Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Disability feminism & the selective abortion of disabled foetuses

As a disability feminist who is also queer and a wheelchair user, the pro-choice the ‘argument’ in many feminist circles regarding the selective abortion of disabled foetuses, is NOT, as Veronica- who's article can be found on the ABC's Ramp Up here- so brilliantly outlined, just an intellectual ‘argument for us as disabled people- it is our very lives, our very right to exist!

Disability eugenics also has ramifications for the kinds of support we are provided with by society if we choose to become parents. If our lives and our children’s lives continue to be seen as less valuable and a burden then we are going to be treated as such and any supports we require to enable us to be brilliant parents are going to be framed as us not being able to do ‘the job’ instead of adopting a rights based approach. Disability once again is perceived as a personal tragedy and not a social issue and this for many disability rights activists, myself included, is at the heart of this and many other disability right struggles.

It is also worth noting that a 3rd of our children are removed from our care, if the mother has a disability, because of the lack of adequate support as well as social services readiness to ‘intervene’. Interestingly, studies have shown that if the parent with a disability is a male there is significally less chance of relationship breakdown and removal, which highlights the influence of gendered roles which regard to what a ‘mother should be able to do’ to be an effective parent.

Disability eugenics is an issue at the intersection of feminist discourses- the right to body autonomy-and disability discourses regarding the value of a non-normative body/mind and living as an act of resistance to a social discourse which says ‘’better off dead then disabled’’. The choice to abort is framed as a medical one when it also has social, political and ethical implications. As a disability feminist my resistance to selective abortion procedures steams from its value judgment on our lives, it positions us a flawed and wrong and it seeks to disempower us further by framing us an unwanted burden, as inhabiting a life not worth living.

Also importantly this eugenics discourse impacts on how we feel about our lives, when we hear the massage from society that we shouldn’t exist at all. What does this message do for the future generations of people who WILL be born or acquire disabilities? It impacts on our sense of agency, our connection to others who are living a similar experience and our capacity to see our struggles as part of civil rights movement.

Lastly, the medical profession is positioned as the authority here, both for the woman considering selective abortion and for the disabled women wanting children. It is in the doctor’s office which many of these decisions will be made. It is the ongoing the power and control of the medical profession to regulate bodies and lives which is so very problematic for me as a woman, an activist, feminist and proud Disabled person. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

"Are you a paraplegic?"

Are you a paraplegic?

Jax Jacki Brown Article originally appeared on Abc's  Ramp Up Here20 Sep 2013

Feminist critique of Guinness ad featuring wheelchair basketball

Below is my response to the Ramp Up Article on the new ad by Guinness, which can be found Here

There is another aspect to this ad which has not been addressed above but is of real interest to me as a person with a disability and as a disability feminist; its portrayal of masculinity.

The ad plays into stereotypical notions of masculinity, it seems to be saying ‘even though you’re disabled you can still be a real man!’ and this is problematic for a number of reasons, not least being the adoption of almost hyper-masculine identity as one of the few ways men with disabilities are shown in the media. It dichotomises gender once again and sends the message that the only way you can assert your gender identity (as it is often over-shadowed by disability) is by enacting it a particular way, if you want to be read ad ‘still’ a man, you must do the following; as the men in the ad are shown to do:
The men’s masculinity is demonstrated by doing the ‘manly’ thing of sport together, running into each other aggressively and having a beer at the end of it all. I do think this is reflective of some men’s experience who are in chairs, and as a woman who is a wheelchair user and has played basketball with ‘the boys’, I know this to be true. However, I have an issue, as I said above with gendered stereotypical representations being the few ways we see people with disabilities, when at all, in the media. 
As an aside but an extension of this discussion of masculinity; the ways we see disability and sexuality and masculinity in the media it is almost always in the context of men needing sex-workers to fulfil their ‘manly’ desires. Where does this leave women with disabilities, except to a-sexualise us further then we already are. What does it do for young people with disabilities sexual self-esteem/capacity to pickup when one of the few ways our sexuality is represented is in the context of someone having to be payed to get close to us? I am not anti sex-work I just think that we need to be shown having happy healthy relationships and full lives and this is not happening, we are only shown in very particular ways. It is these narrow ways of having sex and the interconnection of this with gender identity which I think contributes to the feeling of loss which many people post-accident experience; because their bodies can no longer preform compulsory able bodiedness or heteronormativity in the way society values and rewards.
anyway I digress...
I also have been aware when playing basketball with ‘the boys’, that this hyper-masculinity on the court can also be accompanied with a level of sexism towards women (I wont repeat some of the comments I have been subjected to personally). Disability and sexuality is often only shown to be able to be enacted or reclaimed post-accident within a narrow homosexual framework of ‘’I can be a rough and tough as the next guy’’. This is problematic as it reinforces sexism and normative ideas/standards of what we need to do in order to be valued as a friend or lover. Sexuality, like gender, like disability, is complex and influenced by the society in which we live. It would be great if we could see a real diversity in the ways we are represented, so that 16yr old kid who wants to get all excited about that book they are reading could feel that they just as valuable for engaging their mind in ideas as the spots people or athletes are who choose to engage their bodies.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

My guest lecture on disability activism at SCU University

Below is my guest lecture at Southern Cross University for Unruly Subjects: Citizenship and Disability 

I start taking at 4:04 of with a lota CP muscle tension but push through and go on to rock it!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Target you turn me on

Target you turn me on

Target you’ve got everything I want
and more then I need
and you know it
with your special catalogues filling up my letter
making me come to you
even in the rain.
Wet and seeking out
your big
one inside the other
like a lesbian (breast) beckon
calling me to towards you,
making me squeeze my wheels through your metal opening
gliding inside you.

Towards your underwear on full display
and always on sale
falling off your racks,
touched by too many bogan hands seeking out a bargain
then tossing your panties aside,
they hang or lay on the floor
once touched/fingered then disregarded for a better deal.

Undress yourself for me
you tarty multinational
make me hot for your hosery
all in techo colours
so I have to notice you
and want you
on my body,

I must unclothe you
liberate you from your hangers
pulling you down
so you fall onto my lap,
your rumpled garments splayed
across my crouch
for all to see
as I carry you
into the change room.

I want to be the first to try you on,
feel your newness against my skin
you look so good hugging my body
clinging to my flesh
I want to watch you touching me
touching you
under these bright flro lights
in the full-length mirror.

You make me feel so fucking sexy
and all for only $12.99
your boy-leg undies are oh so tight
around my hips,
and I am not a size ten anymore
but there its too late to change my mind now
you’re marked by my body.
So give me your reduced price
your satisfaction guarantee
and here in the accessible change room,
let’s get oh so very get sexy.



I am on my knees, under the table, I am eating your crumbs, I am grateful.
I am inspiration mixed with pity, I am a vessel of your fears of fragility
I am a leaking body, I am tremors, I am pain,
I am skin, I am hair, I am fluids requiring your care
I am everything you tell me I am and nothing more
I am grateful to be here at all


I am anger, I am rage, I am movement
I piss on your pity, I fight for my rights
this body is a protest against normality,
against containment, against expectation
I am not your inspiration porn
I will not kneel for you

Language lives on my skin

Language lives on my skin. It positions me, constrains me. It is also how I resist.

I am:

(an) Object (of) Desire/Pity

(an) Activist Resisting Oppression 

(a) Disabled/Feminist Queer/LoverCrip/Sex Seeker 

(a) Non-normative Body revolutionary!

Identity in motion

I am identity in motion 
But you miss my movement

-preformed @ the hairs and hyenas, (Hare Hole), 63 Johnston St, Fitzroy. 

Wank! for international day of people with disabilities (dec 3rd 2012)

WANK speaks back to the normative language and agenda of international day of people with disabilities, proclaiming it INTERNATIONAL INSPIRATION PORN DAY and subverts the gaze on the non-normative body from objects of pity into objects of desire!   

Preformed @ the hairs and hyenas, (Hare Hole), 63 Johnston St, Fitzroy, as part of Quippings: a Disability & Deaf spoken-word, burlesque night. 

youtube link: http://youtu.be/bMF0h-leK4c

moving in non-normative ways

I have been staying at my new(ish) girlfriend’s place a lot, she lives with 3 other girls and their lovers and the house is accessible mostly apart from one step outside my gf’s room which leads up into the rest of the house- the lounge room, kitchen and bathrooms so needless to say I hate this step as I have to jump outta my manual wheelchair and pull it up and down said stupid step every time I wanna go from her room to the toilet. So I have started not bothering and crip-ing my way about the house like I would do if I was just with family- crawling from her room through to the toilet (the place is only small so its not far). At 1st I did this as fast as I could and in the middle of the night when I just couldn’t hold on from my neeed to pee to get my CP muscles + need to pee re the increasing tension to be able to in time get my chair up the step to go pee and wheel to toilet and then back down step and into bed. But slowly as the weeks past I am getting braver/lazier and now I am considering doing it, crawling in the day when people are up and about. However, doing this, crawling, brings up a LOT of issues re shame, internalised ablism, years of forced normalisation (re painful and intense daily exercise regimes for the 1st 14yrs of my life) and thinking how her housemates will/might view me a grown person scuttling through their house.

Initially when 1st crawled back into bed with my new gf I was thinking ‘oh man, I hope she still finds me sexy’ etc but I have implemented the crawl with all my past lovers at some point within the 1st few weeks, outta necessity mostly, like I need to get my pants quickly and crawling is the quickest option, (or more likey I am too covered in sex to wanna sit in my chair and share the sex with it). Plus it ‘tests’ if they are really cool with my non-normative body and my crip politics (social model based) to see if they are into how I move and use my body differently. Also I have grown up pushing my body through the exercises-which I now view as having done no long-term good and contributed in a major way to adult depression and anxiety about my body and myself as the exercises entrenched everyday that there was something, my cp, inheritably ‘wrong’ with me that need to and couldn’t be fixed, irradiated. But also I have pushed myself through loving the outdoors and de-chairing as much as I want to, to climb, to stumble on walks around the neighbourhood etc. I enjoy being able, and acknowledge my level of/degree of cp privilege to be able to de-chair and still move my body about. I like not always being in, or attached to my chair, to be a body moving free of my chair which I use 90% of the time for mobility. I like just being a body in space and these days that is done through crawling.

But even with this joy of movement and my crip politics I am acutely aware that I am pushing boundaries when I do it in front of people, my own and their boundaries. So should I just take the plunge the next time I need to pee in the day time and holding my politics in the fore-front of my mind crawl out into house and view it as a form of crip activism in motion?

On ablism and (a moment of) passing privilege

Sitting behind a table, being a door bitch for a night at a local queer poetry reading; I am severed from my wheelchair-by ‘choice’ mostly. I want to hold my girlfriend’s hand and snuggle into her while we wait for the stragglers coming in off the cold Melbourne street and my chair is too big to fit behind here, beside her. So we sit and we smooch, feeling like the queer ambassadors in my rainbow thermals, signalling our pride and our sexuality when our kisses arent. She (my chair) who is yet to acquire a name has been parked within view over the other side of the room; the place is not full enough/or no one is drunk enough to try and sit in her.

I am not aware of my passing yet, I am all too aware of my girlfriend’s hand on my thigh through my jeans and my racing heart every time…someone steps through the door and approaches our table. You see I am really bad at maths. Terrible. I didn’t even pass year 10. It is an extension of my dyslexia I think, I cannot hold a number or a word in my mind for more than a second to see what it looks like and what it wants me to do with it, how to write it down, it swims in my head, it jumbles, grows hazy and is gone before it has even reached my fingers. All this gets worse with pressure and tonight the pressure is on. Or it was on until my girlfriend saw my anxiety and came and rescued me. There are moments tonight when I try (to prove to her im not ‘stupid’? to fight against my impairment?) to handle the next customer, and she holds my sweaty hand and I deduct 12 from 20, slowly. A man comes in late and seeing my face he gives me a $2 coin, and it is now that I am aware that I am passing as normative. Usually, with my crippledom on show, in my chair, if this situation were happening to me I’d be thinking ‘’ok now jack, you are just re-enforcing a stereotype that all people with disabilities are not intelligent, get it together’’. Now, he probably thinks I just don’t want to have to search in my box for change, so he smiles and says ‘’here’’ and I know am passing. I am not this ‘thing’, fighting against or for anything. I have left my minority behind and I am just like him. Well minus the cock and plus a woman.