Well, at last, here it is. Watch, enjoy, share, like.
Well, at last, here it is. Watch, enjoy, share, like.
The Right to Not to Work: Power and Disability by Sunny Taylor
“The disabled are viewed with sympathy as victims of “bad luck” who will simply have to accept disadvantage as their lot in life, not as an identity group that is systematically discriminated against. Unlike sexism and racism, which are perceived to be significant social problems, disability falls under the social radar and disablism is not recognized as a damaging or even particularly serious form of prejudice.” The public remains unconvinced that the struggle for disability rights is actually their sturrgle as well….
The entire article and self-portrait can be found here: http://monthlyreview.org/2004/03/01/the-right-not-to-work-power-and-disability
Just a quick reminder:
Professor Rob Sparrow will be giving two talks in Edmonton at the University of Alberta on Monday April 8 and Tuesday April 9, 2013. Both talks are open to the public and free! Talks are being held on campus in ETLC (Engineering Teaching & Learning Complex) Continue reading
Blogger Cassy Fiano writes about parents who try to force their surrogate to abort their disabled baby. Cassy is has two sons, one has Down Syndrome.
Crystal Kelley wanted to give the gift of a baby to a family who couldn’t have children. She also needed the money that surrogacy brings. And so, she ended up becoming a surrogate mother to a couple in her state of Connecticut who had three children but wanted more. The first half of the pregnancy was friendly and happy, with Kelley and the parents communicating regularly.
Then there was an irregular ultrasound. After several more ultrasounds, the picture was clear: this was a baby who would be born with some disabilities. She had a cleft lip and palate, a cyst on her brain, and a heart defect. The baby’s parents immediately began to pressure Kelley to have an abortion, claiming it was the more “humane” option. Now, most decent people wouldn’t consider it humane to rob a child of her life simply because she might have a disability. This was the way that Kelley felt, and she refused to have an abortion
In November, I posted on the Australian Senate Inquiry into the forced sterilization of women and girls with disabilities. Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has just made its powerful, eye-opening submission to the Inquiry. And there’s something you can do, pronto, that may make a difference here: endorse or support the submission. Anyone who thinks that forced sterilization is a “thing of the past” shoudl read this submission. First, from the submission (p.20),
There is a historical precedent in several countries including for example the USA (until the 1950s), in Canada and Sweden (until the 1970s), and Japan (until 1996) indicating that torture of women and girls with disabilities by sterilisation occurred on a collective scale – that is, mass forced sterilisation. This policy was rationalised by a pseudo-scientific theory called eugenics – the aim being the eradication of a wide range of social problems by preventing those with ‘physical, mental or social problems’ from reproducing. Although eugenic policies have now been erased from legal statutes in most countries, vestiges still remain within some areas of the legal and medical establishments and within the attitudes of some sectors of the community:
“Disabled people should not have babies.” Continue reading
Here’s the poster for the upcoming panel, Reproductive Autonomy: Control of Sexuality that we’re hosting this Wednesday as part of the U of Alberta’s Pride Week. The sesssion will feature Lise Gotell and Lane Mandlis as speakers, with Moyra Lang and Rob Wilson performing an interpretative dance (ok, perhaps not, … but we’ll do something useful … or at least will be there). Please print and post, or distribute electronically. Text only version included as well.
Wednesday March 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm in Education South Building at the University of Alberta the Living Archives on Eugenics is sponsoring a panel discussion featuring Professor Lise Gotell, Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies and Dr. Lane Mandlis, with Moyra Lang, and Professor Rob Wilson. ASL interpreting services will be offered at this event. Find us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/270019033131796/?fref=ts
A Senate committee was recently established in Australia to review existing law and social policy concerning the sterilization of people with disabilities.
It seems that the inquiry is a response to public response (surprise? outrage?) to finding out that this practice continues in Australia under state and territorial legislation, and beyond it.
I suspect that the commission will find that Continue reading
On April 18, 2012, I posted an article from the Toronto Star, detailing how hospitals in the GTA have been telling their staff to stop telling the sex of a fetus from an ultrasound to parents, in order to prevent gender-based abortions. Recently, the CBC used “hidden cameras” in order to explore the state of the situation in private ultrasound clinics across Canada. Their discoveries are detailed in the article below.
Gender testing is very prevalent in private clinics, and further, Canada offers no law preventing clinics from sharing gender with parents before the 20 week mark (after which most doctors will not provide abortions), unlike China, India, and the UK. The US recently tried to pass a similar law, but the proposal fell through, as it was determined to be impossible to prove why parents would request gender.
The article suggests that further education would be greatly beneficial to parents on the value of both female and male children.
The Toronto Star recently released an article on the fact that many GTA hospitals, “particularly those in ‘ethnic’ areas [...] won’t let their ultrasound staff tell pregnant women the sex of the fetus,” in order to prevent abortion.
A study from St. Michael’s Hospital reveals that while male/female rations for first child of immigrants from India is 105/1oo, the ratio for third children of immigrants was 136/100. Although researchers caution that their findings are not actually evidence of female feticide (indeed, they do not know why results have turned out as such) and urge people not to racially profile citizens after that, it has caused some concern in the community, and resulted in withheld ultrasounds.
Bioethicist, Tom Koch, commented on pregnant women who choose to abort a fetus with Down syndrome, “We’re engaged in eugenics.”
h/t Anne Pasek
It would seem that erotic images really do sell and that they infiltrate our society from all directions. Aside from the obvious venues for erotic images and films, pictures of handsome individuals in provocative poses are plastered all over our cities and flashed, it would seem, at every conceivable opportunity both on the internet and on television. However, images are for those who can see, which means that a substantial population is “spared” this constant barrage of depictions. Questions of morality aside, pornography sells! In fact, Lisa J. Murphy’s Tactile Mind is one example of how erotic imagery continues to fill newer and more numerous social niches. Murphy’s Tactile Mind is “a handmade thermoform book consisting of 17, 3-D tactile photographs on white thermoform plastic pages with the visual image and descriptive Braille accompaniment” (see website). The book is sold for an extravagant $225, but single pages can also be purchased for $25 a page. Another example of such “niche-filling” is “Porn for the Blind,” which is
a website which purports to offer sexual stimuli for blind people over the internet. The website is composed of a white background with a list of links to mp3 sound clips of pornographic content contributed by volunteers. A ‘translator’ will watch preview clips of videos and give a play-by-play of the events. Contributors are not allowed to use sexual words when describing existing videos and must give purely clinical descriptions of the events. (see citation)
Although, on the one hand, it might be argued that erotic images are inappropriate even in socially sanctioned contexts, it does seem a bit paternalistic to do those who can only read braille a moral favour by denying them access to erotic material. From my understanding, the two examples I provided above are quite censored as it is. The images in Murphy’s book lack faces and are featured only in single poses while the mp3 descriptive recordings do not use sexual words in their descriptions.
There is certainly a debate over the appropriateness of pornography (see Natalie Purcell’s “Feminism and Pornography: Building Sensitive Research and Analytic Approaches”), but at least now it’s everybody’s discussion!
High profile anti-obesity activist Meme Roth writes on her blog: “Let’s finally recognize obesity as abuse—abuse of our children, abuse of ourselves—and together take action.” Roth has recently trademarked the term “second-hand obesity”, playing on “second-hand smoke.” She writes that second-hand obesity is passed along from parent to child and from citizen to citizen. Roth makes numerous television appearances every year and continually underlines the association of fat with sickness, death, and unnaturalness.
New research by Dr. Arya Sharma is beginning to break the elision of fat and sickness with his new research:
“The back-to-back studies come as more evidence emerges that a significant proportion of overweight people are metabolically healthy and that the risks associated with obesity do not make for a one-size-fits-all formula.” More can be found here: http://www.canada.com/health/Heavy+healthy+formula+slims+down+definition+dangerously+obese/5257089/story.html
If the risks associated with obesity are less dramatic than once believed, then what is feeding this culture of obesity panic that aims to “blast away fat” and “burn belly fat” away in 10 days or less?
What surprises me about much of the writing on obesity, like Roth’s and Richard Carmona, the Surgeon general of the United States who compared the obesity epidemic to terrorism, is that Continue reading
In an effort to avoid gender stereotyping, Beck Laxton and partner Kieran Cooper concealed the gender of their son from the world. The gender neutrally named Sasha has now turned five and is starting school. Prior to the commencement of formative school years, Sasha has been given the choice to dress in clothes that appealed to him, be they hand-me-downs from an older sister or an older brother. When Sasha turned five, his parents were forced to reveal his gender, which means that Sasha will have to get used to being perceived as a boy by his peers. Although the school requires different uniforms for boys and girls, Sasha’s mom is intervening by letting Sasha wear a girl’s blouse with his pants.
Last year, a different couple made a similar decision not to reveal their child’s gender. Some psychiatric experts voiced their concerns:
“To have a sense of self and personal identity is a critical part of normal healthy development,” Dr. Eugene Beresin, director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, told ABC News. “This blocks that and sets the child up for bullying, scapegoating and marginalization.”
The article continues:
But as parents well know, bullying is hard for any child to avoid. It’s more important to raise someone who’s confident enough in himself to overcome peer pressure. It’s also important to have his parents have his back.
The question of personal identity is interesting as gender is certainly a big part of it. However, that’s precisely the problem couples like Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper are attempting to avoid. The question of bullying, scapegoating and marginalization is a bit trickier since such actions are certainly a product of dogmatically ingrained gender stereotyping, but they will not cease to exist just because Sasha’s parents have grown past them. Although bullying may well be hard for any child to avoid, some children do get bullied more than others. And although Laxton and Cooper are trying to inculcate a sense of self and others in Sasha, which they hope will be lacking gender stereotyping, are they also not sacrificing their child’s emotional and physical safety by setting him up for potential bullying? It is quite important to raise someone who’s confident enough in him or herself to overcome peer pressure, but it could also be the case that exposing a child to more risk of bullying may have an adverse effect on his or her confidence.
That’s not to say that Sasha will be bullied, but it will depend on his environment. If Laxton and Cooper chose an appropriate school, perhaps their goal of raising their son to be confident in himself and have a valuable dual perspective on gender will not be compromised by the very gender stereotypes they are attempting to undermine. “Egalia,” a preschool in Stockholm, Sweden comes to mind (as an example of the kind of environment in which Sasha could flourish). Staff do not use words like “him” or “her,” but rather a made-up neutral term and students are encouraged to do the same. Moreover, traditional “boy” and “girl” toys are spatially integrated so as to obliterate any value systems associated with stereotypical gender preferences. For those interested, here is the article.
Bullying has not ceased in spite of a laudable movement to curb it. Although Laxton and Cooper’s hearts may be in the right place, they have influence only over Sasha’s worldview and not that of other children (who get theirs from their own parents or guardians). Are they putting Sasha at risk, as Dr. Eugene Beresin claims? And if the answer is yes, are they entitled to make such choices for Sasha if they lead to increased risk of bullying, which could potentially be developmentally as well as physically harmful?
Last month the United Nations announced that we’ve arrived at a human population of more than 7 billion people, sounding a call for alarm to provide targeted reproductive services for the 215 women worldwide that do not have access to reproductive services, according the UN Population Fund.
Population panic is not new. In the early 19th century, Anglican clergyman Thomas Malthus claimed that the dangers of population growth would put human civilization in jeopardy. Malthus did not support keeping the poor alive through charitable means and protested the Poor Laws of the time, which provided food aid and support for poor citizens and set the groundwork for the modern welfare state. Despite the fact that Malthusian population theory was proven to be erroneous- his work has been tremendously influential, most importantly, in evolutionary biology. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’s bestselling book ‘The Population Bomb’ once again raised alarmist, doomsday predictions about the danger of population growth causing crises of apocalyptic proportions. His predictions were also inaccurate.
There is no question that we are facing a wide range of environmental and financial crises and far too many women lack access and choice in reproductive medicine. However, in the face of doomsday fears of scarcity, targeted population control of specific groups based on class, medical status, race and other social determinants has been a troubling historical trend. The question is not ‘if’ population is a problem; but ‘who’ gets targeted in population control programs. Since the 1920s, targeted and eugenic population control in marginalized populations has been present across North and South America, Australia, the Middle East and Europe. Anecdotally, we can estimate it to be happening, or have happened all over the world. This past summer at the 9th Annual Conference in Ethics in Development in Pennsylvania, a medical researcher from Nigeria approached me following presentation of my paper on sterilization in the Americas, to say that forced sterilization surgery in tribal communities in South and Western Africa has been happening for many years and went on to describe a personal account. Belief that these incidents of reproductive abuse represent collateral damage in the more pressing fight for contraception access has cloaked the deeper Malthusian ideology that lives who cannot provide for themselves are ‘fertility liabilities’.
The Reuters humanitarian news service, Alertnet, recently quoted Parvinder Singh, of ActionAid India on the relationship between fears of scarcity and population: “the issue of population cannot be seen divorced from the aspect of resource or energy footprint,” However, Singh continued to note that: “the largest drain continues to be in the West which have traditionally consumed, and continue to, massive volumes of resources because of a life-style and purchasing power that far exceeds that of so-called high population poorer countries.” Research has demonstrated that raising quality of life for women and their families leads to a drop in fertility- so much so that the world’s richest countries are fearing a further ‘drop’ in their national populations. The recent US recession has created a record low in fertility, leading to fears that there will be ‘not enough’ children born to sustain the national economy. So, not enough of one group- but too many of another? On what basis are these determinations made? On relative value to the economy?
If we are to make progress against this historical trend of using population panic to make authoritarian determinations over which lives have value for reproduction, we have to own up to the pervasive Malthusian ideology that views fertility in the developed world as a valuable resource and developing world fertility as a global liability
Oakland-based filmmaker Regan Brashear is launching her film FIXED: The Science / Fiction of Human Enhancement and is running a Kickstarter campaign to help with funding for the film’s clean-up. You can start with donations of $1 and up–details about the campaign and film here. The campaign runs until 9.03am EDT, August 31, so donate NOW. A brief excerpt from the site:
What’s the film about? What does “disabled” mean when a man with no legs can run faster than many Olympic sprinters? With prenatal screening able to predict hundreds of probable conditions, who should determine what kind of people get to be born? If you could augment your body’s abilities in any way imaginable, what would you do and why? From pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to neural implants and bionic limbs, researchers around the world are hard at work developing a myriad of technologies to fix or enhance the human body, but what does it mean to design “better humans” and do we want to? FIXED follows three remarkable people: Continue reading
Pasted below is the text from this call for submissions for an art exhibit to be held in Edmonton and to run from late October through November of this year.
Anne Pasek, the principal force behind this initiative, is an intern on the Living Archives project this summer. As part of her internship, and with support from several other interns, she has arranged for the upcoming exhibition.
Please circulate this call for submissions, and be sure to attend the exhibition later this year. Also, note the pre-exhibit workshops being held the last Tuesday of July, August, and September, as you may be interested in attending some or all of these as well.
Call for Submissions
The Collective Memory Project:
Responses to Eugenics in Alberta
Artists and community members are invited to submit artwork to a forthcoming exhibition addressing the legacy and future inheritance of eugenic ideas in Alberta. Exploring forgotten narratives, lost histories, and contemporary anxieties, The Collective Memory Project will investigate and make visible the process through which personhood is unequally distributed in society.
Below is a press release put out yesterday by the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and the Disabled Women’s Network Canada (DAWN). The two organizations will intervene on a case before the Supreme Court that could potentially have serious impacts on the rights of women generally and those of disabled women specifically.
There are several important issues that are going to have to be considered in the case, particularly the systemic barriers to employment face by disabled people and disabled women in particular and the inherently problematic, and all too frequent, attempts to judge the abilities or lack of abilities of a person based on brief, and not necessarily representative, observations of that person.
I hope the Supreme Court will do the right thing and overturn the lower courts decision. Read the full press release below.
JOHN DOSSETOR HEALTH ETHICS CENTRE
HEALTH ETHICS SEMINAR AND HEALTH ETHICS WEEK EVENT
Advances in Genetic Testing: Professional and Consumer Perspectives
Dick Sobsey, EdD Professor Emeritus, John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre
& Faculty of Education
Monday, 7 March 2011 12:00—12:45pm Room 1J2.47 Walter MacKenzie Health Sciences Centre
University of Alberta
Joanne Faulkner’s recently published book on childhood, The Importance of Being Innocent, was the topic of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation talk show segment today. You can here the interview here; here is the url directly:
A chunk of the book can be read at the Cambridge UP website:
Dr. Faulkner is a member of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada team. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in philosophy at the University of New South Wales, and formerly held a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Alberta.