Take my picture take it if you dare
Paint it in your mind an keep it there
No gloss
Every curve every scar
Chin up chest out
I am not what you see
My true story
Bared in imperfect harmony

Earlier this month I spoke at a reproductive justice rally, and as much as I was honoured to be there, it wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. For a long time I stayed out of the pro-choice conversation. I have always been pro-choice, but I didn’t always feel included in the movement. My concerns about reproductive justice were a little different than most feminists, while most women I knew were fighting for the choice of whether or not to have children; most women with disabilities were fighting for the choice to have children at all.
Like many fights in the disability movement this one goes on silently and often behind closed doors. It happens in subtle ways, the dead quiet after a little girl with a disability suggests that she is going to be a mommy someday, the doctor who asks a teenager with a disability why she wants birth control, to the barrage of comments a pregnant woman with a disability is subjected to in public. It also happens in more overt ways, like when a woman with a disability is not allowed to have her child in the maternity ward, the many unwarranted calls to the Children’s Aid Society, and even in some cases forced sterilization.

There are 300 million women with disabilities around the world, each one of them are impacted by issues like these, compounded by the same lack of reproductive justice facing other women in their communities. But how do these women organize if they are too afraid to tell their stories? How can we expect them to join the movement if they do not feel included?

While these women are feeling excluded from discussion of choice and reproductive justice, the anti-choice movement has been freely exploiting us for years. One day they tell women that children with disabilities are their punishment for having abortions, and the next time they are telling women that they should risk giving birth to a potentially disabled child, even at the risk of their own lives. We did not ask to be used this way, and I for one refuse to be used this way.

What we need is a reproductive justice movement that welcomes women with disabilities in the way we want to be included. The rising of women is the rising of us all, but only if women with disabilities rise too.

When: March 1st, 4:30
Where: University of Waterloo, venue to be determined

On Thursday March 1st, distinguished scholars Morgan Holmes and Robert McRuer will collaborate to deliver a talk and facilitate a discussion on the theme of “Disabling Failure: Sex, Embodiment, and Crip Critique.”
Dr. McRuer is Professor of English at George Washington University. His book Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability was the MLA Alan Bray Award winner in 2007. He is currently completing a book tentatively titled “Crip Time: Essays on Disability, Sexuality, and Neoliberalism,” considering locations of disability within contemporary political economies and the roles that disabled movements and representations play in countering hegemonic forms of globalization.
Dr. Holmes is Associate Professor of Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University, and is the author of Critical Intersex. Her work brings together sexuality and queer theory and feminist thought with qualitative health research and law related to sexuality and health.
All interested faculty, graduate or undergraduate students, alumni, or others are also invited to take part in a small reading and discussion group in advance of the talk. This group will provide an introduction to the scholars’ work, the themes of the presentation, and the broader disciplines of queer theory and disability studies, particularly as they overlap with rhetoric and literary studies.

lady gaga using a wheelchair in her imagery

Lady Gaga's Paparazzi Video: Liberation or Exploitation?

I`ve recently become very interested in how the media is using disability as a hot topic, while still oppressing people with disabilities.  In doing some research on this topic I came across an excellent article on Lady Gaga’s Disability Project.

I`m all for people with disabilities expressing their sexuality, but Lady Gaga`s paparazzi video leaves me confused  Part of me is glad that people with disabilities can be seen as sexual beings in the media, but Lady Gaga does not need a chair.  If she really wanted to support us, wouldn`t she put a woman with a real disability on camera?  If she is exploiting the disability movement, what is she gaining from it that she wouldn’t gain from any other video?

Please send me your thoughts on this.

To read more about this issue from a disability studies perspective, check out: The Transcontinental Disability Choir: Disabililty Chic? (Temporary) Disability in Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” | Bitch Magazine.