Superhero Machine Feels

I was in a pretty depressive funk recently about my body and disability, about how i’m never going to get better, about how my legs hurt all the time, about how I’m always tired, and you know we live in a world that tells us the way to deal with these feelings and issues is to Think Positive! Dont Let It Get You Down! Look at this person who has a disability that is nothing like yours but who can do this thing you can’t! And like we know, or we should know that it’s crap but we are saturated by insidious drip feeding in regards to disability and how people should feel and react to their disabilities.

So for a while I was asking myself how to feel better about my life, my body and something clicked in my head and i thought “fuck it what I really need is a wheelchair” it was kind of both a slow burn and and instant realization.
I’ve been thinking about my body a lot lately, about its fatness, its disability, its visible queerness

I’ve been trying to work out how to improve my relationship with food without thinking about it as losing weight or changing my body to fit mainstream beauty standards, or triggering my disordered eating. I asked around and one of my friends lent me “Lessons from the fat-O-sphere” and I liked it a lot and it has helped me with my food issues but it totally, unexpectedly helped me with a lot of my other body issues, because it’s basic message is “your body is ok, you don’t have to apologize for it.” For the first time I felt that I don’t have to feel that it should be smaller, less clumsy, more feminine, have more energy, do all the things bodies are “supposed” to be able to do both physically and socially. I thought I was living as if I believed that but I’ve always felt “Too Much” Too queer, too crippled, too clumsy, too socially awkward, too sick, too crazy, too ungrateful. But this book made me realise that it’s okay to be as I am and that includes using any kind of mobility aid i need to help my life work the way I wanted regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.

So I ordered the chair and between that time and being delivered my head and emotions were all over the place, there was a lot of “but what if I am giving up? What if I’m not sick enough? What will everyone else think? But there was a lot of anticipation and excitement as well, and when it came and I took it out! OH MY GOD! it makes me so happy. I’ve been places I haven’t been for years because I didn’t know if my legs would give up halfway and even if they didn’t I’d be paying for that walk for the next three days. Using a self propelled wheelchair is really hard work and its going to take me a while to build up the muscles in my arms, and learn to maneuver in small spaces and get up kerbs properly, but its still so much easier and less painful than walking and it makes me realise how much of my constant tiredness was about walking, standing, balancing and living with the pain

A lot of my friends live in the nearest big town rather than the tin-pot valley town I live in and it makes me feel less Isolated already because I know getting there and back will take a lot less energy and be a lot less stressful with the chair.

I am very, very excited about this, much more than I thought I ever could be

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Reading, not reading.

so currently the internet is losing its shit over the fact that someone suggested that  reading people other than straight cis white men might be beneficial. And I’m just so tired of the predictable reactions to this suggestion. Reactions such as:  how dare people refuse to centre mainstreamed men all the FUCKING TIME, how dare we want to know what other people have to say,  how silly of us to think that other people can write well,  why do we think we have a right to centre the writers we want to centre in our lives? And even in feminist spaces this shit is  happening. A link to the article in a feminist space had people saying that not reading books by mainstreamed men reduces their rights and that we should be reading good books regardless of who the writers are. (which kind of makes me wonder, if all you care about is that the books are good why would you care that they weren’t written by mainstreamed men?)

It frustrates me that people can’t see that the problem is systemic and institutional, that more mainstreamed men get published and marketed  and the more books we buy and read by those who are not  mainstreamed male writers the more publishers will noticed that and start supporting and publishing more decentered writers.

unless we actively work against it we live in a world that is oversaturated with mainstreamed male voices, why is it wrong to take time out from that for as long as we like? let alone only for a year as the article suggests.

Also the pushback is always really odd to me as if somehow everybody is being FORCED to stop reading books by mainstreamed men, rather this being a suggestion or, as with myself, something someone just mentions in passing.

A while ago i took a year out from reading men for a year and its been a really positive experience for me. I still mostly don’t read male writers and the ones i do are decentered or are writing on a subject I absolutely cant find by someone else (though mostly if you take the time to look this is rarely an issue) , But i mostly still read books by women, women like me (several different flavours of queer, disabled, adopted, complicated class status, mental health issues) and women not like me (women of color, women from different religious communities, trans women, people at different places on the gq spectrum from me, working class women, women from colonised communities) and of course many of these identities and issues intersect, blur and cross over.

And this reading makes me stronger, makes my own voice stronger, makes me feel like i have more right to belong in the world makes me feel that I’m not  inconveniently crippled and queer, that i’m not a “shrill bitter adoptee”

And this reading teaches me how to support women who are not like me, teaches me how to hear their voices, how to help them make space for themselves, how to attempt to be a good ally to them.

The thing is I don’t need to read mainstreamed mens writing because society is saturated in mens thoughts, men’s words, mens needs, in a way that is damaging to those of us who are not mainstreamed men, to those of us that mostly neither have nor want what mainstreamed men want. Even if we stop reading books by these men its not like our world will be absent of them because THEY NEVER SHUT UP, and the world we live in encourages them in their not shutting up.

The other thing is I also don’t care if people do read books by mainstreamed men, what I care about is many of those peoples reactions to those of us that don’t,  what I care about is their refusal to accept the inequalities and imbalances in both society and publishing that means that mainstreamed men are by far the most likely to get supported, published, marketed, and read. What I care about is how the boundaries of those who choose to do this (who are mostly decentred in some way) are entirely disrespected