CN: medical stuff, gender stuff
I had the most horrible doctor’s appointment in a while yesterday and it’s been a day and I haven’t stopped crying.
CN: medical stuff, gender stuff
I had the most horrible doctor’s appointment in a while yesterday and it’s been a day and I haven’t stopped crying.
TW: medical things requiring a gynaecologist, medical treatment and disability, disability discrimination
I’mma say this once more, and only once. Being disabled does not and never should come with the assumption that I do not have bodily autonomy or the ability to make decisions about my body. It also should not come with the assumption that saying stupid stuff should be taken as medical advice, because really, drink more water! eat more food! would have stopped my migraines over a decade ago if it was going to work, wouldn’t you think?
What I dislike most about my situation is that I have to fight for every ounce of respect I get. I don’t talk. I am perfectly capable of expressing my thoughts and wishes by typing and, increasingly, by signing. I still have enough intelligence to understand what’s going on around me, and, increasingly, to explain it to others. Just the other day I was explaining union organising theory because certain people couldn’t understand how requiring people to take off their bras to go through security could be considered the least objectionable option. (This is a thing, btw.)
So I haven’t slept or eaten today because I had to go to the gynaecologist. Again. And I was told, again, that because I can’t talk, I can’t have the hysterectomy I have been asking for for years, since before I couldn’t talk, since before everything. And you know, it’s risky and I might have pain after and because I already have pain it’s too hard! (Never mind that by already having dealt with chronic pain, I have support already in place and am equipped to deal with it.)
If you look back, you might see a few posts about the time I called the police and got screamed at because some guy was randomly scraping paint off the front of my house, and the police said it was strata so my male neighbour knowing about it was enough, even though I had already spoken to my landlord/parents and strata had been unable to confirm this was a thing that was meant to happen. Yeah.
TW: privacy, dentists, grief, references to inter-family abuse
So, I managed to get home for my grandmother’s funeral after all. This came about because, by virtue of not driving the six hours each way to collect me, my mother attended the meeting with the funeral director and took the responsibility of organising the priest and so on. (It was also necessary that she attend since she’s the one who has the lease on the grave, but such practicalities don’t actually rate as necessary when one isn’t thinking rationally.) A few days later, she offered to pay for a flight down, and then couldn’t understand why it didn’t cost several thousand dollars.
Then she admitted that she hadn’t wanted me to come because she thought the funeral would be too short to be worth it and she didn’t want me to remember it badly. (Or something, I mean, seriously?), and then that she should have handled arranging things better rather than letting everyone else take over, after it came out that other people were upset about it too, but too afraid to speak up, because about the only thing that part of my family doesn’t do to each other is resort to physical violence.
TW: MVAs, verbal abuse, police people
I have my new computer at last and there are so many little things I know now to appreciate – a dimmed monitor, a seat that hurts less, an ergonomic keyboard…
This just means that I am able to relate to you today yet another example of why I, as a person with a disability/disabled person/neuroatypical person/etc., will go out of my way to avoid dealing with the police. A lot of little things happened today to put me out of my routine and in a different place at a different time for this to happen.
TW: harassment, mentions of rape
Okay, so one of the local papers back home has started pushing a new initiative, designed to create more conversation. “Encouraging conversation throughout the community,” actually. This is a local council funded and approved initiative, suggested, of course, by an old white man.
This initiative is a pale purple, business-card sized sign that said ‘Please join me’. It is designed for “single diners at cafes”.
Because, you know, there must be something wrong if someone’s eating out by themselves. And of course they want to not be alone, right? To the point of having to put an invitation out on the table for any old stranger to come and sit with them, no less.
Here are reasons someone might dine out alone:
The problem I see with this situation is based in my experience eating out alone, when that was a thing that was more possible than it is now. (Now I just get ignored at the counter unless they have a bell I can ding several thousand times.) And not just then, actually. I go out alone because I have no friends, right? Well, I went out alone when I had friends, too, and enjoyed it much more because I didn’t have to put up with people talking to me during movies, insisting on photos, complaining about my fidgeting/anxiety/whatever, running off in the wrong direction, stealing food off my plate and contaminating it (seriously, I was told off at family dinner where they insisted on having all the plates in the centre to share, and I insisted on taking my serve from the safe food first (and then found prawns underneath the vegetarian rice, wt?) and then my uncle was taking food off my plate because I wasn’t eating it fast enough. The night ended up with me in tears when we went to a zaharoplasteio for dessert and they just started picking things out and of course, there was nothing I could have, and then I threw up in the very sterile guest bathroom.). There exist people who won’t go to the movies unless they have someone to go with. Society still tells us that meals must be eaten in a group.
So when I am out alone, I get the following – all real examples:
Now, of course, you might be starting to see the issue. Compounded with the card being tiny, so that anyone would have to already be within your space to be able to read it… people who do not display the card now have an extra reason to be wary of people coming up to them. “Oh, I thought you had a card,” because their phone was the same colour. “You’re so pretty; I came to see if you had a card!” These lead to the most natural next step in any pushy, clueless, not-necessarily-entitled-male person’s playbook:
“Well, I’m here anyway, so…”
The one thing that can be established from my experience and those of the people whom I have been around, is the same thing that can be established from the not-so-recent trend of fake engagement rings… the people whom we most want to avoid are the people who will not take notice of such a signal. (And believe me, they don’t, and not just people who want the sex for themselves, trust me. That is, however, a story for another time.) The absence of a card doesn’t mean that people who are eating out alone won’t be bothered as they are now.
The presence of a card, however, is an invitation.
So far, I’ve talked about how people might want to be alone and be unable to deter people who intrude on that because people are either entitled or simply can’t comprehend that people might want to be alone.
But if you’re alone, and you’ve put out a thing which signals a blanket invite to engage with you…
And so on.
Hopefully I don’t need to link people who read here to articles which relate incidents of rapists being acquitted because of various forms of invitation from the victim, not necessarily intentional or actual invitations. An actual card that says ‘please join me’? Well, it’s going to take a kind of judge we don’t necessarily have, and a very well-educated and enlightened jury to get past the rape culture and understand that isn’t ‘join’ in the carnal sense. The defence lawyers I know would certainly use it. The prosecutor I know? Raped me and only stopped because he said I wasn’t into it enough. So yeah, I think that’s going to become an issue.
The key issues in all this are, though:
The last time I went out to a thing by myself, I went to the chemist and then to a movie (Ghost in the Shell! It was really pretty! I have opinions about whitewashing! I am white so I will keep them to myself!). On two separate occasions within the four and a half hours I was out, I was approached by two separate people-presenting-male on the street. I think one was telling me I was pretty, but I didn’t understand him, just that he started first from behind me then kept coming at me from the side. I was able to change direction and lose him. The other was calling out to me from a few metres away. I was able to keep limping on and lose him.
If I was displaying a card that said ‘please join me’, would I have been able to defuse those situations gracefully? Would they have taken it as an invitation to insert themselves in a way I couldn’t easily escape from? They were both bigger than me, and while by some miracle I have retained most of my strength through my body turning into not-my-body, I don’t have the flexibility or speed to realistically have expected to win a physical encounter. Would I have retained the choice not to engage? Clearly, the signals that I wasn’t interested – headphones in, not looking at them, not stopping – weren’t working. (And, therefore, my custom ‘leave me alone’ card, suggested, of course, by someone who lists their gender as male… probably wouldn’t either.)
Being alone, basically, is construed as an invitation in itself. I have countless more stories of being folded into groups or conversations against my will, which only violence or extreme rudeness would have gotten me out of, because saying no did not. Sometimes, they even hide it behind being protective – ‘You can’t take the bus alone at night! You’re only nineteen! You’ll get raped!’, or ‘It’s dark, I’mma drive you to your car even though it’s half a block away on a well-lit city street with a bunch of open restaurants, people, and cameras!’. We don’t need to give people an excuse to insert themselves into other people’s spaces when they do it anyway. We don’t need to be endangering people’s right to choose who they spend time with by “encouraging” them to issue open invitations.
It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to want to be alone. It’s okay to enforce that.
My best meal out by myself was before I was vegan, after I went dairy free. There used to be this little cafe in the shopping centre, with green walls and a Greek name, between the newsagent and the jewellers. I used to get on the bus on my day off from uni and go to my shopping, and then go in there. Their chips were the best – fried, with breadcrumbs dusted on them, in a way I’ve never been able to replicate. They let me have a bacon and egg sandwich with no butter and no cheese. If I didn’t eat it all, because even then a sandwich and a potato was too much for me, I was able to bring the rest home with me. I would go in and I had my spot in a booth with my back to the wall and I was able to see the whole cafe and the people walking past. There was always a paper to read.
I was never bothered by anyone.
One time I went to the movies, and I was polite to a guy in line who just kept bugging me. I gave him a fake name, I didn’t give any personal details, I deferred plans after, I kept trying to end the conversation, and none of it took. Because I had pre-bought my ticket online (back when this was new and VIP was new, I just remember the line and that I was there at opening for first showing, not the actual movie at all or even what it was), I wasn’t worried about seeing him inside, since he had also pre-bought his ticket and was in a different cinema.
Somehow, he made it past three sets of ushers and the VIP security door (because I used to love the reclining chairs until one time an usher decided I couldn’t recline them by myself and came, pushed my hand away, and put the leg rest straight up – less than two weeks after I had abdominal surgery… oooooooooooow…….. the manager thought a voucher would fix it! I went back only twice, once because I already had my ticket for the KISS live concert, and once because Kingsglaive) to come into my cinema, find my seat, and lean over to say he hoped I enjoyed the movie. I dodged a kiss and there were ushers waiting to escort him back out.
In neither case was I overtly signalling that I wanted company or didn’t.
I don’t believe the cards are a good idea. I also don’t believe that they will have the intended effect. All I believe they will do, based on my experience and knowing the type of people in the area, is provide a small veneer of justification to approach people and then not leave when asked.
I don’t like the implication that this is for “single diners” or the implication that people who are alone shouldn’t be alone.
And most of all, I believe they present a risk, of a nature that an old white man, who has spent his life being socialised to believe that his company is always wanted and valued (etc. etc.), simply cannot comprehend. After all, he’s much less likely to have been a target and much more likely to have been an aggressor, oh, and been praised for it.
He doesn’t have to consider the possibility that someone might come up to him and use the pretense of the card, or looking for one, as a way to insert themselves where they would otherwise be rejected. He doesn’t have to worry that putting out the card would lead to someone coming up to him and abusing him for the way he looks or who he is, and then using the card as an excuse not to stop. He doesn’t have to be afraid.
In a society where none of us would be afraid, we wouldn’t need a card anyway.
(Incidentally, this is all much the same reason I refuse to do things like carry a note that explains my disability, which apparently renders any and all complaints about being mistreated as a result invalid. Like, one time I was threatened at a concert and yelled at by the security guard for not leaving fast enough – two minutes after the show ended. I probably made a post about it? Broadcasting these things doesn’t make one safer. It makes one a target – just like mail in the mailbox when on holidays.)
Edit [6 April 2017]: And now it’s national news. No, really. And the longer story is even more ick. I have incoherent painragethoughts.
This just in: an update to the workmen situation from Monday.
So yesterday, I missed my doctor’s appointment to sit at home all day because the neighbour told my mum that they needed to get into the back yard. I need to physically open the gate, which only opens from the inside, and because it shuts on it’s own, I need to do it to let them in, because sensible people generally don’t leave their back gate open for anyone to wander in, especially in an area with kids and bikies (probably the nice ones) and serial breakins in the area.
Nobody came to get me to open the gate. My mum called the neighbour (she does this without consulting me a lot, and then complains that he’s hard to deal with) and he said a time. Nobody came, again, and I explained to my mum, again, that I need to physically open the gate for them.
I saw them leave and nobody told my mum anything, nor did my mum get through to the property manager to confirm anything. We thought they were done, and were generally relieved.