No Shame in Falling

I hate falling. It serves as reminder to me that no matter what I do or what I accomplish, my body will at some point let me down, and that pisses me off.

If you`re reading this and thinking there`s a lot of internalized ableism in there, you`d be right.

So why do I feel so crappy about falling? I would never shame anyone else when they fall.

I know the answer to this. There was a time in my life when falling meant somebody was going to get upset with me, roll their eyes at me, yell at me, accusingly ask me “What’s wrong with you?” etc.

So naturally, when I fell in a movie theater the other day, and the staff had to come unlock the door so my partner could help me back up I expected some kind of negative response, or at least embarrassment.

All he said was “Why would I be embarrassed? People fall.”

And in that moment three things came to mind: 1) I wish I had a time machine to go back and say that to my childhood self. 2) I have an awesome partner (I knew that already), and 3) I still have a lot of internalized ableism to get rid of.

Falling is good, it teaches us it’s ok to fail, and you will get back up. Metaphorical falling anyway, real falling can hurt, so we should still avoid it, but the feelings of shame don’t have to be there.

I’m reminded of a quote I posted on facebook the other day: “Feminism doesn’t know WTF to do with disability, because disability throws a huge monkey wrench into the gears of the feminist notion that we’re supposed to be strong, independent, and accomplished beings, healthy and full of power.” from

On that note, I’ve decided to write an article for an anthology on the conflicts between feminism and disability, and would welcome any suggestions. 🙂

Reproductive Justice includes Women with Disabilities

Earlier this month I spoke at a reproductive justice rally, and as much as I was honoured to be there, it wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. For a long time I stayed out of the pro-choice conversation. I have always been pro-choice, but I didn’t always feel included in the movement. My concerns about reproductive justice were a little different than most feminists, while most women I knew were fighting for the choice of whether or not to have children; most women with disabilities were fighting for the choice to have children at all.
Like many fights in the disability movement this one goes on silently and often behind closed doors. It happens in subtle ways, the dead quiet after a little girl with a disability suggests that she is going to be a mommy someday, the doctor who asks a teenager with a disability why she wants birth control, to the barrage of comments a pregnant woman with a disability is subjected to in public. It also happens in more overt ways, like when a woman with a disability is not allowed to have her child in the maternity ward, the many unwarranted calls to the Children’s Aid Society, and even in some cases forced sterilization.

There are 300 million women with disabilities around the world, each one of them are impacted by issues like these, compounded by the same lack of reproductive justice facing other women in their communities. But how do these women organize if they are too afraid to tell their stories? How can we expect them to join the movement if they do not feel included?

While these women are feeling excluded from discussion of choice and reproductive justice, the anti-choice movement has been freely exploiting us for years. One day they tell women that children with disabilities are their punishment for having abortions, and the next time they are telling women that they should risk giving birth to a potentially disabled child, even at the risk of their own lives. We did not ask to be used this way, and I for one refuse to be used this way.

What we need is a reproductive justice movement that welcomes women with disabilities in the way we want to be included. The rising of women is the rising of us all, but only if women with disabilities rise too.

Women with Disabilities’ Experiences of Violence and its Prevention on University and College Campuses

Human Rights & Equity Services in collaboration with Anti-Violence Network presents:

“Women with DisAbilities’ Experiences of Violence and its Prevention on University and College Campuses”

Speaker: Terri-Lynn Langdon, MSW, RSW, (Thrive Counselling)

Date: Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Time: 12 noon – 1:30 PM

Location: room 201, Institute of Applied Health Science, McMaster University Campus, Hamilton Ontario Canada

This presentation discusses the findings of a qualitative mixed methods research project which was funded by Springtide Resources. It will explore how anti-violence measures on campuses can have a more critical lens for disAbled bodies as well as other interlocking identities. Principles of the self-reflective researcher and the usefulness of anti-oppressive practices and approaches will also be explored.

The venue is wheelchair accessible. For additional accessibility requirements please email or call 905-525-9140 ext. 24644

Remembering Violence Against Women

Twenty-two years ago today, a gunman entered a university in Montreal and killed 14 women – simply because they were women.
During this same 20 years, over 700 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or been murdered across Canada.

 In Canada there are approximately 1,900,000 women aged 15 and over who have
disabilities. It is estimated that approximately 40% of these women with disabilities will
be assaulted, sexually assaulted or abused throughout their lifetime.
 Depending on whether they reside within an institutional or community setting, women
with disabilities are 1.5 to 10 times more likely to be victimized than women who are not

Approximately 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually abused in their lifetime.
 The rate of sexual abuse of girls with disabilities is four times greater than the national
average.  Approximately 40% to 70% of girls with intellectual disabilities will be sexually victimized before the age of 18.
 It is estimated that only 20% of cases of sexual abuse perpetrated against women with
disabilities are ever reported to the police, community service agencies, or other

 Women with disabilities most frequently experience victimization from an intimate
partner or spouse, family member or caregiver.

 Women with disabilities are often more vulnerable to abuse than women without
disabilities for the following reasons: 

  •  Dependence upon a caregiver;
  •  Lack of access to support services;
  •  Due to mobility, cognitive or communication impairments unable flee or call for aid;
  •  Low self-esteem stemming from societal myth and social attitudes.

But let us also remember there is hope…

For more information Please check out the Disabled Woman’s Network Ontario and the White Ribbon Campaign

Can’t find work? Can’t find a partner? Why not be a phone sex worker?

“Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can have. It’s much sexier than any body part.” – Aimee Mullins

First of all I just want to say this is not the blog I intended to write tonight. I am well aware that there may be people reading this who do not agree with what I have to say; those people are welcome to give me feedback. Versions of this blog have existed in the past, but I haven’t been quite irked enough to share those thoughts until today.

I’ll start off with explaining what set me off; a photo (image 2 of 10) on the Mother Jones website. The photo is part of a photo-essay on phone sex workers. In the image sits a women in a wheelchair facing the camera with her eyes closed. She is dressed in attractively but not provocatively. She is situated in an sparse apartment that suggests poverty. I’m not pointing this out to criticize Mother Jones magazine or the woman in the photograph. I do not know this woman, and for all I know she chose this work and enjoys it, and if so kudos to her. I can’t fault the magazine either because it’s not often that women with disabilities are portrayed as sexual beings in the media. That aside, the image speaks volumes about the sexuality of women with disabilities.

The first thing that comes to mind with this image is a kind of disabled feminist rage. Unlike some of the other people in these photos she is not smiling, and her eyes are closed. This is one area where the disability movement has not kept up with the times, still stuck in the days of institutionalization, where people with disabilities were most likely to be harmed by their attendants. While this does happen today, as woman with a disability in the post-institution era, I can say from experience that the issue runs much broader than that, from straight up objectification, to partner violence, to the denial of reproductive rights.

Just the other day I was at the bookstore and some guy decides it’s perfectly acceptable to follow me around the store, making disgusting comments. Granted this would be disturbing to most women, but some guys actually think I should take this as a complement, assuming I can’t get a date (with lines like that I clearly get more action than they do, just saying). Not to mention the guys with a fetish for women in chairs (sorry this isn’t a Happy Meal, you don’t get to collect the whole set). Then there’s the disabled guys who assume I’m attracted to them because we’re both disabled, or the guys who assume I’ll be boring in the bedroom. My point is this happens a lot, and I’m sure it’s not just a straight people thing.

Moving on to partner violence, I’m not going to say a lot here because there are people doing some great work in this area, but it has only been in the last few years. There are still too many people with disabilities looking up at their partners with bloodied smiles because they are scared, or they believe its as good as its going to get. Maybe they were one of the many spoon-fed the fairy tale that someday they will find that one person that can accept them for who they are. In reality there is way more than one person, but not all of them will treat you right (it only took me a couple of decades to learn that one). Police response and self-image of young people with disabilities are still in major need of progress.

A lot could be said for reproductive rights as well, but the main thing that sickens me is how many women with disabilities live in fear of having their children being taken away not because of their ability to parent, but because of their disabilities. Not to mention forced sterilization. It’s also disgusting how few so-called feminists take on this issue.

Coming back to the image, would any of this happen if women with disabilities were handed the mic? I recently picked up a new book that claimed to discuss the reality of feminism outside of academia. I think women with disabilities were mentioned twice. Anyone women has done disability activism will probably notice it’s a pretty testosterone filled movement, and about as white as a herd of polar bears.

I should probably wrap this up by saying that I know there are women with disabilities out there with great, loving partners, and at some point I’ll find someone that wants to be mine. There are also plenty of women with disabilities claiming their sexuality for themselves, and I’m one of them. I guess that’s just harder to capture in a single photograph.

Looking for #Toronto Participants: #Women with #DisAbilities Discussing Experiences of #Violence and its Prevention on #University and #College Campuses

What: A project exploring experiences of violence and violence prevention on
university and college campuses in Canada.

Who: Women ages 18-29 who have attended a Canadian University or College
program within the last 5 years AND who self-identify as:
* Having a disability (physical/intellectual disabilities/sensory
* Persons with mental health histories or have experienced the mental
health system
* Deaf or hard of hearing
Women who are interested are asked to attend one of the focus groups
throughout the city (see below):

Monday, July 25, 2011
Springtide Resources
215 Spadina, Suite 220, Toronto, 6-8pm

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The Centre for Women and Trans People at York University Student Centre,
Room 322, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, 6-8pm

Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The 519 Community Centre
519 Church Street, Meeting Room 204, Toronto, 6-8pm

Wednesday, August, 3, 2011
Scarborough Women’s Centre
2100 Ellesmere Road, Suite 245, Scarborough
Boardroom: 4-6pm

Friday, August 5, 2011
Springtide Resources
215 Spadina, Suite 220, Toronto, 2-4pm

A diverse group of women with DisAbilities who feel comfortable sharing  their experiences of violence and violence prevention on university or college are encouraged to participate.
Every effort will be made to meet the diverse needs of sister participants including disability accommodation, interpreter services, dietary and cultural considerations. All equity seeking groups will be valued in this work.

#Egypt passed on the Dragon-flavored Kool-Aid

On Monday night I went to an excellent talk by George Galloway here in Toronto. Listening to him reminded me that I am lucky to live in a time of revolution after so long a silence. I grew up in a time when people thought women had enough rights, and people with disabilities were told that not being institutionalized should be enough as well.

I think in some ways the western world has been pacified by the silence, hypnotized by a false notion of peace. Like prisoners whose minds have numbed to the routine and boundaries that surround them, and unable to see any other possibilities beyond those walls.

Within these boundaries the strange and ridiculous become acceptable. Democracy becomes a commodity to be bought and sold, with human rights losses as collateral damage. The economy has become an idol worshiped by the rich and the powerful, but this idol is as false as a tyrant’s concern for the people he rules. It was human beings who created the economy. We seem to have forgotten that we have the power to change what makes an economy, and question it’s purpose. We fear it like those before us who feared monsters and dragons. Personally I think dragons were a much better use of human creativity, at least in some ways they offer inspiration. Dragons have existed throughout the world, but at least they consume fairly indiscriminately.

While the powerful of the western world struggle to maintain their notion of reality, the lines blurring to the point that “they don’t know which dictator to back, and which to sack”, as Galloway said. The revolution in Egypt proved that the world is not entirely dependent on western flavoured democracy. Meanwhile, the oppressed peoples of the world can find hope in the true reality that “all tyrants must pass, all it takes is a single spark”.

To see Galloway’s latest project, check out Viva Palestina Canada

To the people of Japan, my heart goes out to you as well.



#Harper’s #Canada – a list of defunded organizations

Unofficial tentative list of organizations whose funding has been cut or
ended by the Harper government, including government agencies that supported
civil society groups. *

*Organizations/ watchdogs whose staff have been fired, forced out,
publically maligned, or who have resigned in protest: *

·          Canada Firearms Program (Chief Supt. Marty Cheliak, Director

·          Canadian Wheat Board (Adran Measner, President and CEO)

·          Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (Linda Keen, chair)

·          Foreign Affairs (Richard Colvin, diplomat)

·          Military Police Complaints Commission (head, Peter Tinsley)

·          Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian
Forces (Yves Coté)

·          Parliamentary Budget Officer (Kevin Page) (funding cut)

·          RCMP Police Complaints Commission (Paul Kennedy, chair)

·          Rights & Democracy  (International Centre for Human Rights and
Democratic Development – Rémy Beauregard, President)

·          Statistics Canada (Munir Sheikh, Deputy Minister)

·          Veterans Ombudsman (Col. Pat Stogran)

·          Victims of Crime, Ombudsman (Steve Sullivan)

* Community organizations, NGOs and research bodies reported to have been
or defunded*

·          Action travail des femmes

·          Afghan Association of Ontario, Canada Toronto

·          Alberta Network of Immigrant Women

·          Alternatives (Quebec)

·          Association féminine d’éducation et d’action sociale (AFEAS)

·          Bloor Information and Life Skills Centre

·          Brampton Neighbourhood Services (Ontario)

·          Canadian Arab Federation

·          Canadian Child Care Federation

·          Canadian Council for International Cooperation

·          Canadian Council on Learning

·          Canadian Council on Social Development

·          Canadian Heritage Centre for Research and Information on Canada

·          Canadian International Development Agency, Office of Democratic Governance

·          Canadian Labour Business Centre

·          Canada Policy Research Networks

·          Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women

·          Canada School of Public Service

·          Canadian Teachers’ Federation International porgram

·          Canadian   Volunteerism   Initiative

·          Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition feminine

·          Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA.)

·          Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples (Toronto)

·          Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

·          Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Specialink

·          Climate Action Network

·          Community Access Program, internet access for communities at libraries, post offices, community centers

·          Community Action Resource Centre (CARC)

·          Conseil d’intervention pour l’accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT)

·          Court Challenges Program (except language rights cases and legacy cases)

·          Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre Toronto: (Funding cut by CIC in December 2010).

·          Democracy Council

·          Department of Foreign Affairs, Democracy Unit

·          Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women Toronto: (Funding cut by CIC in December 2010).

·          Environment: Youth International Internship Program

·          Eritrean Canadian Community Centre of Metropolitan Toronto (Funding cut by CIC in December 2010)

·          Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy (FemJEPP) in Nova Scotia

·          First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

·          First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Program

·          Forum of Federations

·          Global Environmental Monitoring System

·          HRD Adult Learning and Literacy programs

·          HRD Youth Employment Programs

·          Hamilton’s Settlement and Integration Services Organization (Ontario)

·          Immigrant settlement programs

·          Inter-Cultural Neighbourhood Social Services (Peel)

·          International Planned Parenthood Federation

·          Kairos

·          Law Reform Commission of Canada

·          Mada Al-Carmel Arab Centre

·          Marie Stopes International, a maternal health agency — has received only  a promise of “conditional funding IF it avoids any & all connection with abortion.

·          MATCH International

·          National association of Women and the Law (NAWL)

·          Native Women’s Association of Canada

·          New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity

·          Northwood Neighbourhood Services (Toronto: (Funding cut by CIC in December 2010).

·          Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)

·          Ontario Association of Transitional Housing (OAITH)

·          Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

·          Pride Toronto

·          Réseau des Tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec

·          Riverdale Women’s Centre in Toronto

·          Sierra Club of BC

·          Sisters in Spirit

·          Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

·          South Asian Women’s Centre

·          Status of Women (mandate also changed to exclude “gender equality and political justice” and to ban all advocacy, policy research and lobbying)

Tropicana Community Services

·          Womanspace Resource Centre (Lethbridge, Alberta)

·          Women’s Innovative Justice Initiative – Nova Scotia

·          Workplace Equity/Employment Equity Program

·          York-Weston Community Services Centre Toronto

Compiled primarily by Judith Szabo and by Pearl Eliadis for “Voices”, a
coalition of organizations and individuals “united in defence of democracy,
free speech and transparency in Canada”.

#Women, #Resistance and #Revolution – a one-day conference March 19th, 2011 #Toronto


Egyptian women protesting
Revolution is sweeping the Arab world. In Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt and now Libya, women are playing a central role in these movements. In so doing they are defying stereotypes and inspiring struggles all over the world by showing the possibility of genuine women’s liberation.  At the same time, the government of Stephen Harper continues to attack women’s rights here in Canada. Join the International Socialists for this one-day conference as we examine the roots of women’s oppression, why it persists today and what can be done to fight it.

SATURDAY MARCH 19 11:30-4:30pm

O.I.S.E. room 4414
252 Bloor St West (St. George Subway)

11:30am: registration
12-1:15pm: The origins of women’s oppression and why it persists
1:30-2:45pm: Women, Islamophobia and revolution in the Middle East
3-4:30pm: The new sexism and how we fight back today

$10 or pwyc.

Organized by the UofT International Socialists

Information and registration