greenie_breizh: (quote)
I have a new apartment! Very excited about that, will update with more soon. But first I've let too much time go by again and I want to share a bunch of links. Today on the list: DADT ends! Dan Savage's readers are idiots! Shocking news: people with disabilities are the ones who know what's the best for them! La France se rend compte que la question du genre existe!

Onwards:

- "Sexuality doesn't matter on the battlefield"; this opinion piece by a U.S. soldier is a textbook example of the rhetoric around lifting Don't Ask Don't Tell, aka it states the obvious (sorry McCain). It's great for what it wants to do, and it gives me an excuse to say, DADT IS OVER. Yay, confettis, hugs, all that, I forgot to do it at the time because I was writing papers, I think. This IS a great step forward, and about time, and I'm REALLY glad Obama finally has something to show for himself in terms of LGB civil rights. But the truth is that it's a bit of a bittersweet victory to me because this whole DADT thing has (understandly and expectedly) gotten wrapped up in celebrating America's Greatness and the Greatness of its Military and that makes me cringe. I don't really want to spend hours going on about it, but essentially I hate displays of patriotism a-la-U.S and I'd rather the U.S. would stop sending soldiers abroad on "liberty missions" or whatever they're calling them these days. That said, just like I support same-sex marriage but still question its normalizing assumptions, I feel that I can have little to no sympathy for the institution of the military and still respect that some LGB people may disagree and want to be part of the army. So, in short: good for them.

- Not that people are really talking about it anymore, but I did want to link one more great post, this time by Kate Harding, about Assange's sexual assault charges.

- Two great posts by [livejournal.com profile] chaoticidealism:
the first one on the importance of getting people involved in projects that are meant to benefit them. And don't assume that because you have people who walk with canes in the office that they can speak up for wheelchair users, this kind of thing. This reminds me of a piece published in the National Post recently about the crosswalk sound for visually-impaired people sounding too much like a bird, and it seemed like this was just "well-meaning" people with no visual impairments making noise about this; while actual visually-impaired people were like, "we don't care! just pick a uniform system so we don't get harmed!". So, FAIL. It comes down to the most basic advice, but one that always bears repeating: don't assume you know better and ask people to whom it actually matters. You're way more likely to fail by assuming you can anticipate someone else's needs than by asking the question, and having to ask doesn't make you an idiot, most of the time it actually makes you more respectful (and, in the case of creating infrastructure for people with disabilities, more successful).
The other post is just a really interesting reflection on what autism is about, and why thinking of it as a social disorder might not be entirely accurate. It was really informative and I recommend it to, well, anyone, because everyone could do with a little more knowledge on autism.

- I want to rant a lot about Dan Savage's latest post about asexuality and the profoundly dumb things that his readers are saying in the comments; both display a staggering lack of understanding of asexuality and knowledge about the asexual community. But I'll keep it short because I actually have work to do. First of all, OBVIOUSLY people should discuss their sexual expectations with future partners. I hate that this is made into an argument about asexuals v. sexuals; there are sexual people with low sex drives and that's cool, and there are asexual people who are willing to have sex, and that's cool too. "Asexual" is a useful and important identity that people can take up, and which might help them find a community and navigate a very sexualized world (I use the term broadly, meaning that most of us go around taking (hetero) sexual desire for granted). But it doesn't allow you to make generalizations about what asexual people are like or what they should do; it certainly doesn't allow you to pass judgment because CLEARLY being sexual is the best/most natural/whatever the fuck. I'm continually impressed (and discouraged) by queer people's capacity to be bigots when it comes to anything but their brand of sexual orientation. Ugh. Asexual people struggle enough with the idea of dating sexual people, and how to disclose their identity, when is the right time, etc; they don't need sexual people to make them feel extra guilty and stressed out. Instead we should think about how we can create (within our personal sphere of dating, but also within our community) supportive environments where people can communicate and negotiate their (sexual or non-sexual) needs without being blamed for their own desires.

- What the Fuck Has Obama Done So Far?, which is both a cool idea and interesting website (I only wish each item would link to a more comprehensive note on the particular achievement).

- En français! Un article assez intéressant de Télérama sur la question du genre en France. Il est grand temps que ça fasse question.
greenie_breizh: (Default)
One of these days I will have the time to write something about what's going on in my life, but for now I'll stick to more food for thought:

- Glee's Gay Suicide PSA: It got worse: This article perfectly summarizes why the episode left me with a very bitter taste. Ironically, Allie and I came home to watch that episode right after I'd given a lecture about sexuality and schooling and seriously, I could have used the episode as a perfect example of everything that we're doing wrong about homophobia in schools. Bah. (On a much nicer note, the lecture went awesome and I heard from a number of students that they really enjoyed it. I feel like it was the best one I've given so far.)

- On this topic, I have to link this wonderful blog post by a mom whose 5-year-old boy wanted to dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. It's both heartening and maddening to read about the kind of stress a child has to go through when he disrupts gender expectations, but if I can be that great a mom one day, I'll be happy.

- Also, a bunch of people have started a Write Your Principal letter campaign, where basically you commit to sending letters to principals of schools that you've attended growing up, and letting them know that you expect them to do something about homophobia in their schools and to question the heteronormative school culture they might be perpetuating (OK, that last one may be mostly me, but it would be awesome if that was included). This is meant for the U.S. but I would encourage anyone who can to do this. People in schools need to realize that people care even after they graduate, and even when they don't have kids in the school system.

On a totally different note...

- As a follow-up to my last posts, I wanted to post a few links on why the Rally to Restore Sanity was, in some ways, extremely problematic. It's partly the ablism of the title, which is not even where I went first because I sometimes suck at noticing ablism (my own and society's)(thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lounalune for calling me out on it). More generally, I loved this post because it touched on almost everything I had in mind, as someone who very much loves Jon Stewart and his show and yet sometimes feels very ambivalent about it. I particularly love this section, in response to part of the speech that Jon gave at the end of the rally:
“So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?”
Why indeed, Jon? Why indeed would you say such things about people on the right, making it impossible to work with them? Except, of course, that it’s not your rights being denied. It’s not you who can’t marry your girlfriend, who when you look down the road at your potential futures see the horror of not being able to protect your assets together, or even be by each other’s side at a hospital bed. It’s not you who have had to fight all your life to get your gender accepted, even grudgingly, as a legal reality, not you who will have whispers following you the rest of your life or who fears to publish things under your own name because it outs your entire life history. It’s not you who worry that you’re getting older and a woman in an industry that is not known for accepting women, not you who are worrying that if you get fired from your job you may never find another one like it.
greenie_breizh: (identity)
Through an NPR report that a friend recommended, I started reading [livejournal.com profile] chaoticidealism's journal, and I suggest you all do the same. In my own time I've focused more on the type of marginalization that non-whiteness, non-heterosexuality and femininity/femaleness bring onto people, but obviously marginalization isn't limited to these particular experiences. Disability studies is an entire big field that I've only been able to dip into briefly, but which I find fascinating because it speaks to me on the same level as the stuff that I'm more familiar with.

The experience of oppression at the hand of a dominant group has much potential for enabling people with different experiences to connect and empathize with each other (that doesn't mean equating the experience of being black with the experience of being gay, but rather it means recognizing the different forms that systemic oppression can take). I love to be reminded of that by reading thoughtful, non-essentialist reflections from someone else who's been thinking about this sort of stuff.

I particular enjoyed this post entitled "Joining the Disability Rights Movement", on the place of the neurodiversity community (which includes people with autism) within the larger disability rights movement.

As a sidenote, I love when people in the majority group get labeled, the way that Lisa is using the word 'neurotypical' to describe people who aren't part of the neurodiversity community. It feels weird, but it's an important experience to have when you're part of the dominant group and thus are most likely not used to being labeled constantly (including by people who barely know you). I think we have a lot to gain from being able to recognize the parts of us which enable us to access certain types of privilege.

EDIT: From a new post of [livejournal.com profile] chaoticidealism, not the one I was mentioning, but it sums up the argument wonderfully:
But sometimes, I see people who say, "I'm high-functioning. I'm not like those low-functioning people over there." And then they advocate for the rights of high-functioning people only, by whatever arbitrary standard they're using today to define "high-functioning", because at some level down deep, they're still trying to justify their existence. They feel like they've got to say, "I'm valuable because I can do X, Y, and Z", and distance themselves as much as possible from "disability". They don't realize that the solution is to challenge the disability stereotype that they're taking for granted. And they don't realize that it's valid to say, "I'm valuable," no strings attached, with disability or no disability completely irrelevant.
greenie_breizh: (full of words)
First, [livejournal.com profile] arcadiane wrote this excellent post on Where The Wild Things Are (the movie). I realized I'd never written about the movie and what I thought about it but she's said it all, pretty much, and I'm still not sure I have my own words to talk about it. I can see how people would hate the movie and find it boring, but if you can let yourself be taken by the beauty, the quiet, the kid's point of view, and not look for a plot, it's exactly what I would have wanted this movie to be, I think.

Second, I actually discovered this a while ago but I don't think I've ever linked to them: ASL songs. They're vids that put songs into ASL language (I'm assuming you can do the same with other sign languages, but as in the world of hearing, American stuff dominates online) and they're damn cool. Two awesome guys who do them are CaptainL0ver (his version of If You Seek Amy is particularly awesome, but check out more) and CaptainValor (I love him in Party in the USA). And then there's this adorable teen (and the girl he learned it from) doing it on Hot 'n' Cold (they're not super fluent or putting the rhythm into it as much, but he's super cute). (They're all a little gay and effeminate, too, which, <3.)

Third, not so much with the fun and funny, my f-list is awesome and shared links with me about James Cameron's Avatar that I wanted to share back with everybody:
- About the white privilege perspective in the movie, check out When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?, which is dead-on throughout the entire article, but I want to highlight this paragraph:
These are movies about white guilt. Our main white characters realize that they are complicit in a system which is destroying aliens, AKA people of color - their cultures, their habitats, and their populations. The whites realize this when they begin to assimilate into the "alien" cultures and see things from a new perspective. To purge their overwhelming sense of guilt, they switch sides, become "race traitors," and fight against their old comrades. But then they go beyond assimilation and become leaders of the people they once oppressed. This is the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare. It's not just a wish to be absolved of the crimes whites have committed against people of color; it's not just a wish to join the side of moral justice in battle. It's a wish to lead people of color from the inside rather than from the (oppressive, white) outside.

- About ableism in the movie, read Future of Portrayals of Disability in Movies? Cameron’s Avatar. I thought about a lot of that as soon as I saw Jake in a wheelchair. :/
greenie_breizh: (Default)

652€ disability cheque: How am I supposed to live?


I've been thinking and talking about disability quite a lot these past couple of days, so it's a happy coincidence that today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (or should that be Ableism?). I wish I had more time to do one coherent post based on the discussion that I had following my post on the deaf kid storyline in House, especially since a lot is in French.

I'm not extremely familiar with ableism (which is defined as "discriminatory, oppressive or abusive behaviour arising from the belief that disabled people are inferior to others"), but from having worked on other forms of discrimination and privilege, I think I would rather use and think about able-bodied privilege than ableism. The difference is important to me.

Ableism, like homophobia/heterosexism or racism, tends to refer to specific actions or thoughts, and assumes that disability is a clearly-defined state, an objective fact if you will. Ableism may be unconscious, but it is still the result of what an individual person did or said.

Abled privilege, on the other hand, invites us to think about the context that makes ableist behavior possible. It challenges not individuals who -unconsciously or not - engage in abileism, but in a system that favors and rewards being able-bodied (in the larger sense, including mental disabilities). Focusing on the consequences of living in a world that privileges the able-bodied is not unimportant, it is a very practical concern. We need to think about how our world and assumptions constantly silence, marginalize and inferiorize the disabled, and to think about the practical and very real changes we can make the world more welcoming for people with a disability. But it's even more important that, as we make efforts to enact changes, we think of the framework that we are working with. If we don't, we run the risk of supporting changes that are in fact still embedded in a way of thinking that posits that being able-bodied is better. And while that might still make the world more physically accessible to people with disability, it doesn't change how we make them feel in this world. Trying to address the consequences (ableism) without thinking about the context (abled privilege) runs the risk of having the very presumptuous and conceited attitude of thinking we know better, and thinking we are doing disabled people a favor, instead of correcting something that is our fault.


Because I've been mostly reading up and talking about deafness and deaf culture in the past few days, I want to finish by focusing on this particular "disability" here. I'd like to invite you to read on controversial issues within the deaf community, for example why attempts to integrate deaf students in general-education might not serve deaf students as much as ourselves and what we like to believe about our culture of "inclusion".

Also, this really only works for French people, but here is a visual lexicon for LSF (French Sign Language) for people who are interested in learning more than the alphabet. It doesn't replace actually taking classes, of course, but it's an interesting resource. Maybe we could at very least learn to say "hi", "sorry" and "bye" - bare minimum to say the least, but it's a first small step.

I'd also like to take advantage of this post to highlight some links that [livejournal.com profile] lounalune shared with me. I haven't had time to read them but I already know they will be good food for thought. :)

And to finish, a poem that I found here and really liked, and lyrics from a song I've been listening to too much and seemed appropriate.


Thoughts of a Deaf Child

My family knew that I was deaf
When I was only three, and since then fifteen years ago
Have never signed to me.
I know when I'm around the house,
I try and use my voice,
It makes them feel more comfortable;
For me, I have no choice.
I try, communicate their way-
Uncomfortable for me.
My parents wouldn't learn sign
Ashamed or apathy?
I never cared about the sound of radios and bands;
What hurts me most is, I never heard
My parents' signing hands.

-Stephen J. Bellitz
Reprinted from Senior News, July 1991




This one's for the lonely
The ones that seek and find
Only to be let down
Time after time

This one's for the faithless
The ones that are surprised
They are only where they are now
Regardless of their fight

This is for the ones who stand
For the ones who try again
For the ones who need a hand
For the ones who think they can


- Greg Laswell, Comes and Goes in Waves
greenie_breizh: (identity)
Don't have time to work on my paper before I go out to lunch, so I wanted to share a few important links:

LJ comm [livejournal.com profile] rahmbamarama has been having an interesting and very necessary discussion about racism (and other forms of privilege). The original post itself contains a number of useful and important links for anyone looking to educate themselves about white privilege.

I originally came to this post and the fic through [livejournal.com profile] deepad's Open Letter to the Politfandom that is a MUST-READ not just for people who read and write in the Politfandom, but anyone who is ever going to think about Barack Obama and/or write/read original fiction that is based in the real world. Basically I think everyone should read it.

Once you're done, definitely check out [livejournal.com profile] color_blue's redrawing boundaries. It's frank and angry and a good reminder that oppressed minorities put up with a lot of shit on a daily basis and at the end of the day they're still the ones who are expected to give the "benefit of the doubt" to privileged individuals who have been too steeped in their privilege to see what they were doing all along. It's not an easy read and I can't quite describe my feelings about it but I think it's essential to read that side of the coin, too, not just the people who will put up with trying to explain and educate.

It's also a nice reminder that fandom is, like any other place, often safest for people with privilege.

I also need to share this video (original post here) that I all beg you to watch, because at some point you're going to be the one calling on someone for saying/doing something racist or being called on for saying/doing something racist:



Every time I do a post on white privilege and racism I think I really ought to say something myself rather than simply point to other people's posts, but I feel like I am still learning too much at this point. I feel like listening and pointing to things that make me think and help me feel more confident in my understanding of white privilege is more productive at this point, and I am less likely to say things I will later realize were pretty idiotic. I have enough of those already. :) I think one of the most important things I am learning is that, as someone who is privileged in a number of ways, when someone who is less so is expressing frustration and disappointment and trying to teach me something, the very least I can do is listen and avoid defending myself. Not because I'm not doing anything wrong, quite the opposite. But because, while I am implicated in the system of privilege that advantages me, it's not about me. It's also not about all my amazing middle-class white guys that I know and I'm proud to call my friends. Although it is often about what we do, unconsciously or not.

To finish, go read The Spoon Theory (found here originally) to think about disability and the privilege of being able-bodied.


EDIT: See also On racism, pop culture and political correctness.
greenie_breizh: (identity)
"See, if we can't notice color, if I'm not allowed to notice color, I'm not going to have a very easy time understanding or acknowledging the consequences of color."

If you're white, and ESPECIALLY if you feel concerned by racism, but even if you don't, I BEG you to watch this presentation by Tim Wise. I know it's an hour long. Every minute of it is worth it because this is something we don't talk about. Not in those terms, and it's extremely important that we do. That we understand what whiteness and white privilege is, that we understand what we gain from it and how it hurts us, because it does.

(People of color should also really, really watch this to familiarize themselves with the argument and because it's a really fascinating presentation. It's just that for white people it really should be close to an obligation.)

This, by the way, touches upon why I think France's approach of "we're all equal! we can't distinguish one another by skin color! this is racism!" is problematic at best. In the words of Time Wise (and to repeat the point made by the quote above) "if we're colorblind, we can't discuss white privilege". We need to acknowledge color so we can deal with the consequences.

Interestingly enough, this morning on [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes someone quoted [livejournal.com profile] nightengalesknd talking about the phrase 'I don't think of you as disabled' and why that's actually offensive to disabled people. It is the exact same mechanism at work here.

When we don't acknowledge difference and inequalities, it's always to the advantage of the dominant group.
greenie_breizh: (random4)
Privilege is a concept I'm still learning about so I can truly own the concept and articulate it... so for now I will simply link you to three interesting posts:

- What privilege is and what it isn't.

- Privilege and meritocracy.

- Links to Tim Wise about White Privilege.

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