Inspired by reading Amanda Forest Vivian's post "Disabling Queerness"http://adeepercountry.blogspot.com/2010/10/disabling-queerness.html
When I was growing up, there was a big excitement about the "strong female characters" now being written in books and a lot of those selfsame books were shoved into my hands. I loved to read and read fast, so a supply of books was a good thing. And there were good parts to them - in many ways they were what the last era needed - the antidote
to the last era.
There's a lot of emphasis in feminism, at least of my mother's generation,of telling girls they can be strong. On letting "Strong women" develop their potential. Because women are really as strong as men. But what about the women who aren't "strong"?
Whatever way you determine strength there's a lot of people that are going to be weak. Because not everybody has the strength, verbal agility, stamina and physical energy level, and personality (not to mention equal economic opportunities) to make it in this world if we change nothing but allowing women to compete. If you want to make the lives of women better how much have we accomplished if a large group are still struggling.
In many ways feminism was trying to get woman to be seen in the same way as men. But there's a trap in how men are seen, too.
There's a dark side to the male role in society is just that if you're strong, great, but if you're weak, if you can't handle it, you're gone. If the dark side of the female role is the housewife/drudge then the masculine dark side is cannon fodder. Can't handle the responsibilities of high-power lifestyle? Bang. Show weakness? Bang. Show emotion, or compassion for the wrong person? Bang. Love another man? (Everyone knows that men are gross, you'd have to be sick.) Bang. Dress in feminine clothes? Bang. Have trouble focusing in class and so barely graduate high school and then try to go to community college and try to hold a minimum wage job, and end up short on money? You can go into the army. It's a great opportunity. Many of the male roles are designed to make a crop of obedient soldiers. But it's not a good life anymore than the life of a drudge, or a doll is.
In a talk I went to recently on Math Anxiety they showed a chart that showed what most men and women said their sucess or failure at math was caused by:
Men Skill Lack of Effort
Women Luck Lack of skill
I've seen so many disabled people fall into the trap of "I'm just not trying hard enough". So this makes me wonder...
Telling me, a "girl*" that was (and still is) struggling to speak, to use words at all, to not slur - that she should be speaking "louder" with more "confidence" if she wants any one to pay attention to her or care for her. That "She" doesn't "have to speak so softly because she's female" wasn't a good idea. It was almost hurtful in a lot of ways.
Can't we find a way to treat all people well, without falling into either of there traps? Can we build a society that works for the Weak and the Strong and the WeakandStrong, and everyone else?
* Not that much of a girl actually, just as much of a boy. They had no way of knowing about the parts that were there but didn't match my physical body.