Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Those Darn Doors...

Earlier this week I wrote about wanting to see more women with disabilities knocking at the front door of power. I wanted to clarify that in fact what I would like to see is more women with disabilities engaging in direct action, and a recognition of the women doing this kind of work in a united sense. I would like to see women with disabilities in more positions where we are the ones setting the context of the power game, not just playing by established rules.

The question seems to be: why is direct action important, and what do we want, anyway? Also, what context am I talking about?

In reverse order:

The context I want is for in all situations, our concerns to be taken seriously. We are not to be dismissed, and in fact FRIDA and our friends have a tremendous pool of knowledge about issues affecting women with disabilities. I want people to know that they can tap into this knowledge by working with FRIDA. I want a context of respect and I don't think we're going to settle for anything less.

This leads to what we want---we want solid evidence of change (in my opinion anyway). I want to be able to go to the emergency room and have an interpreter available so I can understand what is happening to my body. I want the laws in my state amended so that the reproductive rights of people under guardianship are protected and their persons preserved without undue harm. I want meaningful sex education provided to every kid with a disability (you'd be surprised how many don't know what "clit" means. I want Congress to pass the Commuity Choice Act, and fund it! and regulate it! Oh, to hell with "want"---we NEED these things!

So how do we get them? Why is direct action important? There are people working on policy change through legal venues. There are support and information networks. Folks write to their elected officials and such. However, I think that until WE are at the table sitting down with decisionmakers, we will always be treated like pigs or cows being herded around from pen to pen. Direct action is whatever it takes to get to that place---if lobbying and collaboration works, fine, but if needed we can and WILL get the attention of power brokers through obstruction of their daily business and influencing their attitudes. In doing this, bias and discrimination will expose themselves---just as Martin Luther King noted--and we as righteous human beings will prevail.

So my challenge to those of you reading this post is this: go and look at the concerns that folks brought up at the Sex and Disability Town Hall. What do we need to DO? The issues that people brought up affect their daily quality of life. What do we need to have good lives? What do we need to change or create? And...what are you willing to do to make sure we get it?