Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's a New Year...Are We a New Wave?

Happy New Year, FRIDA Fighters! Good work to all who spoke out in 2007 against sexism and ableism! (And all the other types of bias too.) Even if all you did was read this blog every now and then, you educated yourself, and for that I applaud you. The schooling you get outside of school is some of the toughest larnin' you'll ever get.

As we begin the Gregorian New Year, a topic that's been brought up lately among the younger feminists I know is: what "Wave" are we? Feminism, to step into the history books for a tiny second, is often considered to have three "waves." The First Wave was the suffragettes around the beginning of the last century. The Second Wave was the feminists of the 60s and 70s. And the Third Wave are the newer feminists who come from different races and different backgrounds and have a great spectrum of issue and identity concerns.

So, do feminists in the disability rights movement have some kind of parallel "Wave" categorization? Not officially. Not necessarily. In fact, I think trying to fit disabled women into "Wave" groupings is not really appropriate given the great range of disability rights activities and philosophies. Around 28.5 million women in the US are estimated to have a disability of some kind, but bear in mind that not every woman has a feminist consciousness, and not every disabled woman considers herself to have a disability. This number does not count the vast numbers of nondisabled women who live with or are related to a person with a disability.

I do strongly feel that younger women feminists today have the opportunity to learn from an older generation of disabled feminists. This may be the closest way in which we identify with the Third Wave. That, and the fact that younger disabled feminists are concerned with a huge range of issues. However I think that most women with disabilities are largely disenfranchised from most feminist or even women's group, and this is something we should work to fix.

What do you readers think? Where is the disability rights movement in feminism and what are our "Waves?" I have lots more thoughts on the issue but would prefer at this time to start a forum discussion....

Happy New Thinking!