Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Blogging against disablism

Blogging against disablism – what a fabulous idea. Could this be the way to bring about the unity of purpose that we need to properly challenge the wrong-thinking and blatant prejudice that keeps disabled people (in the UK at least) out of mainstream society?

Because that’s what we need to do: come together into a single force to challenge wrong wherever it is found. The law won’t do it for us – those of us who try to apply the flawed concepts of the Disability Discrimination Act know that something is lacking – an understanding, by employers, by the judiciary and by the legislators of what disablism really is and where it comes from.

And it comes from years and years of oppression, of being dismissed as stupid, or as worth less because of some ‘difference’ in the way a part of the body or mind works, or looks or sounds. And being thought now too expensive or difficult to ‘include’.

We are taught to fear those who are ‘different’ from a very early age: if you doubt this, please read the very clear explanation of images of disability here .
Or go to the British Film Institute website.

The world (especially the medical world) is still trying to make us conform to their notions of ‘normality’ – and if they can’t manage that they want to wipe us out before we are born, with testing reasoned for with messages for prospective parents of the horrors of trying to bring up a ‘disabled child’ – whisper it – what if the neighbours find out? In some cultures within the UK and worldwide, the birth of a disabled child still brings a disgrace on the family: what did they ‘do’ to deserve that? Why is god (or whatever his/her name may be in that culture) punishing them? Which means parents are encouraged to hide ‘their shame’ by isolation at home or in an institution. Or to pass responsibility over to others, whoever they may be. We must reach out to these people with education and opportunity. We must challenge the prejudices fostered into religions by lack of knowledge in past history and bring things up to date.

Why do we fear the word or of being labelled as ‘disabled’? – could it be because so many of us refuse to see that word for what it means and to rail against it as we should: we are too ready to accept the meaning given it by the rest of society: of someone to be pitied, who will be excluded and seen as different, where for different read ‘wrong’.

We need to reclaim the word; to assert a pride in being ‘disabled’ people – because disability (as the social model teaches us) is not about us, it is about what is done to us, it is about the way that ‘society’ ignores us, belittles us and excludes us.
For more on this concept, link here.

I was horrified to read that the most recent British Social Attitudes survey showed, among many things, that over 70 per cent of people would not feel very comfortable were a person with schizophrenia to move in next door and over 50 per cent would not be very comfortable were a person with depression to become a neighbour. But to my mind, the most horrifying statistic in the DRC’s press release on this survey was the one that revealed the difference that ‘knowledge of disability’ made:
“82 per cent of people who don’t know anyone who is disabled say that they would not feel very comfortable with someone with schizophrenia moving in next door, compared with 71 per cent of people who know someone who is disabled and 62 per cent of people who are themselves disabled.”

62% of people who consider themselves to be disabled people have this same prejudice against others. Where are we going wrong?

So, lets put a stop to it:

Lets campaign and challenge the wrong portrayal of disabled people in old texts and plays – Noddy no longer has Golly to play with, so it can be done, if the outrage is strong enough.

Lets challenge the mis-portrayal of disabled people in the media: lets swamp the television stations and newspapers every time they print a ‘super-crip’ story; every time they report our ‘heroic’ exploits, such as making a journey or raising a family.

Lets challenge exclusion – from anything.

And most of all, let us challenge the concept that any impairment that is different to one’s own is a suitable target for disablism – especially by those who ought to know better.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

And another .....

And whilst in ranting mode - why not another!

What is it about HR 'Professionals' that makes them want to treat everyone like children?
If they want to control children with silly rules, why did they choose the HR profession rather than the far more suitable one of teaching?!

I have recently been engaged in discussions about a plan to introduce to my place of work a 'Drug and Alcohol Policy' - whoopee!! I thought - free samples!!

But sadly not - the intention of said 'policy' is not to give us all a chance to sample these delights but rather to ensure that we don't sample them, at all - or certainly not within 240 hours of working, being at work, going to go to work or anything else to do with work.

Unless, of course, you are in a senior position - in which case you can get as blathered as you like, any time at all.

Now, as a clown, I realise that there are time when a little (and certainly a lot) of alcohol is not appropriate - there is nothing worse than a drunken clown in a custard pie fight: they keep missing and that can be dangerous for the lovely audience.

But once one hits a certain age (and I think I hit it all too long ago) one realises this without having to have the helpful advice of an HR Professional to point it out!! And one controls ones behaviour. If not, there are already a battery of 'helpful' policies and procedures that can be brought to bear.

But this, it seems, is not enough for the HR Professional - if it's drugs and alcohol that we want to control, it must be a drug and alcohol policy.

I am looking forward immensely to further discussions on this lovely topic.

a little rant

Why are there so many more immortals on our roads these days? Why have they all suddenly got cars to go whizzing about in?

As a regular commuter (by car) I am amazed at all the clever stunts that these gods can get up to - speeding down the inside lanes of roads, under-taking other cars, with complete reckless abandon for their well-being. Even those with little immortals strapped in the back of the car seem to be able to do it.

As a mere mortal, I have to be constantly aware of the dangers of driving: never getting too close to the car in front, lest it should suddenly stop; not taking one (or sometimes two) hands off the wheel to fiddle with my hair or do my make-up or use my phone; never weaving in and out of cars, in the hope that I will arrive at my destination 1.2 seconds sooner than I might have done by the stupidness of driving safely. But obviously if you are an immortal, none of this matters.

Time was when immortals kept off our roads - preferring to float about on clouds, or sit on the top of Mount Olympus sipping nectar. I wonder what happened? It certainly makes the daily drive more interesting, if a little more scary - but that is a small price to pay for the company of immortals.

Unless of course, these are not immortals but are actually extremely stupid ....... But no, that would be silly!

Friday, 6 April 2007

'nuf said

So, it seems simply having a blog is not enough - one has to post to the dam**d thing as well!
Being an extraordinarily busy performer it is tricky at times to find the space to compose suitable entries.

Take last week as an example - 7 nights spent slaving over a red-hot sound desk, balancing microphones, firing off sound effects, all so a large number of people I scarcly know can strut their stuff on stage in a piece of 'theatre' that I was no closer to understanding the purpose of by the end of it than I was at the beginning. Z'ounds! Bethink me 'twas too much sirrah!!

And the marked improvement in the weather means I can't even use rain as an excuse to avoid the garden.

Ah, well: at least it all keeps me off the streets - making them much safer for other drivers.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

A new blogger stumbles forth

Well, I've been driven to it, you see.

I've known other bloggers and they keep making comments about not having one - so now I have.

I shall just have to see what develops!