A sober space/event does not automatically = accessible.

CLICK FOR LINK HERE:
The revolution will not be sober: the problem with notions of “radical sobriety” & “intoxication culture”

i’m not ok with some of this article(*) but overall i think there’s some super important stuff here.

Since it’s specifically brought up here, i’ll mention that i feel neither “radical sobriety” nor this specific piece explore nearly enough for me the piece around drug and alcohol use or sobriety etc as it relates to accessibility (or ableism for that matter), despite spending time talking about it (a bit flimsy and way too cherry-picked for my liking). BUT: i think so-called “radical sobriety” discourse does the most damage by employing it the ways it does.

If you’re going to use access/ accessibility/ etc as a point in your discussions around sobriety or lack thereof, be prepared to deal with it all, not just the parts that you can stuff into a specific box, trimming off the uncomfortable edges. Accessibility cuts across many experiences. Disability movements have been talking about/ dealing with/ living with/ vilifying/ supporting/ everything between and beyond substance use for a really, really long time. We’ve been talking about notions of dependency v independence v interdependence (none of which are actually new ideas) related and unrelated to drug/alcohol use for a long time; we’ve been fighting to have space to medicate as we need to, with whatever we need to, fighting for basic access to those substances ranging from alcohol, various prescription and non-prescription drugs, etc; so much work has been done within disability movements around this stuff, and yet still vilification of drug and alcohol use continue for many of the reasons the article does talk about. The ongoing moralistic nonsense around this stuff doesn’t serve anyone but the very systems “radical” folks claim to be fighting.

Having a sober space/event does not automatically equal accessible, neither does having a non-sober space. Both experiences (and everything between and beyond, because this shit is rarely clearcut) are part of access/ibility. [A side example: i was harshly chastised when i used to go to AA for using Rescue Remedy for my anxiety, because for some its grape seed alcohol base meant i was apparently not actually sober, and that Rescue Remedy was some kind of thin-edge-of-the-wedge that would lead me back to drinking (it hasn’t). And i’ve been chastised by proponents of “radical sobriety” etc for using the prescription drugs i use for my disabilities because they feed “big pharma” (UGH), etc. How is this kind of stuff creating “accessible” spaces/ communities exactly?]

RAMP uses drug/alcohol use etc as an access point in accessibility audits, but not to name sober spaces as somehow inherently accessible. It’s so much more than that, and if you have an event/space which vilifies drug/alcohol users (or which imagines “drug” in one specific, demonized context), you are creating an inaccessible space, full stop. It’s one thing to have specific spaces that are sober (or not sober, or a combination) for specific reasons; it’s another to treat one another as though our personal choices or options around what we do/n’t put in our bodies are hard-wired to be inherently accessible or inaccessible, that one is better or somehow more moral or evolved (UGH) than the other, and that one is more “radical” than the other. i’ve been sober since 2002, and i still say without hesitation: fuck that bullshit.

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* e.g. the flippant stating of there being “no harm to anyone elsein drug/alcohol use. i think the assumption that use automatically brings harm to others, i.e. that harm is inherent in use, that use in itself is harm, is the actual problem.

 

e.g. The article says: “Radical sobriety’ people have named our experiences while high as “inauthentic”. This naming of others experiences employs a colonizing and paternalistic logic, and the same kind of moralism that leads to criminalization and pathologization. Notions of the “right” way to be and the “wrong” way to be are what drive practices of exclusion targeting people who actively use drugs. –but then at the start of this article they write In our experience, drug use can facilitate authentic, compassionate, and emotionally bonded social relationships that are not possible otherwise [my emphasis]— and i think that is a totally unnecessary bullshit generalization.

Mental Health Care as Oppression

This is a fantastic and necessary article. Psychiatry (and any medical practice really) can’t be separated from past and present colonialist racist practice.

Lunacy, Crazy Indians and the Witch’s Hammer:  Mental Health Care as Oppression

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/08/13/lunacy-crazy-indians-and-witchs-hammer-mental-health-care-oppression-161361

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[TL;DR for the comments i make below: having such a diagnosis and having feels about it being critiqued can and must sit alongside the historical and present facts of how it came to be a diagnosis in the first place, who it most impacts, and so on.]
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i’ll be real and share that as someone with ADHD and PTSD, i acknowledge that it’s sometimes hard for me to sit un-defensively with critiques or dismissals of the diagnoses themselves, because what i experience is real, and the benefits i get from ADHD meds are tangible, as it is with medications and therapies for my various other disabilities. Having a certain diagnosis often comes under intense scrutiny and judgement, and sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between a necessary historical accounting of why those diagnoses came to be, who they impact the most, and how fucked up that is, and a critique of the individual with the diagnosis. Does that make sense?
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I.e. The experiences and discomfort can be true alongside critiques of the ways and whys that pharma/ psychiatric industries created those categories, the ways they’re used to control/ contain/ fundamentally change/ erase certain people, including the impacts they had and continue to have on Indigenous communities across Turtle Island and beyond, in every facet of life; and must also sit alongside the truth that as a non-indigenous person on these lands, i have no idea what it’s like to live with the ongoing practices of these fucked up systems, to have those practices be constantly threatening and changing my family structures and experience in combination with the multiple other colonialist impacts occurring, and be expected to be grateful for the change or be further labeled.
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And really, when thinking about it that way, in its historical and current context, and recognizing that it isn’t always about me and my experiences/ body/ ideas, it’s actually not so hard to just sit with it.

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Access theatre

Thoughts on access theatre vs access substance.
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Access isn’t just a collection of things, items, tools, ideas; and it often doesn’t work if you don’t know about or don’t care about what to do with the things, items, tools, ideas.
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If someone hands me a… i don’t know… let’s say some kind of car part… a flingflangin gasket hoohaw or whatever… there’s a real good chance i won’t know what the hell to do with it because i don’t give a crap about cars, have essentially zero knowledge about them (other than that they can apparently hold a lot of clowns, yes? and also that cars are traumatic for me), and so i haven’t taken the time to figure out what the part does or why it might be important. i can make flailing guesses, and some might even be right, and it often doesn’t matter. But if i’m expecting someone else to depend on the decisions i make around that car part, i am going to find out exactly what it is, how it works at its best, and probably enlist some help from folks who know.
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If you have tools/ resources around accessibility but haven’t taken the time to figure out how to use them, sometimes it’s more a hindrance than anything, sometimes it’s a bit of a slap in the face, and sometimes it can be damn right dangerous. Having a ramp that you haven’t secured properly or at the right angle is one example. It’s great that there’s a ramp, fantastic! But if your ramp isn’t properly secured or angled, someone is gonna get fucked up, i guarantee it. Saying your event is scent-free (yay!) when it’s actually scent-reduced (damn) is going to hurt someone and cause them (reasonably) to not feel they can trust you. Saying there won’t be strobe lighting at your show (yay!), then deciding to bust them out anyways (UGH!) is not cool, and it isn’t accessibility in practice.
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It has become access theatre.
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But i want and need access substance. It’s actually not enough to know that something exists in a space. i need to know (either through seeing you in action or otherwise) that you know wtf you’re doing with it, that it will actually be used/ implemented, and that you’re open to getting help with it or receiving feedback about it to help make it actually work.
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Does that make sense?
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what happens when we can’t live interdependency all the time?

i’ll be honest and say that sometimes -OK, often- i don’t think i can live up to interdependency. But i don’t think that’s the point.

As someone who’s lived most of my life as a multiply disabled person, in a poor family as a kid and on government benefits as an adult (and likely for the rest of my life), i’ve had to do a lot for myself while depending on others for a lot too. It’s independence and dependence smushed together out of necessity, not desire or liberation; but maybe that’s interdependence too? It’s not theoretical, it’s tangible; it’s keeping me alive, so why do i so often feel like i have to but can’t live up to someone else’s idea of interdependence?

Interdependency isn’t a new idea. It’s just that most have had it beaten out, ripped away through centuries of colonization and other forms of violence. But people across the globe have been living interdependently for millennia. My family lived interdependently in Glasgow. I was very young, but i remember that in those tenements there was a lot of harsh shit that went down, there was deep generational poverty and abuse; and also there was interdependence. We looked after one another, we shared resources, we asked where so and so was and if she needed anything, and brought meals to her door one way or another because we knew she wouldn’t ask, we hung the washing together, cleaned (and played in!) the midden together, fought intensely in the street against one another and defending one another, we beat back cops together, knit cardigans mittens and hats for the new babies we didn’t even know yet to survive brutal Scottish winters in those barely heated (and sometimes un-heated) stone buildings, we took our shit out on each other, we tried our best to heal together, and mourned together when we just couldn’t manage it and yet another died to a knife or the bottle or a fist.

i know from interdependency. It’s in my DNA, my heart, my gut. i believe in interdependency with everything, i feel it intensely, i believe it’s the only way humans can be together, i believe it’s the only way to liberation… and as someone who doesn’t believe in one-way-or-the-highway answers, that’s saying a lot.

And yet, despite my understanding of the ebb and flow of interdependency, when i go through times when i can’t calm my swirling brain down enough to offer more of a helping hand, when my disabled body is shutting down because i’ve been pushing it too hard too fast too nonstop, i berate myself for not being able to give the kinds of support i want to give, the kinds of support others are sometimes offering me while they go through their own process, the kinds of support plenty of folks say must exist to make interdependency what it is; i believe i’m not living interdependently, that i’m not strong enough, not resilient enough, not selfless enough. not good enough.

And isn’t that just a mindfuck?

If interdependency is in our DNA, what does it mean when we fall out of whack with it? How do we handle the realities of our bodies and minds that need what they need when they need it? What does it mean when i can’t support you in the ways you’re supporting me? Does interdependency mean we do the same for one another at all times, as though there’s even such a thing as “the same” when it comes to this stuff? Is it a gentle ebb and flow? What if my ebb will never match your flow? What if it’s sometimes a torrential downpour and one of us is drowning? What do we do then? Can i live interdependently now while still struggling with the damages done and happening still by so much pushing of dependence/ independence?

And don’t misunderstand me, i don’t think any of this is a problem with interdependency. It’s a problem of acknowledging the intense impacts that notions of dependence, independence, worth and so on have on us, and trying to shift it while still living in a culture that continues to shove that down our throats and punish us whether we fall in line with it or not. That is not easy to do; and sometimes it’s impossible. Maybe interdependency is about acknowledging the super hard shit, being accountable, doing the best we can by one another?

To me, interdependency definitely doesn’t look only one specific way, and it also isn’t theory, it’s practice; and practice can be painful, embarrassing, confusing, alienating, frustrating. But if even just a few of us can be in that kind of mess together and still be good to one another? i think we’re doing pretty well; and i’d take the feelings of inadequacy that sometimes come with it over the alternative any day.

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Xan West’s new book: Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica

Image: A book cover, an orangey-brown photograph, closeup, of the bottom part of a persons’s face, their mouth is open. There is a hint of collar around their neck, with an O-ring attached at the front. An off-camera person’s hand holds a chain apparently attached to the collar. Their thumb presses against and slightly pulls down the other’s bottom lip, exposing their tongue and bottom teeth. There’s a sense of care, reverence even, about the way the image is laid out, it seems possible to feel the connection between these two people just with this simple yet potent gesture. The text is at the bottom right, in white and black ink: SHOW YOURSELF TO ME Queer kink erotica Xan West

I’m so excited to be part of this blog tour for Xan West’s new book:

Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica

Have a look below for a description of the book, some links to reviews and where to purchase, links to the other stops along this tour, and a really great article about how Xan approaches trigger warnings in this and other work.

Presented with a variety of options for what i’d like to explore in this stop on the tour, i found i kept coming back to the how’s and why’s of Xan’s approach to trigger warnings. Trigger warnings are to me a basic piece of access. Variously disabled folks so often have to deal with a lot of pretty triggering stuff with (and all too often) without our consent; and i wanted to hear about some specific examples of using trigger warnings in ways that feel like they come from a more complete picture, from a place of welcoming, trust, recognition, and care that isn’t paternalistic and/or infantilizing; and from a broader practice where the trigger warnings are actually followed through on, right there in print (or however else you might access the words), and it doesn’t feel like i’ve missed out on something.
After reading Xan’s article, i’m more excited than ever to get my hands on this book, and hope you will be too!

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Auditing Dance

i really like using one access point to assist with and influence another, and to see what interesting things develop. For example, i love that the images i made for doing access audits and layouts influenced and changed my All Bodies Dance experience; and that that changed dance experience connected so clearly for me to another totally different kind of project a friend was doing that involved a red thread/twine as an assistive device, and that that connection, influence and change is influencing another art project i’m engaged in right now around access. i just find that so unexpected and challenging and actually a lot of fun!

i decided to play off of the to-scale icons i make for my accessibility auditing, in order to help me remember the various and constantly changing moves in the creation of some sections of a group piece in an All Bodies Dance performance in June of this year. i wanted to augment the written notes i was taking, to be able to see more clearly what moves looked like, not just in my quick chicken scratch notes that i could barely read afterward.
One of the nice things about using these is that it gave me a chance to easily move images around (in google docs, but it could be done many ways), to switch one move for another, to make simple and complex changes, and to remember them for next practice. As well, the to-scale nature of the images (including the rope!) gave me a different view of the actual space we take up together, which allowed me to explore and practice more even during times when i couldn’t be in the dance studio; made it possible for me to predict problem areas to note for next practice; and allowed me to share it with the other dancers.

Often, i struggle to step out of my head for a moment and just stop analyzing and processing and thinking so hard about everything to the point it becomes a bit of a jumble; but sometimes, stepping out of my body for a moment and getting this different view is incredibly clarifying, particularly when i need to remember more than just my own moves.

So! Here are some simple black and white diagrams (these are jpegs of the google images, so a little fuzzy and not movable) from an overhead view, of a person in a mobility scooter (me!), and a standing person. Both are dancing together with a red rope between them, sometimes in one of their hands, sometimes both hold it; sometimes each is at an end, other times it is laying on the floor between them in some way.. The dancers variously face one another, are turned to the side, or circling the other. When the dancers move positions, each has a particular dotted line and/or a lighter shaded diagram to represent the movement.

Each move section is numbered and accompanied by the text under each image:

Rope Duet_01

1. AS “HORSES” DRAG OFF: Hold one end of rope, R scoots out first. Start SLOWLY. Speed up approaching end. Allow a moment of TENSION in the rope, to its fullest length
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2. R “reels” B in with 5 pulls, start slowly, increase in speed and intensity. we still don’t acknowledge each other. B sets up out of R’s sightline
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3. B starts S’s w/their end of rope; R keeps hold of other end & S’s into position. R begins to swivel to the right, R tosses their end forward, a bit to the left, we IMMEDIATELY begin next part
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4. we each begin to do our own dances. repeat 3 times; each time we turn more towards the other. B moves downstage a bit too, so we can be at same level by the 3rd one
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5. facing each other, we have a moment of finally seeing / recognizing each other we then simultaneously REPLICATE the others’ piece as close as possible, X 3
B’s piece: -open hands -> fist hands -> don’t look (shield face then down) -> pull up fists ->push down hands (more harsh)

6. After we’ve done our replicas, B goes upstage left, gets rope & gives one end to R, then goes back to position so we can begin our MASHUPS. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 7. As B does their mashup, i’m gathering rope into right hand. THEN: B watches me do my mashup and they gather rope into their hand R’s mashup - side head open hands shake - instead of my scoop, do B’s “hiding face hand drop” - pull up hands into fists - two arm scoops into “press down calm hands” ----------------------------------------------------------------- 8. if B doesn’t drag rope behind, can they circle without me getting tangled? THEN: R: begin turn & follow B next ----------------------------------------------------------------- 9. R drops rope. B goes ahead. rope trails behind B

6. After we’ve done our replicas, B goes upstage left, gets rope & gives one end to R, then goes back to position so we can begin our MASHUPS.
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7. As B does their mashup, i’m gathering rope into right hand. THEN: B watches me do my mashup and they gather rope into their hand
R’s mashup: ->side head open hands shake ->instead of my scoop, do B’s “hiding face hand drop”->pull up hands into fists ->2 arm scoops-> “press calm hands”
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8. if B doesn’t drag rope behind, can they circle without me getting tangled? THEN: R: begin turn & follow B next
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9. R drops rope. B goes ahead. rope trails behind B

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Refugees Welcome Days of Action

The Radical Access Mapping Project endorses these days of action. We’ll be in attendance at the “Vancouver, bc” action today at 2. See you there?

To me, radical access must include fighting for an end to all borders and structural, systemic, and societal barriers which keep us divided, locked out, locked up, separated from one another. And that’s gotta include the freedom of all people (variously disabled or not, including those with disabilities related to the experiences of displacement, war, forced relocation, occupation, and so on) to move, to stay, to return. Please consider supporting the Refugees Welcome days of action.
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https://www.facebook.com/events/1703064886579884/1703065829913123/

REFUGEES WELCOME! Mobilizations:
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