Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blogging Against Disablism Day: What is a Disability in a Corporate Racist Patriarchy?

[image for Blogging Against Disablism Day is from here]

A few thoughts, questions, and concerns.

Why are all the "people" in the image above more or less the same size and the same gender? Why are there no heavy women represented in that graphic? Why are they all the same height, except for the "person" in the wheelchair? Why are a cane and a wheelchair and being black, brown, red, yellow, pink, and other colors considered THE graphic signifiers of disability? Moving on...

I live in a country in which there is a level of support from political, social, and medical systems one can get if one meets certain criteria, all of them determined by federal and state representatives with the authority to determine who is and who is not disabled.

In this country, you can only get this "Disability" support if you have worked a certain amount in a paid job, earning wages that are reported to the state and federal government. If, for example, you have been too disabled by childhood traumas to work at a pay job, you cannot quality for this "Disability" support. So, unless you are suddenly injured, or some illness suddenly alters your level of employable functioning, you have to show two things: that you have been disabled due to long-standing conditions, and that you weren't disabled enough to not work. And being able to work is one of the criteria for determining whether or not you are going to received this "Disability" support.

As if that's not fucked up enough...

In the U.S., the DSM-V is being prepared--the Diagnostic Statistical Manuel-Version Five, with its latest labels and names for conditions that afflict so many of us. Will it believe that people can repress memories of sexually horrific trauma that occur in isolation in childhood? Will it believe that Cult Ritual Abuse happens, and that it requires great sensitivity when being treated by a mental health care professional? Or will it refuse to believe children and adults who survive these horrors, because, well, they are too horrific to believe?

Will the DSM-V consider living in warfare "a condition in need of specific psychopharmacological protocols"? Will it consider living in poverty in a corporate capitalist-impacted society "a cause of depression serious enough to recommend banishing corporate capitalism and poverty"?

The medical establishment, since it has overthrown more Indigenous-friendly, holistic, spiritual-physical-emotional-mental healing practices (anti-genocidal practices), has turned medicine into a business and "health" into an industry. It has effectively snuffed out the possibilities of Indigenist medicine and treatment protocols being practiced "legitimately" in the U.S. within Indigenous societies that once practiced them.

Is living in a rapist society "disabling" whether or not you are raped? Is it disabling if you ARE raped? What about gang-raped, maritally raped, date raped, raped while inside systems of prostitution? Is being traded as a sexual slave among owners considered "disabling"?

Is living in a heterosexist and virulently lesbophobic and homophobic society considered to be a form of sexual abuse that is disabling? Why not?

Is being of color in a white-majority or white-dominated society, a white supremacist and deeply racist society, considered to do anything negative both to those oppressed and to the oppressors?

Is living without clean water understood to be a "disabling" condition, or is it only when one gets life-threatening dehydrating diarrhea that one becomes "disabled"?

Does living in a country that the U.S. bombs the shit out of, causing people who survive to flee, if physically possible, if they have limbs and can move... does living through that constitute a probably cause for significant Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, because, you know, in the U.S. literature, it only indicates this happens to the ones with the guns who are invading the countries of color.

If the U.S. medical establishment cared about post-traumatic stress, wouldn't it make recommendations to the U.S. government that it end all its wars, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of civilians who are maimed and murdered (murder being a seriously disabling condition), and for the soldiers who are grossly manipulated by media and the military industrial complex?

Beyond rapism, will the medical establishment ever recognise in its textbooks and seminars, that patriarchy is disabling to women as a class, because it produces conditions of low self-esteem, extreme vulnerability to sexual violence, harassment, discrimination, and callousness from men?

Is being battered considered a mental health or a physical health issue? If it is never seen as a political one, how does that misperception, alone, function to keep women battered by men disabled by their batterers?

If incest and child sexual abuse are never named as endemic problems rooted in social structures and bound to systems of hierarchy, what is the impact on those who are harmed and disabled by that harm? If patriarchal and racist hierarchies, whether religious or secular institutions, are supposed to be comprised of unusually moral leaders who are white and male, predominantly heterosexual, and (therefore) good,

And if these allegedly very good, moral leaders are referred to as fathers (daddy, papa, etc.) and priests, who are also called Fathers,

And if these Fathers and fathers are placed in positions of moral and political authority by secular and religious laws,

And if these laws are made only by Fathers and fathers,

And if the whole of these institutions tells us that we are better off if we have these leaders, who must be male and predominantly heterosexual and preferably also white,

And if most of us are not adults, male, white, and/or predominantly heterosexual,

Is it understood that the institutions, themselves, with their laws and their leaders, are a fundamental egregious cause of disability among the masses, no pun intended?

If the rest of us who are not as good as the leaders tell us they are, how disabling is it for those of us who believe we are bad both because we are not white, are not male, are not adults, are not priests, are not fathers, or heterosexual? Does that mean that people who are female, of color, lesbian and gay, who are secularly, socially, and religiously (politically) subordinated, ought not consider their subordination to be, in and of itself, disabling of their right to be thought of and seen and validated as fully human and as good as anyone else?

What is the social, psychological, and political effect on the abuser of being told "you are good and moral and wise" when, in fact, you fuck your nine year old daughter at night? Or when you rape the nuns near you, or molest the children who are put under your care? If you wish, in courts of law, to claim some form of mental health condition for being so privileged and dominant, why then don't you condemn the institutions which uphold you being there and value you being there?

If Western Civilisation can be shown to be necessarily racist, genocidal, misogynistic, gynocidal, rapist, abusive and neglectful to children, predatory, violating, invasive, destructive to human and non-human life, contemptuously and callously ecocidal, please tell me: in what sense is the civilisation itself not "a disabling condition" one lives with or dies from?

I live in a very fucked up world, and yes, I am disabled. What I am "officially" disabled by has names that are meaningful to medical professionals. But what I am unofficially disabled by are systems of atrocity that are so normalised that the horror of them is publicly unseen, not reported by mass media, and is socially unvalidated as such.

I object to systems of harm that are designed specifically to oppress many people, to allow for all manner of injury to the mind, body, and spirit of those so oppressed. I object to institutions that are designed to only call some of the harm done politically socially harmful, while calling the rest of it a problem I seem to have, that thousands of others also seem to have, that pharmacies have pills to treat, as if a pill will topple an institution committing the atrocities that harm us.

I hope that's clear. It's difficult to be clear about something when it is denied right in front of your face by "good" and "wise" people who are legally and politically authorised to diagnose and treat you... as a thing that must fit into certain diagnostic categories, rather than a being impacted by systems of abuse unnamed and unchallenged.

Andre Picard Sort of Gets It that Gynocide and Genocide Are Atrocities, but not that they are what normal men and whites are invested in

[original caption]
Photographs of missing or murdered women from British Columbia are displayed during a Sisters in Spirit vigil to honour the lives of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Vancouver on Oct. 4, 2009.
[this image is from here]

I just came across this and wanted to cross post it. The original is from *here*. And what follows has my interruptions and commentary, in bold and in brackets.

Andre Picard's Second Opinion

With more than 500 aboriginal women missing, action is overdue

How can this not be considered a national priority for police, justice and public-health officials?

Andre Picard
Last week, the Manitoba government announced the creation of a joint RCMP and Winnipeg Police task force to investigate dozens of cases of missing and murdered women in the province.

The news, while welcome, raises the question: Why limit the investigation to Manitoba?

It is true that there are at least 75 missing women in the province, virtually all of them aboriginal. Police have been seemingly incapable of solving the cases and halting the race-based violence. [That would be also be GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE, Andre, unless we find out all the killers are women! And likely also class-based. Killing poor women never gets the mass media attention as the killing of middle class and wealthy white people does.]

But, nationwide, the data are even more gut-wrenching: The Native Women's Association of Canada has catalogued 520 cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women, half of them since the year 2000.

The women, most under the age of 30, are overwhelmingly victims of sexual violence. They are being preyed upon systematically by sexual sadists, killers and probably more than one serial killer. [Or by normal men. You could at least use the word: MEN.]

How can this not be considered a national priority for police, justice and public-health officials? [For human rights activists, for people who care about ending white/het/male supremacist genocide and gynodicde!]

Sadly, when a native woman is murdered or vanishes under suspicious circumstances, it does not mobilize police action nor generate near as much media attention as similar cases involving non-native women. [And this is a tangled mess of racism and specifically anti-Indigenism, misogyny, and classism.]

They were drunk. They were sex workers. [The callousness and cruelty inheres more in the fact that they were poor and desperate, they were pimped and trafficked and some may have been sold into sexual slavery. They were seen as existing only for men's sexual pleasure--primarily white het men's, and were seen as expendable, because there's supposedly always more where they came from, up to a point.] They came from unstable family backgrounds. They were runaways. They were party girls. An endless litany of excuses for inaction is trotted out with shocking regularity. [They weren't wealthy white het men.]

Let's be blunt. The main reason an in-depth investigation is required is that the situation reeks of racism, stereotyping and discrimination. There seems to be a deadly double standard at play. [Why is it about "gendered violence" that isn't screaming out at you, Andre? Are these women NOT women? Are the perpetrators, the rapists, the murderers NOT men? For a group stalked and murdered precisely because they were not men, you really go out of your way to make this seem like it's only about racism. If that were true, the stats would be just as high for missed and murdered men of color, right?]

It is true that many of the 500-plus aboriginal women who have been murdered or disappeared had difficult life circumstances. [As one tends to have when surviving genocide and racialised and gendered poverty and misogyny. As Mary Brave Bird said, if you're white and male, you're lucky.]

But it is precisely these circumstances - alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual abuse, the sequelae of residential schools, poverty, survival sex, etc. - that placed them at much higher risk. ["Survival sex"?? That's a new one. Why not call it being pimped? Why not call it being a prostitute? Women who are very poor are very vulnerable not just to the occasional "good samaritan procurer" who will trade sex for cash. Women and girls tend to be preyed upon by pimps, Andre. So "survival sex" really makes the systems of racist/classist/misogynist/heterosexist exploitation and lethal violence sound like they aren't systems of harm at all.]

The life expectancy of an aboriginal [person] is a decade less than a non-aboriginal [person] in Canada. The rate of infant mortality is three times higher. The suicide rate is six times higher. Aboriginal people have a rate of diabetes and heart disease three times the national average, and dramatically higher rates of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS and H1N1 influenza. [It's not called genocide for nothing. You think maybe white folks want Indigenous North Americans to SURVIVE or something?]

The key determinants of health - individually and collectively - are social and economic factors such as housing, income, education, environment and empowerment. First nations, Métis and Inuit communities fare particularly dismally in these essential areas. [One key factor is building a whole civilisation based on white male entitlement to take over the world. It's called racist patriarchy, and it shows up in every facet of life, in every system, in every corner of one's experience. So I'd call that a key factor that is political.]

Unemployment levels and poverty rates in aboriginal communities are three times higher than in mainstream society. Only 4 per cent of natives have a university education, one quarter the rate in mainstream society. More than one third of aboriginal people in Canada have, in government jargon, a "core housing need," meaning their homes do not meet the most basic standards of acceptability. Overcrowding, lack of running water and inadequate sewage services are the norm in many native communities. [Which, I'd argue, meets the standards of acceptability quite well, for genocidalists. If it were genuinely unacceptable, it wouldn't exist. It exists precisely because it IS acceptable to whites, the wealthy, and men who are not members of the First Nations.]

Not to mention that an aboriginal is five times more likely to be murdered than a non-aboriginal Canadian.
The murder of poor (literally and figuratively [?!--as in "pitiful"?!]) aboriginal women is the most extreme manifestation of the price first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples are paying for the abysmal social conditions in which they are trapped. [I'd say it is the most acceptable manifestation of white het male supremacist civilisation. I'd say it's mandatory, in fact. Proof of that is how few predators/normal white men are caught and prosecuted. You can bet if the victims were wealthy white men there wouldn't be 520 disappearances before it got some major press--half of those in one year!]

The murders are also a gruesome symbol of society's indifference to that plight. [Indifference, callousness, cruelty, denial, destruction, death, and delusion are core values of any capitalist racist patriarchy.]

Much was made of the fact that virtually all of mass murderer Robert Pickton's victims were sex workers. But rarely did we hear that almost all his victims were young aboriginal women. There is evidence that a serial killer may also be at work in Manitoba, and a single [white het] man may also be responsible for the carnage along British Columbia's infamous Highway of Tears. (The Yellowhead Highway, which stretches 750 kilometres from Prince George to Prince Rupert has been the site of nine murders and disappearances since 1990, all but one of the victims young aboriginal women.) But the reality is that the Highway of Tears stretches from sea-to-sea-to-sea in this country: Aboriginal women have been murdered or disappeared by the score in every single province and territory in Canada. [As well as in 'the lower 48', and as well across the globe.]

This is not a Manitoba-only problem. [To say the least.]

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, has repeatedly called for a national investigation into this on-going horror.

As she noted, the deaths and disappearances of 520 aboriginal women is the equivalent of 18,000 missing and murdered non-aboriginal women.

Would we stand idly by while a massacre of our daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers unfolded on this scale? [And by "our" you mean... white? That's taking assumptions about literacy a bit far, don't you think? And you know damn well that if all the missing and dead were Black, non-Indigenous women, there'd be no major press about that either. So let's call it like it is: if you're not white and you are not wealthy and you are killed, media doesn't care what happens to you. Put in place an economic system that is entirely white male supremacist, and you'll end up with very poor women of color.]

We would not and we should not. [But "we" whites, will and we whites do. It's not like the gynocidal genocide started a couple of years ago, right? I mean we whites have had a few centuries to get a grasp on how this particular atrocity works, yes?]

Incomprehensibly [or not], Ms. Jacobs's call for a national investigation has gone unheeded by the federal government. Instead, politicians have contented themselves with funding research into the problem. [Dude, that's all that's supposed to happen. I'm glad you're outraged and upset, but please don't pretend this is new or at all unusual. It is, literally and figuratively, "status quo" behavior and practice.]

A report published earlier this year, entitled Voices of Our Sisters in Spirit, makes for chilling reading, recounting the stories of many murdered and missing aboriginal women. The data therein are as humbling as they are sickening: More than half the murders of aboriginal women remain unsolved. [Don't worry: whites won't read it. It's too chilling and sickening.]

It's time to go beyond mere cataloguing of the carnage, and to understand the root causes. [WHITE HET MALE SUPREMACY, and WESTERN CAPITALIST CIVILISATION.]

In Canada, a death or a disappearance should not be taken less seriously because of the colour of a person's skin. [Yeah, well. Welcome to the world of reality. Again, sir, you're not like 18. You've had plenty of time to notice THERE'S A GYNOCIDAL GENOCIDE GOING ON.]

And [non-Indigenous] Canadians should not tolerate that the horror of these crimes - 520 daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers stolen away from their families, friends and communities - be redoubled by indifference. ["Our" indifference doesn't go away because crimes happen against the poor, against women, and against people of color. Not unless "our" means a federal government comprised of ethical people of color, women, and poor people.]

Our willful blindness to the plight of aboriginal women is the greatest injustice. [I agree it's an atrocity. But it's one you and every other white Canadian benefit from, so don't leave that out. Because whether you say so or not, you are invested, literally and figuratively, in genocide and in gynocide within and beyond Canada.]

Taylor Swift's Song goes Gay. Okay, so it's MAY 1st, not APRIL 1st, but this video isn't showing anything foolish. Just charming.

[image is from here]

I found this on the blog FourthWaveFeminism. They found it on the blog Feministe--thanks, Chally! The links are *here* and *here*, where Chally offers up some needed feminist critique of the original Swift video compared to this remake.

You've got to see the Yellowjackets, an all-male a capella group, who made an adorable white gay male music video set to Taylor Swift's "You Belong to Me". I can't imagine what my life would've been like if I'd grown up with abundant mass media like this, that wasn't only a semi-humorous send up of a white hetero/sexist straight song, I mean. I'm wishing for mass media, until mass media dies, to take lesbian and gay existence seriously and to locate it centrally in all programing, including the news.

Yes, a boy can dream.

And what I don't need to see centralised, or anywhere at all, quite frankly, is even more racist and heterosexist objectification and pornographisation of lesbian and gay people, either. The pro-sexxxual exploitation queer folk and their straight brethren and sisters can leave me out of that utterly unradical devolution. Ain't nothing "queer", let alone radical, about pimping and pornography, folks. And, to my queer sibs, try "transgressing" by resisting racist heteropatriarchy, for a change, not replicating it.

To the mass media makers: I want more than a lesbian or gay character on MTV's Real World, and more than Will and Grace, and more than a long drawn out storyline about two white middle to upper middle class guys named Luke and Noah on As The World Turns. Because, you know, predominantly, if not entirely, white middle class existence isn't all there is. And my lesbian and gay sibs of color ought to have media role models too.

This message is clearly not being brought to you by your regular television shows' sponsors.

I'll stop my complaining, so we can all sit back and enjoy this little show of what life could be like--in living color next time, please. Okay, now I'm done complaining.

Enjoy! (It's VERY cute.)