Dialogues on Disability – Zara Bain May 20, 2015
A reminder of Shelley Tremain’s excellent series of interviews with disabled philosophers, which is taking place over at Discrimination and Disadvantage.
The second interview is with Zara Bain, who is based at the University of Reading.
Zara is in the early stages of her second attempt at a PhD in Philosophy, specializing in the intersection of moral and political philosophy and social epistemology. As a self-identified disabled philosopher with long-term chronic illnesses, she engages in the practice of philosophy in the university when she is well enough to do so. When she is not well enough, she can be found resting and talking about disability, talking philosophy, or making philosophy jokes on Twitter. In her spare time, Zara creates vegetable-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free comfort food, learns about animal politics from her two dogs and cat, dances to beats-heavy music, writes about disability in higher education, and devises ways in which she can produce resources for teaching and learning in philosophy in order to earn a living post-PhD.
You can read the interview here.
Sexual Assault & Students with a Disability February 13, 2015
“Even Gallaudet University, designed specifically for deaf students, can get it wrong when it comes to rape”
“Nationally, research has shown that individuals with disabilities experience sexual assault at significantly higher rates than the general population and that they also face critical gaps in services when they seek help for abuse. At the same time, experts say, schools have yet to adequately assess or address the issue on their campuses. “
“Al Jazeera America’s six-month investigation into sexual violence at Gallaudet — which included interviews with a dozen current or former students who say they were sexually assaulted, senior Gallaudet administrators, Title IX and disability experts, and an analysis of the university’s judicial board actions — reveals that even a school explicitly designed for students with disabilities can struggle in dealing with sexual assault.”
“Melissa thought his [Mike’s] behavior was creepy, and she reported him to Gallaudet’s Department of Public Safety. Since he wasn’t a student, she hoped DPS would bar Mike from campus. Instead, she says, the DPS officer she met with didn’t take her seriously: “He was sort of casual.” He started asking Melissa questions about her blindness, she says, and whether she could really know if she was being stalked. “If you couldn’t see him,” Melissa says the officer asked her, “how do you know it was Mike stalking you, and not someone else?”
“Yes, she was blind, but Melissa had other ways of identifying people, she insisted. She gave the officer details about the roughness of his hands when he signed to her, the things he said to her, and even offered to show him his Facebook profile picture. But without visual identification, Melissa says, the DPS officer told her there was no way they could pursue the claim or bar Mike.”
“The two women, whose names and some identifying features have been changed, began dating. But within a month and a half, Alma says, their relationship took a turn. It began with a light punch. As a survivor of abuse growing up, Alma told Lisa the punch triggered bad memories.
Alma says Lisa suggested that it was playful and described growing up in a difficult home. Feeling guilty, Alma scolded herself for not being sensitive enough.
But over the course of their five-and-a-half-month relationship, the abuse escalated, she says. If Lisa felt Alma spoke too loudly, she would pinch her. And when Alma reacted, she says, Lisa would snap, “Oh my God, do you know how awful you sound?”
Alma had no idea what her voice sounded like, but she did know that the fastest way to disempower her was to demean the way she spoke. “The verbal insults became the root of the relationship,” Alma recalls. “Before I knew it, I was getting in trouble for talking to my friends.” [It gets worse.]
“But the worst part, she says, were the questions the other officer asked her.
““Are you sure you were raped?”
““You call that rape?”
““Do you know what the definition of ‘rape’ is?””
On how the university handles sexual assault:
“in October, an article in the university’s newspaper told an unnamed survivor’s account of why she didn’t report assault. “It had nothing to do with how the university would handle it,” the piece began. “But it had everything to do with me being embarrassed.” Later, it continued, “I’ve seen how Gallaudet has improved in how they handle sexual assault and rape cases, and I have faith in how they run the system.” But while the university was being defended by its students, it was also trying to block the reporting that led to this article. During this investigation, Gallaudet, and representatives from a communications firm it hired, reached out to Al Jazeera America on several occasions to express concern about contacting sources for this story.
““We’ve all been dismissed as being the exception individually, even by people who are sympathetic and open to listening to our story,” explains one student who says she was groped by an unknown assailant one night. “People don’t want to see it as common [because] it’s scary. For one, it means it can happen to them. It also means admitting there is something wrong with a system they are a part of … Gallaudet is such a safe place in other ways, nobody wants to admit that there is an ugly underbelly.”” -Alma
Phdisabled February 7, 2015
I don’t think this blog, phdisabled, has been mentioned on our blog. It looks to be mainly for students and based in the UK, but reading it can make one feel the presence of a community. Have a look!
End of the Independent Living Fund? January 25, 2015
Yes, I’m afraid this is yet another blog post about the UK Government’s cuts and alterations to services used by disabled people. This time, it’s the Independent Living Fund that’s under threat. The ILF pays for support for those with very high needs, enabling them to live independently in the community, go to work, and do all the things that enabled folks largely take for granted. The fund has so far been the responsibility of central government, but plans are afoot to transfer it to local authorities in June this year. Importantly, the funding will not be ring-fenced, so there is no guarantee that local authorities will use it for its current purpose. Indeed, as local authorities are short of cash, this sort of change often leads to cuts as the money is used to pay for other things instead. (To give just one example, this happened when the ring-fence around Supporting People funding was removed. You can download a parliamentary briefing about this here.)
I understand the government are proposing to stop the fund completely a year later (presumably the money will be completely reabsorbed into a general budget). There is a bit more detail about the proposed changes here. An Early Day Motion has been filed, and you can ask your MP to support it if you feel so inclined.
New Blog: Discrimination and Disadvantage January 24, 2015
This new blog looks like it will be great. Looking forward to reading it when it launches in the next few weeks.
In recent years, philosophers have increasingly reflected on how various kinds of privilege and advantage are at work in the profession with an eye towards improving the lot of the disadvantaged. This blog is a space for philosophical reflection on various kinds of disadvantage (e.g., discrimination based on racism, classism, sexism, hetero-sexism, ableism, and the intersectionality of these and related phenomena) as well as discussion of such disadvantage within the philosophical community.
Access to Work Funding Cut January 23, 2015
The UK government is quietly cutting the Access to Work funding that pays for things such as computer software and support workers that enable disabled people to gain employment.
Advisers have guidance on what AtW now does and doesn’t cover, but because the changes haven’t been published, all we can put our hands on is that limits have been imposed on the amount of support worker hours that are permitted and major restructuring in how AtW is being delivered has led to delays in people’s money.
Deaf people who need sign language interpreters have been particularly penalised, with the cuts to support workers’ hours. Jenny Sealey, who runs a disabled-led theatre company that employs 80 deaf and disabled people every year, has gone from co-directing the Paralympic 2012 opening ceremony to being left “in fear” for her career after her support was cut by half. It gives some insight into the mindset of those with their hands on the controls that they can promote the need to get disabled people into work while enacting measures that make it impossible.
You can read more here.
What’s Wrong With Ableist Language? January 16, 2015
Just read this excellent article about ableist language.
“The economy has been crippled by debt.”
“You’d have to be insane to want to invade Syria.”
“They’re just blind to the suffering of other people.”
“Only a moron would believe that.”
Disability metaphors abound in our culture, and they exist almost entirely as pejoratives.
You see something wrong? Compare it to a disabled body or mind. Paralyzed. Lame. Crippled. Schizophrenic. Diseased. Sick.
Want to launch an insult? The words are seemingly endless: Deaf. Dumb. Blind. Idiot. Moron. Imbecile. Crazy. Insane. Retard. Lunatic. Psycho. Spaz.
You can carry on reading here.
What I’m thankful for December 26, 2014
It’s been a tough year for the profession in a lot of ways. Lawsuits, lawsuits, and more lawsuits. Public scandals. Fighting over public scandals. Other scandals not public. Online harassment, bullying, and prejudice manifest. One could easily begin to feel despair. I know there are times when I have–and I know there are others who are grappling with how these issues have affected them, and the painful personal and professional costs that have been imposed on them as a result. In the hopes of spreading a bit of cheer amidst the less sanguine, I wanted to take a moment to say a bit about what I’m thankful for (this is not a complete list, of course, just the first few things that came to mind).
I am thankful for those of you who have courageously worked to make the discipline a more welcoming and inclusive place. Whether it’s been through addressing inequity, discrimination, harassment, or assault, working to create a culture where these things are less acceptable, being willing to listen to the voices of those who have been marginalized and oppressed, standing up for yourself, or providing support to others who have been unjustly harmed on account of their social identity.
I am thankful for those of you who are deepening your own understanding of the complexity of disciplinary boundaries and the ways in which they are sometimes used for exclusionary purposes, or pushing those boundaries with your own work.
I am thankful for the exciting and brilliant work that’s being done in feminist philosophy, critical race theory, and philosophy of disability. It’s been a joy to read, and though it is not this work that first spurred my love of philosophy it is the work that reminds me of it, and gives me the greatest hope for our future as a discipline.
I am thankful for my fellow bloggers here at Feminist Philosophers. You have been an inspiration to me.
What are you thankful for?
(Note: Comments in the spirit of this post welcome–i.e., spreading a bit of cheer–comments in another spirit are not, but the internet is a big place and I am sure you can find another platform to host other discussions)
Fantastic new directory of philosophers from underrepresented groups! December 18, 2014
Ruth Chang writes:
It is fully searchable and really neat. If you’re a conference organizer looking for philosophers in your city who work on X, you can search the directory and come up with a list of such philosophers from underrepresented groups that fit the bill. If you’re on a hiring committee, and the usual suspects keep coming to mind but you’d like to do a more thorough search, you can pull up the directory and find all philosophers in the directory who work in a general AOS or even on a specific research topic. If you’re an editor looking for a list of possible candidates to invite to contribute to a volume or to referee a paper, the UPDirectory can help you.
This sounds like a really wonderful tool. Go check it out!