June 27th, 2014
We've all heard it. Hell, we've all done it. Someone (maybe even you!) makes a comment about how fat they are, and the people around them rush to reassure them that of course they're not fat! They're totally skinny! Toothpick sized! Maybe just a little chubby, but not fat! It's nothing a little exercise and healthy eating won't fix!
The problems with this response are multifold. First of all, because some people are actually fat. Fat people exist. I know, it's hard to believe. There are people who fit the medical criteria for being overweight or obese and/or are routinely judged and oppressed based on their weight. So telling someone they're not fat is denying a basic fact. It's like telling an elephant they're not an elephant; they merely have some pesky elephantine tendencies.
(As a side note, I experience this often when I tell people I'm disabled, or more often, when I tell them I'm crippled. It usually elicits gasps of horror, as if I just let a particularly sordid word fall from my lips. And after that, I usually get something like "Don't say that! You're not crippled, you're just...different!" I suppose I'm not female either, then?)
Second, and perhaps far more important, is that by reassuring people that they're not actually fat (and by seeking that reassurance for ourselves), we are actually reinforcing the idea that fat = bad. Why else would we crave that reassurance and rush to offer it to others? Fat is the bogeyman, lurking under our covers. To our minds, fat should be uttered in the same horrified tones as "cancer". We are creating sizeism/fatphobia every time we utter the words "You're not fat."
So next time someone complains to you that they're fat, don't deny it. Don't tell them they're not fat. Don't spout oppressive language. Just say one word. "So?"
So what if you're fat? So what? Is being fat really so disturbing? Is being fat worse than being unloved? Is being fat worse than being alone in the world, with no one to count on when times get rough? I think not.
Yeah, you might be fat. So?
April 6th, 2014
Listening To: RENT - Tango Maureen
Every time I see some self-righteous asshole proclaim (ironically, ON THE INTERNET) that internet communication is the most impersonal form of communication and that phone calls/in person hangouts are a dying art, I want to scream.
I am a multiply disabled person. Phone calls require a type of mental, physical, and emotional gymnastics for me, which I seldom, if ever, have the spoons for. I have severe phone anxiety which I smash down and stuff deep inside me when I absolutely have to make a phone call. The anxiety is managed somewhat with the help of scripts (particularly helpful if I have to call to make an appointment or something, I write down exactly what I'm going to say, and approximate what the other person is going to say), and has gotten slightly better since the advent of cell phones (that way, I know that no one other than the person I want to talk to will pick up). But it is still VERY there. On top of this, I have to smash a phone against my ear and fight not to drop it, something which I do with alarming frequency, because my hands do spazzy things. This phone, which is usually supremely uncomfortable, because no one considers how it's going to feel when it's held against an ear when they make a cell phone, will have to be nearly glued to my ear for however long the call takes, requiring my arm to be held in an awkward position for that long, which, like most things I do with my body these days, will result in pain. Finally, phone calls require communicating verbally, and like many people with CP, I find it exhausting to coordinate the muscles needed for speech and still make my words clear enough to be understood. Put that all together and you start to see why I feel like I've ran a marathon after a long phone call.
There are approximately three people in this world that I will voluntarily expend that kind of energy for, maybe less. They know who they are, and all of them are people I'd consider my best friends. Another close friend of mine has learning disabilities that make reading and writing difficult - so I spend time on the phone with her, because it's more accessible for her. And sometimes, she'll text me if she's called me and there's no answer, because she knows that's the more accessible option for me. We make concessions for each other's accessibility needs.
And in person communication? Hah, don't make me laugh. I'm a physically disabled woman who doesn't drive and has limited access to public transportation. I don't work, and my only income comes from people who are willing to pay me for my writing. I'm lucky that my parents are willing to give me as much money as they do so I can go out with friends. For me to go out with friends requires aligning all the stars in the universe perfectly and an individual sacrifice to each god, real or imagined. (That was sarcasm, by the way.) In fact, just yesterday, plans were thwarted and $20 wasted, all because of subway accessibility issues.
Internet communication isn't impersonal. That's a myth. Many of my best friends started out as internet friends before moving into "real life". Still more friends are people I've never met in person, but I'd still trust them far more than some of the people I know "for real". And on the flip side, I've had my heart broken on the Internet. I've also had my heart broken over the phone, and in person. (Not just romantically, but in terms of friendship as well.) None of these experiences hurt any less than the others. Internet communication isn't inherently bad just because it's text based. At the same time, in person communication and phone communication aren't bad either. They're just not accessible to me.
I'm extremely lucky to have the Internet. There are many people out there just like me who didn't grow up in the age of the Internet, or aren't computer or language literate enough to access the Internet or don't have the financial resources to have Internet. I'm lucky to have this as a valid method of communication. Please don't demonize my way of communicating - I shouldn't have to defend it.
April 1st, 2014
Listening To: With You by Jessica Simpson
Light It Up Blue is a project of Autism Speaks. If you light it up blue this April, you are supporting an organization that:If you light it up blue this April, you are not my friend. That is not an April Fool's joke.
Instead, you can Tone It Down Taupe
or Light It Up Gold - both are Autistic run. (Edit: Light It Up Gold is apparently a childhood cancer awareness campaign, so you might want to tone it down taupe to avoid confusion.)
You can also support organizations that are by and for autistic people such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the Autism Women's Network.
March 27th, 2014
(originally posted on Tumblr)
Differently abled is, to me, one of the most absurd terms ever coined, coming in second only to "handicapable".
*pauses for gagging*
"Differently abed" may enforce the fact that disability is a social construct (which, by the way, interacts in complex ways with actual impairment which is less socially constructed but still socially constructed in some ways), but it ignores the fact that we are denied access to goods, opportunities, and services because of our impairment status
People think the term “disabled” is negative. That is false. Disabled isn’t positive or negative. It just is
. When you get an error message saying that your network is disabled, it doesn’t have a connotation attached to it. It just means that the network is prevented from functioning by some source
. I am prevented from going into a store
if it is inaccessible (if I have my chair). Disabled children are prevented from accessing equal education
. We are not able
, yes, not able
to do those things because of an oppressive society which prizes physical, cognitive and emotional prowess over all things
All people are “differently abled”. No two people have the same set of abilities. To single out a group of people and say that somehow they are even more
different is to me, extremely Othering. The term bases itself on the mentality that disabled people are “just like everyone else!”. It fails to address the very real ableism that is the main thing preventing disabled people from functioning “like everyone else”. Why is it so wonderful to be like someone else? If we were all the same, the world would be boring.
Let’s think past differently abled. Let’s think past “We’re all the same inside.”. Let’s think past “We all bleed red.” Let’s cherish diversity and celebrate all
the people who make up this society.
March 18th, 2014
Listening To: King of Anything by Sara Bareilles
I often forget that I'm not the only one who rarely drinks. Our culture - particularly the culture of my age group, the twenty-somethings - is SO alcohol dominated. I can maybe, possibly go one day without hearing or seeing something related to alcohol, whether that's something on Facebook, a beer commercial, or beer cans strewn all over the Long Island Railroad. And that's if I'm lucky.
I try to be cavalier about it, I really do. I pretend that I've gotten over my alcohol issues. I laugh when someone makes a booze joke and hope they don't realize that it's not sincere. I eagerly nod when someone brings up alcohol when planning an event, an event that I thought was just going to be good, sober fun and try to ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach, the feeling that says "Alcohol has shoved its way into a fun event. AGAIN.".
When did we get the idea that we have to have alcohol in order to be social, in order to have any fun? Is alcohol really that magical, really that wonderful, that a) people can't wait until 21 to have some and not only frequently break the law and underage drink, but expect other people to break the law as well, and b) alcohol must be present at any worthy event, ever?
Alcohol is not sophisticated. It's not cool. We've all had fun without alcohol in our younger years. What magically changes when we hit 21 (or in some cases, even younger) that alcohol is now the key to having a good time?
I'm lucky that my immediate, closest group of friends isn't into alcohol. When we hang out, alcohol isn't even on our radar, even though three out of the four of us are over 21. Instead, we all know each other's soft drink and fattening snack preferences. We settle down with some music or a movie have a good time. Without alcohol. Amazing, isn't it?
I was never into alcohol. I was into it even less when one of my best friends had her family torn apart by alcoholism while we were in high school. Watching a family you have known for a decade plus fall apart because of alcohol tends to put a damper on things. I know what alcohol can do to people. After I saw what happened to her family, what little enthusiasm I may have had for alcohol flickered and died.
And yet when I tell people that I rarely drink and have only had one drink since I turned 21 in June, the reaction is usually disbelief mixed with a certain kind of suspicion. The most common reaction is a smug, self-satisfied "I'm gonna get you smashed." (replace smashed with hammered, etc.), as if the person in question wants to go down in history as the hero who got the sober girl drunk. It doesn't matter whether or not I want to get smashed (hint: I don't). In the mind of the person I'm conversing with, it will happen, whether I like it or not. I've had people stare at me in complete shock when I tell them I don't drink, as if I just admitted to murdering someone. "What, you've only had one drink?? Not even before you were 21???" they demand, as if they think I'm holding back the juicy details. To them, this is a serious flaw in my lifestyle. Because no one can be a "real adult", let alone a "real college student" if they don't drink. This is a problem, to them, that must be rectified immediately.
I'm sick of the sober-shaming. I'm tired of being made to feel like I'm some sort of strange anomaly just because I prefer to not drink. I'm not telling anyone else what to do - if you want a glass of wine with dinner or if you want to go out to the bar and get hammered, that's your choice. It doesn't happen to be a choice I agree very much with, but it's still your choice and it's not my place to judge. But if I don't judge you for drinking, what gives you the right to judge me for not drinking? If I'd rather stay in with a good book than go to a keg party, what business is that of yours?
If you want to force me to drink, if you think it'll be funny to see the little sober crippled girl drunk, you can get out of my life right now. But if you want me to come to your parties, your events, stop with the sober-shaming. Have a variety of soft drinks available, not just a bottle of Coke that's only there to make rum and Cokes. (I don't drink caffeine either. The reactions to that one are even harder to bear.) If you really want me there, buy a bottle of caffeine-free Coke for me - not as an afterthought, not to make rum and Cokes, but for me. And the people who really care, who really want me there, who want to make sure that I feel safe - they do that. That's the mark of a true friend.
Sober-shaming isn't funny, nor is it cool. When you sober-shame, you contribute to the culture of alcohol, the notion that the only acceptable way to have fun is with a ton of booze. And you hurt people and make them feel unsafe.
I'm the sober girl you're hurting. I hope you think about that next time.
March 4th, 2014
Listening To: When I Was a Boy by Dar Williams
So in the spirit of procrastinating on homework, I was scrolling through the top 15 on LJ and trying to get a more of a feel for how this thing works. And I came across this piece of awful
and because I had the naive hope that a "Feminism 2.0" video might actually make strides toward intersectionality, I clicked. And oh, how I wish I hadn't.( Except for the part where I don't, really, because if things didn't make me angry I'd have nothing to blog about.Collapse )
Until male congressmen aren't in charge of deciding what a woman should do with her body; until women are earning the same amount as men; until girls can wear suits and boys can wear dresses without harassment; until boys aren't called "faggot" for liking the color pink (there's that there intersectionality again!); I refuse to stop calling men oppressors. Men created this system, and men maintain this system. Oppression is real. Patriarchy is real. And it's dangerous. Just because you choose to call a lion a kitty cat doesn't mean it's any less likely to rip your head off. Words have power. Call a spade a spade, call oppressors oppressors, and then maybe we can finally move forward with the business of liberty and justice for all.
March 3rd, 2014
Listening To: My Little Pony (Friendship Is Magic) theme song
So last night I was all "I need a palsycorn picture for my LJ avatar!" because I don't want to put a picture of my real face because this is supposed to be the place where I can at least pretend to be somewhat anonymous and it's not linked to all my other accounts and blogs and yadda yadda Also I really wanted to have a picture of a palsycorn.
A subspecies of unicorn born with cerebral palsy
)( MOAR PALSYCORN LOVECollapse )
March 2nd, 2014
Listening To: Skin (Sarabeth) by Rascal Flatts
*waves from a tangled pile of limbs and mobility aids*
So. Um. This is LiveJournal. Interesting. Nice to meet y'all.
Anyway, I'm Cara. I'm a multiply disabled (both physically and psychiatrically) geek girl who has a foothold (er, crutch-hold) in almost every social media site ever so I figured I'd try this one.
No, but seriously. I do a lot of activist work in disability spaces and wanted a place where I can ramble on about disability, sure, but also the loads of OTHER stuff that contributes to the mosaic of FEELINGS and THOUGHTS and THINGS that is Cara Such as how Captain Janeway and Chakotay were meant to be together. Or how Donna Noble totally should have gotten more screen time. Or anything relating to Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant books (I'm a teensy bit obsessed). Really, I just wanted a place where I could be weird and let my freak flag fly.
My friends will undoubtedly seize upon this journal in short order, so, erm, if you don't know me already, hold on tight and stay for the ride. It's bound to be interesting.