Feminist Friday 2018 #3: What Having A Disability Taught Me About Bodily Autonomy

Editorial Note: This post was originally published on Part Time Monster in 2017.  It’s my work, and I’m republishing here with permission from the original host.  Post contains some discussion of sexual violence.


I was born with cerebral palsy.  I have limited use of my legs and my lower leg muscles are basically nonexistent.  When I was three, neuromotor specialists began recommending a daily routine of physical therapy to help maintain my level of mobility.

The exercises I’m supposed to do feel like someone is trying to rip my legs apart on a medieval torture device.  As a toddler and young child, I was never given an option to refuse this treatment.  I have no memory of anyone explaining the benefits of this therapy.

I was told I had to do my exercises.

That’s it.

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Feminist Friday Archive Post

If you’re interested in diversity and social justice, check out my Feminist Friday blog series. This has been a staple of my blogging on WordPress since 2013. It originally started with a group of bloggers centered around a blog called Part Time Monster.

PTM is currently offline, but I’ve continued the Feminist Friday series here.

I’m a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence. I write a lot about rape culture, disability, and the connection between child abuse and misogyny.  I have multiple disabilities, both visible and invisible.  So, a fair number of my essays deal with disability intersections.

This is an index post for the Feminist Friday articles on the blog.  They run bi-weekly on Fridays, mostly written by me and sometimes co-written by my fellow feminist bloggers.

Feminist Friday 2018 #2: Please Don’t Be A Dick–A Guide For Cisgender Women

I know I said that Feminist Friday posts would be running every other week, but this one is important and timely, so I’m making an exception.

In 2017, hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets to march in protest of newly inaugurated Pres. Donald Trump. Lots of them were wearing these pink hats with cat ears, and I heard them called “Pussy Hats.”

I was a little late to the show, since the so-called pussy hat movement had been in the makings for months, and I’d never heard of it. But I knew that it was at least partially a reference to the president’s disgusting brag about grabbing women by the pussy.

My reaction was, “Oh wow, how funny!” I like a good pun, and I thought the hats were cool. I didn’t give it much deeper consideration until I noticed that several of my trans and nonbinary friends were saying that the hats and the ideology behind them were exclusionary and harmful.

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Feminist Friday 2018 #1: Feminism Saved My Life

I was born 2 1/2 months premature. I have cerebral palsy. I use a wheelchair because I have no real use of my lower body, low trunk strength, and limited use of my upper body. I blog mostly by using a voice to text program called Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Dragon makes everything super interesting. Did you know that it can spell words like “Chewbacca” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” but it can’t remember to capitalize my name unless I tell it to do so with a special command? (My name is a noun, and it always thinks I’m talking about roses when I say my name.)

My disability also affects my vision, visual perception, the clarity of my speech, and my bladder control.

The speech issue is another reason Dragon makes everything more interesting, now that I think about it.


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Your Imperfections Are Just Fine Part Two: so Your Efforts to Improve Yourself

Every Thursday I share a WIP or art project that I’m working on! Most Thursdays, I’ll also some thoughts that came to me while working on the piece that I share.

I’ve been on a continuous quest for self-improvement or self-development since my early teens. I say “quest for” instead of “journey of” because for a long time I felt like there was some ultimate goal or place or way of being that I was supposed to be striving towards.

I thought, without ever having made the conscious connection, that there was going to be a magic moment when all of my efforts paid off and I suddenly realized that I was this healthy, well-adjusted, nice person who knew how to be friendly and nurturing and all of the things that I had never seen modeled in my childhood.

Like I said last week, I grew up in hell. I was abused from a really young age in just about every way imaginable. Somewhere along the line, I realized that I wanted to learn how to treat people better.  I wanted to be a kinder, gentler, more well-adjusted person than the adults in my household, but I had no models for that. I didn’t know how to become what I wanted.  I only knew that what I saw and felt at home was painful.  So I set out to attain that goal thinking that there was something “wrong” with the way I currently was.

Eventually, I started to learn self-acceptance, and then I struggled with the whole idea of personal development or self-improvement or whatever word you want to use. I didn’t have a healthy models to follow, so I questioned everything I did. Was it okay to try to improve? Could I accept myself the way I was and still want to grow and learn how to be different?

Last week, I also shared this diamond design and I told how, even when I fixed the imperfect edge, my friends liked the original design better. I didn’t. I wanted to improve it. But part of me felt guilty for trying to “fix” the thing instead of just accepting it for what it was and being happy that my friends liked it in all of its imperfection.

I realized I was doing the same thing to this poor little diamond design that I used to do to myself. First, I struggled to accept the diamond’s imperfection. Then I struggled with my own desire to improve as an artist and to make my creation more in line with the vision I had for it.

The first step in a healthy journey of self improvement at personal development is compassionate acceptance for where you are. To allow yourself to relax and know that you are 100% fine the way you are. Then, from that place of acceptance, the next step is to give yourself the space to grow and change and become what you know that you can be.

Everybody has some messy edges. It’s great if you want to try to grow and improve yourself, but also remember that you are fine the way you are. People like you as you are, and they think you are beautiful, imperfections and all.

Don’t forget to check out the design and graphic freebies available in my members area.  Just click the free membership level and add your email address to get all the new additions first!


Everything I’ve Learned Has Been The Hard Way

This is a bit of a personal post, but I wanted to share it because I’ve seen a lot of women lately discounting their accomplishments because:

(A) They don’t have a traditional education or career
(B) They’ve made mistakes in their past

Or something else that is holding them back because they’re embarrassed.

Look.  Here’s the deal.

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