So, as everyone who’s seen my blog or follows me on Twitter knows by now, I’ve been desperately trying to raise awareness of Pat’s petition. I care considerably about disability rights, but I also care about women’s rights, because I am a hairy-legged feminist. A few of the other feminists I know on Twitter have been begging and pleading numerous influential people to tweet about the petition too, yet not enough retweets have been received. I’ve spoken to other people who have been trying to push the petition and I’ve heard a similar story. One of the saddest facts of this, for me, has been that little few well known feminists have been prepared to promote the petition. I understand that I will probably be accused of conflating two separate issues, but I just don’t believe this is true. I am a woman with a disability, I face discriminations on both counts, I am fucked.
An Office for Disability Issues document states that there is a substantial increase in poverty of those who live in a family with disabled members than in families where no one is disabled. It goes on to state that 20 per cent of people in families with at least one disabled member, live in relative income poverty. This is compared to 16% where there is no disabled member of the family. The percentage of families, with a disabled member of the household, living below the poverty line increases to 47% when costs associated with disability are taken into account. These issues affect communication, socialisation, housing, the justice system and discrimination. Women have had to fight for greater equality in all of these areas. These are feminist issues.
Over a quarter of disabled people say that they do not feel they are able to make choices about their own lives. They feel they lack control. Do we not, as feminists, spend a large amount of time trying to fight for autonomy? Do we not seek independence from a patriarchal society? We argue to defend women from emotionally and physically abusive relationships. We argue for women to have control over their own lives. We need to do the same for disabled women and men. This is a feminist issue.
The 2001 census shows us that 58% of carers are women. In 2009-10 this had increased to 60%. Carers are most likely to be between the ages of 45-64 (42%), the age at which many women would be resuming full-time careers and attempting to climb back onto the career ladder. Feminists have often argued in favour of making this a more even playing field between both mothers and fathers- we should be concerned about the extension of this in middle-aged women who have had to take on a caring role. This is a feminist issue.
I’m deeply saddened that feminists who have been successful in finding an audience for their views are not actively trying in larger numbers to highlight the very real dangers persons with disabilities are currently facing in our country. If you are a feminist, or if you’re not, I urge you, please speak up and actively oppose these dangerous and potentially deadly swingeing cuts to the welfare bill. Speak out about it, write about it, sign about it. But please do not just accept that it is something that happens to other people, or convince yourselves that this is someone else’s fight, because fucked is a feminist issue.