I don’t think my parents have ever been considered middle-class, the one plausible exception being the time period in which my mother was enlisted in the Army, but I’m not even sure of that. When people talk about feminism lately it all seems to come back to their annoyance with white, middle-class, heterosexual women and how they seem to ignore the experiences of women who do not fall into some or all of the categories they do. I think it’s time to stop putting labels on things every time we turn around, but in case you’re interested in my labels here the list. I am a white woman born to parents who have probably been classified as working poor for most, if not all of, my life. I’m a person living with a disability acquired at birth. What this means for me is that I require either a motorized wheelchair or a manual one to get around. I have gone to college but had to leave because of insurance cutbacks reducing the amount of assistance I was allowed to proceed. I am also bisexual and even though I don’t think that should matter a hill of beans to anyone who isn’t living with me apparently some people will make a big deal out of anything.
As you can probably tell I represent a minority of some form two or three times over. That being said I believe that all this focus on categories and labels is doing more harm than good for the concept of feminism. All women are unique and all our life’s variances are unique to us as individuals, because of that we all have important things contribute to the conversation. My younger sister spent 18 years in the same house with me and my parents but her childhood was different from mine, her school and work experiences are different from mine and therefore her perspective while it might be similar to mine is still completely unique to her.
Feminism shouldn’t be about which group of women have the most difficulties. We all have problems, some of the more unique to our particular circumstances than others. Instead of everyone claiming that they have it harder maybe we should all agree to stop shouting and listen to one another like reasonable adults. This means listening to man as well. Recently I’ve noticed that women are shying away from using the word feminism, in part due to the mandating connotations it acquired somewhere along the way. I think it is time to redefine and reclaim that word, even as we work to do the same for ourselves.
I think that most parents of children and adults with disabilities have gone through a grieving cycle at least once sometime after the definitive answer that their child will never be seen by the world as “normal.” I know my mom has and she tells me all the time that she asked for a child who would need extra help in some way. I don’t think my father has ever really stopped grieving and even though that makes our relationship difficult at times I know that he doesn’t love me any less,he just wishes life were easier for me.
I do not take offense at my parents’ grief and I will never think less of someone for mourning the loss of the more typical child they expected. When a family expects a baby they tend not to dwell on the idea that their kid might never learn to speak, feed themselves or walk. Even if there are genetic issues within the family that might come up, there is always the hope at least for a while that the child will not be touched by it..
When the expectation of a typical child goes away everything changes, Instead of where will they go to college? Its will they be able to keep up with kids their same age at all? The list goes on even to things as basic as will my child recognize me as Mom/Dad?
My folks and I got lucky. I can’t walk but I can talk I graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA and went to college. I now live in a different state from them.
I told you that to tell you this: even though I accept my disability as part of me there are still things I grieve over I will probably never be able to cook alone so having a meal waiting when everyone comes back from work, school, errands,, etc. probably isn’t going to happen unless its take out.
I will never be able to teach a cartwheel. (Having to tell a child who thinks you hung the moon and stars that you can’t show them how to do one really sucks(
I can’t open soda bottles or cans. (Seriously? I’m almost thirty and they are not pickle jars)
Someone else till cuts up my food when needed because I can’t use a knife and fork together. (Again, I’m how old and can’t do this?)
I can’t go to the restroom without help. (Enough said)
Thea things(and a whole lot more I didn’t list( frustrate, irritate or just plain piss me off. Do not put me on a pedestal for just living life. Hopefully if I inspire you it’s is because of an accomplishment that doesn’t fall under the heading of day to day living