people are not convinced it is a bad thing. Many respond to concerns about it saying that “It’s meant as a compliment. I wish people would yell nice things at me walking down the street.” (For the purposes of this post, when I refer to street harassment, I am specifically taking about this gendered type and not all forms of hate speech spoken on the street. )

Continue reading “Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2”

Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2

Thank You

[The wheelchair I’ve been using was a donation from the family of a woman who passed away recently. Although they could have chosen to sell the chair, or do something else with it, instead they donated it and made it possible for me to get one. I wanted to write them a note thanking them for their donation. I’ve edited out the name for the sake of their privacy, and using a stand in name in one place. Friends who read the letter suggested I post it on here for others to see and maybe help encourage other people to be generous with their inherited accessibility devices.] 

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Thank You

This Chair Gives me Wings

Yesterday, for the first time in I don’t know how many years, I was able to experience nature that wasn’t immediately adjacent to a parking lot. I got to watch the sun setting gently as I made my way along the river and feel the wind in my face.

I can’t remember the last time I was able to spend that much time outdoors without being overwhelmed by pain.

Did I find some new magic med? Did I manage to reduce my symptoms?

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This Chair Gives me Wings

The Anxiety of Many Faces

I am terrified of appropriation.

I don’t mean that in the sense of say using AAVE, although there is an element of that. I don’t mean that I’m scared to be called a hipster or a fake whatever. I’m not even scared of claiming my own at times, when I need to.

I am scared that my identities, who I am, the ways I define myself, are costumes. Illusions so clever, so complete, that I managed to fool myself as well as others with them.

I’ve mentioned this before when discussing my own gender feels. Life hasn’t stood still long enough for me to really examine my feelings further regarding that aspect of things. I’m lucky enough to have surrounded myself with a community who will support me no matter what my ultimate gender identity ends up being and if feel the need to do a thorough examination sooner rather than later, so for now I can wait. Or is this just the excuse I tell myself as I avoid my fear of taking on a label, an identity, until I am completely sure that it belongs to me.

To my knowledge, I’ve never taken on an identity that didn’t belong to me.

I’ve been curious about my past heritage, but I don’t think it entitles me to claiming those cultural identities and is rather an interest in knowing my history. I discovered my ADHD before diagnosis, but even if I was able to fool the doctors and the tests, I can’t fake my reaction to the meds.  There are enough people among my friend-list who would think nothing of tearing me to shreds, were I in the wrong, to act as a safeguard. I know all this.

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The Anxiety of Many Faces