G.I.M.P. Boot Camp: TONIGHT

GIMP Boot Camp

GIMP Boot Camp

Sorry for the very, very short notice, but this just in on my email moments ago:

You are cordially invited to the first screening of Danielle and Melisa’s first film: “G.I.M.P. Boot Camp”.

The film was made over the last 2 weeks during a course Melisa took at FAVA (Edmonton’s Film and Video Arts Society) called Doc Shop Intensive. We had two weeks to write the script, learn to use the camera, shoot footage, learn to edit, and edit. It was fun and exhausting! Continue reading

Fatal Misconception: Family Planning and Population Control

Last week I read Matthew Connelly’s Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population (Harvard UP, 2008). It’s a critical look at the population control movement focussed largely on the second half of the 20th-century, and discusses some of the early heroines of that movement, such as Margaret Sanger, as well as the role of major Western-led organizations, such as the UN. It’s well worth a read, even though it gets more bogged down in conferences, meetings, and deals than many will have time for. You can read Nicholas Kristof‘s review of it from the New York Times Sunday Book Review right here, which I’ll turn to in a minute.

To many, the term “family planning” will call to mind individual choice and rational decision-making about when to have children, as well as how many to have. To perhaps others, “population control” will send a shudder down their spines as they recall forced sterilization and even extermination, and the control of their lives by others. The “many” referred to above are, by and large, the affluent, the white, the Western (or all three), while the “others” are the poor, the not-so-white, and the non-Western (and often all three). In the course of the 20th-century, family planning and population control became two-sides of a perceived crisis in the growth of population, a putative crisis especially for The West as they saw themselves usurped by The Rest. Continue reading

Creature DIScomforts

Creature Discomforts is an offshoot of Creature Comforts that is intended to reshape people’s perceptions about disability. It presents a series of animated TV commercials that combine claymation (from the creators of Wallace & Grommit) combined with the voices of people with disabilities. Here is one example: Continue reading

What sorts of walks in our pageant?

As “Britain’s Missing Top Model” continues to whittle down the competitors with disabilities as they compete against each other on the BBC, it is interesting to compare this competition to the Miss Iowa and Miss USA contests in which at least one woman with a disability competed against women without disabilities.

Continue reading

Building a Universally Accessible Blog

Accessibility SYmbols

Accessibility Symbols

A comment by AlisonBryan to a post I made last week that was full of YouTube videos (1930s Drama Exposes Horrors of Forced Sterilization) has given me further cause to think about the accessibility of both the What Sorts? website and this blog. After some reflecting and poking around the web I suggest that the WhatSorts community should maintain the following standards wherever possible: Continue reading

Cripple Poetics:A Love Story

A love story for crip culture! By turns playful, unsettling, raw and moving, Cripple Poetics: A Love Story is an immersive and sensual correspondence that builds and heats by accretion—one keystroke at a time. Cripple Poetics is e-mails, IMs and letters between lovers; poetic rumination/invigoration; and disability arts manifesto. Reader Ann Fox (Davidson College) writes: “As lovers/poets/performance artists Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus court each other, they woo us as well. We are seduced by their great love of each other, crip culture, and a fierce, revolutionary dynamism that makes us want to whirl with them, through pleasure and pain, into the maelstrom of the possibilities for joy and expression the body—and this life—offer.”

by Petra Kuppers (Author), Neil Marcus (Author), Lisa Steichmann (Photographer)

Available directly from Homofactus Press or Amazon.

What’s Hot at What Sorts: take three!

What is What Sorts about? Here’s a smattering of posts from the archives for your viewing pleasure. Ten posts you might want to peruse, in no particular order. Happy reading!

What’s Hot?

  1. Kristina: Excluded: Sorry, it’s not your right!
  2. Biella: Drugging the Elderly
  3. Dick Sobsey: Paratransit Crime
  4. Spirit of the Time: Citizendium
  5. VirtualJess: Censoring Joy
  6. Wolbring: What Sorts of Paralympics?
  7. Biella: Pride in Madness: the new Visibility
  8. Joanne Faulkner: A BBC Look at Plastic Surgery
  9. Wolbring: Double Amputee Sprinter Can Pursue Olympic Dream
  10. Spirit of the Time: Disability, Ethics, Philosophy, Race

Savage Language

If you haven’t read what talk show host Michael Savage thinks about autistic children (99% of whom he says are misdiagnosed), go here.

If you haven’t read his attempt to explain himself, go here. Savage cites his own experience seeing his “severely disabled” sibling die in a “‘snake-pit’ of a ‘mental hospital'” New York as why he “[knows] first-hand what true disability is.”

This is my suggestion for providing him with a little autism education. And then things got even more interesting when I brought up a recent use of the word “retarded” by another mother of a disabled child.

Maybe sticks and stones don’t break my bones, but names—but words—can really, really hurt and miss the mark entirely.


icad The International Coalition on Abuse and Disability was established in 1993 as a listserv to link researchers, advocates, and public policy makers working to control violence against people with disabilities. It currently has about 500 members in 10 countries. Continue reading

1930s Drama Exposes Horrors of Forced Sterilization

Tomorrows Children

Tomorrow's Children

Tomorrow’s Children is a 1934 drama that intends to make a bold statements about everything that is wrong with forced sterilization.

Thanks to the magic of YouTube and the passage of time this film is both available for viewing and in the public domain. Continue reading

SCOPE Advertisement

I wanted to share with the what sorts community this advertisement, run in Australia, for Scope — formerly the Spastic Society (which changed its name in 1994 in order to reclaim a positive image for disability in the face of the derogatory use of the label ‘spastic’ in Australia to denote general disparagement).

I think the advertisement succeeds in its provocation to reflect upon prejudices — and fears — about disability that people might bring into their everyday interactions. Anyway, here is the advertisement:

CFP: Feminist Disability Studies and/in Feminist Bioethics

Call for contributions to a special issue of

Vol. 3, no. 2, Fall, 2010

From the Margins to the Center:
Feminist Disability Studies and/in Feminist Bioethics
Guest Editor,  Shelley Tremain

In recent years, work done in mainstream bioethics has been challenged by the emerging field of disability studies. A growing number of disability theorists and activists point out that the views about disability and disabled people that mainstream bioethicists have articulated on matters such as prenatal testing, stem cell research, and physician-assisted suicide incorporate significant misunderstandings about them and amount to an institutionalized form of their oppression. While some feminist bioethicists have paid greater attention to the perspectives and arguments of disabled people than other bioethicists, these perspectives and arguments are rarely made central.  Feminist disability theory remains marginalized even within feminist bioethics. 

This issue of IJFAB will go some distance to move feminist disability studies from the margins to the center of feminist bioethics by highlighting the contributions to and interventions in bioethics that feminist disability studies is uniquely situated to make.

Continue reading

Wii Fit: what videogames can teach us

Feminist Philosophers today features a post on Wii Fit, a game that incorporates weight loss goals in the family-friendly format of a Nintendo game. It uses a BMI to tell you how far away from normal you are, an then has you set goals to get back in to the normal range. This game is marketed to the whole family, including children. See, for example, the game demo website, where we see a man, woman, girl and boy who each demonstrate for us what different types of activities we can perform with Wii Fit. Note the correlation between the  exercise being modeled and the person used to model it. Mom does yoga, dad does strength training, boy does balance games, ten year old girl does aerobics. Yes, aerobics. Why does a little girl need to do aerobics? Click on her and she tells you (big smile on her face)  “If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is running a little high,  you may want to go for a session of Aerobics… to help tone your body.”  Of course, BMI’s don’t work on children, and although there’s a very faint disclaimer to this effect, the game producers clearly expect little girls to track and strive to change their BMI- this is, after all, the point of the game. Even better, the game lets you chart your progress against your friends and family, so it turns into a veritable weight loss competition!

<insert face-palm here>

More thoughts on self-image

In Darkest Night’s recent post of anorexics and our stupid selves is very thought provoking. Our personal, psychological, social, and maybe even spiritual thoughts about or self-images and others images of themselves are at the heart of many of the “what-sorts” questions. The following You-Tube video is silly and may seem shallow, but it provides a good stimulus for thinking about some aspects of self image. Continue reading

Can we ditch the fatty anorexics but save our own stupid selves?

Support For People With Eating Disorders - Anorexi Bulimi Kontakt

Support For People With Eating Disorders - Anorexi Bulimi Kontakt CLICK TO SEE VIDEO

Bloggingheads.tv threw up an interesting piece last week that begins with a discussion surrounding obesity (The entire segment is titled “The Skinny on Obesity“, but note in advance that the conversation is less focused than the title implies; they switch topics and discuss carbon emission regulations for the last half). I was struck by a number of the claims that were made throughout this discussion and most particularly by the way that later comments contrasted with earlier ones. It is in this contrast, especially given the subject matter, that I believe there is a valuable lesson regarding how we should view answers to the question “What sorts of people should there be?” Continue reading

Sir Paul McCartney calls on British public to support Paralympics

Sir Paul McCartney has launched a £2 million fundraising campaign for ParalympicsGB to support athletes heading to the Beijing Games, as well as to invest in the future of disability sport in the UK both in the run up to London 2012 and beyond.

The first, a brand ad for ParalympicsGB, created by Team Saatchi and directed by Luke Scott, Ridley Scott’s son, has Sir Paul’s iconic Live and Let Die as the soundtrack. Featuring a number of established and emerging athletes with a disability, the film is a moving and inspiring piece that not only shows the skill and ability of the athletes but also the excitement of competing. The second ad, a charity appeal featuring Sir Paul himself asking the British public to make a donation to ParalympicsGB, will be screened from July 7.

Sir Paul said: “I met leading Paralympic equestrian Sophie Christiansen and was completely blown away by her skill, dedication and the fact that she had won a world championship gold medal for Britain, so I felt I had to do something. My suggestion was simple why not create an ad that would highlight the work of ParalympicsGB and call on the British Public to donate much needed money. It was the start of a truly amazing effort from all those involved most of whom gave their time for free.” Continue reading

Ethics of Pediatric Mastectomy

A few days ago, I posted an item about the mastectomy of Ashley X, pointing out that her father,doctors and ethicists involved in the case, and some of the media reporting on the case had gone out of their way to inform the public that this was not really a mastectomy. Nevertheless, a bilateral simple (or radical) mastectomy was exactly what was discussed by the ethics committee and what the hospital billed for.

The logic behind the procedure was that Ashley might develop large breasts which could be uncomfortable for her and that removing her breasts at age six would also eliminated the risk of breast cancer later on. Continue reading

Beijing attempting to ban blacks in bars?

With less than three weeks prior to the Beijing Olympics, the South China Morning Post has reported that bar owners in the Sanlitun district have been instructed not to serve persons with dark skin. The article reports:

Bar owners near the Workers’ Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.”Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians,” said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.

Although some query the validity of this report, it is creating quite a buzz in the blogging world.  Read further on this story here.

What’s Hot at What Sorts: Second Take

Back by popular demand, here’s a sampling of ten articles from the What Sorts folks that represent the kind of stuff we have found interesting over the past few months.

What’s HOT:

  1. Mika Bodet: Natalie du Toit
  2. Spirit of the Time: Prisons, incarceration, philosophy and Canada
  3. Marc Workman: The Best of Ideas
  4. Ed Stein: What Sorts of Marriages
  5. Gregor Wolbring: What sorts of athletes should there be?
  6. Biella: The New Autism Rights Movement
  7. Joanne Faulkner: What Sorts of People in the Casino?
  8. Dick Sobsey: Eugenic Cleansing in a Pandemic
  9. Gregor Wolbring: Disabilities among Refugees and Conflict-affected Populations
  10. John Simpson: Body Worlds- A Visitor’s Tale