Long before FWD was even imagined, people were writing about disability and feminism, in spaces across the Internet, coming from a variety of lived experiences and beliefs. In the last year, we’ve noticed an explosion of new disability blogs, and an increased interest in disability issues at sites labelling themselves explicitly as feminist. This has been tremendously exciting to watch, as one of our goals was to join the ongoing conversation about feminism and disability, to amplify voices that weren’t being heard, to, yes, be part of the way forward towards a more intersectional discussion on feminism and disability.
It is time for FWD, in turn, to make way for the many fantastic people who have things to say that you need to know about, some of whom you can find in our blogroll.
Before I started reading FWD / Forward, I knew almost nothing about disability. I started reading the blog when a friend tweeted their post about Amanda Palmer’s Evelyn Evelyn ego-trip of Fail. Since then, their regular posts have transformed the way I look at disability and the people who live with them.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that people with disability are very often talked about by the temporally abled, but very rarely talked to.
Or maybe that’s not the most important thing. Maybe the most important thing the bloggers have taught me is that we all need special accommodations to be productive members of society. Some of those accommodations are shared by a majority, some aren’t. I mean, we all need doors to be a certain height and width, we all need desks to be a certain height, we all need special peripheral devices to interact with our computers, we all need the controls in our cars to be set up in a particular way. Some people’s specifications are different.
Or maybe there’s something more important than that. Maybe what they’ve taught me is that everyone has things they can do, and things they can’t do. Some people can’t walk up stairs. Some people need glasses to see. Some people can’t talk in public. Some people can’t drive.
I have more trouble talking to people than the majority. Talking in real life, talking via email, on blogs… I have trouble processing information, dealing with the world and being part of it. Sometimes I have trouble getting out of bed because the real world is out there, waiting to chew me up like a ragdoll. But you know what? Some people have trouble expressing their thoughts, either verbally or in writing. Some people refuse to get on an airplane. Some people panic at the sight of figures and need a calculator to do simple multiplication. Those people aren’t considered, ‘wrong’, or ‘broken’. They just have problems which are readily accepted and worked around by society.
So, maybe I have a kind of disability. But all that means is the special accommodations I need aren’t readily accommodated by the majority. And that’s all it means.
Narratives have power. As a writer, my whole point is to sew narratives into new stories. I can throw away the well-worn rags which are still actively hurting people with disabilities, and use some of the cloth those same people are offering instead. Maybe that’s the most important thing FWD / Forward has taught me, and the best way I can say thank you.