As a mentally ill musical theatre fan, depictions of characters who share that trait with me typically fall into one of two categories: they a) don't exist or they b) make me rage. next to normal comes closer than most shows to getting it right, in a lot of ways. But where it fails, it fails hard.
In the process of creating a "movement" to end street harassment, we must interrogate the full scope of the problem that ableism brings to the issue itself, the way the issue is shaped by ableist anti-street harassment activists, and the holistic effectiveness of solutions. If who might be left out of an anti-street harassment movement's framing and tactics fails to be a central concern to activists who say that all people deserve equal access to the streets, then it ain't gonna be a true revolution.
People with disabilities have long had difficulty accessing video games for various reasons and with varying degrees of limited accommodations. Game play details ranging from color schemes in darker settings to story lines and fight scenes that can overwhelm cognitive understanding have left many games out of the question. Controllers have been too difficult or impossible to use, and the mechanics too fast or the quest chains too long and tangled. The canyon of hardcore games almost seemed, at times, to bar disabled gamers from their guild.
This week on Grey's Anatomy: problem storylines galore! Pregnancies, relationships, everyone telling everyone else what to do, and not a whole lot of anyone listening to anyone else. Grey's wants to set us up for sweeps with a bang, apparently, and we've got a lot of thoughts about it after the jump.
If we're going to talk about voluntary sterilization—or even the simple act of opting to have few or no children—we've got to get everyone on the same historical page. While I tend to take for granted that people understand the history of forced sterilization in the U.S., as well as countries such as China that mandate single-child families as part of population control, it may not be a given that everyone understands the connections between modern eugenics, race/class/ability privilege, reproductive justice, and the struggle for voluntary sterilization. Much as I know loads of folks use it as a jumping off point, skimming the Wikipedia entries for compulsory sterilization and eugenics in the United States only gets you so far.
There's an patronising narrative that happens with a lot of disabled characters. They don't act out of free will, but because they are disabled. They aren't allowed independence, because they are disabled and clearly incapable of acting on their own. Other characters do things 'for their own good' and this is depicted in a neutral or even positive way. These 'small details' that barely register with nondisabled viewers make me cringe and make me approach something that other people love from a completely different perspective.
This has real-world impacts on how nondisabled people interact with us. If you are a wheelchair user or you are in a relationship with one, people will ask you 'How do you have sex?' If you are a person with mental illness, you are going to be continually questioned about whether you are choosing relationships out of free will or because you're sick. If you have a cognitive or developmental disability, there will be concern trolling about whether you are able of making independent choices.
I would be remiss in talking about pushback against intersectional critiques of pop culture without discussing my long and tormented relationship with the Fox hit Glee. To put it bluntly, I hate Glee.
Yet, a lot of feminists, including some of the staff here at Bitch, love Glee. The show is regularly celebrated on feminist sites, people post videos of their favorite moments, and everyone likes to talk about how great it is.
The reason I don't like Glee is pretty simple: The show has some of the most horrifically troped depictions of people with disabilities I have ever seen. The show's also been criticized for having a lot of problems when it comes to race and gay teens, but I want to focus on the disability aspect today, because the critiques of this show from the disability community have been universally ignored by the feminist community when it's not busy dismissing them.