Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feminist Wire, you may not colonize my community.

Alrighty, so Feminist Wire put out a call for papers (I think. I still have no idea what it is supposed to be!) and it was utterly cognitively inaccessible.

I sent them this:

Sooo I saw your call for papers. At least I think it was a call for papers. It was so full of cognitive inaccessibility that I cannot tell. Given that I actually am pretty fluent in SJese, this is kind of an issue.
This is a whatever it is supposedly intersectional, supposedly about disabled people (assuming the disability community has come to realize, at this point, that folks with neurological disabilities are people too. I haven't heard "at least our minds are fine" since 2003). Supposedly including people without class privilege (which also tends to come without that-kind-of-education-you-need-to-understand0this privilege). Supposedly trying to cross racial lines, which feminism and disability circles are both absolute pants at.
So cognitive inaccessibility is unacceptable, both on the account of "a lot of disabled people are going 'buh?'", on account of a lot of people who couldn't afford a fancy pants education are going 'buh?', and on account that a lot of disabled people, PoC, and disabled PoC could not afford said fancy pants education. Language like this is why disability discourse (or is it rhetoric? I'm a disabled WoC who couldn't afford a fancy pants education & had to go into something besides academia, something with job security, at a community college) is so white and so upper middle class. Because no one else can understand it.
Can I get the plain language version please?
Kassiane
Radical Neurodivergence Speaking
http://timetolisten.blogspot.com
We Are Like Your Child
http://wearelikeyourchild.blogspot.com

And this is the revised version at the link: The Feminist Wire Call for Submissions.

Go read it. I'll wait.

Try to make sense of it. I'll wait a bit longer.

Note how it still makes no damn sense? Alyssa of Yes, That Too wrote to them, again, and the response she got can be found here: Yes, That Too.

My favorite part is the part where Feminist Wire tells us to translate it ourselves and share it with our communities, completely ignoring the part where they have been told we can't make head or tail of it.

This is the background for what I actually have to say to Feminist Wire:

Feminist Wire, this is colonizing bullshit. This is why I want very little to do with most feminism. I am an anti oppression activist, but I do not identify as a feminist because of behavior like this.

You may not colonize my identity. Disability is not a "trend". It isn't acceptable for able folks to sit around talking about whether or not it's ok to use disability as your go to metaphor for bad things (it's not) or why disability is suddenly popping up as, like, a thing (because we got loud and connected, that's why) or any of that. White feminists love to claim that the struggles of WoC are their struggles too. They aren't. That the struggles of poor women are theirs. Largely organized feminism is middle class-of a class that can afford to go get higher education in a discipline that's about sitting around talking about shit in fancy ass words, and teaching other people to do so. Your struggles up there? Not the same as those of poor women. At all.

And now you are trying to do it to one of my other identities. No. You may not. You can't handle the topic responsibly, as evidenced by your apparent assumption that disability = physical (I'm not convinced y'all should be using the word "Cripestemology" except to reference the conference, incidentally. Shit, I'm not sure it's my word and I actually have disabilities. Plural. Just not that kind). As evidenced by your refusal to make the teenieweeniest little effort to actually include the people you are talking about.

I read your call for whatever, and what I got was "oh, disability is a thing now. Maybe we can get money if we talk about it. But I don't want any actual disabled people there, ewww. If we say we're intersectional we don't actually have to be intersectional, if we just so happen to exclude people of multiple marginalizations with our language. If disabled people show up we might have to listen to them, pretend we think they're people, and objectively talking about our assumptions of their experiences is what I really want".

That is what I got out of your call for papers, Feminist Wire. And your responses to criticism didn't really change that. If anything, they made the gatekeeping look flat out intentional. It's so damn inconvenient when people you're trying to talk about 'objectively' (because only outsiders have an objective view...oh wait, where have I heard that before? right, anti feminist men) actually show up.

Get off my identity, Feminist Wire. You may not colonize it. Whatever fascinating insights you think you have are pedestrian, mundane, sophomoric, simplistic, and probably flat out wrong. Your efforts to keep us out unless we are already colonized have been noted. Your flagrant ableism has been noted. Your sounding just like every other damn able people organization ever has been noted. You think you're clever, telling us that we should just make our own accommodations if it matters so much? You aren't. We hear that all the time. It's not acceptable from anyone, and it's especially revolting from people who decided they're allowed to have a voice in disability discourse.

Simple guide for cognitive accessibility (which is fancyass for 'everyone can understand it): can your non academic friends read it without a dictionary? If no, it is definitely not accessible. If they need a specialized dictionary you're not even trying.

And if you can't explain what you mean in everyday speak, you clearly don't understand it well enough to be talking about it at all. 

Dear Alyssa,
We appreciate your feedback and comments.  We've discussed the concerns, and rather than rewriting the CFP again, or creating multiple versions, we invite you (and others) to share your own interpretation of the CFP with your communities.  This seems to us the most reasonable and helpful way to proceed.
Best wishes,
Editorial Collective
- See more at: http://yesthattoo.blogspot.com/2013/08/see-you-and-social-media-crisis.html#sthash.5bbI0t0U.dpuf
Dear Alyssa,
We appreciate your feedback and comments.  We've discussed the concerns, and rather than rewriting the CFP again, or creating multiple versions, we invite you (and others) to share your own interpretation of the CFP with your communities.  This seems to us the most reasonable and helpful way to proceed.
Best wishes,
Editorial Collective
- See more at: http://yesthattoo.blogspot.com/2013/08/see-you-and-social-media-crisis.html#sthash.5bbI0t0U.dpuf

Dear Alyssa,
We appreciate your feedback and comments.  We've discussed the concerns, and rather than rewriting the CFP again, or creating multiple versions, we invite you (and others) to share your own interpretation of the CFP with your communities.  This seems to us the most reasonable and helpful way to proceed.
Best wishes,
Editorial Collective
- See more at: http://yesthattoo.blogspot.com/2013/08/see-you-and-social-media-crisis.html#sthash.5bbI0t0U.dpuf
Dear Alyssa,
We appreciate your feedback and comments.  We've discussed the concerns, and rather than rewriting the CFP again, or creating multiple versions, we invite you (and others) to share your own interpretation of the CFP with your communities.  This seems to us the most reasonable and helpful way to proceed.
Best wishes,
Editorial Collective
- See more at: http://yesthattoo.blogspot.com/2013/08/see-you-and-social-media-crisis.html#sthash.5bbI0t0U.dpuf

Dear Alyssa,
We appreciate your feedback and comments.  We've discussed the concerns, and rather than rewriting the CFP again, or creating multiple versions, we invite you (and others) to share your own interpretation of the CFP with your communities.  This seems to us the most reasonable and helpful way to proceed.
Best wishes,
Editorial Collective
- See more at: http://yesthattoo.blogspot.com/2013/08/see-you-and-social-media-crisis.html#sthash.5bbI0t0U.dpuf

8 comments:

Lindsay said...

Good post!

Obviously everyone has different things that trip them up, but my biggest bugbear is acronyms. I always have to stop and remember what they stand for, and then I have to find my place in the body of text again! So annoying.

(And the "disability is now trending" language made me angry too. Trending? Maybe for you; for us it's kind of always been here?)

Practice Anachronism said...

Hello, I was so inspired to write a "ASD" interpretation of the first lett from that group, and then I though, geez, mayb I will just offend, but maybe should try. Long-time reader, by the way- I appretate your moral authority in these forums. Oh, right, I'm http://singautist.blogspot.com/ You rock

Andy Semler said...

It does make verbal sense to me*, but I keep having to hold my jaw in place to get through it, due to its self-serving nature. It's like they're asking people for tithes to the temple of academia. Really, this single sentence sums it up: "The unfortunate reality is that there’s a disjuncture between disability studies (and academia at large) and disability justice organizing." Funny how I've been conducting my own "call for papers" for years, and it's called Google.

*And from the nerd perspective, it's like: how cool would it be to take the lead in cataloging this untapped wealth of data, like when I do citizen science on Zooniverse looking at images of galaxies or tropical storms and helping create a bigger picture out of all that data... Only, they're not talking about photos of spirals, they're talking about real people who are presumed to not have a voice until observed by academia, the same way a tropical storm on a deserted island doesn't exist to science unless measured.

Janesprints said...

to say nothing of those of us with visual processing issues and MENSA IQs have a hard time just looking
at their cluttered screen....

Eightdiverging said...

I managed to translate it, but all I got largely overall was "look at all the long words, we can use, we're so social justicy and so much more advanced, hey come educate us so long as you're also one of us".

docbrown said...

what's wrong with using a dictionary?

Lisa Harney said...

Belatedly reading this (I just got linked to your blog today) and I can't really make much sense of what I just read beyond "I think they want writing about disability and maybe some intersectionality."

That is really inaccessible, to a degree that I have to wonder how someone could possibly do that accidentally.

I mean, each word individually is something I can interpret, but as complete sentences? No.

Velvet Sanity said...

all I got out of that TFW thing, when I followed the link, was "blah blah words blah blah incomprehensible blah blah head spinning make it stop!"