Jan. 16th, 2012

  • 5:39 PM
la_vie_noire: ilustración de una mujer leyendo un libro (leyendo con poca ropa)
Disabled Bodies and Ableist Acceptance.

I think the combination of positive and negative reactions is worth noting, in light of Campbell’s writing on culture and disability. Mullins and Pistorius are admired for “overcoming” a perceived disability, and this admiration feels especially safe for people embedded in able-bodied culture because they are conventionally attractive in every other respect. But this is a story with which we only feel comfortable provided that it doesn’t present any kind of threat to our conventional categories of abled and disabled bodies. It is unacceptable for a disabled body to be better at what it does than an abled body. It is even slightly uncomfortable when a disabled body manages to be “just as good”.

After the images of Mullins and Pistorius, I also showed my students an image of speed skater Apollo Ohno:


Like the images of Mullins and Pistorius, Ohno’s body is explicitly being presented here as an attractive object. By most standards, Ohno is as able-bodied as one can get. But as I pointed out to my students, he manages this on the back of technology – on specially designed skates, in special aerodynamic suits, with the help of carefully balanced exercise and nutrition plans; almost no athlete is really “natural” anymore. But at least in part because of the closeness of his body to an able-bodied ideal, this presents no explicit threat to our categories. Ohno fits the accepted model of “human”. Who would look at him and doubt it? And if Mullins and Pistorius are perhaps not as close to that ideal, they at least fall into line with it, by virtue of the fact that they don’t explicitly question its legitimacy as an ideal – unless they seek to transcend it.

My point, in short, is this: we are uncomfortable with disabled bodies that question or trouble our accepted, hierarchical categories of abled and disabled, of human and non-human, of organic and machine. We are far more comfortable with them when they perform in such a way that they reinforce the supremacy of those categories. They become acceptable to us.

Good read

  • Jan. 9th, 2011 at 9:40 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
On mental illness and crime.

Part of taking a good look at our culture is looking at how we treat those we’ve deemed insane or unstable or ill. It’s looking at how we don’t provide resources for all the people who need them, across the wide spectrum of mental and physical illness. It’s looking at how a punitive criminal justice system punishes the mentally ill. It’s looking at how a soundbite-driven media demonizes the mentally ill.

Pima County Sheriff Dupnik was on-point yesterday when he said that Arizona has become “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” But while we’re challenging the racist, anti-immigrant, pro-gun, anti-health-care, violent rhetoric that has come out of that state (and so many others), it’s also worth challenging the rhetoric and the assumptions we use when discussing mental illness, and especially the tenuous connection between mental illness and crime.


  • Jan. 4th, 2011 at 9:43 PM
la_vie_noire: Antoinette Ataro smiling (Antoinette Ataro felicidad)
For Your Tool-Box: How to get YouTube Captions to make a Transcript.

My friend Capriuni passed along to me this awesome YouTube video of “Your Brains” (original song by Jonathon Coulton). In and of itself, that’s not really note worthy – Capriuni is my source for many cool things in YouTube’s Deaf communities. The video itself is subtitled for the ASL-impaired.

That’s where things got interesting, because my friend particle_person passed along to me how to get the captions off a YouTube video so one can make a transcript without duplicating work!

Easy steps following the link!

Jun. 26th, 2010

  • 1:59 AM
la_vie_noire: (Stop with the idiocy)
[livejournal.com profile] riko writes: excuse me as i'm serious for a moment. (SPOILERS FOR SERIES LIKE HOUSE, SPN, GLEE.)

2) Persons with disabilities are not less because they have disabilities. [...] Repeat after me: Different is not less. Different is not less. Individuals with disabilities may have impairments or restrictions but that does not take away from their full personhood.

3) Persons with disabilities are not tragic, heroic martyrs. They’re people. Unfortunately, in fiction, that's rarely what they're portrayed as. Disability is often used as a narrative tool that's one step away from fridging, meant to convey a lesson, a warning, or a source of inspiration, and it's made worse because usually the message is directed at the able characters in the narrative. [...] A person's life is not a teaching moment for someone else, and pity and charity are the wrong response because, once again, different is not less.

4) The life of a person with disabilities is not tragically unfulfilled because they have a disability. This is a more contentious issue within the disability rights community, which I won't get into unless prompted because it's sort of tangential. But suffice to say that many, many, many people with disabilities do not spend their time dreaming about how grand life would be if they were just "fixed." And yet isn't that the story of just about every single character with a disability on TV at the moment? [...] Different is not less. Disability is not a problem until society makes it one. Learn these lessons, fandom and TV and society. The story of a character with a disability is not how much it sucks to have a disability and how great life is for able people. That's only what able people think it is.

5) For the love of god, just stop removing the agency of people with disabilities, okay? It's not cute or dramatic or touching when the choices of people with disabilities are removed, especially when they are removed by able people who are acting in "their best interest." [...]

6) And with all that said, disabilities are also not things to be picked up and then put down again when it stops being narratively convenient.

Able-bodied people, before crying or complaining when a previously able-bodied character becomes disabled; before saying it would be the worst thing that could happen to them, that you would hate it blahblah!! think that you are devaluating real people's lives, you are saying they are something to be dreaded. Yeah, I know it's such a shock to you that isn't the case.

That, and disabled people don't get the representation you get. So shut up.

Jun. 7th, 2010

  • 1:45 AM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Tracing this Body. Transsexuality, pharmaceuticals & capitalism is one of the most (if not the most) amazing, complex, and intersecting articles I have read. A must-read written in 2003 by Michelle O’Brien and still holds true and how. Seriously, I'm making a crime just quoting a bit, you have to read it (if you haven't already):

These battles over HIV, transgender health and drug use are real, with millions of people's lives on the line. Politics is changing fast around the world, as old resistance movements have disintegrated, and new forms of domination are deepening their entrenched authority. Capital flows more and more rapidly around the globe, while access to health care is strictly limited and regulated. Wars of healthcare, over the terrain of our bodies, are among the most significant political battles in the world today. Healthcare is a major site in defining, and transforming, what race and class domination mean in our day to day lives. This fight is so profound, so real, so important, precisely because it is the place where the three levels of flows come together: 1. those flows of T-Cells and hormones, of viruses and antivirals, of methadone and heroin, within our own bodies; 2. those flows of our communities, families and lives through our communities; and 3. those flows of capital and institutional power across the globe.


The politics of our bodies - as trans people, as drug users, as people living with HIV - require a sophisticated grasp of multiple contradictions. We are dependent on the very systems that oppress us. We make demands for change, and appropriate the refuse of capital for our own survival. We live in the flows, suffer in the flows, envision a new world in these flows.

Many theories of power and politics offer little to grapple with such a struggle of bodily survival. I grew up working in radical environmental movements in Oregon, using direct action to defend ancient forests. The anticapitalist analysis of many such activists relied on a fanatical commitment to purity and an attempt at a total refusal to participate or be complicit in any form of corporate rule. Veganism, do-it-yourself punk ethics, buying natural and local, Lesbian-Feminist separatism, back-to-land self-sustaining agriculture and especially eco-primitivism and other movements common around Eugene, Oregon, all frequently rely, to various extents, on a commitment to non-participation in global capitalism and certain idealized notions of purity. Since then, I've encountered similar phenomena in many political spaces, from AIDS denialists working in animal rights organizing to the MOVE family of Philadelphia, from genderqueer denunciations of medicalized body modification to the glorification of drop-out travelers by the anarchist writing network known as CrimethInc.


These languages of purity and non-participation are frequently counterposed by the glorifying ideological cheerleaders of capitalist domination. Every major U.S. newspaper, every president and senator, every corporate trade journal is aggressively advancing the absurd notion that capitalism is the best avenue to manage and stop human suffering. Believing that state power and corporate tyranny will somehow make a decent world have a major impact on the popular discourses of science, technology and industrial production. Such pro-capitalist perspectives are of no use to me.

Instead, I've tried through this paper to trace other ways of thinking through the relationship between my body and capitalism. Each step, I've tried to simultaneously recognize my participation and complicity, and trace the possibilities of resistance and liberation. In trying to describe the complexity of these relationships, I've found inspiration in Donna Haraway's essay "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." A truly remarkable text, Haraway's essay brilliantly cut through polarized debates characterizing science as either a wonderful tool of capitalist improvement or the evil bane of patriarchy. Instead, Haraway describes the figure of the cyborg. The cyborg is the bastard child of the patriarchal realms of capitalism, nature and technoscience. Rather than reproduce their systems of command, control and communication, the cyborg ran radically challenge, undermine and resist domination. The cyborg is a new vision of feminist consciousness, a radical means of relating to technology and science. The cyborg is never pure, never free of the systems it subverts, never belonging to a realm before or outside of capitalist technoscience and patriarchy. But the cyborg is also a revolutionary, an effective, empowered, conscious being that reworks, redirects and restructures the oppressive systems that birthed it.

This vision of the feminist cyborg has been very useful and inspiring to me in understanding my own body and in struggling to the liberation of trans people. Like the cyborg, we are both complicit in and a challenge to the biomedical industries. We are drastically rebuilding our bodies with the aid of technology, surgery and drugs. And we are doing this all on our own terms, committed to our own well being, striving to our own liberation. Far from dupes of doctors or the crude escapists of ecoprimitivism, we are living amidst the systems we are always subverting. Trans people live in that hybrid edge of technology, science, nature and capital that Haraway correctly and brilliantly identifies as a tremendously power space of resistance and movement.

We are all in the midst of structures of tremendous violence, oppression and exploitation. There is no easy escape or pure distance from them. Our ability to resist, in this world, at this time, is deeply inseparable from our ongoing connection to these very systems. But resist we do. Every day, in so many ways, we are all struggling towards a new world of liberation, healing and respect.

Here is Donna Haraway's 1991 essay: A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, if you want to read it.

Yeah, I know. I know.

  • May. 7th, 2010 at 1:01 AM
la_vie_noire: (leyendo)
Via FWD.

[livejournal.com profile] jady_lady writes: Disenfranchisement at its Worst

On arrival at the polling station, it appeared that the member of staff who helped me, had no experience of the template and hadn't read the instructions that came with it. He wasn't even aware that the back was sticky, I had to peel off the paper that covered it. He first tried to take me to the end of the table where he had been sitting for me to cast my vote there, in full view of everyone else. I explained that this was not acceptable so he reluctantly took me to a booth. After trying to just lay the template over the form without sticking it, he eventually stuck it down and left. I marked my paper, put it in the box and left.

It was only whilst walking home with my partner that we compared notes. It appeared that my template had been placed fairly close to the left hand edge of the form, and my partner's had been nearer the middle of the form. We phoned a friend and asked where the boxes appear on the ballot paper and were told that they are down the right hand side.

It would therefore appear that both our bballot papers are spoilt and we haven't had a vote in this very important election.

If I never campaign for anything else in my life, I'm determined to get my voice heard on this one.

If you read this, I would urge you, please circulate it as widely as possible. I want as many people to realise how open to error the voting system is for blind people.

Our right to independence relies wholly on a sighted person to line the template up for us, and we have no way of checking that the vote has been cast properly.


Still on hiatus. By the way.

Blogging Against Disablism

  • May. 1st, 2010 at 2:50 PM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010:

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2010

Amazing, amazing links.

Mar. 23rd, 2010

  • 2:22 AM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Amazing post about terminal illness: Time to die? Plus Assembly, bunnies, PJ's and a lovely coffin!

People often have two responses when I talk about my disease and the pain, one is to ignore, like I never talked. The idea that it hey it is just Elizabeth, 'EFM' after all, and her condition is weird and painful (and thus somehow pain is okay..for ME). This is set up socially in terminal disease culture where immediately the HEALTHY person is given counseling, has a stack of books of dealing with THEIR pain. There aren’t really any books on dealing with pain of terminal levels, or the path one has to take in order to live while dying. The attitude is, ‘They will be dead so….’ – what is unspoken is, ‘so YOUR pain, you healthy people, at their loss needs to be addressed as does the horror of those late nights of groans and agony we will never know’. For those who HAVE the groans and agony, the idea that only the person NOT in pain is having 'issues' is a rather hurtful one emotionally.

[...] But every time a person tells me, and they do every day, that ‘there is no way they can understand what I am going through’ it only makes me feel further and further from humanity. When in fact, I AM the face of human. We are born, we die, we live, and so we suffer. And while you may not be terminal, that does not make YOUR pain or chronic disease any less! Nor do I try to stop trying to understand it, and to treat YOU as I would want to be treated, with that dignity and understanding (I screw up sometimes, please help me when I do, as you can).

For me, I am just asking others to stop pushing me away verbally, because I feel like I am out in outer space at the edge of a black hole sucking me down into silence. And on the edge of the black hole are people who, with their language and words, push me further and further into that black hole, from which I am alone, forever until the end.

[...] It will never be funny. Because the dignity you take away as they sob, is the dignity which you will be stripped of by the next generation when it is your turn...unless we stop doing this and admit that we are going to die. And treat those who are dying better: Try to understand, respect the efforts they spend and sometimes, realize that we ALL HATE visiting the hospital. But also that time spent going out for coffee could be giving a person who has seen no one face to face for over a week, ten minutes of being treated as an equal human, in an accommodating and loving way.

I'm still dead-tired

  • Mar. 9th, 2010 at 10:00 PM
la_vie_noire: (Meets Minimal Standards of Decent Human)
That was a lot of blood, I came home covered on it (lab practice, people). Then had to go to the drugs store. For anti-depressants (I just ran out of them).

So I'm kinda dead, but I still have two very good links to share:

Black Dahlia on Display. On tragedy porn, or consuming human suffering.

Watching people look at the different exhibits as though they were getting a peek at a real-life episode of Law & Order was incredibly disturbing. The fact that the “Black Dahlia” was, in fact, a young woman named Elizabeth Short who was horribly, brutally violated, tortured, and murdered, was totally lost. These weren’t stills from a movie; the body in the images wasn’t made of plastic. These were photos documenting how a real, actual human being suffered unimaginably…and they were on display for entertainment value, just one stop on a tour before moving on to see the exhibits about Marilyn Monroe and O.J. Simpson.

[...] the exhibit just made it incredibly clear that all these cases, and the human pain and suffering attached to them, have become gruesome real-crime stories and the people affected by them are characters in the entertainment.

Maybe I would have liked to say "who the hell thinks this shit is a good idea," but I don't live in a parallel universe, a pervasive and insidious part of media is dedicated to tragedy porn. Real human beings tragedies.

Do You Work? On our monetary system, and disability.

Truly. It's now so common to conflate employment and identity at a variety of class and education levels, so common that employment itself has become a marker of social worth. And in this particular economy, employment numbers (never the people, just the fear of the numbers) have become political talismans that the two parties sling at each other in order to try and maintain the illusion that they have a stranglehold on power.

Employment is such a controlling social and moral force. Work discourse frames the discussion of how, when, and even if women have children, their value as working parents, and how they might live/work afterwards. Work discourse controls who, some wild popular imaginations, is a productive citizen and who a "welfare queen." In accident reviews and, for example, in the post-911 insurance discussions, work discourse can help assign a monetary value to some lives..... You get the picture.

And if you are a disabled person trying to work, trying to get a job, trying to retain a job, you know how difficult things can be.

Naveen Andrews

  • Feb. 14th, 2010 at 4:04 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Happy Lunar New Year, people!

I was supposed to do this yesterday, but the heat here made me dizzy and I ended feeling like shit all day.

Here, back with this, and have Naveen Andrews. You all know him due to Lost where he is playing for 7 seasons. he is also hot. He started working in London, he had very important roles, starred a miniseries, The Buddha of Suburbia, and his role at The English Patient was acclaimed. He starred in Bombay Boys, and real-life based My Own Country. He debuted in USA by leading in The Chippendales Murder. He was in Rollerball, Bride & Prejudice and others. He was Menerith in The Ten Commandments, was in The Brave One... and God knows the heat is killing me and I can't keep naming his movies. He did a lot, and has a fucking great talent.

And he is gorgeous. But we know that.

Naveen Andrews

Naveen Andrews pics )

Born in London, UK. His parents are Indian immigrants. Attended Guildhall School of Music and Drama. IMDb profile here.


Because I don't want to spam you and this post stayed with me all day because I think it's very important:

Newsflash: Poverty is Bad for Your Health.

It would seem, then, that addressing poverty in order to prevent those negative health outcomes would be a public health priority. But it really isn’t – poverty programs are rarely described as health programs. When a politician starts talking about welfare, they’re talking about cash payments to help parents raise their kids, to preserve and support families. They don’t talk about how assisting a family out of poverty will make that whole family healthier, and less in need of health care. And addressing the negative health effects of poverty – safely removing all the lead paint, preventing slum housing conditions like cockroach infestations and mold that contribute to asthma, get them some access to dental care – would have an enormously beneficial effect on hundreds of thousands of individuals and on the health care system as a whole. However, addressing the systemic effects of poverty isn’t nearly as easy as shaming “the fatties” and slapping some calorie numbers on menus.

[...] A recent study found that almost half of working-age adults who experience poverty for at least a 12-month period have one or more disabilities. People with disabilities account for a larger share of those experiencing poverty than people in all other minority, ethnic and racial groups combined and are even a larger group than single parents. Families with more than one member with a disability are even more likely to be living in poverty. There are two things going on here. First, people who live in poverty are more likely to be or become PWDs, partly because of the health factors discussed above. But also, PWDs are more likely to live in poverty, partly because of the cost of health care.

Oct. 1st, 2009

  • 7:32 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide. (Yes, it's Renee. This can't be ignored though.)

According to MSNBC:

“Fiona Pilkington suffered more than a decade of abuse from a gang of youths who terrorized her family by urinating on her house, taunting her developmentally challenged daughter and beating her severely dyslexic son.

Despite repeated calls to police and desperate letters to her local lawmaker, no one intervened to stop the persecution, and Pilkington killed herself and her 18-year-old daughter when she set fire to their family car in October 2007.”

Here we had the tragic loss of two lives because of the abuse of people who were neurologically atypical went unchallenged and unheard. Socially we protect those who we value, and a refusal to intervene can only be understood as a desire to make the Pilkington family disappear. Each time Fiona reported these incidents and they in turn went unchecked by local authorities, the behaviour of her abusers was encouraged. Now, following a lengthy inquest, Leicestershire police have been found partially responsible for the tragedy. It’s too late for Pilkington and her child, though.

The differently-abled are understood to exist without power because some of them need accommodation to negotiate the world today. The accommodation can come in the form of alteration, to make the environment physically accessible and it may also come in the form of a refusal to subject themselves to the same sort of standards as a neurotypical person, depending upon the circumstances.

How many adults would stand idly by while a four year old girl was being abused by a gang? I daresay any adult within eyesight would intervene, yet the police force ignored the hate aimed at Francesca Hardwick, Pilkington’s daughter, who had the mental development of a four year old girl.

Fiona Pilkington was told that she was “overreacting” and to “draw her drapes.” It is difficult for many to believe that such cruelty is actually intentional, but those that must negotiate ableism face this sort of behaviour on a regular basis. Some of the violence is fear-based. Even though it is common knowledge that disability is not contagious, there is an irrational fear of difference that leads to rejection and a devaluation of our shared humanity.

Oh, for God's Sake.

  • May. 29th, 2009 at 7:12 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Via [personal profile] the_future_modernes.

USA, Canada and the EU attempt to kill treaty to protect blind people's access to written material
Right now, in Geneva, at the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO history, the body that creates the world's copyright treaties is attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.

At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn't want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it's possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?

The USA, that's who. The Obama administration's negotiators have joined with a rogue's gallery of rich country trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include Canada and the EU.

Update: Also opposing rights for disabled people: Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway.

Update 2: Countries that are on the right side of this include, "Latin American and Caribbean region including (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Jamaica) as well as Asia and Africa."

PDF of the Treaty.


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