I’d like to take a moment to direct you to a blog I’m happy I ran across this week: Delirious Hem. I found this January 16 guest post by Jennifer Bartlett insightful and refreshing.
My personal situation is very different from Bartlett’s, yet I find a kinship with this poet. Since I was a small child, I’ve experienced chronic, sometimes debilitating pain and muscular problems that went undiagnosed into my teen years. I did a fairly good job of hiding what was wrong with me, but that subterfuge took a toll on me. Soon after I left college, I had such getting around that I had to walk with a cane, if I walked at all. While I’m grateful my physical situation is under better control today thanks to far better medical care than I received in early life, I can’t say I regret having gone through the change from “looking fine” to “looking disabled.” While the state of my mind and body didn’t change a bit from the time before to the time of needing a mobility aid, people’s behavior toward me changed a great deal. From mothers letting their children kick my cane out from under me in the grocery store to assorted strangers scolding me for being “too young for that” to store clerks who refused to make eye contact with me, I got a very rapid education in what it’s like to be a woman who’s suddenly invisible–or just not worth the effort–in other women’s eyes. I echo Ms. Bartlett here in a call to writers and editors to remember that the diversity we claim and hopefully strive to promote in our journals and publications is wider than race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. It’s about accessibility for everyone, regardless of physical ability, too.