Friday, May 29, 2009

Gender Presentation & Disability

The conversation started at Flip Flopping Joy where BFP asked What is Butch?. Cripchick took this up in On Gender and Disability and Wheelchair Dancer gave her perspective in Butch/ Femme - Crip. There are great discussions in the comment sections of each of the three posts.

My contribution is going to be a little feeble and rambling and has taken all week to get round to, as I am a bit of a slug next to these blogging butterflies. Still, Cripchick and Wheelchair Dancer's posts certainly helped to buck me up when I faced clothes shopping on Tuesday.

Clothes shopping, especially in person, is a deeply humiliating experience for me and I only go about once a year, only when I really need to. I often get much the same feeling as I did when, aged nine, I made a single defiant attempt to join the school football team. There were no rules against it, and I knew I was as good – which is to say, as bad – a football player as any of the boys. Suffice to say, the boys were rather hostile and, for the very first and last time, I was physically intimidated by my classmates. So when someone finally kicked the ball my way, it seemed directed with such malice that I ran away.

This game is not for the likes of me. Gender presentation isn't all about clothes or shopping, of course, but I am most conscious of my outsider status in clothes shops and at beauty counters. They display things close together and on high hooks and rails. All the mannequins are standing up. They have bright lights and loud music. And the assistants can be so condescending, as if I am a child playing at dressing up. They huff and puff if you ask them for help, they roll their eyes with impatience, they sneer at your choices and it feels the height of rudeness to leave without parting with money. I guess the awful ones might be awful to everyone, but I need help, I need a little patience from them. I really do leave shops because I get intimidated. Some of those women have really long nails!

At one huge branch of a well-known high street store (post-DDA), I was told that the entire ladies' department was on the top floor and there was no lift. The assistant did to offer to go fetch things - if I knew exactly what I was looking for. I said no thanks, as I'd need to try things on. She said I might as well use the men's fitting room. Nobody would mind.

I do hope the men would have minded to have me in their fitting room. I daresay in some future utopia we can all take our clothes off in one another's presence without embarrassment, but until such a point, I really wouldn't like to think I'm that safe. They might well have found my presence somewhat less unsettling than that of the pretty blonde shop assistant, but still.

There may be advantages to my apparent genderlessness, but it goes hand-in-hand with my infantilisation. It's not that I'm just cut out - which would be bad enough - I am categorised as something else. I'm with Patti Smith in that “Being any gender is a drag.” But you can't avoid it. If you try to reject the idea of your physical presentation as a form of communication, you're still communicating something all the time. If I resign myself from the game, I can never truly leave the pitch. And I'm not entirely sure I want to.

The first time queerness entered my dress-code was when I was seventeen, my Dad made some remark about a woman he had spoken to who was “probably a lesbian” because she had her ears pierced three times. We had an argument about it and later that day, I went out and got my ears pierced three times. Still waiting for that penny to drop.

In her response to BFP's post, Sutton writes
“... for me, the whole femme thing plays out the stereotype of females in our society as frivolous, superficial, silly, empty-headed, vain, spendthrift, allowing themselves to dress for (or in the case of expensive baubles, be dressed by) men, blah, blah.”
And I think this is where my game begins. Even if my mind was full of fluff and kittens, I haven't a hope of aspiring to any mainstream feminine “norm” - nor would I want to (well of course a part of me would like to be beautiful, but I'd also quite like the power of flight). Myself, I like skirts and jewellery and what my stylist friend calls romantic clothes, but I can't be doing with discomfort and material frivolity. I can't cope with it in terms of pain and energy levels, and I can't afford it. So I break the rules.

Cripchick says
“don’t know that i’m femme, butch, etc, i just know that i like to play with roles and gender. for me, the word to describe this gender play or personal recognition of identity i’ve been having lately is cripchick. cripchicks (or gimpgirls) are fierce, strong disabled women who interact with the world on their terms. ”
Not exactly fierce, but this is more like it. Most of my clothes are either second hand or hand-made. My favourite jewellery is hand-made (though mostly by other people). And like Cripchick, I adjust things all the time to work for me – and to last longer, so I don't have to go shopping again. I find pretty things to make myself more comfortable and to compensate for my oddities, both physical and aesthetic. I'm with William Morris on beauty and functionality.

The effect is not startling. I look a little eccentric but I don't turn heads with it. I'm certainly not as glamourous as Wheelchair Dancer or as funky as Cripchick. But I am playing with it.

Is this all a bit femme? Given that two of Wheelchair Dancer's prospective lovers said she was butch, possibly not. I'm sadly lacking in physical prowess and am a rather womanly shape, but I get called unfeminine because of the way my mind works, because of the way I see myself in the world (I've only ever run away from small boys with balls and shop assistants - otherwise I'm a force to be reckoned with!). I've never been called butch but was once called a bulldyke, which made me laugh out loud.

Is this crip? Maybe so. Maybe there is something special about our adaptive style. Just as maybe there is something special about our adaptive sexuality.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Older Mothers: Sexism, Ageism & Disablism

Elizabeth Adeney is soon to become the oldest new mother in Britain at the age of 66. There has been lots of news and blog coverage, much of it condemning her actions as selfish and reckless. You can probably gauge the two ends of the spectrum of opinion by checking out the Mail article (in which the poor lady becomes a "desperate divorcee") and the post at Feministing.

Ms Adeney has done an extraordinary thing which I can't empathise with one bit, but almost every criticism I have heard against her invokes some time-honoured prejudices around gender, age and disability. These include:

Older women having children is against nature.

Nature is a git when it comes to reproduction, has nothing to do with morality and most of us defy it. Personally, I intend to enjoy a lifetime of acrobatic sex without ever getting pregnant. In a society where the vast majority of our children will reach adulthood, all but a tiny minority of men and women control their fertility artificially.

Most women (not all) can have children naturally up until their mid to late forties, but because they rarely choose to anymore, we have this idea that the natural cut-off might be much sooner. As women get older, their fertility does begin to decline. It's likely to take longer to get pregnant. Natural conception above the age of 50 is rare, but not impossible.

Men's fertility declines from an earlier point, but does so very slowly, such that it is possible for some men to have children in much later life. The fact that a woman requires technology in order to do the same thing doesn't, by itself, make that it wrong.

It could not be paid for with public money - I'm anxious that some American commentators think it was, and imagine this is the sort of thing that universal healthcare is expected to cover. No way! The NHS won't usually give IVF to anyone over 40, but again this is not about morality, but viability. Most IVF cycles fail anyway and it is an expensive and traumatic procedure. As a woman with fertility problems is even less likely to get pregnant over 40, it is felt that it isn't worth (a) the money or (b) the heartache for the prospective parents to go through this. But there's nothing wrong with an individual going abroad and paying for treatment they cannot get here.

Personally, I would encourage people who cannot have children naturally to foster or adopt. There are a great number of children in the UK whose need for a loving home is far greater than any adults' need to have a child they happen to have given birth to. Well I think so. But it's not my place to tell people what to do or object to people doing what they wish to.

Older women have disabled babies.

The older we are, the more likely it is that mutations will take place in the DNA of our gametes. This applies to both men and women. For women, this results in a cultural anxiety about older mothers who are more likely to have children with certain impairments, such as Down Syndrome. For men, this results in academic anxiety that too few older fathers might slow human evolution. Older fathers may be more likely to produce children with autism, schizophrenia and a range of physical impairments, but wink wink, nudge nudge, proves there's life in the old dog yet!

Of course out of all the families you or I know, there is unlikely to be an obvious connection between older parents of either sex and disabled offspring – not because the statistics lie, but because the statistics are about an increase in a fairly small risk. Most disabled people were not born disabled. And of course, most disabled babies are born to women under the age of thirty-five simple because most children are born to women under thirty-five. The only way you can effectively avoid having a disabled child is not to have a child at all.

At my school, where about a third of my classmates went to Oxford and Cambridge, I had one of the youngest mothers among my friends. Mum had me (second born) at 27, whereas most of these posh ladies with the gold-chain handbags had had children in their mid thirties or later. The more affluent and well educated a woman is, the older she is likely to be when she first has children, and we know what having educated and affluent parents does for one's life chances.

So I'd guess being born to an older mother both increases your chances of being born with some impairment and increases your chances of a high IQ and financial affluence. Statistically speaking.

Women who are likely to have disabled children shouldn't have children.

As described above, it's not a matter of likely, but what if it were? Trouble wrote a bit about this in response to the comment thread at Feministing.

Mutation is not a bad thing – it occurs in our cells all the time, whoever you are, and it is necessary for evolution. Most things we identify as mutations we perceive as negative, although every step we've made from the primordial gloop has involved mutation. So the point about human evolution and older parents (as the same principle applies to both sexes) is valid - though I have my doubts about what conclusion, if any, should be drawn from that.

Some mutations result in children with impairments, but the child and the mutation go hand in hand; there is no cruelty in having a disabled child unless you think that that person's existence would be worst than if he or she was not allowed to exist.

And most people don't actually believe that at all. What some people believe is that the rest of us would be better off if (some) disabled people didn't exist, such as individuals whose net financial contribution is destined to be smaller than the cost they incur to the state. Like me! Yet even I would argue that I have intrinsic worth.

Not everyone feels this way. AJ certainly contests this – he says I should be put out of his misery. But I was playing Tainted Love on the ukelele at the time.

A woman who is disabled or likely to become disabled shouldn't have children.

Mary covers this very nicely in her BADD post, Well Meaning Insults. Seahorse and Frida also write a lot about disabled parenting and the prejudices they encounter. Ms Adeney is in excellent health, but her chances of becoming disabled within the next twenty years are significant - far greater than for a woman twenty or thirty years her junior. Commenters are anxious that she won't be fit enough to cope with a small child and that the child should later become an enslaved young carer.

This is sexist as well as disablist - people do not express nearly so much concern about older or disabled fathers. It all hinges on the idea that a mother must fulfill every conceivable need of her child without outside assistance. She must lift, carry, bath, change and entertain the child twenty-four hours a day and nobody else is allowed to help. No other family members can help (unless Daddy is some kind of superhero who overcomes his every masculine instinct to change the occasional nappy*) and certainly no outside party should be employed to help.

Of course, nobody parents like this and it would be pretty unhealthy if they did. People have always outsourced some practical aspects of child-rearing, to other family or community members and paid employees - although this became disapproved of in modern times with the rise of the isolated nuclear family and the idea that the mother is the only adult with whom the child is safe. Yet we don't condemn those fathers (they still exist) who perform almost no hands-on role whatsoever.

Of all the ways in which a parent can fail their child, being disabled isn't one of them.

Older mothers confuse people and invite their children to be bullied

As one Daily Mail commenter summarised all possible objections to a woman having a child at 66;

"Think of the raise eyebrows at parents evening!"

This same argument is made against gay parenting, single parenting, disabled and mixed-race parenting. You can't make the most important decisions of your life on the grounds that you might confuse some ignorant people and invite their ignorant children to make fun of yours. Okay, so it is fairly safe to assume that your average 66 year old with a small child in tow is its grandmother or even great grandmother, but that's not going to be impossible to work around. AJ was once mistaken for my father by a doctor in A&E - I wasn't offended, rather I laughed. And laughed and laughed. And then laugh again every time I remind him about it.

As for the children, a schoolmate once mocked me for the size of my father's nose (not much, it was just one of those ridiculous taunts children come up with). Dad doesn't have an especially big nose (there he is, you decide), but even if his nose was enormous, should he have considered getting a nose-job before he had children? Should parents have to wear a uniform to stop children taking the mick out of other children's parents' dress-sense? Bullying can be a soul-destroying experience, but you don't prevent it - can't prevent it - by removing potential targets of mockery from a child's life.

People have also commented on the fact that Ms Adeney is single and have pulled out all those clichés about single parents. The only remaining issue is the fact that the lady will be approaching her life expectancy in the next eighteen years - I'm not sure she'd get a twenty year loan from the bank. This strikes me as by far the biggest potential issue, although it's none of my business. And it is probably safe to assume that this issue has been very carefully considered, and arrangements made accordingly. It is a very bad thing to lose a parent when you are still a child (it is a very bad thing at any time), but the possibility can be prepared for to a certain extent.

*Jeremy Hardy once recalled being on the bus with his eighteen month old, when an elderly woman, admiring the baby, asked if Daddy had changed a nappy yet. To which Hardy replied, "No. You're supposed to change it? I was wondering why she always smelt so badly."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Auntie Intermission

Alexander in the paddling poolI am sleeping a lot at the moment and working on my book when I'm awake - which isn't for very much of the day at all. So here's a brief update on Alexander, who I saw the weekend before last. As you can see, the child gets no less beautiful.

His vocabulary is very slowly building up and he can say all the numbers, though thankfully never in the right order (he's not yet three! - I keep having to say this, especially to his grandmother, who takes everything he says to heart - if she starts this now, she will be completely broken-hearted before he's ten).

He demanded to know what a Dalek was (Mum has Dalek coasters - she likes Daleks) and I explained about The Doctor and Davros and everything. "What are the buttons for?" he asked. I didn't know. What are all those lumpy bits for? I suggested sound-proofing, as the Daleks have very noisy digestive systems. He seemed happy with that and made a comment about "Windypops." which I thought was rather crude.

I also learnt that Alexander's favourite animal is a lion because it says "Roar!".

Incidentally, the instructions for the inflatable paddling pool my parents got for him included the warning "Do not place on top of sharp objects." Hmm.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On Elected Crooks and Other Options

Liberal democracy is still at an early experimental stage. We have to remember this. It's less than a hundred years since we got anywhere close to universal suffrage and less than ten since we've had the Human Rights Act in British law. Much of the world isn't there yet and we may be wrong to assume that it's a matter of yet at all. Just because it's a really good idea - one of our best - doesn't mean that it'll catch on any more than it has, doesn't mean that we won't throw it away.

There are lots of other ways of running things – we've done this in lots of other ways in the past. Or at least, we've had it done to us. That's the thing. Liberal democracy provides us all with a chance to live the kind of lives we'd like and to have our voices heard. All other systems give all the power to just a few people, for fairly arbitrary reasons and usually for very short precarious periods. Liberal democracy is the best system for everyone. Even if, right now, you feel that things should be done very differently, you have a chance to change your country. You are free to make your argument, and if it's any good, others may be persuaded.

This is also the inevitable weakness in the system. You have to allow very mistaken people the same opportunities as the rest of us. You can't ban political parties or stop anyone from speaking out. You can only force people to act within the law and to keep those laws as liberal as possible. It is reasonable to stop some people doing certain jobs which involve upholding the law – members of the BNP aren't allowed to be police officers because under our system, police officers have to sign up to the idea that every one of us has an equal right to peace and justice. I don't suppose you could be a history teacher either, and the CofE has banned BNP membership among the Clergy on account of the fact that Jesus was a decent kind of chap (despite this compelling poster). But they can still speak and run for government office. And that's a good thing.

We're in a bit of a state just now. Not much of a state, but a bit of one. We're in a recession. We have an unelected Prime Minister who well, Charlie Brooker put it rather prettily. And we've had thirteen years of possibly the most cynical government in British history. Not necessarily the worst, but the most cynical. They act like they don't really care what we think - or maybe they do care, they just assume that we're all utterly gullible. We feel we are not listened to. And when we feel we are not listened to at, we begin to suspect that no-one in politics will listen to us.

The scandal over MPs expenses is nothing next to taking us into an illegal war, colluding with torturers and attacking our civil liberties. One or two heads will rightly roll (we'll have paid for the hats on them) but lots of people exploit expenses claims. The real galling thing here is that once again, it seems to have taken an age for anyone to admit that they had done something wrong. Oh and the fact that both the main parties have been so obsessed with us useless eaters and cracking down on benefit fraud (hat-tip to BendyGirl).

But perhaps the most dangerous thing is that they're all in on it. The main political parties haven't been attacking each other on the issue because none of them have clean linen. And so it seems that all politicians are bastards. There have been jokes (at least I hope they're jokes) about how the Queen should dissolve parliament and appoint someone of her own choosing.

It doesn't have to be like this. In other countries in Europe, politians are seen more like public servants. The population of any healthy democracy will engage in both criticism and piss-taking of its elected representatives, power and corruption are never far apart, but other populations are less demoralised than we are just now. Of course some have things much worse than we do - like Italy, who still have this man running both the government and half the media.

Anyway, we have a European Election coming up on the 4th June. At the last European Elections in 2004, there was a less than 40% turnout and 5% of the votes were for the BNP. That's one in twenty of the people who voted, but only one in fifty of the electorate and presumably several people who crossed that particular box had simply missed the one they wanted to cross (let's give them the benefit of the doubt). Okay, so it's Europe, we don't see a lot of what MEPs do, but it's still about power. And maybe, given these scandals, the increase in poverty and hardship over the last five years and the growing sense that some radical change must take place, they'll get even more votes this time. These people could wind up having a tiny bit of power over our lives. And their voices get louder. And like I say, we can't ban them, we can't shut them up. All we can do is keeping winning the argument and vote.

I think it would be good to vote for just about anyone else this coming 4th June. Personally, I think you ought to vote for the Liberal Democrats, but if you strongly disagree with them, there's probably someone else you can vote for in good conscience. If you want out of Europe, there's always UKIP who are at least a liberal bunch. And then hopefully we get to do the same in a General Election sometime in the next year - goodness knows we're overdue one.

We can all vote for flawed people who nevertheless subscribe to the principles of freedom, equality and democracy. At least when they mess up, we can still hold them to account. And then we can continue with the experiment.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009Welcome to Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009!

Thanks very much to everyone who helped to spread the word and to everyone posting about disability discrimination today. About 200 people have contributed some excellent work, making this by far the biggest BADD ever.

I've been collecting reviews of BADD from JackP, Incurable Hippie, Lilwatchgirl, NeverThatEasy, The Mornig Star, Mary, What Sorts of People, Lisy Babe, Wheelie Catholic, Seahorse and Peter Fremlin have written posts about or featuring their favourites BADD posts.

Blogging Against Disablism 2009

(Disability discrimination in the workplace, recruitment issues and unemployment).

Dechant: Equal work, sure...
JadeLennox: Workplace Gadflies
The Perorations of Lady Bracknell: The Unbearable Slowness of Being
Undercover Punk: Social Security benefits & women, working whilst disabled, and stigmatizing mental health terminology
Yet Another Never Updated Blog: Hooray for the evil side
Your subtext is showing: (awkward silence)

(Attitudes and practical issues effecting disabled people and the discussion of disability in education, from preschool to university and workplace training.)

Anthro, Etc: (Dis)ablism in Archaelogy/ Anthropology
Avendya: On decisions
The Black Telephone: Siobhan, the Soundbeam and Disablism
Brimstone & Treacle: BADD Wolf
Dirty Socks and Pizza: Navigating the Gray Area
Gin & Comment: "Mainstream" schooling and disablism.
Maternal Instincts: Action speaks louder than words (HB 119 update)
Now, what was I doing?: A secret thing
Same Difference: One Look At the Chair
Tunnelling: Flexibility
Textual Fur: Blogging Against Disablism
Theorize me: Invisible Disabilities and University
Thinking UDL: Ableism: My thoughts 1 year later
Twilight Garden: One Size Does Not Fit All

Other Access Issues
(Posts about any kind of access issue in the built environment, shops, services and various organisations. By "access issues" I mean anything which enables or disenables a person from doing what everyone else is able to do.)

Brilliant Mind, Broken Body: Trapped!
A Crippled Carnival: An Open Letter To People On The Bus
The Dog''s Blog: Lose the Mouse for BADD 2009
Even Grounds: Sound is Not Always Helpful for People Who Are Blind
goldjjadeocean: Why I will not be participating in Blogging Against Disablism Day this year
The Iron Chicken: A Convenient Myth
Hoyden About Town: Can I have a seat?
Naughty or nice..?: Ticketing Policies - B.A.D.D.
Riparians at the Gate: When Even the Buildings are In Denial
Rolling Round Life: The Perils of Looking for Housing
Wallaby: Accessibility, choice, accomodation and equality

Definition and Analysis of Disablism/ Ableism

32 Days Remaining: Web Development and Aversive Disablism
The Acrimonious One: The harm disablism does
Curvature: On Depression
Disability Prejudice and Civil Rights Watch: Psychophobia 201
Education on the Plate: Word of the Day: Disablism
Fat Fu: Fat, Major Depression, Asperger's: Where the Social Model meets the Medical Model
Her Own Self: Blogging Against Disablism Day TODAY!
Notes From Greencastle: Us vs. Us
A Pretty Simple Blog: Defining "disablism"
Urbania To Stoneheads: BADD: expectations and stereotypes
Wheelchair Pride: Disablism: What can YOU do about it?

The Language of Disablism
(Posts about the language which surrounds disability and the way that it may empower or disempower us.)

Benefit Scrounging Scum: Words Hurt
Biodiverse Resistance: Disability Terminology: too much confusion, so much frustration
The Hand Mirror: Lose the language. Now (cross-posted at In a Strange Land)
Life at Full Tilt: Reflections on Language
Life Decanted: Abled vs. Disabled
Lounalune: The d-label
Wheelchair Dancer: Piss on Pity

Disablism Interacting with Other 'Isms'

(Posts about the way in which various discriminations interact; the way that the prejudice experienced as a disabled person may be compounded by race, gender, age, sexuality etc..)

Feministe: Disability and Class
Memoirs of a Genderqueer Femme Anarchist: BADD and May Day
Queers United: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton: Which Women Matter? Ableism and Sexual Violence
Shakesville: Domestic Work is Real Work
Stop Street Harassment: Blogging Against Disablism: Street Harassment Edition
whirlwitch: Step it up, wimp!

Disablism in Literature, Culture and the Media

Butterfly Dreams: Special People, Normal World
Ashy's Blog: "Anyone can do it"

Growing up with a disability: We all do it.
Floating in Space: No, I'm Spasticus
Radio Clare: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Sweet Perdition: Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear (of disability)
Trouble is Everywhere: BADD: Bloody Torchwood


Disability Studies, Temple U: BADD: A Week-by-Week Calender of Disability History Birthdays

Relationships, Love and Sex

Autistic Self Advocacy Network, SW Ohio: Not Children: Tony Atwood Still Doesn't Get It
Bleeting in the Fields: Blue and Red have a chat about disablism
Dreaming of Butterflies: Blogging Against Disablism
Elf: Resist biologically: be erotic! - Tim Leary

Never That Easy: BADD Girl
Poverty in America: Poverty and Disablism
Pure Glucose: Place. My blog for Blog Against Disablism Dad
Sexual Ambiguities: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Spectrum Siblings: Connecting through disability
Walking Wounded: Not here for your entertainment
The World According to J. J. in L. A.: BADD: She can do that?

Non-English Language Blogs


Hierman eri mielt
ä: Making Discrimination Easy
Trouble is Everywhere: BADD: How the Non-Disabled Person can Participate (from one non-disabled person to another) (cross-posted at Trouble is a State of Mind)

General Thoughts on Disablism

Angelikitten: Common Sense and Courtesy
Autism - Just Because I'm Quiet Doesn't Mean I'm Quiet Doesn't Mean I Don't Understand
The Beauty Offensive: I Like a Good Fight
Blue Girl: Funny Thing Happened After I Read More About Frances Farmer
Deaf Girl Speaking: BADD: randomness
Driftwood: My Gorilla is Quite Tame
Equal Not Special: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Fizzyblogic: A mass of dots.
FridaWrites: On Wheelchairs and Safety
F**k You Megan Fox!: Blog Against Disablism Day
The Gonzolog: Blogging Against the Supremacist Attitudes of the Mediocritariat
Hatman: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Inner Dreams: Not Your World
Here's the Kicker: Blogging against disablism
How to be an Inspiration: It Should Have Been Me
The Life and Times of Emma: Where You Least Expect It
A Load of Old Squit: When helping yourself doesn't help
LDN journal: The pill that retains my humanity
Midden: BADD - 1st May
Midlife & Treachery: Don't Assume
Morrígan Reborn: Blogging Against Disablism Day
The Muffin Blog: The Narrative
MyOwnWench: BADD - badass, bad news, bad day
My Spelling Sucks: Reading Dyslexia Laughing and CP
Nick's Crusade: Ablism: Idiotic Comments From Idiots
Normal is Overrated: Assumptions, Assumptions
Optistatic: A Kind of Verbal Meander
Paul Canning: Life in a Wheelchair
The Pickards: Lip-Service Equality
Pizza Viola: BADD
Radio Clare: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Sanabitur Anima Mea: Mild and Severe Disability
The Secret Life of a Girl on Wheels: Lucky
Smarking_off: Blogging Against Disablism Day
SpeEdChange: Suicidal Ideation
Sunny Dreamer: Visiting Italy
This is you reading about me...or not: BADD Thoughts
Through My Eyes: Happy BADD = Let's all be positive about disability
Touched By An Alien: Stereotypes of Success
Until the dolphin flies and the parrots live at sea: Disablism sure isn't disabled at all
Wheelie Catholic: Moments of ableism
The View From Room 7609: Is it an annoyance? I don't think so.

Parenting Issues
(whether disabled parents or the parents of a disabled child.)

Baxter Sez: Pride and Joy
Beneath the Wings: The Shopping Trip - part 2
Blank Shield Press: My son looks normal
Cheaper Than Therapy: Sometimes You Just Gotta Say
Disabilities the Invisible Discrimination: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Homepaddock: Losing fear and ignorance of disability
Let Kids Play!!: What makes disability?
Memo To Self: Blogging Against Disablism - A Photo Essay
This is My Blog: Well-meaning Insults
To The Max: My child has a right to play - dont shut him out because he's disabled
Whitterer On Autism: Blogging Against Disablism Day

Healthcare Issues
(For example, the provision of healthcare, institutionalistaion of disbaled people, reproductive ethics and euthanasia)

Astrid's Journal: BADD Behaviour: Disablism in Psychiatry
A Comic Life Indeed: Tales From The Clinic: Out With The Old, In With The Eu-Genics
Finding My Way: Journey of an Uppity Intellectual Activist Crip: Ableism Where I'd Least Expect It.
Incurable Hippy's Musings and Rants: Access to Healthcare
Mysteries and Questions surrounding the
Ashey X case: The damage the Ashley case has done and the damage it can stil do

Nick's Crusade: Government-Sponsored Ablism and Segregation Tears Families Apart
The Strangest Alchemy: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009
What Sorts of People: There's a word for that kind of thing

Impairment-Specific Prejudice
(Posts about those experiences specific to people with a particular condition or type of condition.

Diary of a Nobody: Anti-Depressants

Glitter, Vinyl and Thread: Things all able-bodied people should read - or even non-abled-bodied who don't have fibro or chronic fatigue
HAM. BLOG: Invisible Illness Bingo 2
It's Never That Simple: Autism, Assumptions and Ability
Random Babble: I wasn't going to do this...
Morphine Breath: Blogging Against Disablism Day
One Sick Mother: Invisible Disabilities: Depression
The Pursuit of Harpyness: Pain-Free is Privilege
Screw Bronze: Disablism within Disability
íbhneoir páirt-aimseartha: On Being an M.E./ Aspie alien
Shauna's Life of Pain and Other Fun Things: A Chance to Educate Others About Pain
Slywolf: Mine Are Invisible
Womanist Musings: Fibromyalgia: The Invisible Pain
The Voice Within: Blogging agaisnt disablism day

Personal Journeys
Posts about learning experiences and realisations authors have had about the nature of disability discrimination and the impact on their lives.

Access for All - Angela M. Hooker: The Best Laid Plans and Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009
Bad Cripple: Ableism and a Water Shed Experience
The Bitch Who Roared: This post is dedicated to Lyn, who taught me so much
A box full of butterflies: Coming to terms with being out of spoons
Butterfly Cauldron: The sharks are here every day
Cathie From Canada: BADD Day
Desertrosedark: What disablism means to me
Diabola in musica: Not a Stereotype
Diary of a Goldfish: A Living Learning Experience
Diary of a Nobody: Invisible Disabilities
Diary of a Wordsmith: BADD08-09 - a snapshot of changes
Don't Type Angry: Blogging Against Disablism Day
Gordon's D-Zone: A Life Apart
Haddayr's Blog: Blog Against Disablism Day
I'm Just Not Impressed: The Invisible Human
Jem's Lair: I started feeling safe
Jenelle's Journey: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009
Laughing Wild: But I'm NOT disabled!
Life, Liberty and Good Coffee: Uncle Ronnie and "the Leg"
Linguanaut: A blinkered life
The Man Outside: Two legs bad, fewer legs better
The Multiple Sclerosis Foudations: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009
Notes, Nothings, and Common Refrains: "Oh look! It's Peter Pan!" ("That's right! I can't walk. But I can fly!")
Primary Decomposition: Blogging against disablism
Recessional: Carries the act so convincingly the fact is sometimes she believes it
Remember the Tinman: On being a good nutter for BADD
Shakesville: BADD: Out of my closet
Simul lustus Et Peccator: Blogging Against (Dis)ablism Day 2009
Sophia's Call: Mary Magdalene, My Sister

Standing Tall Through Everything: Blogging Against Disablism
A Stellarlife: Bloggers Unite Against Disablism May 1
Timmblr: Letters I've written, never meaning to send.
Unwritten Memoirs: I'm an idiopath, so what?
Zero at the bone: Talking about it

Disablism and Politics

(For example, the political currency of disability, anti-discrimination legislation, etc.)

Autism - Direct Action: ADAPT at the White House, Tony Atwood update
Bruce Lawson's personal site: Accessibility and what India can teach us
Cynical Chatter from The Underworld: Fear and Loathing in the UK
Humanitarian Relief "It Is Persons With Disabilities That Are First To Die"
Whose Planet is it Anyway?: Community Choice Act Needs High Priority

Art Against Disablism

Philippa's Photography, Incurable Hippie: Creative Protest
RachelCreative: When Disability is Invisible

A Living Learning Experience

(My blog against disablism, complete with utterly irrelevant pictures of flowers to break up the text).

Many people believe that there is something to be learnt from disabled people. Some people believe that this is why people like me are here – why God allowed me to exist - so that I might teach other people something. About life. About human resilience. About human frailty. And you can see them, sometimes, searching for that lesson; they ask probing questions, they try to make connections. Other people can find the most tedious aspects of your life of tremendous interest.

And then you find that, all of sudden, a lesson has been learnt. People who know you describe situations or conversation where, because they know you they were able to act or speak up in a way that they wouldn't have done without your acquaintance. Sometimes, you are deeply proud of them. Other times, you hear these stories and wonder what on Earth you did wrong.

But then personally, I didn't always teach the right lessons.

These innocent primula are without prejudiceThe first lesson I taught was about my condition. People want to know, it was new to me and I wanted to explain. I wanted people to know that my needs were legitimate; I hadn't chosen a life of incapacity and dependence - it was all to do with molecules and mitochondria.

Big mistake. Biology has nothing to do with the problems we experience with other people; this was just like a person of colour explaining their genetic lineage, their particular ethnic mix to a white person who wants to know why they are that precise shade of brown. Or a gay person outlining their sexual history to a curious straight, as if sheer detail leads to acceptance.

It is not that those stories should never be told, but there is no responsibility on our part to tell them. People ask what's wrong with us because they don't know any better, just as not so long ago, British black and Asian people would be asked where they came from. The sort of person who asks such a question isn't going to learn very much from a direct answer.

We do not need to justify our difference. Anyone who has an ounce of respect for us, even as strangers, will assume that nobody chooses disadvantage of any variety.

Consider the liliesThe second lesson I taught was about suffering. Well, I did feel rather sorry for myself. I wanted people to see how well I was taking it, the million things I could no longer do (perhaps only a hundred of which I ever aspired to). At the same time, I thought that resisting assistance, medication or the dreaded wheelchair proved me to be a strong and resilient person.

Big mistake. An acquired impairment almost always encompasses loss, but nobody else is going to understand what you go through. Some won't see the big deal, others will wonder how you can go on living. And disabled people don't have any monopoly on tragedy and loss, not nearly – far worse things can happen to a person than being born or becoming disabled.

We do not need to justify our difference. We don't have to mind any more or less than we actually do. There's no weakness in having an impairment and not being locked in a constant quest for a cure. We have no duty to suffer and no duty to want to change. Sometimes we're better off getting on with our lives.

A rose by any other nameThe third lesson I taught was that I was perfectly normal. I was the same as everyone else, I had the same needs and desires, the same ambitions. I attempted to forego every ounce of eccentricity to make it clear that there was only one difference. I wasn't even going to describe myself as "disabled" because to do so was to mark myself out from the crowd.

Big mistake. I wasn't normal. Never before in my life had I aspired to being normal and this was the worst possible moment to start. It was if I imagined that people would be suspicious. As if, should I reveal myself to be eccentric in any other respect, they might see it all as part of the same package. That my illness was an extension of my weirdo personality.

We do not need to justify our difference. Human beings deviate from one another. There isn't a limit on how many differences a person is allowed to have. I dearly hope that my illness is one of the least interesting things about who I am.

I don't know what this flower is calledThe fourth lesson I taught was that the stereotype was wrong. I wished to defy others expectations of disabled people, to show that I was bright and had an interesting life. I wasn't going to be like what you thought disabled people were like. I was going to be so much better than that.

Big mistake. There is more than one stereotype of the disabled person, and resistance to one can merely play to another. For my part, I couldn't be much less equipped for defying expectations; I really am very inactive and my brain doesn't work.

Of course, my problem wasn't that anyone assumed my brain not to work, it was that people weren't prepared to treat people like that with respect. People with intellectual impairments or mental illness, people who weren't economically-productive members of society. People who weren't sassy or brave or an inspiration to others. I regarded such people as deserving of my respect, so why should I be afraid to be recognised as one of them?

We do not need to justify our difference. We are all worthwhile human beings. We don't owe anyone a good story in order to be treated with respect.

Read my tulips - they speak the truth!I guess I may have done a lot of damage, but it takes time to learn yourself. And what did I learn?

Well, I know a few things now, but I am not duty-bound to teach. I am not obliged to spend my life answering inappropriate questions or confronting ignorance whenever it arises.

People learn through exposure. We all contribute to this just by living our lives. If a person sees disabled people around them, and if people with invisible impairments are open about their status, then people will see that impairment as part of the human condition and disabled people as equals. Some of us have the capacity to do something about our under-representation in the corridors of power, in the media and in the arts. All this makes a big difference.

People learn through conversation. Conversation is not to be under-estimated as a tool for social change. The model of disability we, the experts, present to our kith and kin effects the conversations that they in turn have with other people and the conversations that those others then have. We have no hope - let alone the responsibility - of explaining all the academic arguments and instilling the best use of language to those who have no interest. But we can influence the stories which are told about us and our experiences.

People learn through our allies. Some of us don't have any kind of voice. Where we are considered something less than human, our testimony is considered unreliable. Non-disabled people need to speak up.

People learn by experience. Every time any challenge is made to behaviour, a failure to comply with the law, a prejudiced news story or systems that hold us back, people pay attention. Some people are slow-learners, but there's no getting round that. Some people are slow-learners about gender, race and sexuality, but our persistence is undoubtedly paying off in these areas. Disability is taking just a little bit longer.