Sunday, March 15, 2009

While I'm on the Soapbox

Posted on/at 2:21 AM by The Goddess

Because Women with disabilities are ...

This was inspired by the somewhat famous lengthy "because women's work is underpaid or unpaid..., etc" quote that ends with "and for lots and lots of other reasons, we are part of the women's liberation movement" (or, "we are feminists", depending on what version you're reading). You can read here.

It started on a leaflet by a student group in London and has since been reprinted on t-shirts, postcards, web graphics and lots of other things. The version below doesn't speak for all women with disabilities, nor does it represent situations which always occur but they all do, sometimes occur, and that's why they're here.

Because women with disabilities are marginalized by society for being disabled and for being women and if we advocate for ourselves we're called complainers and/or bitchy and/or negative and/or confrontational, and if we don't we get walked upon like doormats

...and if we use wheelchairs we are looked upon with condescending pity, and if we don't use wheelchairs it is assumed we aren't disabled and if we use wheelchairs but still have some mobility it is assumed we don't really need them in the first place

...and because if we have a psychiatric disability we are labeled crazy and/or lazy and/or helpless and/or stupid and if we don't want to take medications we're called non-compliant, and if we do we are called drug seekers or drug addicts

...and because when our physical disabilities are "invisible" we go to doctors for years and never get a correct diagnosis, but do get labeled malingerers and/or hypochondriacs or are misdiagnosed with psychiatric disorders we do not have

...and because when women with disabilities work we have to fight discrimination and "request" so-called accommodations which should already be in place and are condescended to by people who believe it some kind of miracle that someone who is disabled can hold down a job just like an able-bodied person

...and because if we are unable to work we are ostracized by societies which consider us useless since our lives cannot be defined by what we "do for a living", and when people meet us and ask what we "do", we are questioned as if we are more likely to be lazy people who just do not want jobs than people in poverty due to being unable to work

...and because women with disabilities are still having to remind the world that we exist, while healthy, able-bodied people are on television 24 hours a day on networks usually owned by men and because women's magazines and the fashion industry objectify all women's bodies but ignore the bodies of physically disabled women completely and because we do not see accurate representations of ourselves in books or on television shows or even on websites related to women's issues

...and because if we are women of color or bisexual or lesbian or transgender or pansexual and if we are poor and/or homeless and if we are survivors of childhood and/or adult abuse or sexual assault we have extra barriers to face, yet disability issues are often ignored by non-disabled people who fight discrimination against people in the above categories

...and because when we have to rely on government assistance to support ourselves, we are put through years of red tape to get and to keep poverty-level incomes and our names sit on waiting lists for affordable housing for years, because our governments provide little funding for social services programs

...and because to get any assistance at all from our governments we have to define, prove, describe, and prove again exactly what our disabilities are and how they affect our lives to a system that is based upon the assumption that there are more healthy people on the planet faking disabilities for fun or just for the heck of it than women who really are disabled and would not waste time and energy applying for assistance we did not actually need

...and because women with disabilities who need public transportation often still cannot get it because it is not accessible to us and the programs that do exist for para-transit often require us to request transportation two days or a week before and give the exact times and addresses of our destinations and when we want to leave and when we want to go home, and even after that we are often left waiting for hours before the transportation ever gets there so we are unable to go anywhere spontaneously like people able to use public transportation can

...and because women with disabilities who drive cars but do not look like the stereotype still used by our societies to define all disabled people, we are chastised for parking in handicapped spaces even though we have permits for them

...and because when we use wheelchairs but still have the ability to walk sometimes people ask us what we have a wheelchair for and/or assume we do not really need it and/or ask us who it is really for even when we are alone and it is obviously for us

...and because women with disabilities are at a higher risk risk than healthy and able-bodied women to be abused and sexually assaulted in a world where violence against women is already an epidemic

...and because when we are housebound and are abused by family members who we live with because we are not able to live on our own, we are told by domestic violence programs that we do not qualify for assistance because the people who abused us are not our spouses or lovers, and there are no shelters in the United States specifically for people like us who never had the physical ability to get a spouse or a lover in the first place but still have been abused as adults

...and because women with disabilities who do go to homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters or sexual assault crisis programs often find out that the staff who are otherwise very helpful have absolutely no understanding of disability issues

...and because we still have (primarily male) doctors who tell us if we are educated about our disabling illnesses that we must be hypochondriacs and/or tell us our disabilities do not even exist and to just go home and get some rest and avoid stress and wait to die, when they do not know how to adequately treat our illnesses and are not willing to learn

...and because women with disabilities who go to gynecologists for health care often find that the examining tables are not set up to be accessible for us and because women with disabilities who use oral contraception or the birth control patch or injections still have little information on how they might interfere with many other medications we take because the information does not exist since the research has not been done

...and because most medical students are still male, and medical schools are still run primarily by men and most medical texts are still written by men, and because illnesses that primarily occur in women and often disable us are still not well understood by many doctors, are often incurable, and are not researched nearly enough since what research that does exist is underfunded and the male-dominated industry of Western medicine still does not view disabling diseases that occur primarily in women to be much of a priority

...and because many of us take medications daily which will have effects on us we will never know about because no research has been done on how these medications affect women's bodies, since it is thought that protecting our reproductive organs is always our biggest concern in life and a reason to keep women out of medical studies even though the male-dominated medical industry never bothered to ask our opinions about that

...and because women with disabilities who go to emergency rooms are still having their needs ignored, are still verbally abused, dismissed, condescended to, and mistreated by doctors and by nurses and by emergency technicians on a regular basis, since we use emergency rooms more frequently than non-disabled people and since our illnesses are often not widely understood, and since women in general are still assumed to be more likely to feign medical problems than men are due to the misogynistic culture we live in which labeled disabled women with "hysteria" for many years

...and because women with disabilities still have to remind otherwise progressively-minded people about our accessibility needs, and sometimes we find that fellow activists who are healthy and able-bodied and working towards social change, seem to think the the social changes necessary to include women with disabilities in their groups are not really necessary and are actually inconveniences to the other activists who care about equality for people in general but apparently forget that we are people

...and because women with disabilities still end up homeless or living in situations that are detrimental to our safety and/or health due to the inexcusable lack of affordable housing for people with our income levels, even when we live in one of the wealthiest nations on earth and because information on affordable housing is often hard to find, not easy to understand, and not designed to ever get to women who are bed bound or housebound or whose disabilities are neurological or psychiatric and because we had to seek out such information from other women with disabilities when we did not get it from government agencies which are supposed to provide it

...and because women with disabilities who are housebound often live in extreme isolation and there are few programs to help us get the assistance we need at home and programs that do exist are under-funded and have long waiting lists and extensive application processes and strict eligibility criteria designed to exclude people more often than to help us and some of us never get the assistance we need in our homes

...and because women with disabilities who are isolated are at a greater risk for situational depression and suicide

...and because women with disabilities are still being confined to nursing homes and long term psychiatric facilities against our will be governments that would rather institutionalize their citizens than assist us in leading independent lives since it is economically cheaper for them to lock us up in cages

...and because we still can't get accessible, affordable health care of any kind but men running our governments can spend billions of dollars on militia to wage wars on other countries where more women are disabled by weaponry paid for by our governments

...and for lots and lots of other reasons, we are feminists with disabilities fighting for our rights.

This is an essay or rant about why women with disabilities need to fight for our rights, and why some of us, as feminists with disabilities are fighting for our rights. This describes many ways in which women with disabilities are still facing obstacles, stereotypes, discrimination, and other social barriers today, and how we have to fight for our equality. This is based upon a famous quote on why women are feminists fighting for women's liberation which starts, 'because women's work is unpaid or underpaid'....

This version is specifically about women with disabilities. This mentions many ways in which women with disabilities are mislabeled, stereotyped, categorize unfairly, ostracized, marginalized, and treated as less than human in society today, even in the year 2003. To change the world and make it an equal place for women with disabilities to live, many problems mentioned here need to be addressed."



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