"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Long Way to Go

If you identify as a feminist but haven't read or thought much about disability rights issues, you should READ THIS. If you identify as a feminist and have read and thought about disability rights issues, you should STILL read it. (If you don't identify as a feminist OR know much about disability rights issues, you should also read it, and make some time to go here as well.)

There's no getting around it. Feminists have a long way to go in wanting to make sure people with disabilities have the same rights they want for women. (Do we forget that some women are disabled and some people with disabilities are women?)

Case in point: I went to a college campus visit recently with some fellow prospective Women's Studies masters and PhD students from all over the U.S. where one of the classes they scheduled for us to attend was an undergraduate Women's Studies course dealing with disability issues. The class that day focused on media portrayals of people with disabilities -- both in news articles and films -- and while we all agreed that the class was incredibly enjoyable and interesting, I was amazed to hear so many of my fellow campus visitors go on and on about how much they had learned in that hour and thirty minutes. The general consensus was that the class dealt with issues to which they had never really been exposed before. These are people who have spent 4-6 or more years of their academic lives intensely studying a human-rights/social justice-related field, and that one short undergraduate class discussion completely revolutionized the way they thought about how our society views disability.

That, my friends, is the power of consciousness-raising, and why it is so important to make connections between the many different rights/social justice movements. If you feel like you already "get it" when it comes to feminism, anti-racism, gay rights, trans rights, disability rights, fat acceptance, etc, take some time to branch out and think about both the issues that are unique to each as well as to how they are all interconnected.

(H/T to both Ms. Crip Chick and to Cara at Feministe)