I believe, truly and passionately, in the concept of social justice. Social justice is defined (by wikipedia) as a political philosophy that values equality and solidarity.
Rather than being a specifically disability thing it’s about equality for whatever reason be that sexuality, gender, race, health, disability or whatever other group I’ve not mentioned. It’s the same as believing in disability rights but different in that it takes it further.
But there’s the thing. I’ve in the last few days had inappropriate comments (and in one case actions) made to me because of my disability. I tweeted a bit about one of the incidents earlier. I’ve also had well meaning but really inappropriate stuff said to me about my weight. And in the past several weeks I’ve had really sexist comments made to me too.
Some of it I blog about. Some of it I don’t. Maybe because by the time I get home and to a point I could blog my anger has dissipated. Or perhaps as is one case a week or two ago I’ve blogged about run ins with that person before and I know if I make them idenitifiable on my blog it’ll make things worse.
Sometimes I’ve tried to resolve the issue before and no matter how many times I’ve told someone that it’s called a hoist and not a crane and saying “we need to hoist Emma” is ok but the phrase “we need to use the crane to get Emma out of her wheelchair” is completely fucking inappropriate (only without the swearing) and makes me feel bad they are just never gonna get it. [side note: I do wonder if I was a regular hoist user rather than an occasional one for tricky transfers related to sailing and swimming whether that would still bother me].
Sometimes I don’t share about the incidents or write letter of complaints because I can do more by just not using that company. And it benefits me.
Then there are the times when I let things go because I’m tired. And I’m fed up. And I’m pissed off that I can’t even go and get my fucking eyebrows done without it turning into some fucked up social justice disability issue.
I piss myself off when that happens because I’m too hard on myself and I think I need to stop others having the same bad experience I do.
And sometimes when I do blog about it or raise issues or challenge organisations, companies and individuals on their social justice failings it goes well. But other times it becomes this big straw that broke the camels back thing and it goes wrong or even I get it wrong because all the times I can’t get joined into the one time I can.
Like a guy I dealt with recently. All of the feedback I gave him (feedback I’d been asked for) seemed to have been met with a default “no”. And I don’t think he was the right person to be taking it. He also seemed somewhat lacking in necessary information.
I came away from that and was telling mum that I didn’t think it’d been that great. I was annoyed and might have let it show with that guy. But as I was telling her I realised that many of his “no” answers had been followed by other members of staff at that meeting saying things that did happen and things that could happen and things they would make sure they did happen.
So actually now I think of it I’m reminded how worthwhile fighting and advocacy and being heard can be.
But the fact of the matter remains that no matter how important social justice is, it’s also really exhausting. And I can’t do it all.