Fascist Health Care: We only operate on people
who don’t need operations?
A new policy in England, an NHS ban on surgery for people who are obese.
And while it isn’t an official policy in the rest of the world, there is a growing movement among doctors to refuse services to fat patients. The refusal to treat people who are overweight is a serious problem even when it isn’t overt public policy.
I’m Fat. I’ve been chunky all my life, and between diabetes and fibromyalgia (which makes exercise very difficult and dangerous), I’ve recently crossed that threshold where doctors don’t just suggest I lose weight, but actively refuse to treat any aspect of my health care needs and make outlandish, dangerous and uninformed suggestions, often starting with the sentence “I’m not a nutritionist, but…” (But then STHU!) If you’re not a nutritionist, giving nutritional advice is very dangerous. If you’re not even going to ask me what I eat, telling me what I should eat is very dangerous.
It’s a safe bet that anyone who is my age (58) has tried every diet, diet pill and diet strategy to the point of self harm. I’ve found a regimen that works for me, that balances my limited strength, finances and dietary needs. Very few people eat a diet as healthy as mine. My partner, Andy lost 80 pounds and has kept it off for over a year, eating almost as healthy as I do. I haven’t lost a pound. I struggle with diabetes and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia makes exercise difficult because it makes me more incapacitated. There is nothing I can do about my weight EXCEPT try a series of extreme and unhealthy practices to attempt to conform to a societal standard that I just can’t achieve.
While I am no longer a smoker, my first cigarettes were given to me as samples, handed out on the streets of Philadelphia. I was 13. I don’t know if people should be held responsible for the consequences of addictions they were introduced to by the corporations who manufacture that poison, or how much control people have over addictions. Interestingly, this policy doesn’t extend to alcoholics or drug addicts.
I am tired of negotiating my humanity to strangers.
Or trusting friends who just don’t understand.
Of trying to fit my body into spaces that do not accommodate me.
Only to be told how difficult I am to those who fit in, just right.
I am tired of accommodations to fads and fashions, to power and privilege but that DISability access is too demanding, or we did that the last time, we can’t do that EVERY time.
I am tired of loving a world that doesn’t love me back.
I am tired of patience and desire.
I am tired of betrayal when an apology would be enough—mine or theirs.
I am tired of excuses and abuses.
I am tired of pity and scorn, and entitlement and hatred.
I am tired of the modern versions of the ugly laws and the look of disgust and contempt upon seeing me, by strangers who have no idea who I am.
I am tired of ableist jokes and insults
I am tired of abuse substituted for love, because there are good quiet crrpls and demanding shrews who need to be tamed.
I am tired of character assassinations when their arguments are no match for mine or because they will not be held accountable for their lack of real solidarity.
I am tired of infantilization and being treated like a child.
I am tired of excuses and favors because DISfolx aren’t seen as resources in our own experience.
I am tired of offense taken to be out argued or out spoken by a person like me, uppity, articulate crrpl that I am.
I am tired of having to ask for accommodations only to be treated with hostility for even posing the question.
I am tired of assumptions and accusations of people who know nothing but think they know everything, like why if I can walk up stairs one day, in one location, why I can’t another day in another location.
I am tired of entitlement of others to define for me the parameters of my reality.
I am tired of people deciding for me what I need, what I should be happy with, what I should like and how I should behave.
I am tired of people who never read a single book on DISability access, schooling me and ‘splaining to me how it’s going to work.
I am tired of people who seem to be allies, only to find out that they were keeping score all along, and anything they did to create access was weighed against my next request. I didn’t know you were keeping a running tab and that I was now in debt to you.
I am tired of pity and stares and stairs.
I am tired of “well no one else complained” or “there were other DISabled people there so it must be accessible.
I am tired of the assumption that if I’m the only one complaining that others must be comfortable when really it means that others may be silent because they don’t feel comfortable speaking up, and some people will harm themselves trying to fit in, and others won’t show up at all because they know the risk in asking.
I am tired of blaming the victim, of disparaging a complaint, of killing the messenger, of the cult of positivity, of silencing dissent.
I am tired of those who don’t need accommodations deciding without even a dialogue what access means.
I am tired of the expectation of gratitude for half a ramp, or one day’s effort or half measures in general.
I am tired of trying to fit into public spaces at all.
This article was originally published by Autistic actor Daniel Au Valencia on their blog, Acting NT. The entire text and accompanying imagery are copied here with the author’s permission.
Meryl Streep has managed to make headlines by attacking the world’s lowest-hanging fruit: Donald John Trump. Apparently it is viewed as an act of bravery to stand up to the most blatantly and visibly racist, ableist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, and all around assholish public figure of modern times. It is especially brave to do so as a wealthy abled white cis woman, in the process of receiving a nationally televised award.
At the Golden Globes ceremony on January 8th, 2017, Meryl Streep received the Cecil B. DeMille Award, and used part of her acceptance speech to dredge up a year-old news item: Donald Trump publicly mocking the mannerisms associated with arthrogryposis, the visible disability of Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Serge F. Kovalevski. I call him that, not because I particularly value awards or titles (I didn’t even watch the Golden Globes when it originally aired, and I’m an actor), but because Kovalevski doesn’t appear to name himself a member of any disability rights movement, nor focus his journalism on disability topics. Thus a description of him as a “Pulitzer prize-winning journalist” seems to contain far more relevant information than “disabled reporter” does.
As I and many others pointed out over a year ago, referring to the mocking of a disabled person as some unspeakable evil, or as “the final straw” to sever support of Trump’s campaign, is actually ableist. Mocking a disabled person qualifies as evil, certainly, but it is not more evil than creating a mandatory Muslim registry like the Nazis did with Jews. It is not more evil than grabbing women by the pussy without their consent. And it is clearly less evil than repealing the Affordable Care Act, effectively killing millions of mostly disabled people, not just making fun of us. Why weren’t any of those things the final straw? Why is mocking disability met with greater outrage than actions that are objectively, measurably more harmful, to other minorities and specifically to disabled people? The answer to that question lies in the subtext, something all actors love, within Meryl Streep’s rhetoric:
“It sank its hooks in my heart… It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it.”
The underlying tone, neatly bookended here, is pity. Just as disabled people merely living our lives is inspiring and heartwarming, on the flip-side directly interacting with a disabled person in a mean way is a low blow, kicking someone while they’re down. Of course in reality, being disabled doesn’t mean we’re “low” or “down” in the first place (unless you’re literally talking about wheelchairs or dwarfism, neither of which describe Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Serge F. Kovalevski).
Making fun of disabled people is the unforgivable sin of the 21st century, not because ableism is bad – the speech didn’t even contain the words ableism, discrimination, or bigotry – but because disabled people are already so tragic and vulnerable. Hiring people who aren’t disabled to play us in movies is fine. Taking away our civil rights, that’s fine. Literally murdering us, no problem. Just don’t point and laugh. Meryl Streep says we lack “the capacity to fight back.” While it’s true that the president of the United States generally has more power than a given New York Times editor, first of all, Donald Trump hadn’t yet been elected to any public office at the time, and second, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Serge F. Kovalevski can and has responded to Trump in the way that he himself saw fit. There is no abled savior needed to defend him.
Potentially the most troublesome word choice in the speech is when Streep said that Trump “imitated a disabled reporter.” Not mocked, imitated. What happened to the old adage “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”? I seriously doubt that Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Serge F. Kovalevski felt flattered by Trump’s childish antics. Meryl Streep, did you mean to imply that acting in the manner of a disabled person is what damned this action, not the fact that it was done for the sake of mockery? When an abled actor plays a disabled character, what’s shameful isn’t the stolen opportunity, but that a disabled character is portrayed at all? Maybe that’s why you didn’t even mention Kovalevski by name. He’s just “a disabled reporter” to you, stripped of his personhood and of all his accomplishments. You also managed to mention the recently passed, openly bipolar Carrie Fisher, but as “Princess Leia” – neither disabled nor a person! You disrespected them just as much as you deservedly disrespected Trump. As you said in the very same speech, disrespect invites disrespect, so maybe I should call you “shit head” or something instead of Meryl Streep.
As I often say in presentations about autism, two people who are both ableist are always on the same page, even if they say and genuinely believe they’re not. If you’re a parent using Floortime to manipulate your child into acting neurotypical, you’re not some radical revolutionary. You’re not special for disagreeing with those in the ABA industry, ’cause actually, you agree with them. You agree that disabled people should not be allowed to be visibly disabled in our mannerisms, and your actions reflect that. If you’re a doctor who says that vaccines don’t cause autism, but if they did, you’d have to be “monstrous” to still administer them, then you don’t disagree with anti-vaxxers. Not when they say being Autistic is worse than having polio. Hey Shit Head, do you think being disabled is inherently shameful? That being visible to the world, with uniquely disabled mannerisms, is shameful? If so, you and a guy who’s basically famous for being an asshole are in total agreement.
Image description: Side-by-side photos of Donald Trump (left) and Meryl Streep (right). In comic book speech bubbles, Trump says “I hate disabled people!” and Streep replies “Me too!”
It may seem like I’m over-analyzing a single 1-minute paragraph within a 6-minute speech. That’s because that 1-minute paragraph is all Meryl Streep said about disability. The rest of the speech, well, it was a calculated action from beginning to end: After bullying, she segued into asking her audience to support the Committee To Protect Journalists, and indeed there was a reported spike in donations right after the Golden Globes. That’s great for journalists and probably needed, but was the fact that Kovalevski is a journalist really the centerpiece to this story? Where is the spike in donations to ADAPT, or Not Dead Yet, or the National Council on Independent Living? With regard to disability, all this Golden Globes speech managed to inspire in its viewers was warm fuzzy feelings. It glossed over everything notable that disabled people did in the last year, and instead used one person as a nameless prop to add egos to the list of things being stroked in a rich abled white people’s circle-jerk.
What about the parts of the speech before Kovalevski and Trump?
Before reading any other perspectives, I watched Meryl Streep on YouTube so I could start with my own opinions. She began with what sounded like a speech about diversity. I may not be a comedian, but that should inspire laughter: An abled white woman, delivering a speech, to an audience that is 94% white and 0% visibly disabled, praising that audience for being so diverse. She gave shout-outs to specific actors, and to her credit named their countries of origin including Israel, Kenya, and Ethiopia. But that’s only a third of the names she chose. I’m sorry, but four (4) U.S. states, Italy, and Canada does not qualify as “diversity”. That’s just six (6) white people. To imply that it does reflects denial and rationalization.
Streep made no mention of disability when applauding the diversity of Hollywood. It was as though she did not see the connection within her own speech. No Affordable Care Act. No underemployment of disabled actors. No disability rights advocacy groups. No criticism of ableist movies like Split, The Accountant, and Me Before You, which undermine the work of disability rights groups and fail to employ disabled actors, many of whom are alive thanks to the Affordable Care Act. If there were any invisibly disabled actors in the audience, I don’t think they were very impressed with the bravery of Meryl Streep to utterly fail at addressing any of the real issues. I, a disabled actor, am not impressed. I, a disabled actor of color, am not impressed.
This is a constant work in progress with newer articles and finds posted to the top of the page.
One PWOD activist chastised me for using the term “inspiration porn” because it detracted from and minimized the damage and injury of “real porn” , but inspiration porn IS real porn. It is the depiction of a dehumanized and objectified person as other, for the gratification of the gaze of the viewer. It is everything porn is– exploitation, dehumanization, objectification, commercialization, abuse. We deserve to use that term an name our experience without the additional gaze of those who think liberation, revolution and justice doesn’t include us or can be carried out without us.
Well I’ve not been here or my other blogs as much. Mostly I’ve been on facebook, where interaction is more immediate. I post my informal rants, which initially would have shown up here, on facebook, where I can have more interaction. People respond there. The comments here are not as interactive and not as frequent. There’s a hierarchy between blogger and reader that isn’t a factor on facebook. So facebook changed the way I use blogging.
And I got tired of writing up every, single. time. I. endured. humiliation. or. abuse.
With DISability, it’s everywhere, every time we leave the house, and often in our homes too.
I’ve changed the way I write DISability. I used to write it “dis-ability”, but write it “DISability”, now. Both writings emphasize the social construct of DISablement– that it is what is done TO us, that it is not what ever condition or nonconformity we have, but rather, the social construct of isolation, segregation, institutionalization, discrimination, clientization, infantilization, etc. But “dis-ability” won’t show up in an internet search for “disability”, and “DISability” does. So I think that’s an improvement.
I’ve also (going back to the indignities) added the lexicon that distinguishes caretaker from caregiver. How significant and curious that these two words are considered synonyms. Since when is “taker” and “giver” the same? So I use “caretaker” to mean an abusive person who is assigned or assumed the care of a DISabled person, as opposed to “caregiver” who is someone who gives empathic, attentive and loving care. Clever, huh? Thanks! I think so.
I’ve also been really, really busy, and focused on survival, the house, getting through the day, managing my health, dealing with the imposition of aging, staying closer to home.
Recently I’ve limited my social interaction, including on facebook, which is perhaps why I’m blogging again. The abuse of DISfolx is just so rampant, and socially tolerated, especially in social justice, human rights and educational communities and environments. It’s just unbearable. As I’ve said before, I can expect a humiliating, dangerous or violent experience almost every time I leave the house. So I’ve withdrawn a bit. I go out when I have to, shop on line when I need things, work out of my home, create community closest to where I live, and budget the amount of abuse I have to sustain. Or so I thought. I was happy working here, at DragonflyHill Urban Farm, working with people I love, creating a supportive community, where each person’s needs isn’t seen as a burden, but an opportunity for greater sustainability. (For example, my inability to stand for long periods of time, means I need meals prepared for me, resulting in our huge community breakfasts, and everyone starting the day together, with a healthy meal.) And then the city proposed a home sharing ordinance that would wipe us OUT. I’ve been writing about that a lot on the DragonflyHill blog, and will be writing more, in the coming days. I’m especially interested in how the rhetoric against home sharing pretends it’s a violation of housing, human, DISability, workers, rights, when it is ESSENTIALLY about all of those. Home sharing provides jobs and housing for people, many of whom are outside of the labor force, including people with DISabilities, undocumented workers, formerly incarcerated and otherwise marginalized folx.
There’s also the illusion that it’s passive income, when it is not. We work so hard here–all of us– essentially domestic work, which is why those pretending home sharing is taking away jobs and housing, can get away with that assertion. Shame on them for perpetuating and exploiting devalued and essential domestic labor as easy and valueless.
Getting this business off the ground has been a daunting task, and what little strength I have has gone into this. I think we’ve finally got to a point where I can clear my head enough to even consider blogging again, more regularly. Social media is mostly my job on the farm, and I think I’ve finally found my groove.
Andy, Xeres, Glenda and I have also launched, are launching The WE Empowerment Center, to make the benefits of nonprofit status and the nonprofit industrial complex, more accessible to ordinary folx. We’ve streamlined the application process and made it easier for people who may not have the organizational social capital to get in the game.
1. People need to have access to food that is good for them, their history, culture and biological needs.
2. Food needs to be raised, cultivated, slaughtered and marketed in ways that are safe, humane, and environmental for people and animals
3. Comparing animal livestock to slavery or other human systems of torture, genocide, concentration camps, etc. is offensive to those who have endured those systems and diminishes and desensitizes people to those systems.
4. Manure, a mainstay of organic farming is as much an animal product as meat, milk, eggs and leather. (The same goes for blood and bone meal which are also used as fertilizers). I don’t know how anyone can think she can step out of that reality. In an organic garden/farm, the carnivores are the good guys, because the herbivore “pests”– that’s what they’re called– eat the crops. Farming is cruel to plant eating insects, snails and other absconders.
5. Condemning eating dogs or horses while having no problem with killing cows, ducks, chickens, sheep and goats is cultural bigotry and self righteousness.
6. There’s a circle of life and for many species, either as carnivores or omnivores it includes eating meat.
7. There are some medicines that come from animal products and discussing the morality of eating meat without considering that, is outright ableist, and in trajectory, genocidal.
8. Industrialized society, specifically settler colonialist entities are disconnected from the trajectory of most of our actions. food is no exception.
9. I have raised and slaughtered my own food. i am aware of the process.
10. Whenever we save money on something it means a person is probably only making 2$ a day on that product. that outrages me.
11. People going about their lives as if other people weren’t in prison unjustly and inhumanely or being bombed by the empire, that outrages me.
12. The conditions that workers endure to put food on our table, that outrages me.
13. I really see no moral difference in outcome, all things relative, if someone knows where meat comes from and if they don’t. Dead is dead. Though I do think more awareness would bring about greater food justice to people and animals.
14. I have no idea how animal rights activists “check” themselves. it’s not like Bessie The Cow can say to you “Hey, I know your intentions are good, and you’re really up there with that human savior syndrome, but you don’t really represent my interests. You see, i’ve been historically selectively bred specific to a particular human need for thousands of years, and if they stopped breeding me, I would cease to exist, my species would cease to exist. so unless you’re expecting to have a herd of cattle as pets, or are demanding huge public spaces for us to roam freely, , which really defeats the environmentalist arguments, I really don’t see how all your efforts don’t simply result in extinction for me and my cow peeps.”
15. Would that food police, food fascists, evangelical vegans and animal “rights” activists focus their outrage in responding to environmental racism, food deserts, equitable access to food, food choice and healthy food options.
16. I support species rights– the rights of species to endure. I support environmental policies that protect people and animals.
17. The dismissing of the eating of meat as “simply cultural” is another example of cultural imperialism and racism. Let us instead support traditional food production, which is often much more consistent with humane treatment and environmental safety and stewardship. We must respect historic and traditional hunting grounds, animal domestication, agriculture, family and communal farms and permaculture.
18. Live and let live– I don’t see meat eaters going around demanding everyone eat meat, as part of an essential political mandate. (Though the bullying of vegans and vegetarians to eat meat, by meat eaters they know is also unacceptable behavior.)
19. Animal “rights” movements that don’t address the issues of DISability access to society, including to autonomous food choices and body autonomy and don’t denounce Peter Singer and PETA are not allies in any struggle for social justice. so just don’t even talk to me. you weren’t talking to me anyway. i wasn’t really human– or animal, for that matter.
The animal “rights” movement has a seriously problematic history of racism, sexism, classism and ableism, so anyone who is advocating for animal “rights”, needs to center these issues in their politic and severely separate themselves from the mainstream animal “rights” movement.
20. The “animal ownership is slavery, meat is murder” argument AND the environmentalist argument are incongruous with each other. Either meat is slavery and murder and after the dictatorship of the vegan proletariat, there will be wild herds of formerly selectively bred domesticated animals, maintained at human expense, having the same environmental impact they have now, except that they won’t become meat, OR the total extinction or partial extinction of entire species so as to not have that environmental impact. Either way, these domesticated animals will nave no autonomy from human decision making, and as such will continue to be subjected to human authority.
21. The insistence that one diet would work for everyone is cruel, supremacist, racist, ableist and patronizing. Whenever we assert that our lifestyle, diet, way of life, habits and morals are the only correct ones we are asserting arrogance and hegemony. Check that and check yourself!
22. The issue of environmentalism including veganism as individual choice is a distraction from capitalism in general. We can all recycle and compost and think that’s going to make a difference while corporations run amuck and unchecked. That’s where the attention needs to be, in real struggle against this hegemony that is destroying the earth, and not on appeals of guilt and the illusion that this is simply about personal choice for those who have the option of actual choice.
23. The racism, ableism, sexism and classism that is embedded in the animal “rights” movement prioritizes animals above entire groups of people, and that allows those with certain choices to assume a false moral high ground without actually challenging systemic oppression.
White savior syndrome, paternalism, self righteousness, unchecked provides outlets and platform for legitimizing white patriarchal ENabled ruling class hegemony; the antithesis of real social change, providing the illusion of social justice without actual justice.
24. Animal “rights” essentially is used to take away from or even perpetuate systemic oppression against marginalized people. In that regard, it will never really be about animal “rights” but will instead simply support abuses of people by means of a meaningless distraction.
25. For many activists who include veganism in the larger issue of social justice but continue to insist that meat is murder and slavery, maintain this position of moral supremacy over people they are in “solidarity” with. It’s one way entitled activists can maintain the moral high ground in the context of systemic oppression and inequalities in the movement.
(In numbering these points I am not suggesting a hierarchy of importance. I’m simply counting.) um meat, i love you let me count the ways.
Before you Criticize the Food Choices of Others http://meloukhia.net/2010/03/before_you_criticize_the_food_choices_of_others/“Food policing is an area in which all sorts of assumptions are made about class and ability status. It goes hand in hand with the idea that people have an obligation to be healthy, that all bodies are the same so there’s only one way to be healthy, and that there is virtue in eating “right” as dictated by current authorities in the food world. Like, say,MichaelPollan,whoiseditorializedfawningly in numerous publications all over the planet for his “simple” and “helpful” food rules.
Unspeakable Conversations (Should I have been killed at birth? The case for my life.) http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/843688/posts“He insists he doesn’t want to kill me. He simply thinks it would have been better, all things considered, to have given my parents the option of killing the baby I once was, and to let other parents kill similar babies as they come along and thereby avoid the suffering that comes with lives like min…”
“The truth is there is no meal we can eat without killing. None. A trip to your local grocery store for tofu and spinach leaves may not include a single animal product but the harvesting of such food costs endless animal lives. Growing fields of soy beans for commercial clients means removing habitat from thousands of wild animals, killing them through deforestation and loss of their home. Songbirds and insects are killed by pesticides at legion. Fertilizers are made from petroleum now, and those fields of tofu seeds are literally being sprayed with oil we are fighting wars over. Deer died for that tofu. Songbirds died. Men and women in battle died. And then when the giant tofu factory harvested the beans they ran over those chemical oil fields of faux-food with combines that rip open groundhogs, mice, and rabbits. Tear apart frogs and fledgling birds. It is a messy and bloody business making tofu or any of that other non-murderous food.What about organic tofu and vegetables? That doesn’t include chemical fertilizers and the companies are mindful? Right? Well, that is correct. But if you are not using oil to fertilize your crops then you are using organic material: manure, blood, bone, fish, etc. You may be a vegetarian but your vegetables are the most voracious of all carnivores. That small farm at your local green market needed to lay down a lot of swine blood, cow bone, and horse poop freeze-dried in bags marked “ORGANIC” to grow those carrots so big and sweet. Animals are an integral part of growing food for us, as food themselves or creating the materials that feed the earth. And the earth must be fed.”