Monday, December 01, 2008

A Disability Blog?


Thanks to all of you voting, I've made it to the second round of the Canadian Blog Awards in the Best Disability Blog category and I’m beyond thrilled (does that make me more dorky?). Last week, I was all humble, saying that it was an honour just to be nominated and it is an honour - it means something that someone thinks I might be “best” at this thing I do. It also means quite a lot of something that many other someones agreed and voted for me. And by now, I’m so tickled that I made it into the second round and, just in case, am working on my "Oscar nominee who didn't get the award" face, while being really, really grateful that when the results are announced, no one will be shoving a camera in my face and broadcasting it to the world. Which is a long-winded way of saying thanks so much for your vote and if you are still so inclined, I’d very much appreciate your vote again. No registration or Canadian residence needed and it's all over by this Sunday. And while you're voting (assuming you're voting), despite her likely not needing my endorsement, go vote for Steph here and here. She's damn good at what she does.

Something interesting popped up during this whole process. Several people seemed surprised that I was included in the category of disability blogs and more than one said that The Seated View is "so much more than that". And it made me think. About what makes a disability blog and, by extension, what makes a person a disability advocate (which seems inferred by the disability blog thing). We're back to identity again - it seems to be a theme in my life lately.

The Canadian Blog Awards defined "disability blog" as - I vaguely remember, but can no longer find - having 30% disability content and that's probably about the amount of posts I write that touch on disability issues in one way or another. As Carrie said, this blog is about my life - the disability is part of that, but it isn't all of my life and this experience made me realize that the idea I had when I started this blog may have worked. That this blog has reflected my view of disability and, notwithstanding your (the readers) natural brilliance and refusal to stereotype, in a small way, my blog may have succeeded in communicating my philosophy to the internets.

When you have a disability, you spend every day educating others in some way or another. Because when you have a disability, people have ideas about who you are and what your life looks like - mostly, these ideas are about who you aren't and what your life doesn't look like. There's an awful lot of can't in those stereotypes and being in a position where you have to prove pretty much daily that yes indeed, you can, that you are a real person with a real life that looks surprisingly like everyone else's is, quite frankly, exhausting at times. But still, you do it, because there is no choice. Because submitting to this idea of being a lump of asexual meat sitting passively in a corner bemoaning your lot, invisible and powerless within our culture is, equally frankly, obscene. So you fight and usually, that fight means living - partly because that's what people do, but it also means having opinions, being involved and making sure that you are a little bit more visible in the right way, in your way, not in the lump-of-meat way. And it means that in some respects, your entire life becomes a political act. Buying groceries is a political act, because the assumption is that someone will do it for you while you remain "wheelchair-bound" at home (or in a home). Going out for lunch or a drink with friends is a political act because, as someone once told me, they had no idea that WheelTrans took you anywhere but hospitals and doctors’ offices. Holding hands with your lover in public becomes a political act because people don’t expect that you have the desire for love or well, desire or that someone might find you hot.

Most of the time, living my life is just me living my life and most of the time, when I become aware of how much living my life is an act of advocacy, it’s a surprise. Often, it is the reactions of others that make my life a political act - I was just having a daiquiri with a girlfriend or holding the hand of someone I really like. It was that other person's reaction to my going about my life that changed what I did into something more than buying butter and orange juice, changed it into becoming advocacy. And it is the fact that many of the strangers I pass on the street every day will be surprised to see me on the way to the bank or the grocery store that has over the years, in many small ways, shaped my decisions about how I go about just living my life.

And at this particular point I'm trying to avoid the conclusion that despite my claiming that disability is only part of my life, I have just painted myself into a corner with a conclusion that all of my life is about disability. Am I the only one who feels like whimpering right now? Let's call it being about advocacy instead. It still sounds a bit tiring and makes me want to talk about reality shows for several days, so I’m going to stop now.

I hate it when I make my brain hurt...

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