Saturday, February 18, 2012


please note that im currently fiddling around with the settings here, it'll be up and making sense soon enough :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inspiration Porn

[photo: black and white image of a bearded, white, tattoo'd, bespectacled person wearing a black tshirt, overalls and cap, sitting in a motorized mobility scooter, clasping their hands together while smiling big, with their forearm crutches sticking up behind them; text reads: "Know what i'm tired of? Images of disabled people doing random things, turned into "inspiration porn". These images (e.g. children joyfully running with their prosthetic legs, someone painting with their toes, an elder skiing, etc), are then emblazoned with text like "what's your excuse?", "your excuse is invalid", "if ___ can do it, why can't you?" and other gems. They call on non-disabled people to buck up and stop making excuses for not doing something, and guilt other disabled folks into feeling like crap for not being able to pull themselves up by the proverbial bootstraps & "just do it". These images & sentiments are an ableist tool. They exceptionalize disabled people based in ablesist notions of accomplishment & worth. They build on & reenforce able bodied pitydom of gimps. Just fucking stop it ok? We're just doing our thing, yknow? We are not a goddamn guilt-trip tool to get you to do stuff. Please, if you need to use gimps as a tool to get you to do stuff, yer using the wrong starting point. (*for example, in this photo, i am simply enjoying a moment with a friend... I AM NOT YOUR INSPIRATION!)"]

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Think about it... if you wanted to surf, i bet you've seen many photos of random people surfing, and if you're reading this now you've got access to a computer and, like, so many photos and videos [e.g. when i type in "surfing" into google, i get about 298,000,000 results]. So ask yourself: why does it take the image of a disabled person doing it to get you to do it? Here's what i think, take it or leave it, i just ask that you ponder it some:

Society creates stories out of disabled folks. Stories which vilify us or exceptionalize us, and in the case of these images it's the latter (but it ultimately leads to the former as well, but that's for another post).

It seems like it taps into a few things:

A sense of pity (however subconscious) for the disabled person, because wow, is that ever sad!

A sense of "well if they can do it so can i!". But why didn't you have that reaction when you saw
297,999,990 shots of able bodied people doing the exact same thing? Just the mere SIGHT of a disabled person propelled you to do it? Wow! Now THAT'S power and influence!

A sense of "duty" / "obligation" somehow. Because if disabled people are doing this, you cant possibly say no. That wouldn't look right. What would your friends think? How could you look at yourself in the morning if there was a poor disabled child out there running joyfully with their prosthetic legs while you whined about schedules and whatnot?

[Us just existing and not crawling into a hole you can see really makes folks think of the big picture, of humanity, of you know, the like meaning of life and shit.]

You look at that kid running  [ that same running kid i mentioned earlier ], and maybe you see the joy on their face. You want to capture some of that for yourself, maybe remember what it's like to feel like that. But what you're also doing when you read the words "your excuse is invalid" [aside from probably not even thinking about the use of that word "invalid" in this context] and you leap off the couch to find your old track suit, is that you are creating a story for that kid based on able-bodied perceptions of worth, of success, of joy; you are pitying that kid, you are maybe feeling silly for ever thinking you couldnt do it because wow, that kid can do it! 

And that dear reader is ableism.

Just ponder it, ok?

And before i get any "you don't want to see gimps doing stuff!!" messages, that's not what this is about. i love seeing images of gimps doing stuff. What i don't dig is the ableist sentimentality which so often accompanies it. i dislike having our lives used as a tool to reenforce the very systems which cause us to be "disabled" in the first place [you know, disability as a social construct and all that jazz]. Different stuff.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

that awkward moment when...


"that awkward moment when you gently question someone’s use of the ableist word “lame”, and suggest that they have a look at this post over at FWD, and their only response is to delete their original comments. errrrrr."

i think sometimes folks do it because they feel embarrassed, or maybe they think it's not ok to keep a post up there once its been called out, maybe they don't want anyone to get offended, who knows. The point is, getting kindly, softly called on something needn't be so embarrassing that it stops you from working on it. Its a learning moment. Try to sit with it, let it be what it is. And don't do it again.

Friday, February 10, 2012

how do you be compassionate with yourself when all you want to do is rip your eyebrows off?

i've spent so many years doing work to love and understand my survivor body | my fat body | my trans & genderqueer body | my aging body | my sober body | my gimped ache-filled body, working to turn down the volume during pain flares and pump it up during the rest of the time | to love my cunt in a cunt-hating world | and to love my tits | love my stretchmarks | even love this bald head of mine | love the complex shit that makes it hard to love freely sometimes, that i've lost sight of taking care to love my whole, complete, integrated body, the whole thing, as one big package, all at the same time. i want to know what that feels like. i'm trying.

A friend suggested to me tonight that --given the time and energy and passion i give to other things in my life-- i might need to ask different questions of myself; suggested that instead of judging myself for the things i'm not able to or am not doing, that i instead ask "what is the most self-loving thing i can do right now?", and i broke down crying. (cue Kinnie Starr lyrics from Soar that've been stuck in my head since, like, 8 or 9 years: Forsake the answer, rename the question, what lies deep enough not to be mentioned, should be brought to the top to be spoken")

Clearly, there's more work to be done. But i'm gonna try to think of it not as work, as drudgery, as a desperate need because i once again am in fucking agony right now, but rather as coming from a place of love, forgiveness, compassion.

i wonder: what will it feel like to truly love myself --and not simply these bitesize portions which used to feel like enough-- in words and actions?

What do you do when you want to feel integrated and in touch with and compassionate and loving and responsive and accountable to a body that is consistently being an asshole to you?

i suppose i'm going to keep trying to come back to "what is the most self-loving thing i can do right now?"


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fragrance Free Femme of Colour Realness Draft 1.5

Another amazing piece by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha!

by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

"Dedicated to all my fierce femme of colour disabled and chronically ill warrior fam.

When I think about access, I think about love. I think that crip (disabled and chronically ill) solidarity, and solidarity between disabled folks and non(yet) disabled folks is a powerful act of love and I-got-your-back. It’s in big things, but it’s also in the little things we do moment by moment to ensure that we all- in all our individual bodies- get to be present fiercely as we make change. ...

One small (and huge) thing you can do to ensure access is to work towards  being scent/fragrance free. Folks who have chemical disabilities need  to be able to participate in the worlds outside our bedrooms- in our parties, queer/trans of color cultural events, the subway, the grocery store, etc.

It’s easy to get inexpensive scent/fragrance free products at Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Whole Foods (they suck, but they make $3 scent-free shampoo, conditioner and lotion), independent health food stores and co-ops, and you can also just get some cocoa butter, coconut oil or shea butter in the raw and make your own products, which is cheap and fun.

Cutting out scents may seem like a pain in the ass, but it means that awesome, ass-kicking community members you love can attend events you're at and make out with you without having seizures, throwing up or otherwise getting really sick.

Are you curious about going scent-free but totally overwhelmed by the prospect of having to replace your whole product line of fiercely researched POC body care products? You're not the only one. Fear not!"