F.I.A is our new series of posts on Feminism, Intersectionality, Allyship. These posts intend to give feminists an insight on intentional issues within feminism and give some ideas on how feminists can be better allies, both within feminist spaces and beyond. It's easy to say "My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit."but it is a bit more difficult to implement that ideology for some.
This first post is on Disability and has been written by our FemStar Matt, a disabled student who is currently studying abroad in Spain.
Being disabled and any sort of activist, and I include feminism in that, is hard work. There are so many important issues that affect disabled women – issues about reproductive rights, the right to grow up, experiences of domestic violence, sexual assault, the global literacy rate, access to employment, mental health, accessing housing, institutionalisation, the list continues.
Women in male dominated activist spaces (which is most of them), have to spend far too much of their time trying to make male activists listen. It is our responsibility as male activists to change that. Female activists shouldn’t be forced to spend their entire time within spaces trying to be heard in those spaces, instead of looking to change the outside world as a part of that space. In the same vein, disabled feminists shouldn’t be forced to spend their entire time making the feminist movement accessible, instead of working with the rest of it to change all the issues mentioned earlier, and more, that affect specifically women who are disabled.
Being disabled can alter your ability to be involved in spaces in many ways. They might not be accessible for people with mobility impairments, have documents in accessible formats, such as audio, or have sign language interpreters. They may communicate in ways people who are neuroatypical find difficult to understand, or may, as often happens, put too much pressure on people. As someone with energy level and mobility impairment, as well as mental health problems, I can’t commit in the same way other people can. I can’t come to every meeting, every demonstration, I can’t talk about every topic. If it is not self-indulgence, but a political act, to care for ourselves in this world, disabled feminists need to be able to do that as well at times, knowing women with disabilities won’t be thrown under the bus by able people within the movement if we’re not always present, reminding people of these issues.
If my activism isn’t intersectional, it will be bullshit, and if your movement isn’t accessible, it will be bullshit. Untold damage is being done to the rights of women with disabilities, while far too many disabled feminists are being forced to spend their time and energy changing the movement, before we can begin to focus on tackling these problems. Intersectionality in that form, as well as all others, is critical to my feminism. We need to fight for each other within an accessible movement.