“45” is what I call POTUS, the 45th president of the United States, that horrid man who squats in the White House tweeting (LYING) about random topics to divert our attention from the fucked up bullshit he does that will, PLEASE GODDESS, get him impeached.
I am watching the Women’s March on Washington and while I had learned about Intersectional Feminismpreviously, seeing how women’s lives overlap with race, religion, genders, abilities, histories (jail, being on welfare, etc.) and more, live right in front of me, is profound.
And then, as I am writing this, I see that intersectionality itself has been a controversial part of the Women’s March! Well, the organizers made it clear, to me at least, that intersectionality is a major part of the event.
It did not come without conflict, even causing white women to stay away from the March after they felt left out of the planning and implementation of the event.
“Intersectionality simply means that there are lots of different parts to our womanhood,” Brittney Cooper, an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, explained. “And those parts — race, gender, sexuality, and religion, and ability — are not incidental or auxiliary. They matter politically.”
So, reading about intersectionality in general and the March in particular, I am learning the history.
Crenshaw also pointed out that she came up with intersectionality to address a specific legal problem: As she put it, “To capture the applicability of black feminism to anti-discrimination law.” An example she frequently cites in explaining the need for intersectionality is the 1976 case Degraffenreid v. General Motors, in which five black women sued General Motors for both race and gender discrimination.
I know that understanding where intersectionality comes from gives me context from which to pull.
I was raised completely different than who I am now. As a young girl, I learned the ways of the white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied and middle-class world. Yet I am a super-fat mother & grandmother, a femme Dyke, Cubanx/Latinx (knowing virtually nothing about my culture), mentally ill, disabled, a-theist, sex worker, non-TERF feminist who loves a Muslim man and who learnt Spanish as an adult. I don’t know how I would figure out my intersections without all those labels… and the ones I forgot to list.
Watching the end of the March’s rally, I am incredibly happy to see the wide variety of women represented , many of whom do intersect with my identities.
I’m sure the arguments for and against the Women’s March on Washington are being formulated or written about even now, but I am extremely pleased… more than that… excited, energized, inspired… by the speakers, poets, musicians, singers and leaders who were on that stage today.
I go a couple three days without reading even headlines. Then, like tonight, I peek at what is trending.
And now I am despondent.
Just the headlines are enough to make me want to crawl in a hole. Imagining these people in control, making rules and regulations (or undoing regulations as the case may be)… it’s terrifying.
I do not say the word “rape” lightly. I do not use it randomly. I have been raped. I know the seriousness of the word.
So when I say I am horrified seeing who is going into the Cabinet because they are going to rape the United States, I mean it with all the terror that comes with the word.
The people being appointed are going to make the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) “conflict” look like a picnic. They are going to dig deep into the land, tearing up beautiful homes, ruining National Parks… and the repercussions will be felt/known/experienced for hundreds of years after these fucking pigs are out of office and dead.
I felt hopeless for a couple of hours. My chest felt like someone was sitting on it; I struggled to breathe. My blessed cub held me and talked to me as I cried about how horrible this all is.
And it hasn’t even begun yet!
I think that’s the scariest for me is if I am this upset and sad now, what am I going to be like in a year when we are in the middle of the rape, still years ahead to be attacked… every which way we try to get away, to fight our attacker, he strong-arms us and continues the assault.
Not Giving Up
I saw this photo:
I cannot let anyone die alone.
No LGBTQIA+ youth who is outed because of new laws will not be alone. We will do everything in our power to save you from the evils of “conversion therapy”… torture.
No woman who has to have an illegal abortion because abortion has been outlawed will not be alone. Those who can will learn to do abortions safely, despite the laws, risking jail, but finding the risk is far less than a woman attempting self-abortion.
No Muslim who has to “Register” to be in this country will not register alone. Women who have their hijabs mocked or pulled off will be defended so she is able to practice her religion in this country that still allows religious freedom (so far).
No woman who is attacked… grabbed “by the pussy”… will not mourn and heal alone.
No Black man, woman or child will endure the escalating hate and murder alone.
No immigrant, here legally or “illegally,” will fight to live here alone.
No Native American will have to wrest their rightful land back from the lying White people alone.
No disabled person will be left to live or suffer alone. We will find the tools they (WE!) need for anyone who still has needs. We will not let the world become completely able-ist, forgetting/not caring for those who have challenges.
No writer, photographer or artist will be censored. We will find ways to get the words and images out to the world.
No child who is hungry and has lost their free breakfasts, lunches or dinners will starve alone. We will find food for you precious babies of ours.
And then there are the promises I cannot keep:
We will not know the impact slashing Social Security will have on our elder Americans. Will they die alone freezing and starving while those in charge have billions of dollars to spare?
What are we going to do for our mentally ill (myself included)? What if our free care is removed? What if we are not allowed our medications, therapy, our psychiatrists?
We know a only fraction of our brothers, sisters and others who have killed themselves because of their despair of who is coming into the White House. What of all the others who are misgendered, hidden, reported as dying of “natural” or “accidental” causes when they really overdosed on purpose. So many suffering without our knowing they are there.
I need to go house by house looking for those in pain. Like the Christians in Germany who saved the Jews, taking chances, risking death even… all to save even one soul.
I might cry again. No, I will cry again.
But I cannot give up. I cannot let someone die reaching out for another hand. I know mine is not the only one searching. Maybe, just maybe, if we all keep holding our arms out, joining hands, we might be able to save more than just one person.
So when I watched Avatar and saw Jake, unable to walk and in a wheelchair, take on a Na’vi body that allowed him to not only walk, but even run, I felt pangs of jealousy.
“In Real Life” Reality
I have not been able to walk very far for several years. After the Gastric Bypass in 2001, I lost lots of weight (which I have gained most of back), but also any calcium I took in wasn’t absorbed and now I have osteoporosis.
I have broken my feet (both) two times from trying to walk to lose weight and again last year falling up some stairs. I have broken my left foot requiring 3 surgeries after falling off a Wii Fit board, also trying to lose weight. Ironically, I fell over a balance scale in 1995 and broke my right ankle and that required 2 surgeries to repair and left me unable to walk but to the bathroom for almost 3 years. I am quite accustomed to the post-surgical boots now.
(And no, losing weight will not fix it. It could make them hurt less, but trying to lose weight when you cannot exercise is a distinct challenge. Even swimming, I have cracked a bone in the top of my foot.)
I have been counseled several times to get an electric wheelchair, but have balked. Now with the new #NotMyPresident coming into power, I might have lost my window for getting one with insurance paying. Instead, I use a walker when I have to walk somewhere (therapist’s or doctor’s office, for example) or an electric cart if they have one (Target, Costco, etc.). I no longer walk in the mall, Disney World, concerts or go anywhere I have to walk further than about 4 minutes and when I do, I go very slow to preserve my bones.
Some people also worry that steady exposure to virtual reality could alter the way people perceive the real world. Concerns have also been raised about the effects of people mostly communicating with others online. But on the other hand the internet and VR-enhanced communications can also be a great way of bringing people around the world closer together and enable disabled people with restricted mobility and independence, to interact with a wider network of people.
The thing is, I am not playing with Virtual Reality, but am creating my own Scenes, scenarios, storylines and community online through my writing. But yes, I know being online has increased my interactions with others… absolutely.
When I am online, which is a lot, I am freed from those pesky real life limitations of being fat and physically disabled. I am able to walk miles, run through (metaphoric) meadows, sit on my cub’s lap and do all the things I ache to do in real life that will never happen again. I feel like Jake; freed from the constraints of my flesh and (brittle) boned body.
I cannot go out for coffee or have delicious sex as much as I desire because of my physical restrictions. Online, my life is robust and I would say almost completely satisfying. I miss my kids and grandbabies and miss going to Disney World (and those are enormous things to miss), but other than that, I am pretty content where I am behind the screen. I never want to be in a face-to-face lover relationship again; my virtual one is amazing and I embrace it fully.
I love being able to have unencumbered sex with my sweet osezno, relieved of the logistics that real life would dictate. And what’s wonderful is he, too, is able to suspend reality, allowing me to be free… outside my body… and flying inside my mind. It is a gift he allows me that is completely dependent on the mechanism with which we communicate; the computer. Together, we tangle, we swirl together, we move around as if we were two feathers dancing on a current of air. Real life sex was never so uninhibited. It is a joy to be in this luscious place without my lifelong concerns… and occasional anguish… revolving around my body size, history of sexual abuse or even (seemingly) illogical psychiatric issues.
It is in these beautiful places that I do, most assuredly, feel cyber-ly abled.
The day your so-called ally status can prevent a cop from developing irrational fears of Black people & prevent cops from going into itchy trigger finger mode is the day you might actually become a true ally. The day your so-called ally status you seek can get a cop sentenced to prison for taking the life of an unarmed Black person, you might actually become a true ally. The day your so-called ally status decides to vote to funnel necessary funds into these Black communities that have high levels of Black on Black crime to create economic & educational opportunities so that Black people in these communities won’t have to resort to a life of crime, you might actually be a true ally. The day your so-called ally status walks up to a political figure with an agenda that is SPECIFICALLY catered towards BLACK PEOPLE that deals with OUR issues ONLY…not this “minority” double talk bullshit…you might actually become an ally. The day your so-called ally status allows for you come up from behind that computer or smartphone to venture off into the Black community to spend your money in Black establishments as much as possible in order to further help the wheels of Black economic empowerment roll along, you might actually become a true ally. Until you can actually do that, then what the hell are you actually good for?
Even to me, I sound like I am making excuses for not being more active, but I know these are my very real limitations: my disabilities (including my size), my mental illness and my financial status.
I cannot physically go out and demonstrate without being in amazing pain as well as the logistical issue of being trapped or hurt if a confrontation with people or the police occurred. I would be a liability instead of a help. Just writing that makes me sad, but I have to soothe my Activist Self with I have marched for LGBT rights, rights for people of size, against the Iraq war and any number of other causes and issues over the last 30+ years.
What I Can Do
I might forever remain on that bottom rung of the Ally ladder, the top being awarded the Ally Medal of Honor, but I can only do what I can do. (I keep repeating that to myself to assuage my feelings of inadequacy.)
I can write: Blog posts. Comments to other blog posts and articles. Tumblr posts. Tweets. Comments to both posts and Tweets.
I can give rides to those who need them to get them off the street and out of harm’s way.
I can get a tattoo that represents my support for different people and their fighting oppression. At the moment, the Safety Pin is the concept with an LGBTQIA+ rainbow, a Muslim flag…not sure what exactly yet, but something from Islam…, a peace sign, probably a rainbow one combining the two symbols… a #BLM and a flag for immigrants… probably Cuban because I am born of a Cuban Refugee even though they/we are not the Refugees of the Minute. I want a tattoo to show my support… a symbol of support that cannot be taken off like a safety pin. Hijabis, Blacks, People of Color, Disabled folks and many Gay or Transfolks cannot just take off the parts of themselves that bring, not just oppression, but (especially now), violence and death. And I have been looking deeply at my motivation for the tattoo. Is it to make me feel better with my White Guilt? Or is it really as a demonstration of solidarity. At this moment, I feel it is the latter. I have until December 6, 2016 to figure it out.
I don’t want anyone to feel alone, especially in this political climate.
I am horrified to learn I live in a country with so many bigots, xenophobes and hate-filled people that they would elect a crazy man to lead our country.
But, I refuse to give up.
I Will Not Be Bullied
I don’t know what or how yet… and the only thing I can physically or financially do is write… but I will write until my fingers bleed trying to share, in words that have not already been said a million times, the impact of this Hitlerian President on those around me. And on me, a mentally ill Latinx on Obamacare, a femme Lesbian, an extremely pro-choice sex worker in love with a Muslim (who I am also terrified for).
I also have Diabetes and have to see an Endocrinologist every few months. Endocrinologists take care of fat people. A lot of fat people. There has not been a time when I’ve sat in an Endo’s office that there were no less than 4 really fat people. I just left the Endo’s office (and I love the people there) and need to vent for a second.
How can an office that caters to fat people not have chairs without arms on them? How?! The first time in there, I asked for a chair without arms and they brought out one of the bench chairs (that still had arms on it). Fine. They brought it in the exam room with me, too. Nice.
Today, the bench was there… with someone already in it. So I had to cram my fat butt into one of the tiny chairs… with the arms going INWARD instead of out! What the crap?
I spoke with the office manager who said she’d already put a work order in for more benches and asked me to answer to survey I’ll get in my email with a comment about the chairs.
We’ll see how long that takes.
Blood Pressure Cuffs
For fuck’s sake, I thought I had finished complaining about medical people taking my blood pressure incorrectly/painfully 2 decades ago.
Dealing with a stupid ER nurse using medical tape to try and keep the wrong size cuff on my arm, the tape splitting and the nurse huffing off to get his supervisor
Having too small cuffs bruising me dozens of times
Having large cuffs bruising me because I have really big upper arms with batwings
I thought I’d come up with a solution by insisting they use the cuff on my forearm. Techs and nurses balked at first, but for the last 5 years, it has been a matter-of-course to take my BP that way.
Then today, the nurse came at me with a thigh cuff, easily twice as large as the large-sized cuff. I asked her to please take it on my lower arm and she said they had just had training saying it was required to take it on the upper arm because doing it on the forearm is “quite inaccurate.” I grudgingly said she could try, but if it hurt, I would cry.
The cuff goes on and begins tightening. And tightening. And tightening even more. I said, “It hurts, take it off,” and it stopped pumping up so I said I’d sit still. Then it began tightening again and I nearly hollered, “GET IT OFF.” She did, charting, “Patient refuses BP.” I corrected her: I am more than glad to have my BP done, but on my forearm. She shrugged and left the room.
After my appointment with the Endo (which went really well), I asked how we were going to resolve this BP issue and she said it was “policy” and she would ask what to do. I said, “Patient requests forearm blood pressure,” please put that in my chart. She did.
We (our country) is fat… and getting fatter. What is wrong with healthcare providers that they do not make concessions for us? I’ve been writing about this since 1987!!! This is ridiculous.
Not accommodating fat people is yet another way to discriminate and intimidate fat folks. Healthcare providers not doing so prevents far too many people from obtaining care at all, care that can keep them healthier… and for you fat haters, even help fat folks lose some weight (if they want to or are able to).
Many fat people in our society sit in these tiny chairs, put up with exam tables that do not go up and down and never ask for accomodations for their size. I speak up whenever I can, but I cannot do it alone.
Thinner/Smaller friends and family, please “see” things how we do. If you see people squished into chairs, quietly talk to the office manager, explaining how difficult the chairs are for fat people. Say you have a family member or friend (which I am!) or partner that won’t say anything, but that they get bruises every visit. If you work in an office, restaurant or anywhere people need to sit, please advocate for us to get the proper seating for fat folks.
Special mention to servers: PLEASE STOP SEATING FAT PEOPLE IN BOOTHS (unless they ask to be put in one specifically). It is humiliating to try and squish ourselves into the tight tight space at a booth.
And if anyone thinks the small chairs and small spaces are going to force us to lose weight, you are woefully incorrect. Fat-Haters, rue the day this issue is yours or someone’s you love.