disability

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Four thugs made disabled girl drink washing-up liquid and then filmed it

From the Yorkshire Post, an example of how the culture of dehumanization of people is played out in physical abuse and cruelty.

A SICK gang of four have been locked up for terrorising a teenage disabled girl by forcing her to drink washing up liquid before beating her and filming the horror on a mobile phone.


The thugs, who included a 17-year-old girl, forced the 19-year-old to lick a pair of trainers, gagged her with tissue and tape, tied to her to a chair and hit her. They also poured water over her head, disabling her hearing aids, before dumping her blindfolded in a freezing park at 5.30am, saying 'we will leave her to be savaged by a dog'.

The next day, two of the group bragged about the horrific attack and showed off photos at least one of them had taken on their mobile phone cameras.

All four admitted false imprisonment and causing actual bodily and appeared at York Crown Court for sentencing.

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Butch/Femme -- Crip

I just found another ass-kicking voice in the wilderness: WheelchairDancer.  I followed her on twitter the other day based on some of her tweets and a look at her blog, stated intentions and general 'vibe'.  I asked her if I could repost the piece below and she asked that I describe what she does at her site.  Her twitter feed states:

dancing in a wheelchair

I would add that to me, she is a vibrant, direct, compelling and honest voice bent on being heard in her own words and defined on her own terms.  Please comment the hell out of this piece, so we can coax her into writing here on a regular basis.

To offer my voice in this important conversation, I want to write my personal resistance to both of these labels and to suggest how disability complicates them as defining personal categories.

Bfp begins by wondering where she is on the butch-femme spectrum. Cripchick continues by observing how disability and sexuality are so publicly invisible that even getting to these terms is hard. She adds the terms cripchicks and gimpgirls into the conversation of gender presentation, explicitly recognizing disability as a primary and defining force.

I don't have identifying terminology to add -- though I wish there were a more hip word for somewhat middle-aged bisexual disabled women like me. My goal here is to look a little at my body and my experiences in being read by others. I am talking about how I am read and not how I would define myself, how *I* would identify, because I don't actually know how I would choose to describe myself in the terms of this conversation.

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Who am I, if I'm not me anymore?

We get older.  We all do.  If we're really lucky, we get a lot older.  Sooner or later, we die.  That is the way of things.  As I rise this morning, eating my breakfast, I turn my attention to this aspect of sex, gender, body that I was kind of avoiding: getting old. 

Age is just as much of a conversation about sex, gender, body as anything else.  It could be argued that no conversation about sgb, or identity can exist without the conversation of age being included.  One of the site rules at sexgenderbody.com is that no sex with minors is condoned or supported on this site.

As we age, we identify ourselves in different terms.  We shift how we view ourselves, how we wish others to see us and how we see others.  Age prejudice and labels are just as common as any other form of discrimination.  I don't know if any one form of discrimination gets more assistance or license than any other form, but age discrimination does seem to benefit greatly from a youth-worshiping society and many people's fear of dying.  Aging and the approach of death is uncomfortable for many to deal with.  It's why I was in no hurry to look at it myself.

Whether or not I include and embrace aging into the conversations of sex, gender, body - age is part of how each of us identify ourselves and are identified by others.  Plain and simple.

So, I took off looking for links on age, identity, sex, gender, body.  This is what I found for different search terms on Google.

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When the body is music

(Image courtesy of Crammed Disc and Staff Benda Bilili)

I have been listening for conversations about people with disabilities who are speaking up about their experiences in claiming their own identity on their own terms and not society's.  Empowering organizations, advocacy and rights groups or websites, writers and anyone in between. 

Today, I found a website called The New Internationalist.  I posted a couple things from them already and was happy to add them to my bookmark file.  I was about to leave the site, happy in my previous discoveries, when I stumbled upon something in the 'mixed media' section of the site, that just rocked my world: Staff Benda Bilili. 

There is nothing more beautiful to me than the human spirit, conveyed through music - guided by emotion instead of demographics.  I don't want to buy from the 'record industry' because they found a way to call something 'music' and sell it to me.  I want to feel the industry of a person's life, played out in the space where their body meets the musical instrument or it becomes the instrument.  I don't need to know the language of the song, to hear the soul of the singer. 

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Forbidden fruit: Why shouldn't disabled people have sex or become parents?

From The New Internationalist (issue 233)

Illustration by NANCY WILLIS


Anne Finger examines one of the deepest and most damaging prejudices.

Before she became a paraplegic, Los Angeles resident DeVonna Cervantes liked to dye her pubic hair 'fun colours' - turquoise, purple, jet black. After DeVonna became disabled, a beautician friend of hers came to the rehabilitation unit and, as a Christmas present, dyed DeVonna's pubic hair a hot pink.

But there's no such thing as 'private parts' in a rehab hospital. Soon the staff, who'd seen her dye job when they were catheterizing her, sent the staff psychiatrist around to see her. Cervantes says that he told her: 'I know it is very hard to accept that you have lost your sexuality but you don't need to draw attention to it this way.' Cervantes spent the remainder of the 50-minute session arguing with him, and, in perhaps the only true medical miracle I've ever heard of, convinced him that he was wrong - that this was normal behaviour for her.

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Pro Choice and Disabled - A Contradiction?

This fine reflection was originally posted at Disability Cool:

I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember. Even as a young girl at the age of ten, I did not believe in the stereotypes that other young girls did. In college, I told a guy off for calling me a "chick". "I am not a chick or a girl - I am a woman", I told him strongly. I had not even met another feminist at the point in my life, but feminism seemed to come naturally to me.

I have been disabled for as long as I can remember. My disability is genetic. It started to show itself when I was five years old and got progressively worse as I grew older. I was correctly diagnosed when I was 39 years old, so you can imagine what kind of medical procedures I had been put through all of my life.

Choice versus eugenics

So how do these two worlds connect and help to make sense of the title of this article. In my work with the women's community, I am well known for my pro-choice stance. I have gone to pro-choice rallies, spoke at a pro-choice forum about my own experience of having an abortion and even been on a CBC morning news show (a national TV network). I believe in a woman's right to choose if she wants to have an abortion or does not want to have an abortion. It does go both ways. And don't kid yourself, lot of women with disabilities have abortions just like lots of non-disabled women have abortions. Abortions should be covered by the medical health program wherever the woman lives and must be safe and legal. I believe in nothing less than this.

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Intimacy on wheels and batteries.

This week, I attended another screening at Clarisse Thorn's Sex+++ Film Series at Jane Addams' Hull House in Chicago.  Two documentary films were featured.  The first one, "Sex, Disability & Videotape" (Beyondmedia Education) was about women from age 16 -24 with disabilities claiming and exploring their self image, self worth and sexuality.  The second feature, "Orgasmic Women" (Marianna Beck) is a film of 13 women interviewed about masturbation, with demonstrations.

I did not initially sense how these two films would pair with each other around any central theme or related conversation.  The first film was about a group called Empowered Fe Fes, which is a support group for young women with disabilities.  The film focused on two relationship conversations.

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