Women with Something to Say

American artist Riva Lehrer was born with Spina bifida.
American artist Riva Lehrer was born with Spina bifida.

There’s an interesting “People in the News” item in the current issue of New Mobility about writers with disabilities. Caitlin Wood created Criptique to showcase the writings of those “who push boundaries and go beyond traditional conceptions of disability,” she explained in the article.

Wood mentions three women whose writings she particularly admires, and I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of them. So I set out to learn about their work and was amazed, impressed and even awed at their talent. Here’s some info on each of these three talented women in the hopes that you’ll appreciate the disability experience from their provocative perspectives.

The works of artist Riva Lehrer are, according to her Wikipedia page, “meant to reject the idea of pity and inspire a new way of thinking about the beauty of disabilities. The complexity of her works represents the complexity of the lives of her disabled subjects. They are not tragic images of suffering but rather images of life and living.”

For instance, her series The Family, “breaks the stereotype or myth that disabled people are loners and shows that that people, disabled or not, form links, connections, and relationships with others.”

Lydia Brown’s blog Autistic Hoya strives to be queer, trans, asexual, fat, disability, gender, and sex positive; anti-oppression, anti-imperialism, and anti-kyriarchy; and inclusive of, accessible to, and affirming of all bodies/minds.”

On and off the blog, Brown advocates for autistics (a term she prefers), and for getting rid of the stereotypes that surround autism. In “15 Things You Should Never Say to an Autistic,” she includes examples like: “Is that like being retarded?” and “Does that mean you’re really good at math/computers/numbers?”

On her site, Disability and Representation, Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg, describes herself asa writer, photographer, and activist passionate about disability rights.”

Cohen-Rottenberg has dedicated her blog to analyzing “representations of disability in textual and visual media, and looking at ideas for creating counter-representations that interrupt mainstream narratives.” Recently she posted this:

“Yesterday was National Coming Out Day. I officially came out as bisexual, and it was a celebration. No angst. No fear. No second thoughts. Just a celebration. It was a such a contrast with coming out as disabled at the end of 2008, with all of the fear and dread that attended that decision.”

These three talented women have a lot to say and should be heard by people in and out of the disability community.

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