For those of us who cannot come to the
Women’s march, on March 9th in Amsterdam, due to (chronic) illness, disability, mental problems, or neuro divergence, we are organizing this Online Disability March.
On this website, you can submit a personal text and photo. During the whole day of March 9th, 2019, during the Women’s March in Amsterdam, we will post those messages on Twitter and Facebook. We will also post them on this website, so they will stay available after the march.
"I thought of all the other invisible bodies, with their fists up, tucked away and out of sight." (Johanna Hedva, Sick Woman Theory)
Marching as a form of protest is not accessible to all. Activists who use a wheelchair, who are deaf, blind, neuro divergent, and/or suffer from anxiety, are usually not completely or not at all taken into account, by the organizers of those demonstrations. And even if accessibility is a priority for the organisation, as with the 2019’s Amsterdam Women’s March, there still remains a large group of people for whom it is impossible to make it to the demonstration.
So many of us are at home, in bed or on the couch, “with their fists up, tucked away and out of sight”, as Johanna Hedva, a chronically ill Korean-American writer and artist, wrote in their manifesto “Sick Woman Theory”.
But it is us, with our non-normative bodies, who need feminism more than ever. And feminism needs us, our voices need to be heard.
Too many sick women and people of color are not taken seriously, when they talk about their physical symptoms. We are put down as
being hysterical (women). People believe that a black people experience a higher pain tolerance than white people, and people of color are put down as being irrational, and exagerating their symptoms. Medical science funds focus on the bodies of white passing cisgendered males a lot and this has the effect that diseases that any other groups suffer more from are considered weird and
mysterious, and are often not taken seriously. There is an epidemic of auto-immune diseases that no one is talking
about it - 78% of the patients are female. Millions of ME patients are missing from public life, but they are not being taken seriously by medical
professionals, and research to find a medicine is barely funded - 80% of the ME patients are women. Sickle Cell Anemia is as common as Cystic Fibrosis, and both diseases are very severe. But Sickle Cell Anemia patients are mostly people of color, where in Cystic Fibrosis, the people affected are mostly white. There is 4 times more research funding for Cystic Fibrosis, than there is for Sickle Cell Anemia.
Sick women, sick people of color, and other people who suffer from those diseases that are common in women and people of color, are
struggling to get the right treatment, care, and social support. We are not disappearing into our kitchens, but we are disappearing into our beds.
The world is not made for us.
Due to constant budgetcuts by the government, and because our lives are seen as less worthy, we often need to wait for months when applying for a wheelchair, or any other mobility aid, the same things we rely on to help us leave our homes.
When we are able to leave our homes, we enter and disappear into a world that is not made for us. More than 50% of all buildings
are not accessible for wheelchair users. Tactile tiles in public spaces for people who have bad vision are too often blocked, deaf people are forced to make appointments by telephone, and information is often not clear and understandable for people with a cognitive disorder.
We are disappearing.
We are not only disappearing into bed.
We are not only disappearing in a world which isn’t accesible for us.
We are also disappearing because of suicide.
We are disappearing, because medical professionals too often advise parents-to-be to eliminate their pregnancies when the child will
have a disability, because medical professionals still assume a disabled life to be less worthy. While we as society could also choose to prioritize disability justice so as to actually make disabled lives worth living.
We are disappearing in representation too. There are hardly any people with a disability in books, TV-series, and films and when there are they are often played by abled actors .
When our disability is invisible, people have a hard time believing us.
When our disability is visible, it becomes hypervisible in the eye of the spectator, diminishing our individuality.
Our issues are disappearing.
Not only we as individuals disappear, our issues are also disappearing way to easily from the intersectional feminist agenda. Ableism as
a form of systematic oppression is not well known by many activists, and neither are the intersections of ableism with other systems of systematic oppression, such as sexism, racism, and cis-genderism.
Too many people with physical, mental, or sensory disabilities are becoming victims of sexual violence. We are being patronized, and people talk to us as if we are kids.
People with disabilities who can work face too many obstacles while finding a job. Employers see us as too difficult to work with and consider that a valid reason to overlook our qualifications.
Those of us who cannot work (anymore) see our income steadily decreasing. Or we are denied financial support, when our illnesses or the extent of our disability are not recognized.
Medical aids, such as braces and wheelchairs, are designed or white, able-passing males. Medication tests are usually carried out mostly
on white, healthy males.
Segregation begins at an early age: children with a disability are often not able to go to their local primary school, due to a
lack of accessibility.
Getting married when disabled is almost impossible due to all the restrictions in care, taxes, and social services on a two person
Autistic trans people are told that they “have to work on their autism first” before they will get access to a gender confirming
People, mostly women, with a mental disability face violence on a daily basis, even within institutions.
The way living with a disability is portrayed on TV and in movies often makes it feel as if one is better off dead than disabled.
People of color are four times more likely to die during childbirth, because they are sent home without proper testing if complications arrive and medical professionals too often assume people of color to be drug-seeking.
People who are ‘confused’ – a Dutch euphemism for having acute mental health issues – all too often end up in a police cell instead of receiving the care they need.
We are constantly being stared at and people greet us with a “Sorry” instead of a “Hello”.
And these examples are only a glimpse of what we experience every single day.
Don’t let us disappear.
We don’t want to disappear. We will not disappear. We will not let ourselves, and our issues become invisible and disappear from the intersectional feminist agenda. That is why we will protest on March 9th, during the Women’s March in Amsterdam, as Feminists Against Ableism.
A few of us are doing this offline: those who are capable of doing so are walking/wheeling in the march. Those unable to march will be protesting here on the online disability march site.
We are proud. We are here. Don't let us disappear.