Parts 1 and 2 are available by clicking each number.
This is the final instalment in the Diary of a Disabled Feminist mini-series. You can find the previous two instalments here and here.
Feminism is a controversial business. From dealing with people who think male privilege & toxic masculinity is a myth, to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) trying to force out trans women from feminist groups, it is a minefield of insults & derogatory comments. To some, an empowered woman is a threat, even if they don’t want to admit that. Thus, sexism still pervades every crook & cranny of our society, infiltrating daily occurrences.
Women often find themselves ignored or patronised when dealing with business typically deemed “men’s” work, such as buying a car, or having work done on the home. I once had a workman think I didn’t know how to switch a plug on, which I had intentionally left off so as not to waste power on a broken heater. However, once my husband explained the issue in exactly the same way as I did, the heater was definitely broken & needed replacing. The irony here is that I’m the one who’s good at fixing things. I still can’t make up my mind as to whether this was because I’m disabled or femme. Similarly, while Jarred is certainly an avid gamer, of the two of us I definitely play the most. However, conversations in gaming will often revert to Jarred by default.
The purpose of feminist groups is to support & empower women, yet it is in these groups that I have experienced some of the worst discrimination. My bisexuality appears to make some people uncomfortable, as if I couldn’t control my actions if I were attracted to someone. Others seem to think that my sexuality is purely a fashion statement. However, by far the biggest obstacle I have faced is steps. I have attempted to attend so many groups only to find I couldn’t get through the door, & to hear that they’re “sorry” but somehow couldn’t find an accessible space in central Leeds. As such I don’t typically find myself in feminist circles, but simply describe myself as feminist & occasionally tweet on the topic.
I tend to talk about equality rather than feminism, & this can often lead to some ridicule, the most popular joke being that equality & feminism are the same, & so it’s like asking for H₂0 instead of water. However, I would contend that equality & feminism are two different things; equality doesn’t just include gender equality, but also tackles racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, & general xenophobia. The issues faced by one group should not over-power the others & given that power truly lies in numbers, if these marginalised groups could set aside their differences to try & work together, true social change could be achieved. Therefore, while I identify as feminist, my efforts cannot lie within the bounds of just feminism.
I am disabled. I am queer. I have no hidden agenda; I proclaim it loud & clear. I am a feminist who wants equality.
3 thoughts on “Diary of a Disabled Feminist.”
I remember when I first became disabled, and was asked to leave the women’s group I belonged to at that time (nearly 30 years ago, it still hurts). Apparently as a disabled person I would need to be cared for so they didn’t want me there any more. I was the mother of young children, caring for them, not needing care myself, just because I now needed to walk with a stick!
I still regard myself as a feminist, but these days I am an inclusive feminist, I will not exclude anyone who identifies as a woman, I know what it feels like to be told you are “not a good enough woman”. We have no right to pass such judgement.
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