In 1851 Sojourner Truth, a former slave spoke to group of feminists in Akron, Ohio and asked , ain’t I a woman? It is 2016 and I ask myself that every day. I struggle to find space within the feminist movement because the truths that I live as a disabled wonan are very rarely if ever recognized as wrong at all in mainstream feminism. For instance I am thirty and I have dealt with street harassment a grand total of once in my life. A male acquaintance who was also in a wheelchair groped my chest when I was in college. I did report it reluctantly and the guy never bothered me again. Never once has an able-bodied man so much as cat called me. Instead I am ignored so totally that on the rare occasions my service dog hasn’t been with to make those around me pay attention I have had people trip over my 300 pound wheelchair and nearly end up in my lap because they “didn’t see me.” Really? How do you miss seeing something that like it wants to be a Transformer when it grows up ? It’s PURPLE for effs sake! When I am noticed I get asked how having sex with me “works” or can I get pregnant? I have been asked these thing in public, by strangers as if I’m some sort of carnival exhibit or scientific test subject. Maybe I should start charging for every answer, even test subjects and circus performers get paid.
I’m not saying that the street harassment most women face is anything less than demeaning, awful and wrong it is and it should stop. All I am asking is that if a disabled woman tells you she’s never had that happen instead of saying just saying :”you’re so lucky,” ask about her struggles, ask how they are different from yours, make space for us at the table,lets be each others advocates regardless of race, birth sex, income or ability. If you ever wondered “ain’t I a womam?” I say yes you and your story is every bit as important as mine.
This is Kerry Washington performing Ain’t I a Woman . She ROCKS IT.