Sunday, October 25, 2009

Disability Blog Carnival #59: Disability and Work

The theme for the Disability Blog Carnival #59 is Work and Disability. It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Thank you to Penny from the Disability Studies Blog for co-ordinating the Disability Blog Carnival through 60 issues!

Thank you all for your contributions! All through October, they buoyed me up and gave me food for thought. I felt intense pride to be part of this very loosely knit online community of thinkers and writers.

The next Disability Blog Carnival will be hosted by the fantastic group blog FWD/Forward: Feminists With Disabilities.

  • Wheelchair Dancer contributed two posts. In Becoming Disabled On the Job she writes about how even in a supportive workplace there were many obstacles to overcome as her physical capabilities changed over several years.

    Ultimately, I was successful at my job; I wrote my heart out, presented, won awards, grants, and funding; I got myself published. Technically, however, I didn't get my work done on schedule; in fact, it took me approximately two extra years to approximate a body of work like the ones that my peers had on their resumes. I felt like that broken and imposter racehorse, uselessly gimping around behind its pure blood, beautiful, swift sisters.

    Her other post, Disability at Work, focuses on her current job as a dancer, where she is not the only person with a disability! "You know that disability is an important factor in your work environment when . . . " Ha! I love it! I'm printing out her 10 reasons why list and putting it up at my office!

  • Sophia from 'sprokenword has an otherwise excellent post which does contain some hatred expressed towards people riding airport motor transport carts who are fat. If you can read around that or bracket it, read on because the post explores some other important issues. In Disability Employment Awareness Month, Sophia describes her job working for a non-profit open source software company while dealing with gait problems, chronic pain, trouble standing, and difficulty walking. Her situation requires quite a lot of travel. I enjoyed this post and have a lot of respect for the difficulties of travel and Sophia's determination to do it. Sophia's post and Wheelchair Dancer's first post spoke to many of the issues that people with disabilities and chronic pain face in professional careers.

  • Alison Bergblom Johnson, from the blog Writing Mental Illness, posted about poetry as work. Anne Sexton: Patient or Poet. Anne Sexton was a brilliant and hard working poet. She won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. But in the psychiatric professions she is a patient and her work is considered as pathology - as evidence of her illness.

  • Deborah Kaplan wants to recognize the ways that her job is awesome in working while disabled: it's really just fine. "I could do most of those infamous "activities of daily living" without help if I had too (since I don't think that Congress defines "open-source coding and checking my feeds" as an activity of daily living). But without adaptive technology, I would not have been able to hold a job for the last 10 years, full stop." Her co-workers and employers are supportive. She has some complicated stuff to say about the tradeoff between working through pain and difficulty vs. taking time off and trying to heal and avoid stress. In all that complexity, though, her day to day experience of work is "pretty damn good".

  • Tlönista's post Work/Ability writees about some of the negative aspects of her experiences working and being a mentally ill person. She wonders how much longer she can go on. "Don’t think about the long term, don’t think about the future, treat your life like a sub-prime loan. For now I am a “good” mentally ill person. Not a menace, not a burden. I am functional. I’m so tired."

  • Sashafeather's post, "Disability and Work: What I do" centers on Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction book about an anarchist planet, The Dispossessed, where the word for work is the same as the word for play. Sashafeather describes work/play as "what occupies a person's time, and what one does with the people in one's community". She does emotional work, self care and pain management, volunteer work for the WisCon feminist science fiction convention, and disability/anti-oppression activism. She moderates several online communities and does creative work in media fandom.

    Her post made me think about self-care and pain management as an important part of community work. It's something I have to remind myself of: If I don't deal with my physical pain levels, I will be less useful to the people around me and my community. You might think the motivation of "not being in so much pain" would be enough. Often it's not.

    And she moves into very interesting territory in writing about work, disability, and feminism:
    I have personally benefitted from the feminist idea of work being a socially constructed idea, and "women's work" such as housework, childcare, and care of the elderly and ill being often unpaid or underpaid and devalued by society. The reason women are paid less than men is because women's work is undervalued. Women often provide emotional support for others, they build friendships, they build communities, they build homes. All of this takes time and effort.

    The categories of women and disabled people intersect hugely. The work of disabled people is also devalued, and disabled people face huge barriers such as pain, exhaustion, mobility and cognitive impairments, communication differences, discrimination in the work place and the wider world, and a lack of basic access to buildings, services, and transportation.

  • Eva from The Deal with Disability wrote and posted a video of herself at her dogwalking job. Sometimes accessibility is more than meets the eye. She posts flyers for her business at veterinarians' offices and was showing how though she found out she couldn't get into the office there, the staff's attitude was polite and helpful. Eva goes on to point out factors other than steps or ramps that affect accessibility.

  • The spaces in my résumé by codeman38 talks about some of the practical difficulties in getting a job by traditional means. Interviews, transport, and phone calls are not completely impossible for him as an autistic person but they are definitely obstacles. He finds jobs through friends and family.

  • Tera from Sweet Perdition writes about her job at a local game store: I am Lord Voldemort. She works for store credit at a job that her college professors would consider below her capacity - but she loves her work and their appreciation of her.
    Sometimes you think about getting a proper job, one that pays you money or, at the very least, requires you to leave the house, but you don’t want one. You realize that you don’t really want a lot of things that you’ve grown up hearing independent adults must have . . . But all this guilt is just society’s poison coursing through your brain; it isn’t you. The things you want–really want, not just think you should want in order to be a real person–are not the things your culture wants for you. Popular culture doesn’t have many models for the kind of person you are.

  • Cheryl from Uppity Crip has two posts to contribute. Heads up that her blog has music on auto-play. 51% of Workplace Accomodations Cost Nothing and Mental Illness is Still a Big Stigma.

  • I posted on on Working Women With Disabilities. I was feeling exhausted and disheartened, and wanted to see other people's thoughts on working and being disabled. My own thoughts on the subject are going to take me a while to put together. When I post about my personal experiences with losing jobs, struggling to get SSI, working part time, passing as able, going back to school, and access issues on the job now that I'm working again. I'll link to it from the comments on this post.

  • Wheelie Catholic posted many times in October with Disability Awareness Month in mind. Her posts are great!

    * The Top Ten Ways For Managers to Screw Up under the ADA
    * Sears case largest disability related employment discrimination settlement
    * National Disability Employment Awareness Month: What Can We Do?
    * PBS to Air Film on Disability Advocates
    * The Campaign for Disability Employment:
    * Disability Awareness FAIL - this one is hilarious and awful!

    Late additions:

    * Video Post from Bev from Asperger Square 8.

[ETA: warning on fat hatred on a link.]
[ETA again: I phrased that badly and i think misinterpreted sophia's words to be about scooter users. By carts she meant people who are riding the electric carts that airport employees drive around to pick people up. See comments on this post for my thoughts. - Liz 10/28/09]

Thank you all again for clueing me in to your amazing writing. And thanks for reading!

Please stay tuned to FWD/Forward for the next Disability Blog Carnival call for contributions for Carnival #60!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ADAPT in Atlanta kicking ass, taking names

This weekend I went right from the Blogalicious conference in Atlanta to the end of a march and start of a rally that kicked off a week of activism by ADAPT.

Their goals are, free people from being incarcerated in nursing homes, and kept in there against their will. They back the Money Follows the Person program, which means a person's benefits are under their control rather than under the control of doctors, social workers, and assisted living facilities (who are a powerful medical-industrial complex much like the prison-industrial complex: powerful lobbyists with a lot of money at stake.) Right now ADAPT also supports the Community Choice Act, a bill which you can see and follow directly with

I hopped out of a taxi with two backpacks hanging off the back of my wheelchair, tired enough to cry but feeling jet setty, determined and super excited, as if going to the crip activist prom. As I rolled up an exhausting hill to the Martin Luther King historic site and rose garden. Hundreds and hundreds of disabled people and others were there. There were some songs and short speeches. There seemed to be three or four main organizer dudes, 70s looking older white guys. I gradually realized everyone was in groups based on the color of their tshirts.

I have not been involved on any level other than donating money to ADAPT and though I write about disability online a lot I don't get to hang out with anyone really and I miss that enormously and need some solidarity. So I was so grateful just to be there for a while with everyone. I wanted to stay and support the goals of the organization to get government officials to change policies, get people out of forced institutional living, and embody our political power with direct action.

But I'm also going to frankly tell the story of my afternoon and my thoughts.

First, here is an ADAPT logo and a link to their donation page.


Follow NationalADAPT on Twitter
Follow Michigan ADAPT on Twitter

Here's a short speech by Lois who says "Free our brothers and sisters, free our people."

I enjoyed the small bits of chanting we did. How do you spell power? A-D-A-P-T! However I have been in enough rallies in life that I never want to yell "The People united will never be defeated" again. Did it anyway in the heat of the moment. But I draw the line at "Hey Hey Ho Ho." A person has to have some boundaries. Hah!

Andrew Jones speaks about getting out of an institution with the MFP program which has now been denied funding. I missed videoing the second bit of his talk, which was fantastic (my camera ran out of batteries just then.)

Later that afternoon I went to shake Andrew's hand and tell him I'd upload the video of part of his speech, and he raffishly explained to me that I was a rather attractive and curvaceous young lady. Thanks, Andrew, but LOL that was some quick work, how about making friends first, also, actually I am 40 and prideful of my mature charms and middle aged wisdom. You are certainly silver tongued though and should get on email. It would work for you.

Thank you ASL interpreters. Y'all worked so hard. And thanks ADAPT for structuring that constant side by side translation.

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

So then, there was a sort of extra staged bit which I had mixed feelings about, keep in mind I am a total outsider to ADAPT so take it all with a grain of salt. Delores Bates and Kathy and Bodie came up to the front of the rally and did not speak but the main organizer guy told Delores' story of being in an institution for "seizures" for the last 43 years. She just got out, I guess with ADAPT's help, this September, to live in her own place. IT was her 57th birthday on the day of the rally and they presented her with a birthday cake and a giant card with lots of signatures. We all sang her Happy Birthday. It was her first birthday on the outside in 43 years.

So, okay, I cried like a baby, but I also was like "So, fucking give her a piece of her own cake then? Also, what she have to say about it if anything?" And felt it was a bit stagey and poster-childy. I talked with Delores a bit afterwards and asked her if I could take a picture, she smiled and nodded and I showed her the photos in my camera for a bit. I wished she could talk with me. Thank you Delores for contributing your story and your birthday moment to ADAPT and all of us in the crowd. Congratulations on getting out.

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

I wondered what happened next and I imagined again her having email and showing her Eva's The Deal with Disability blog entries so she could totally crack up laughing. And that she could have a Facebook page and people could donate directly to her if they wanted and if they cried while singing her Happy Birthday rather than it being sort of showcase for ADAPT, though I also felt like ADAPT probably does right by her and she might be happy to donate that publicity about her life for the good of others. Basically I had my little social media empowerment fantasies and started making real life plots to go to nursing homes in my area and implement my idea to get them online with wireless and take it from there. More about this later on Hack Ability.

Here are some scenes of the people and the crowd.

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

I saw my friend Bethany and was very excited! We were on a panel together at the Sex:Tech conference. Then wandering around for a while I introduced myself to some women named Naomi and Joanne. They were very persuasive trying to get me to stay. I thought about calling work and begging for time off without pay, and trying to find child care, and seeing if I could change my plane ticket instead of leaving that night. Would it be possible? I considered just "accidentally" missing my plane and finding a place to stay overnight. But I'd have to accomplish all that in something like 2 hours and I didn't want to let my employers down or my family. If only I had planned to stay.

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

Then people took off up the big ramp out of the park and up another hill to Park Manor nursing home, right next to the Rose Garden. I asked a guy to hold my hand and pull me up the hill. (Thanks!) We all marched and rolled past and waved. The Older People for Community Choice stayed outside the windows with a big banner, waving, till the end of the parade.

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

Now here is the "Stay on the Sidewalk" bit, where I rant at length!

As I rolled down hill at the tail end of the march I made friends with a guy named Tali and soon we were deep in discussion about disability rights politics. Over the next few blocks we kept getting yelled at to get into single file. The march went on and on and Tali started to give me a lift - I hung onto the side of his power chair so he could pull me (and my giant backpack) up the hills (which no one who isn't in a manual chair would even think of as "hills"). We were all in the middle of the right lane of the road. Basically I don't react well to senseless orders and I'm proud of my capability to land in a strange city and get around. Also, i know how to cross the street but at every intersection another person usually one on 2 legs was screaming at me through a megaphone to keep up. This one older lady behind us in a power chair was very, very upset that Tali and I were not following the rules. I was half a lane away from the part of the street that was open to traffic and at no time was in any danger. What I think happened was a vicious cycle of this lady's instant judgement of me as a spoiled bratty child of privilege who needed to be controlled. And this kicked in all her officiousness, which in turn pushed my buttons big time so I refused to do what she said. As disabled people (or people in general) we are not served well by doing what we're told without using our own judgement. By the end of the march I was not only so mad I could spit, I was ready to go get hit by a car just out of spite. If not rolling up huge, horrible hills, being yelled at every inch while I was deep in talk with Tali, I would have liked to have a good heart to heart talk with that lady about authority, privilege, hierarchies, rules, race, disability, internalized oppression, and so on, and I mean that sincerely. Instead I lost my temper and just kept yelling No, leave me alone. The worst moment was when she decided I was too far back at the end of the line of the parade and she started yelling for someone to come and push me. "We've got a manual wheelchair here who needs a pusher" And that sent me over the edge of rage to be referred to like that. I also fight very hard to be independent in big and small ways. So it pisses me off that someone else thinks they get to decide when I need "help" which in this case would not have been help. Tali and I were cussing everyone out loudly and yelling No sorry don't need help we're anarchists. I also had some commentary from walking organizers in orange shirts about "how well I was doing"... thanks but shut up, that was a patronizing and unnecessary thing to say.

The thing is, i've been an activist and organizer for years and I know how to organize a march or parade, I know you have to get permits for it and work with the city and the police, I know how to block traffic as safely as possible, and I've been to many rallies where there are guys barking orders through megaphones at people who don't need to be ordered around at that moment, because they panic a little at being responsible and in a position of authority, and so they have to go around displaying it, because they're worried and need the feedback and reassurance that their authority is *working*. I would like to tell those guys to take a chill pill. Unless it is an actual crisis situation, you are not helping, you are just training people not to think for themselves, and causing a reaction of confusion and resentment. And in an actual crisis situation, it may very well NOT BE YOU with the megaphone and orange vest who keeps a cool head and exhibits leadership. To be overly generous, there is the opposite kind of asshole in rallies with a black bandana who is just there to fuck shit up and set a newspaper vending machine on fire and they can also kiss my ass. And I'm not that kind of asshole, i'm the *journalist kind of asshole* and also one of those rogue computer people. In any situation I look to whoever is sane and making sense and being effective. If the most sensible person there is me, then I lead. In a situation where I have information that shows that it is best for another person to lead and coordinate and there are rules that make sense, then it is best for me to go with that. That, for people fighting for "empowerment" should not be hard to understand.

Here's how I felt about it at the time and Tali too....

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday


Tali especially since he was put into a different "color group" as Bethany who he had specifically come there to meet as his one friend at the march and then a bunch of organizers wouldn't "let" him sit with her since he had the wrong color tshirt on or something. Um. !!?? What possible purpose could this serve. We were told over and over again that people were trying to PROTECT US. What's wrong with that statement should be a bit obvious.

Now if it is directly going to contribute to saving someone's live or helping us not be harmed in some way I can shut up about my personal dislike of orders and my special snowflake self and rights, and be dutiful for common good, but this was NOT THAT MOMENT.

Near the end of the march back I ran into my blog friend PhilosopherCrip,

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

I adore him!

We spoke super briefly and he sized up my state of mind and I think, in a post later, actually partly answered it by explaining ADAPT's organizational philosophy and how it goes into military organization mode during Actions.

Now, when folks refer to ADAPT as the “militant” wing of the disability rights movement, they are more accurate than they may realize.  To some degree, ADAPT’s organizational structure is a representative democracy as actions are being deliberated and planned.  However, when the wheelchair tire rubber meets the road, we turn into a highly authoritarian, quasi-militaristic structure, complete with chain of command and an expectation to follow orders exactly.  This has all been a matter of reflection for me (particularly how trust relationships operate within a direct action activism structure), some of which will hopefully find its way into a future blog entry. 

I appreciate that explanation very much and it goes a fairly long way to quench my irritation. However I have a meta irritation which is that a lot of the people at the rally might not have the luxury of being irritated or going off like I could to do their own thing. There was not good information passed out to people. A lot of people don't have independent means as far as money. The pace of activities was brutally fast. I was increaasingly conscious of my own extreme privilege relative to others there. I could at any point just call a taxi and go wherever I damn pleased. So I could criticize the leadership all I wanted. That is not a good feeling, it's not right or fair, and to me is a sign something is not right in a power structure. I was like, damn, I'm even more happy for my job because it means i'm not subject to being grateful to these officious do gooders to boss me around while they're "helping me" "for my own protection".

When I'm getting arrested or facing some pepper spray then I appreciate organization but being "protected" from the simple act of wheeling down the street next to my friend ... no thanks.

As an amateur leader myself in some situations I would advise other "organizers" to cope with loose cannons like me by valuing their capabilities and not trying too hard to rule over them in the small stuff. It backfires. Just let them do their thing and then when the time is ripe, co-opt them. (LOL AGAIN) (I say this mostly to make Joe/PhilosopherCrip crack up laughing)

And as I bitched about this to my friends a lot of them said "Yeah, that's why I don't really hang with ADAPT, that stuff turns me off."

That is too bad and it's feedback that should not be dismissed.

On another level of meta I would question whether the organization has a fair amount of military veterans in it who perpetuate their drill sergeant style and somewhat out of date organizational tactics. We should be empowering each other with information and two way access to public discourse in ALL WAYS so that we can act collectively in a swarm-like fashion. What y'all need is flash mobs, not paramilitary squads and cells.

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

I really do respect all that ADAPT has achieved and does!!!!

But check what you're doing and listen up. Many aspects of the rally and march reminded me of my dealings in the Houston Astrodome during Katrina with the Red Cross officials vs. the rogue anarchist computer people. And I want to tell you that what on some level what got people the hell out of that refugee camp was information and connectivity: phones and email, myspace and facebook and search engines and the web. Not Professional Organizers and charity and hierarchical leadership that hugs information and power tight to its chest. A flow of information means that people can make decisions and act together. You all need some wing of your organization that works to those ends too.

Anyway, at the hotel, I actually used my privilege to take our asses to the hotel bar and have a much needed beer and sandwich in the 20 minutes before I had to catch a taxi and plane out of town. The bar waitress was SO nice and saw I was looking for a power outlet to plug in my laptop, and she brought me my sandwich to go so I could eat some of it and take the rest. She was completely unfazed by our wheelchairs. Omni Hotel, you rock. Bethany and Sara and Tali it was the highlight of my trip to get to hang out with you.

ADAPT rally and march in Atlanta, Sunday

So I flew off literally sobbing with my desire to stay there and be in the week's actions despite my rant about power structures and being yelled at, so ready to go for it.

I resolved to donate my week's salary and to exhort other people all week to donate to the cause either by directly helping someone out or donating to ADAPT to support their actions and organization.

Would anyone out there like to match my donation? Email me,, or comment here.

The next day I woke up at 5am and began following what was happening in Atlanta. All day throughout work I could not stop thinking of all of y'all in Atlanta, cheering you on over Twitter, I worked to post and tag all my photos and videos as fast as possible as the only contribution I could make remotely.

What you all achieved and are doing today is so beautiful. Congratulations on getting into the Governor's office, HUD and HHS and making top officials agree to meet right then and there and begin negotiations. So smart and so effective. You got a response and got the politicians to listen and take our power seriously. YEAH. (And direct action and the threat of an endless sit in or hundreds of us dragged out in handcuffs, ie, PR disaster, IS WHAT IT TAKES. RIGHT ON.) Good job with the talk of timelines and scheduling a series of committee meetings. Please, report on this in as much detail as you can on the net. And to report on it ASAP so we know what's going down. A lot of us are watching and putting our trust in you right now to represent our interests.

Thanks for listening. Also, thanks to Nick Dupree for letting me know about the rally and actions in the first place (last week on his blog). Now, anyone who read this who can afford it go and donate. Consider trying to get your employers or family or friends to donate as well. And, go read up on the other posts in Nick Dupree's ADAPT Blogswarm !

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Friday, October 09, 2009

A decent airline experience for once

Flying while disabled often tries my patience. Today's experience on Delta was actually decent. I'm so surprised. Though I missed my flight the ticket agents got me on another one a few hours later. The guy in the pink tie was especially nice. At the gate, no one hassled me, but one of the agents came out, crouched down next to my wheelchair at my level, and discreetly talked to me in a way that was just like two human beings talking. That's rare. She asked about an aisle chair, if I needed anything, if I wanted to board first, and gave me a gate tag, without lecturing me what was going to happen and what I did wrong or acting freaked out or being condescending or hostile. Nobody talked about me in front of me like I wasn't there. No one grabbed or pushed me. Yay!

I noticed the people working for the airline were mostly dressed in jeans and tshirts and sweaters, which I also kind of appreciated and which maybe contributed to their acting decent.

I got on the plane, one of the agents carried my bag on, and no one fussed or acted like I had two heads. (If you actually do have two heads, I apologize for my mono-headular-centric language...)

They also put me 2 rows from the plane entrance and bathroom. There is wifi on the plane (though it's only free the first flight.)

Really not bad. I think it speaks more to the horrible experiences I've had with other airlines (see I am not the wheelchair or Why is airline travel so brutal for disabled people? ) but since I've blogged so negatively about airline travel, I'd like to show that it's not all about the fiery complaining over here, and give Delta some props. Get it... "props"?

Thanks for not sucking. Meanwhile, I got some work done with the free wi-fi, and I'm excited about being in Atlanta for Blogalicious Weekend, for women bloggers celebrating their diversity and so on (representing BlogHer, where I work as a web producer and developer). I'm also really excited that I'm going to get to participate in some of ADAPT's actions on Sunday and for that I'll be participating in Nick Dupree's ADAPT Blogswarm and will, I hope, interview some folks about the Community Choice Act to end institutionalization for people with disabilities.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Disability Blog Carnival #59: Disability and Work

I read the other day on Disability Studies blog that they were thinking of ending the Disability Blog Carnival. I'd like to see it keep going! So I offered to host this month's edition, on Work, in honor of October being Disability Employment Awareness Month in the United States. And, as I went looking for what people with disabilities had to say about work, to write a long post on Working Women With Disabilities, I wished for more blogging on the subject.

Here's the announcement - please repost and email to pass it on!

For this blog carnival, please write about anything you please on or tangential to Disability and Work.

Here are some suggested starting points: What work do you do? How's that going? Do you get paid for it, or is it volunteer work or something you do because you just love it? What blocks you from employment? If you're employed, what could be better? Do you want a paying job, or do you feel you contribute to society just fine without one? What unpaid work do you do that you value or that others value, for example, emotional support in relationships? If you're a family member, friend or ally of a person with a disability, what thoughts do you have on work and employment? What's the employment situation like for PWD in your country or region ?

Email your post URL, title, and the name you go by, to me, Liz, at

I'll post the final Carnival on Composite: Tech & Poetics and
Hack Ability: DIY for PWD on October 25.

Thank you! I look forward to reading some fantastic posts!

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Changing ableist, racist, and sexist language habits

I really appreciate efforts in the blogosphere to change people's habits of speech. Language is important and changes all the time for various reasons. Discouraging casual and thoughtless ableist, racist, misogynist habits of thought seems like a good reason to work to change the way people use language.

Meloukhia's Open Letter to Feministing asking for them to watch, moderate, and eliminate ableist language, posts, and comments.

I'm rubber and you're glue and Open Letter to Mark Shuttleworth feelings run high on referring to women as girls, and girls/women as a class of people who don't understand technology and software (in this case, Linux).

Why Inclusionary Language Matters is especially great. Read it please!

My own personal bad habits are in saying "lame" and "crazy" to mean bad, boring, annoying, nonsensical, etc. I managed to stop saying "gay" as a pejorative around 1983 or so despite everyone around me using it that way. I think most people I know realize that calling something girly isn't or shouldn't be used to devalue a concept or a person. I became aware at some point in the last 10 years that calling things "ghetto" was racist and didn't reflect what I really thought. "Retarded" stuck in my speech till a couple of years ago. I guess I'd just like to say in public somewhere that it's something I'm not great at, but that I believe in and work on. Around my sister in private I can say "lame" all I want becuase we both know it's meant to be ironic. But where else can I say that, and even more, what harm, alienation, and even violence am I wreaking against myself when I say it?

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