Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Over Here, Over There

Why choose the cities I've chosen to visit? (And believe me, the itinerary could still change a bit!) I've noticed in my last few years of work as a youth organizer that different cities or regions in the US seem to be hot spots for small communities of radical feminists with disabilities or academics with strong interests in women's disability issues.

Take, for example, Missoula, Montana. Some people have asked me why on earth I am going to Montana. Well, Montana has news for everybody. There's a bunch of feminist disability rights activists/advocates/scholars there all clustered up at the Rural Institute and the Summit CIL. The former executive director for the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD) is now at the Rural Institute. So how could I NOT go to Montana?? Why isn't everyone beating a path to their door?

Lots of folks also wonder why I've chosen to visit Seoul and Australia. Both countries have long standing networks of women with disabilities that have not only national impact but global impact. Australia has a sort of FRIDA sister version that's been operating since the early 90s, if not before. Seoul got their women's movement started in 1994 and now has at least six different women with disabilities organizations, and a newer Deaf women's group. So the question is, how is it the the climates in these two very different countries allowed for the growth of a women's disability rights advocacy movement, while here in the US, we have strong individuals but I at least have had to struggle to find a coherent group to take action with?

I've also noticed it seems to be darn hard to find strong, active Deaf women's groups focused on social justice---if anyone knows of any, please tell me!!! I've met some great individual Deaf women and I hear the anti-domestic violence network is strong, but there's a lot of focus on the idea that communication access is the primary barrier for Deaf and hard of hearing people, and that that issue is gender-blind. Perhaps. Are we looking at EVERYTHING in the lives of Deaf and hard of hearing people with a gender lens? How about the concept that some Deaf men are REALLY sexist, and that maybe Deaf women feel they need to have a Deaf mate because the communication is easier? What kind of situation is that? Where are the people who are teaching anti-sexism in ASL? Being nonsexist is a very difficult thing for a lot of people.

Back to the point...thus far I've been lucky in finding contacts for most of the places I will go. However, if any readers know someone in Melbourne, I have some time to burn there!

More on the cities as the traveling occurs...

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