Forgive me, readers. It has been 8 months since my last post.
Feminist Sonar is my home. A place where I come to put my thoughts out into the world – a place where women with disabilities are the focus, and mainstream feminism is not. A place where things like the Pro Choice SHould Not Mean Ableist post can stay standing – and years after being published is still one of the most popular and controversial things I’ve ever written.
Feminist Sonar is how I got my start.
These days, life is more challenging. These days, I am writing books, and chapters. Reviewing books about disability (Sight Unseen will be reviewed here soon!), and trying to make freelance decisions that make me happy – but I am also fighting every day for my safety.
Back in June of 2014 I blacked out because my pain levels got so bad. Since then I have been trying to figure out what exactly is wrong with me – and the choices aren’t great. I’m not going to go into my diagnosis process yet, because it’s not over – and we all know how long that can take.
But I want to take a moment to acknowledge that working hard – being a warrior for social justice, a banner carrier for those who are forgotten, is exhausting. Since November I have been working on my game Dead Scare, on my chapter for Wraith 20th ed, and on various sundry projects. Being disabled and trying to also be an activist is sometimes damn near impossible – and it is because of this that I needed to take a break.
Feminist Sonar is home, yes. But Feminist Sonar requires me to step into the worst possible stories, and write them up. It asks of me to speak truths that sometimes are exhausting to write. Even contemplate.
In a world where disabled parents are having their children taken away from them, where a bioethics professor advocates killing people with disabilities from a seat of tenure at a famous university, and yes – where gamergaters are able to stalk us and nothing is done.
Yes, those people too are why I left this for a while. The hate mail, the threats, they got to be more than I could bear while I was trying to find the source of my pain.
But I’m back now. I rise.
I’m back because we need to talk about creating safe protests for people with disabilities, so that we can show our support for people in Baltimore, Ferguson, and many other places without being unsafe. I’m back because we need to talk about how to support disabled parents in their legal rights. I’m back because someone needs to remind Marvel that Daredevil is blind – not just carrying a cane as a symbol.
I’m back because even when this work is hard – even when it is unpaid and difficult – this is the work that makes me feel that I am doing something better.
Being a social justice warrior means not just that one speaks out, and defends rights but that we take care of ourselves. Self care is a battle of its own. We make it. We wonder whether we’re doing the right thing, we wonder if it’s right to take a step back to keep ourselves safe.
The answer is yes. Being safe, being comfortable, being healthy – these are the things that make us better at supporting others. It is worth it to step up and say “I need a break, but I’ll be back.”
Things are always going to be hard, but that doesn’t mean that I will stop every time. Next week I’ll be talking about parking permits for the terminally ill in the state of NJ, and how New Jersey’s strict measures are hurting those with disabilities more than helping.
I blog against ableism, I write against injustice, and I rise against the fight in my own system because this is how I serve my community. One phrase at a time, carefully crafted to remind people that we are here and we are waiting to be brought into an equality with our able bodied peers.
So, on a day when my own words may not be enough, I leave you with Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” – because Feminist Sonar isn’t gone, I just needed some time to regroup.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.