UPDATE: Okay, first of all, I want to say thank you for all the comments and e-mails – WHOA, that is a lot of e-mails! More than any other post, even! – which have been very sweet and kind. Second, I know this post is like, destined to be the first thing they read in the course they are eventually going to teach on Overshare 101, and I do need to let y’all know that me and mine are REALLY OKAY. This post has some sadness, but also, do you want to know a secret? Everyone’s life, upon examination, contains some sadness. EVERYONE’S. So please, do not worry about me. Don’t cry for me, Blogentina! Okay. Anyway.
My name is Sady Doyle. I have a blog. Here are some amazing true facts about me.
I have not applied for the position of Leader of Feminism. I have not been anointed the Leader of Feminism. I have not, nor will I ever, position myself as a Feminist Hero. I have not ever presented myself as anything other than a flawed and specific person; I never will present myself as less than a flawed and specific person. I am a flawed person, flawed specifically in the ways that are unique to me. Still, when I get criticized, I take it very seriously; I mean it when I say that there is not one single criticism of me (that I know of) that I have not spent some time sitting with and trying to reasonably evaluate and subsequently internalizing to the degree that is necessary. I know people who think I do this too much. It is true that I do it even with the MRAs and libertarians and Paglia fans and assholes, which is probably excessive, but I consider it a moral regimen: spend part of every day listening to people with whom you strongly disagree, and assuming that they are just people like you who are operating in good faith and coming to different conclusions than you have, and paying attention to what they have to say without resorting to any defense mechanisms for shooting them or their ideas down, is my recommendation to everyone, and it’s even more trying and Intellectual Yoga-like if they are straight-up calling you, personally, a bitchface. (I think I might be kind of a bitchface? Or at least a brat with a big mouth who can’t always back it up. WORKING ON IT, you guys.) So, you know, when the criticism comes from folks I do tend to agree with, I take it much more seriously, is the thing.
Aside from being a flawed person, I am also a person with a family history of disability. My brother, like his father and most likely his grandmother before him, has a severe mental illness. In his case, the illness has rendered him unable to work. This illness is called schizoaffective disorder. Many people with this disease die homeless. It is the current project of my family to ensure that this does not turn out to be the case for my brother.
I do not talk about this, on Tiger Beatdown. The reason for this is that I feel that every human being is entitled to privacy, and one of the more major violations of privacy is to have one’s sister talk about one’s highly stigmatized illness on the Internet, for political reasons. However.
Here are some things which concern me, in the realm of disability: the fact that my brother’s disability application was recently denied. The fact that my family is currently going through an appeals process. The fact that the reason we have to go through an appeals process in the first place is that my mother carefully did her homework, prepared (she tells me) pages of detailed documentation, and then had a different, severely half-assed application turned in by an apathetic bureaucrat in her stead. The overall lack of investment – or maybe, just the overall lack of time to invest – among social workers and public servants that this turn of events implies. The lack of universal health care which would ensure that treatments for my brother’s illness (along with the various treatments for depression and anxiety, which at this point every member of my family requires) did not place an undue financial burden on my family in the first place. The fact that my mother and stepfather, having lost a lot of money in the crash just like everyone else, and existing in the same climate of financial insecurity as everyone else (although they are comfortably middle-class by any definition) are currently arranging a trust fund for my brother, so that when they die his lack of ability to attain an income will not result in his being unable to feed himself or find shelter. The fact that, when my parents die, I will be responsible for managing this fund, along with providing any further care that my brother may require. The fact that every decision in my life, from who to date to where to live to career and financial choices to whether and when to have children myself (since it is obvious that, given my family’s genetic history, any child of mine would be likely to at least require treatment for depression – I’ve been getting it since the age of eight – and could realistically be a lifelong dependent for whom I would have to provide; this is not to say that I would not have children, it is to say that my child would probably require more money than some children in order to be taken care of, and to say that I am already looking at a future in which it is assured that I will be responsible for the welfare of at least one human being younger than myself) will and must be influenced by the fact of my brother’s illness and my eventual responsibilities as caretaker. The fact that my mother is entering her late fifties, and is suffering from so much stress related to her job and life that it is literally making her sick – her immune system is crashing, she is upping her antidepressants like whoa, she recently had to go in for a gall bladder operation, and it is her belief that this is her body yelling at her for the amount of shit she puts it through, and I do not tend to disagree – and yet it is impossible for her to retire or to stop incurring major stress, given the above-mentioned factors.
I do not underestimate the seriousness of disability, or its very real impact on every part of the disabled person’s life, or on the lives of those who are responsible to the disabled person. I do not underestimate the ability of unjust structural factors to increase this impact to a humanly unbearable degree. There is not a moment in my life in which ignorance of these facts is possible, or permissible. This is something you should know.
I do care about the discussion around disability rights. I also don’t participate in it much. I do question this decision, in case you are wondering. This very blog post is about questioning that decision, and what it may communicate to people who have no reasonable way to know what is going on behind the scenes. But, for one: there’s no way for me to participate without using someone else’s experience as a chip or as discussion fodder, and I don’t feel that any or every person in my life has to have his or her privacy sacrificed to my own all-important blogging habits. For two: I haven’t yet found a way to engage with my own history and experience there. Which isn’t to say that my history or experience is all-important, because it’s not; it’s just to say that until I know what I have to say about it, there’s not a lot of point in me saying anything. Right now, there’s not a language I’ve found that allows me to express what is going on in that department in anything other than highly personal and vulnerable terms, and highly personal and vulnerable terms do not belong in the public square unless you are ready for someone to be all, “I hate that funny blogging lady now! Once I liked her because she told jokes and I agreed with her, but now I want to punch her and I’m pretty sure that is fine too!” I mean, them’s the rules, Here Comes Everybody And They Want To Punch Your Face, but: don’t put it out there unless you’re ready for someone to declare you punchable or pee all over you about it. Because you’re not allowed to be surprised or outraged if that is what happens. So, I don’t talk about what’s going on. That doesn’t mean there is nothing going on. It never does. And I think it’s fair, given how very much of my life I cannibalize for public expression or political purposes, to say that some things get to stay on the back burner until I can find a way to speak to them. This isn’t even the only thing I am making a decision not to speak about, at the moment, and much of it is equally vital and complicated and uncomfortable; for everything that goes out, there are about a million things that stay in, and some of the stuff that goes out… well, I still rue the day I decided to let strangers know about it, primarily because it was real stupid, but whatever. The point is, I have boundaries, and this is a moment where you get to see me cross them, just because this discussion doesn’t make sense unless I let you see how these decisions are made.
Which isn’t to say that, when I am being a bitchface, or snide, or glossing over something, you don’t get to call me into account for that. Because the fact that I don’t tell you what is going on means that you can assume anything is going on, with some reason.
Anyway, these are some facts about me. I thought you ought to know them.