Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Is this safe? Are you safe?


Some Sins Invalid pieces which they use to open their shows which centre the non-normative body and social model politics at the heart of the night and re-position us as desirous and erotic.

Is this safe? Are you safe?
Are you sufficiently insulated from us,
the deviant, the disabled, the non-normative, the crippled
or might you become stained, barrow leaking needs

Are we, the disabled, the unconscious visceral threat to the able-bodied myth of emotional predictability and bodily control?
Is that why you settle most comfortably in your mental lazy-boy
as we labour to shield you from our differences?

Is it why you contain us in intuitions,
police our bodies and movements,
abuse us, exterminate us,
eliminate us even before birth?
Do we frighten you so?
Must we frighten you?

We concave our chests to hold your projections
Cupped repositories for your fear of difference
Your denial of your need for help
Your terror of being vulnerable

A wise woman once said
Fear is behaving as though truth
Were not the truth

Living requires risk as does the hottest of desires
We live in continual risk
And tonight we are coming home.

--------------------------------------


We find struggle inside of desire.
We find resolution inside of our desperation and defence.
We find spirit in the darkest hours of the soul.

We struggle within our collective consciousness to transform
assumptions of who is whole,
who is healthy, who is expendable,
Who is desirous, who is erotic.

Who can fuck, who can birth,
Who can love and be loved,
 Who can lead, and who can be a revolutionary.

Is there a perfect body?
There is no right or wrong body
of a conscious revolutionary mind.

We create sacred spaces
that doesn’t not presume
whose body is sanctified or righteous,
that do not claim anybody as expendable.

When we are all recognized as sacred
our wings cross impossible borders and geographies,
We become beautifully almougious and unified.
Collectively, we witness our own transformation,
that we have no one body,
no perfect form, no perfect shape.

Like a phoenix rising, we can shift new territories
Transforming the narrative of ugly,
absurd, horrifying and deviant
In to powerful, sanctified and the sacred.

We come in bodies of various bones
 and expansive wisdom
that knows no bounds towards revolution.

We are seeking a phoenix to rise us up, to lift us up,
To collective memory,
To collective legacy,
to rise our freedom home.

Sins Invalid-krips who inspire me!


People who inspire me, (in the true non-patronizing sense of the word), are the sins invalid crew, so I’m going to share some of what they are about and links to their website and youtube clips.

Where can I find them?





‘’We had to develop the look of a show which was simultaneously erotic and communicating resistant politics.’’
 ''As people with disabilities, we are not oppressed by what we can or cannot do with our bodies or minds. We are oppressed by the systemic prejudice, discrimination, segregation, and violence we face because we do not fall within a perceived “norm.”





What is Sins Invalid? 
Info from fb

Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility

Mission
Sins Invalid is a performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized. Our performance work explores the themes of sexuality, embodiment and the disabled body. Conceived and led by disabled people of color, we develop and present cutting-edge work where normative paradigms of "normal" and "sexy" are challenged, offering instead a vision of beauty and sexuality inclusive of all individuals and communities.

We define disability broadly to include people with physical impairments, people who belong to a sensory minority, people with emotional disabilities, people with cognitive challenges, and those with chronic/severe illness. We understand the experience of disability to occur within any and all walks of life, with deeply felt connections to all communities impacted by the medicalization of their bodies, including trans, gender variant and intersex people, and others whose bodies do not conform to our culture(s)' notions of "normal" or "functional."

WHAT WE DO:


Our goals are to:
--Promote leadership opportunities for people with disabilities within our communities and within the broader social justice movement.
--Provide a supportive and politically engaged space for both emerging and established artists with disabilities to develop and present compelling works to a broad audience.

--Develop and present strong artistic work that explores sexuality and the non-normative body, integrating the full and multi-dimensional experiences of disabled artists who are also people of color and LGBTIQ, in order to represent all of our communities and challenge dominant misperceptions about people with disabilities.

WE DO THIS BY:

--Offering political education workshops for community based organizations and other organizations that share our commitment to social justice principles as a means of integrating analysis and action around disability, race, gender, and sexuality.

--Presenting multidisciplinary performances (video, poetry, spoken word, music, drama, and dance) by people with disabilities for broad audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere.

--Organizing performance workshops for community members with and without disabilities.
General Information

Vision:

Sins Invalid recognizes that we will be liberated as whole beings – as disabled/as queer/as brown/as black/as genderqueer/as female- or male-bodied – as we are far greater whole than partitioned. We recognize that our allies emerge from many communities and that demographic identity alone does not determine one's commitment to liberation.

Sins Invalid is committed to social and economic justice for all people with disabilities – in lockdowns, in shelters, on the streets, visibly disabled, invisibly disabled, sensory minority, environmentally injured, psychiatric survivors – moving beyond individual legal rights to collective human rights.

Our stories, imbedded in analysis, offer paths from identity politics to unity amongst all oppressed people, laying a foundation for a collective claim of liberation and beauty.





A Sexy Crip Manifesto in Six Parts







Extract from Berne, P, 2008, Sins Invalid: Disability, Dancing, and Claiming Beauty in Solinger Fox, Irani (eds) Telling Stories to Change the World Teaching Learning Social Justice, Routledge, London.

Sins asks the question: have you ever been to an erotic event featuring people with disabilities?”, let’s take a look at the context in which we live. We know that our culture maintains embodied and enforced “norms,” norms that constrict all of us with unmet expectations and fears of the repercussion of not “measuring up.” Regardless of where we identify on the spectrum of sexuality, gender, size, ability, age, class, etc., the boundaries of our normalcy get policed. And when we transgress boundaries by having different abilities, gender
presentation, etc., we are at risk of social and economic alienation, hostility, threats to safety/violence, and the deepest acts of dehumanization—we become ‘they’,  othered.  

To bring the issue to the body, the definition of the “normal” body is becoming ever narrower, to the extent that even the natural process of growth and aging is seen as a problem to overcome. People with disabilities are often seen as “flawed” beings whose hope of normalcy rests in the “medical model’’.

The disability rights movement articulated another lens of viewing disability—the social model. With this view, we understand that the “problem” resides in sociopolitical and economic structures which exclude an array of people and abilities, and the solution is social and institutional change.

This should resound familiar with folks from a social justice perspective. But still let’s make sure we’re clear. Let’s say I go to a building which has stairs; my wheelchair does not climb stairs. Is the problem that I cannot walk up stairs? Or is the problem that the building owner and architect did not create a building which allows entrance to people with a variety of means of mobility?
Is the problem my body? Or is the problem being excluded because my body is different from the building owner’s?

As people with disabilities, we are not oppressed by what we can or cannot do with our bodies or minds. We are oppressed by the systemic prejudice, discrimination, segregation, and violence we face because we do not fall within a perceived “norm.”

Sins create a space where the non-normative body is centred and erotic. We challenge dominant notions of the disabled body and sexuality because we understand it is key to challenging the oppression of people with disabilities; moreover, our performers offer stories and visions affirming our strength as people with disabilities, creating beauty in which we are centred.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Sex toys for fun-loving Krips: The importance of knowing your own body and having a bag of tricks!


As a person with a physical disability who is also queer and gender queer sex toys are essential for my my enjoyment of my own body-I am a big fan of masturbation- as well as creating experimental and fun times with my lovers!  

Growing up with a disability I was taught to create a lot of distance between my actual bodily experience and my sense of self. It has taken me until recently, I am 28 now, to actually inhabit my body fully and what it is experiencing especially drew in sex and masturbation.

Acquiring a number of sex toys of various shapes and functions has been fundamental in allowing me to reconnect with my body as well as bring an experimental and exciting atmosphere into my sex with women.

Having a ‘bag of tricks’ handy which I can pull out when I bring someone home for the first time allows me to feel confident as a lover. It is also something I can flirtatiously refer to when we are getting a bit hot and sourcey before we go home together: ‘So I have a bag of tricks at home, wanna come have a play?’

I wish I have known of joys of sex toys long before now. I have only really invested in them in the last year; following an instance of bringing a lover home and having her go ‘’what you have NO sex toys?! You really need to get some! What kind of lesbian are you?’’ I am now the well equip kind :) 




Sunday, 12 August 2012

Unbend you straight




Text of audio:



She places her hands on me
Without asking and pulls at this bent body,
These legs the site of her expertise.
She has studied my affliction well
She knows these bodies
And how to fix me.

‘’Be strong’’ she says,
‘’You are a brave child,
Show me how brave you can be’’.
Breath held.
Teeth clenched.
She begins her work on me.
I am not this body, she cannot find me.

--------------


She lays beside me
Fingers tracing my bends and curves
‘’I love the way you move, your difference, uniqueness, you intrigue me’’
White teeth showing in the candle light
I fall
‘’it’s ok’’ she says
‘’relax, you’re beautiful’’

--------------

‘’You don’t cry like the others’’
She says,
‘’Good girl,
We’ll make you normal,
Make you walk’’.
Her accent, this 5yr old cannot place, is thick, this pain thicker.
I breathe.
She teaches me how to draw
A thin cord away from my body
Holding it like a balloon,
Like a kite out the window
Where my eyes find the sky.
The pain distant now, I float above
Above how it feels
How it feels to really be inside myself
Far from these muscles which fight her unbending.
I am somewhere else.

Uncurl me,
This self so full of wrong and shame.
She finds me each day
And calls me in.

We began again
To try to straighten what belongs bent.
Control and tame this body,
Shame its movements.
There is hope in the fixing
Hope for acceptance,
For a ‘normal life’. 
I will grow into someone else.
A straight unbent woman on her wedding day,
Beautiful,
Normal,
Walking,
Wanted.

--------------

She finds me this night
Unfurls me,
Desire filled fingers
Discover my strings,
Drawing me in.
She asks
‘’Is this is ok,
And this?
And this?’’
Waits…
Waits for eyes to say yes as well as mouth
Then she follows my winding tracks
Where no lover has walked before,
To hidden places,
Shame filled by another woman.
She brings them out slowly,
These tangled cords of self,
Turning them in the glow of soft light,
Small sounds,
 Breath.

‘’Breathe ‘’
She says,
‘’It’s ok’’.

Unraveled me
With your acceptance,
Watch me curl around you.
I think myself in love.
This space.
This body.
This night.

She finds the places that were never straightened
Too bent their natural state
Kisses them.
I am afraid they will hurt her, so strong the pain that hinds there.

She knows not what magic she is working,
With her slow and gentle hands
Her glowing body
Drawing out my light,
Calling it love.

This one my healer.
I can let go.
Be just as I am
Growing, un-normal, bent.

Psych nurse/Jehovah’s witness


Saturday-16th of June 2012


Sweaty body,
muddy shoes, walking feet,
home.
Thoughts a tangle,
float like sunlight,
like rain clouds
gathering
Calling me in.

Knock at the door,
phone calls un-answered.
I think twice, a third time
decide it can only be
mum
or a Jehovah,
open door.

Dame Edna glasses,
black pink fudge
hair and a scarf with strange patterns
greet me.

You, woman,
are the strangest
Jehovah witness
I have ever seen.

‘’Mental health, crisis team
come to make sure your ok,
so glad to see you’’

My life is a crisis
How am I doing? How are the meds?
Strange dreams,
build this reality,
a veil between here
and there

Who did I sleep with last night?
What gender does this body slip into?

How far is your body from mine?
Can I breathe you in?

 Good I say
(keeping my excess energy
to myself)

Making my anxiety less,
I say,
I say what they want
to hear.

‘‘And the thoughts of suicide?’’
Now how do I play?
‘‘They are there,
 My life is an existential crisis’’
 No pills can hold me.

‘’Casey’ she says,
‘‘psychoanalysis’’ she says
‘‘will help you resolve
 this crisis’’.

Resolve she pushes
the word   at me.
A resolution,
this system believes in them.
Tie your ends neatly.
Tie you up, bind you up,
boring self, know this one.

My life: hold on to it,
pull it all in,
hold it back together.

Eat your breakfast,
sleep well, take you meds
Hold still
you won’t feel a thing.
Don’t feel a thing.

Turn your love down,
your righteous rage down
slow down.
Hold down this body with your hands
name me,
make me normal,
show me my right mind
make me live here
all the time.

A resolution
will find me
lover, mother
by hands who know this body well
who belong to it
they can resolve this crisis.

I lie myself naked out for you
world.
To see for all that I am
all that I could be.
I will leave my shame behind

I will float free
with strange dreams to guide me.

I am privileged to be within this disabled body


This piece explores the ways in which I am privileged in this life, to inhabit this body, it also looks at the oppressions I am subjected to and my methods of resistance to these oppressions. 

It is adapted from the opening of a lecture I presented to first year arts students recently at my university on disability and its social constriction.



--------------------

It is a privilege to be speaking here today, to be given this stage, to be invited as someone with academic and insider knowledge of disability and importantly its social construction. I trust as arts students you are all aware of theorists like Foucault, who explores how power shapes us as subjects and how we resist it. 


This morning I am going to examine with you how living within this disabled body is both a privilege and an act of resistance in a society where the disabled body is routinely devalued and pathologised, as wrong.  

But first I want to explore the ways I am privileged in this life.

I am privileged to be at university, where too few women with disabilities find their way and fewer still into the realms of academia. To have found Cultural Studies as discipline and this unit which includes and explores disability from a social constructionist perspective allowing us explore and examine the need for social changes in how we view the non-normative body.

My very ability to speak is a position of privilege. I have a voice I can use and a body whose movements as I grow older I feel increasingly at home within. I am very privileged compared to other women with disabilities; not be living in poverty, to be free of forms violence, and forms of racism, to own my own home and to have no children (yet) which can be removed from my care, as a third of our children routinely still are. 

I am privileged that my body’s requirements and its daily routines are not regulated by service providers whose schedules do not take into account the late-nighters I still want to pull, sometimes with lovers :). I am very privileged to come from a family and have found friends who encourage and find joy in my difference and the perspectives I bring, the knowledge I hold. 

I am privileged. 

But in acknowledging my privilege, owning what power I do carry within me, within this body, I am also routinely disempowered and disabled by a society which views my non-normative body as less than the ideal, the less then the so called normal. And has designed the built environment in ways which structurally exclude me.

 I am stereotyped. As that brave little young thing who brought tears to the eyes of a lady as I reached for the tofu in woolies the other week- yes its hard trying to be vego. To that speed demon who just won’t stay off the roads around campus-I keep finding myself in trouble with uni security-one of the down sides of having the uni on a hill I guess :)

I am stereotyped by the stranger in the street who felt the need to stop and tell me if he was me he’d go home and kill himself right now, by the psychiatrist who told me he’d do the same thing.  

My being here at all is an act of resistance -in a society which filled with the message ''better off dead then disabled''.

I come to you with stories. 

A body full of stories. Stories of this body framed by this society as a personal tragedy, a story which I am asked to repeat over and over again, when asked what’s wrong with you?

I bring you the story of how a part of my mind that turned off, stopped breathing as my tiny lungs gasped for air not long after birth. And this changed me, how my emotions, thoughts and muscles are intertwined, where big feelings run down my legs in tremors. How I am full of feeling, full to the brim, unable to hide it and now unwilling. 

My stories of my body, of how it is to live inside here, to endure experiences of discrimination and oppression as people view me from the outside and see me as less than them in need of pity, in need of help. My stories are rarely given a stage to be heard, drowned out by the narratives of disability as personal tragedy, disability in need of a cure. It is these stories we are see portrayed in media, in films, in magazines so much we may not even be aware we are seeing over and over and over again. 

------------------

Then I go into slides looking at the media and disability representation, eg the super-crip, the search for a cure and looking at the medical model of disability vs the social model. How the social model creates a mind-shift bringing  the new perspective of the social construction of disability, creating the disability rights movement and a need for social change. 

See post for more info on the social model  http://f3ckability.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/disability-politics-101-social-model-of.html

Disability feminism 101

The current situation for women living with disabilities in Australia

The content outlining the disadvantage experienced by women with disabilities in Australia is taken from a paper titled ‘Women With Disabilities Australia: Policy Paper: 'Assessing the situation of women with disabilities in Australia: A human rights approach'-(July 2011)--written with extensive research and documentation by Women With Disabilities Australia--the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia (wwda.org.au). http://www.wwda.org.au/snapshot.htm Both men and women with disabilities face discrimination and a-sexualisation however; women with disabilities face particular disadvantages in the areas of education, work and employment, family and reproductive rights, health, violence and abuse. These are just some of the facts:

-Women with disabilities experience violence, particularly family violence and violence in institutions, more often than disabled men;
-Gender-based violence, including domestic/family violence, sexual assault/rape is a cause of disability in women;
-Women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk than disabled men, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation;
-Women with disabilities are more vulnerable as victims of crimes from both strangers and people who are known to them, yet crimes against disabled women are often never reported to law enforcement agencies;
-While disabled people are much more likely to live in poverty, women with disabilities are likely to be poorer than men with disabilities;
-Women with disabilities are still subjected to forced sterilizations within Australia
-Women with disabilities are more likely to be sole parents, to be living on their own, or in their parental family than disabled men;
-Women with disabilities who are parents, or who seek to become parents, face barriers in accessing adequate health care and other services for both themselves and their child/ren.


Disability feminism 101

In light of these depressing facts what can we do as feminists, to understand and mobilize around these issues? We can start by ensuring events are assessable! We can understand disability politics and disability feminism and fight the struggles from within these political perspectives. Disability feminism at its core deals with issues of the non-normative body/mind and how our experience of our disabilities are socially mediated and constructed by power. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, a disability feminist scholar and activist, writes about transforming feminist theory through the inclusion of the experience of disability. She proclaims that 

''disability allows for a critique of the intersections between the politics of appearance and the medicalization of subjugated bodies/minds. Feminist disability theory’s radical critique hinges on a broad understanding of disability as a pervasive cultural system that stigmatizes certain kinds of bodily variations. At the same time, this system has the potential to incite a critical politics. The informing premise of feminist disability theory is that disability, like femaleness, is not a natural state of corporeal inferiority, inadequacy, excess, or a stroke of misfortune. Rather, disability is a culturally fabricated narrative of the body, similar to what we understand as the fictions of race and gender. The disability/ability system produces subjects by differentiating and marking bodies. Although this comparison of bodies is ideological rather than biological, it nevertheless penetrates into the formation of culture, legitimating an unequal distribution of resources, status, and power within a biased social and architectural environment. As such, disability has four aspects: first, it is a system for interpreting and disciplining bodily variations; second, it is a relationship between bodies and their environments; third, it is a set of practices that produce both the able-bodied and the disabled; fourth, it is a way of describing the inherent instability of the embodied self. The disability system excludes the kinds of bodily forms, functions, impairments, changes, or ambiguities that call into question our cultural fantasy of the body as a neutral, compliant instrument of some transcendent will. A feminist disability theory denaturalizes disability by unseating the dominant assumption that disability is something that is wrong with someone. By this I mean, of course, that it mobilizes feminism’s highly developed and complex critique of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality as exclusionary and oppressive systems rather than as the natural and appropriate order of things''.

Some of our key struggles as women with disabilities are the opposite of those of mainstream feminism
A-sexualization is one such issue--to be seen as sexual beings, we want to have this choice, to cruise across the dance floor and do the pash, in short to be looked at and desired as a sexual object/being!  Mainstream feminism fights against the objectification of women’s bodies, disability feminism fights to be seen as sexy and desirable. Arising from this a-sexualisation is difficulty in finding partners and having healthy relationships where we are treated as equal and valued, free from emotional and physical abuse. Another key issue is the right to become mothers if we so wish, as we are often prevented through sterilization or being given the pill, (a common experience for women with intellectual disabilities), or actively discouraged from having children at all (Ball, 2004 cited in Newell, 2008, p. 80). If we have children there is a risk they will be taken from us, with recent research showing that over one third of children are removed from our care (Newell, 2008, p. 80).

 Feminist writer Jenny Morris writes:
‘Most people who we are interacting with including our lovers, are not like us--they don’t have a disability. It is therefore very difficult for us to recognise and challenge the values and judgments that are applied to us and our lives. Our ideas about disability and ourselves are generally informed by those who are not disabled’ (Morris, 1991, p.37). It takes courage to go out in public when we repeatedly encounter rejection and revulsion towards our non-normative bodies, are asked questions, such as ‘‘what’s wrong with you?’’ which exemplify an unequal power relationship and embody assumptions about our lives, and when ‘the very physical environment tells us that we don’t belong.

The affects of oppression
‘Once oppression has been internalized, little force is needed to keep us submissive’ as we continually inflict the pain of our oppression back upon ourselves (Campbell, 2009, p.16). The mental health effects of living in a disabling society have been found to place us at ‘double the risk of devolving a substance abuse problem or psychiatric disorder due to increased stress’ compared to the general population (Turner, Lloyd, & Taylor, 2006, p.221). The high rates of domestic violence and abuse women with disabilities are subject to leaves us at a greater risk of developing PTSD, depression, anxiety or other forms of mental illness, subsequent disabilities which further compound our disadvantage.  

 What can we do as feminists?
 ‘One of the reasons the situation for people with disabilities has been so slow to change is precisely because they are positioned as the ‘other’ in our culture. To change such terrain requires all of us to undertake a great deal of listening, talking and communication in so many ways in order to imagine disability differently and to change something that moves often only very imperceptibly-our culture itself. To embark on this journey, and proceed with it when it becomes difficult, we cannot avoid seeking answers to some important questions: why are we so concerned with defining and enforcing normalcy? What is at stake for all of us in confronting the frailties of our bodies, minds and lives? (Goggin & Newell 2005, p.200). How can we as feminists resist normative constructions of bodies/minds and find ways to subvert and challenge them?
 
Extracts from above from:

Thomas, C, 2004, Disability and Impairment in Swain, J, French, S, Barns, C & Thomas, C, (eds), 2004, Disabling Barriers-Enabling Environments, (2end ed.), Sage Publications, London.

Goggin, G & Newell, C, 2005, Disability in Australia: Exposing a Social Apartheid, University of New South Wales Press, Kensigton. 

Garland-Thomson, R, 2006, Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory in Davis, L, (ed) 2006, The Disabilities Studies Reader (2end ed.)

Morris, J, 1991, Pride Against Prejudice: Transforming Attitudes to Disability, The Women’s Press, London.

Disability politics 101- The social model of disability

Extract from  Garland-Thomson, R, 2006, Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory in Davis, L, (ed) 2006, The Disabilities Studies Reader (2end ed.)  
The disability movement began in the UK in the 1970s. We reclaimed the term ‘disability’ from professionals in medicine and social care who viewed it as a personal affliction, entirely reconstructing its meaning in the light of the social exclusions encountered in our own lived experience (UPIAS, 1976). In a radical move, we severed the presupposed causal link whereby impairment resulted in disability, asserting instead that disability was an entirely socially caused phenomenon. Disability was reformulated to mean the social disadvantages and exclusions that people with impairment faced in all areas of life: employment, housing, education, civil rights, transportation, negotiation of the built environment, sexuality and so forth. Traditional medical and welfarist models of disability, together with their culturally pervasive ‘personal tragedy’ counterpart, were thrown aside in favour of a social definition of disability. Mike Oliver coined the phrase ‘the social model of disability’ to capture this new paradigm, and it became a touchstone in Disability Studies and the disabled people’s movement in the UK. The social model of disability unleashed a powerful drive for social and political change. Disability was exposed as a form of social oppression and exclusion that should not be tolerated, analogous to already recognised oppressions associated with gender, race, class and sexuality. Once this understanding of disability is adopted, the manifestations of ablism can be readily observed: a wheelchair user or a person with visual impairment cannot access public transport systems, or is not able to obtain a quality education that would enable them to compete for well-paid jobs in the labour market, or is represented as a person of lesser value in films and other media. The disabling ‘social barriers’ in the lives of people with impairments can be identified and challenged because socially created barriers can be dismantled. As people with disabilities the social model has enabled a vision of ourselves free from constraints of disability (oppression) and provided a direction for our commitment to social change. It has played a central role in promoting disabled people’s individual self worth, collective identity and political organisation. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the social model has saved lives (Crow, 1996: 207). 




Now for some of my thoughts...


The built environment is a concrete way the social construction of disability is created and our social exclusion maintained within society. The historical failure to take disability into account when designing buildings has resulted in our ‘structural exclusion’ from many public areas of life (Thomas, 1999, p.18). The inadequate or complete lack of wheelchair access to many buildings as well as an ‘inaccessible public transport’ system exerts a profound impact on our ‘ability to assess spaces and participate fully and equally within society’ (Barnes, Mercer, & Shakespeare, 1999, p.121). Thomas (1999, p.18) adopts the stance that the inadequate access arises from widely held negative perceptions and stereotypes of disability that are ‘systemic and entrenched’ within society. Arising out of this context of exclusion are common cultural stereotypes of disability, such as it being perceived as a ‘personal tragedy where the person is assumed to be helpless and in need of pity’ (Goggin & Newell, 2005, p.19). However, the lived experience of disability is contextual to this society; Thomas (1999, p.113) asserts there is not an essential state of disability or impairment within the individual from which disadvantage arise, she argues it is a complex interplay of ‘socially constructed power relations’ and bodily experiences that form our relationship to the world.

We, as people with disabilities, seek to challenge ableism-prejudicial attitudes that equate devalued bodily conditions with decreased social value- and to reframe terms so that impairment refers to: the actual functional limitation within a person; and disability: the loss or limitation to take part in life on an equal level with others due to physical and social barriers. In this way we have a political framework from which to perceive our bodies/minds and the world from a new and empowered perspective. It gives us the words to describe our experiences of inequality and opens our hearts and minds by offering an alternative conceptualization of “the problem’’ through locating it externally within the environment; creating a collective identity which allows for a sense of purpose, political strength and solidarity to develop between us. 

Social model 

 

The unrelenting system of exclusion and otherness of disability in Australia is internalised by each of us, and indeed constructs us as subjects. In our private moments and in our cherished notions of ourselves, we are shaped and marked by the power relations of disability (Goggin & Newell, 2005, p.200). On a personal political note disability politics enables a political analysis of the dominant discourses to be undertaken leading to forms of resistance and unruly activism to be enjoyed--such as pashing women in woollies--resisting simultaneously the a-sexualisation people with disabilities are subject to as well as homophobia :)


Saturday, 11 August 2012

''Do you have sex in your wheelchair?''


This is a story/poem that addresses the question that I get asked a lot particularly by drunk people ‘do you have sex in my wheelchair?’ It’s a bit raunchy as it answers that question so if you’re not feeling up for taking the plunge and finding out or you’re under 18 then don’t have a listen. Its also now published at fuckabilityjax on dodsonandross.com 


It’s also about saying goodbye to my old wheelchair and welcoming in the new one which I received on Thursday.   

Text of audio:

This one looks just like my old one.
In 5years the manufacturers can offer me
nothing new, no new inventions,
just a $3000 price increase. So I look for the things
that make her different-yes,  she is a her,
who may become a him,
or float in-between in a gender-bending land.

I am levitating off the ground.
I move this way.
I feel the speed of a hill and its slow climb,
the vibration of every bump, the lean of a gutter.
Smooth new rims under my fingertips.
She is so new, I am the first to touch her,
to know this feeling. Only another who lives
within their chair can know the joy
of feeling an unmarked wheel rim.
Sensitive fingertips come to know its dents, its scratches,
they tell of our times together. Like the time
me and my best friend were too busy laughing
so hard while crossing the road that she pushed me
into the curb and scratched you  all along your side;
marking you with our laughter.

Or the hot summers spent sweating on you,
body sticky and muscles sore from wheeling up hills.
Or your front wheel that would stick in the wet and make me wheel into door frames,
leaving people wondering why I’d suddenly
lost control of myself; that day not so long ago
when you chose your moment spectacularly to pull this trick,
I was wheeling out of the psychiatrist’s office
and he just stood and looked at me
as I worked with all my left arm muscles to
skim clear of his door and he no doubt wondered
what else was wrong with me.

I remember the lovers I have had in the last 5 years…
The sex I have almost had on you, only to decide
it was too awkward and be pulled away and onto the floor,
a bed, a lover’s body. My naked body finds you
afterwards for trips into the bathroom and shower.
You become part of the afterglow of our fucking
as parts of me and my lovers leak onto you,
even as I try and keep you clean,
to keep you out of it.

Sex must not come with me as I wheel down the street
to my parent’s house, as I sit for dinner. I could cover you
with towels as I make my way from bed to shower
but there isn’t time, the naked laughing woman
propels me forward and just I don’t care.

I make you sound so dirty, so beautifully fucking dirty.
And you are. It’s not that I don’t wash your covers
becoming self-conscious of the parts of me
that have leaked onto and into you.
It’s that we are linked you and I.
We spend each day, each and every day, touching.
You are mine. My space. My personal space.
There are few who are close enough to me
to be able to sit in you and have me watch
without feeling invaded.

I think of a lover, still fresh enough to sting,
who was the first to include you in our kissing,
in our cuddling, in our hot lead-up to sex.
Times spent getting about the house with her on my lap,
facing me wheeling us with her hands.
No one before had thought this sexy, fun.
It was something that she just did with
laughter and passion leaving me feeling such a rush of
 love and intimacy with you, with her,
with myself and this embodiment.

There was a time when wheelchair + me = terror.
Remnants of a childhood spend with the message
drilled into my body daily that ‘walking’ was the
Holy Grail and to end up in a wheelchair
 was worse than death.  You will have no friends,
no one will love you, you will never have a boyfriend
words spoken by family-still lingers within me.

It’s time. It’s time to practice radical politics
to inhabit who and how I am in the world fully
and you, my shinny, glide-y exoskeleton are part of my life,
part of how I move, how I experience space
 and a big part of how I am seen in the world.
I belong to a species of wheelchair Krips, queers, radicals
Body revolutionaries!

The End

A big shout out to the Sins Invalid crew-check them out-you inspire me to keep being the radical  Body revolutionary that I am. Much love. See ya.

This video and the work of Sins can also be found at my youtuble channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/f3ckability/