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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Feminism and Disability Collide

I read the below, Feminists Are Not Responsible For Educating Men, and cannot get these words out of my mind. See

As a vocal feminist with many intelligent, lovely male friends, I’m often met with indignance when I choose not to engage with them about feminism. Surely if I reallycared about changing our culture of discrimination and inequality, I should be trying to educate men? Isn’t that an activist’s job? Shouldn’t feminists be grateful when men want to bounce questions off us, because it shows that they are at least trying to understand?
It’s both exhausting and diversionary being expected to hash out the basics with men who haven’t bothered to think about their own privilege before. Men are not entitled to expect feminists to educate them. Real change will only happen when men accept that the burden of education is on them, not on women.
The post concludes:
If you are in a group that has the structural advantage of wages, safety, health and education – when you’ve basically already won the life lottery just by showing up – it is your responsibility to educate yourself. And really, don’t tell women to be nice. We’re angry. We have every reason to be. Frankly, you should be too.
There are days I am tired of doing disability based education and awareness. It is in fact exhausting at times. I have been at it for 35 years. When is the typical bipedal person going to finally get it. I am a human being that just happens to be paralyzed. The barriers that exist are socially constructed. So I like it when someone else reaffirms it is okay not be nice all the time. It is okay to be angry. And ignorance is no excuse for bigotry. Get educated people! 


Extranjera said...

As someone who's dared to question 'raising awareness' about Down syndrome lately and been viciously attacked for doing that, I really am appreciate this post and the link to the original post.

Thank you.

william Peace said...

Extranjera, It is truly remarkable how efforts to educate others often results in a personal attack. The link to the original post is indeed excellent.

Matthew Smith said...

I have tried to engage with feminists and the reason it's difficult is that they're often rather stupid, and their manner of debating juvenile. They are often incapable of leaving their emotions out of any argument. They use straw-man arguments, status-based put-downs, fancy made-up derogatory terms (the persistent use of "mansplaining" against men who point out inconvenient facts covers both these bases) and other obvious logical fallacies on a regular basis. This woman will not "try to educate" men because they have repeatedly shown that they're adults, not children, and don't need someone to "teach" them something that is just her opinion.

I didn't "win life's lottery" by being born male; that's typical of the assumptions that they permit themselves to make. I was in a special boarding school as a child and suffered a considerable amount of violence there, considerably more than any of the women in my family ever have. This is why I won't be "educated" by some opinionated woman. They're not interested in my experience, for the most part, because it's not "structural" but "just individual". When the experience chimes with their narrative, on the other hand, it's treated as if it proves everything.

Becky Andrews said...

Thank you for your kind support on my blog. I appreciate this post as well.

william Peace said...

Becky, My good friend and colleague Steve Kuusisto guide dog Nira had a cancerous mass removed. Nira many weeks later is back to work. The bond between dog and owner is very close but much closer when it involves a guide dog team. I must confess I am in some ways jealous of guide teams. There is a major cool factor involved.
Matthew, I think this is one of those times we are going to agree to disagree. My experience with feminists has been routinely positive. I do not think feminists use emotion more or less than any other scholar. While the "win life's lottery" is a bit over the top there is a factual basis for this statement. Think about it this way. Sexual harassment and rape is not a real concern. Cabs will not whiz by you because you use a wheelchair. You will not be pulled over by a cop because you are white. And the examples could go on and on. The fact is being a white male is an advantage in many ways no one acknowledges.

Moose said...

Wow, Mr Smith doesn't have a chip on his shoulder, he has the whole boulder.

The idea that women always put emotions into their argument and that invalidates said argument is a typical way of trying to tell women to shut up (aka a "silencing technique"). The idea that emotions shouldn't be involved in discussing bias and bigotry is ludicrous, given that bias and bigotry cause a lot of emotion to be stirred up.

The greatest irony, of course, is that Mr Smith's biggest argument is that he's not really one of those "bad men", because he suffered as a child -- which is an emotional argument. It may well be factual, but it is meant to tug on the heart strings, "poor me, I was abused".

And then, Mr Smith misses the whole point. It's not about him, and his experiences. The whole point of this is the global problem that those who aren't experiencing a bias or bigotry are less likely to take the time to realize that such bias and bigotry exists and work to do something about it. Out of sight, out of mind. Or as people tell me too often, "I don't see this, it must not really happen."

PatientC said...

Great post! I will definitely read your back blog.

As for this Smith person, only the entitled would ever suggest that the oppressed address their own subjugation with emotional neutrality. That is not only irrational, it is down right cruel.

william Peace said...

Cloris, There you go again. Typical woman always injecting emotion into the discussion. Heavy dose of sarcasm.