Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Crip Culture.

I'm sitting here listening to Neil Young's 'Weld' ruminating upon my forthcoming training course next week. I do a bit of Positive Action training for disabled people from time to time. I really enjoy it. To see the change in people over the period of the course is a real boost and from experience the delegates get a hell of a lot out of it.

We tackle the whole social model/medical model thing which can be really a struggle to get across at times. It's not an easy concept for everyone, mainly because the disabled people who we get through the door only ever see a negative image of disability. They've never thought about how society and the environment disables them. When it clicks it's wonderful to behold. There's nothing like a room full of brand new uppity crips to warm the heart.

Then it's on to the big stuff. Disability Culture. Now over the years this been a revelation to many people, myself included when I went through the course some 10 years ago. If we can get across the concept of a disability culture then we're nearly there.

So what is it? Well my rather ancient copy of the Pocket Oxford Dictionary (Fifth Edition) defines it thus; "trained and refined state of the understanding and manners and tastes..." What the fuck does that mean? Well I think Mr E Macntosh was talking about a way of life. If you put it those terms then a disabled person cannot escape having a disabled culture. Everything they do is defined by being a disabled person, their mobility, the way they eat, the way they sleep, the way they interact with others and so on.

On the last course I met some real hostility to the concept of disability culture from disabled people of long standing so it's not something that everyone agrees with. I can't see how it's something you can disagree with though. If you're disabled person you have a disabled culture just as if you a black you have a black culture and if you are a Deaf you have a Deaf culture.

Still Thursday will be a new challenge. Maybe they'll come round. Disability is a journey, with many twists and turns in the road and sometimes it takes some people longer to get there.


Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell hears the echoes of a certain Mr Counsell's voice in Master Marmite's latest blog entry....

12:50 am

Blogger Gimpy Mumpy said...

I believe that the sooner one comes to terms with one's disability and engages oneself in some part of the crip community, the happier they will be.
My experience has been that the crip community is a place where others Understand what you are going through, have excellent Tips for crip survival, and a place where people see you for You not for your disability. Perhaps even more importantly I think Belonging to the Crip Community helps one to feel Proud to be a Crip.

2:37 am

Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Please define what you mean by "culture".

11:47 am

Blogger marmiteboy said...

Mr D,

I define culture as a way of life, a way of doing things, the way something defines your life.

As a disabled person who has accepted who I am disability is not a part of me it is me. As I said a black person cannot be anything other than a black person therefore their whole being is driven by that. My ex-girlfriend was from Nigeria her 'culture' was completely different to mine, not only as a disabled person but as a white Englishman. The way she thought, the way she ate, spent money, travelled and so forth was very different to how I did things.

I'm not saying however that to embrace a culture you have to ghettoise yourself as a disabled person. It's not about that at all. I try to get people to realise that they do things differently, not because they are disabled as such but because they have a different culture. I believe this is very empowering.

12:26 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, i agree with that. When I look back on my life, special schooling, how more comfortable I feel with other crips. It seems to to me that I've been very much living in disability culture. Yet, I wasn't aware of this before. I think the first time I heard of it was from boogaloo-dude (sp). It sounded fascinating, the idea of a Disabled culture. On thinking about it, it's not all that new to me as I first thought, lol.

Good luck with the course marmite! I do find these courses fascinating. I've never attended one. Mind you, might help if i had employment.

12:44 pm

Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Whilst Lady Bracknell wholly accepts that disability culture exists, she does NOT agree with Master Marmite that it is axiomatic that all disabled people belong to it. Simply being disabled does not necessarily open one's eyes to the existence of a separate culture.

Many, many disabled people - chiefly those who have not accepted their own impairments - remain firmly entrenched in mainstream culture, and violently reject any suggestion that there may be an entiely different culture to which they can elect to belong.

Master Marmite has only to look at the opinions of Morgan on the Ouch messageboard for an example of someone who defines himself from a mainstream perspective.

Similarly, there are black and/or gay individuals who actively reject the culture of the minority group to which they belong, and devote themselves to causing as few ripples as possible within straight, white culture.

This is a matter of personal choice. Master Marmite should not be surprised, therefore, if he experiences a negative reaction from his students if he attempts to persuade them that they belong to disability culture WHETHER THEY WANT TO OR NOT.

Lady Bracknell 'does things differently' as a direct result of her physical limitations. It is nonsense to suggest that her method of, for example, getting dressed is the result of cultural influences. Her attitudes, however, ARE influenced by the disability culture to which she is pleased to belong.

1:07 pm

Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Marmite, thank you, that is very clear. I only wish to quibble a bit about the use of the same word "culture" to define two things which seem to me to be of different orders of magnitude. If we take the case of your black African lady, she comes out of a different history, geography, climate, language, religion, social setup, diet, in fact verything.

One would be more surprised to find similarities in culture than differences. On the other hand, a disabled person in Britain, say, has more similarities than differences with a non-disabled Brit. There are plenty of cultures to which they both might belong: childhood, adolescence (which these days seems to last until about age 30), profession, class, religion, colour.....most of us swim in and out of several such cultures every day.

I don't see therefore how you can be DEFINED by any one of them, such as disability, when there are several more to which you belong without even thinking about it. I myself might feel at some point comfortable socializing with other
disabled people; but then I might equally feel I belong with people with the same nursing background, or the same working-class background, or the same Catholic background.

Peace be unto you.

3:48 pm

Blogger marmiteboy said...

I take all your points. would never try and force someone to believe anything if they didn't not wish it and I welcome debate.

You are right, of course, that not all people wish to belong or been seen as a disabled person. Unfortunately I failed to get my point across properly mainly because I am not gifted in the written word. I would have liked to have explained more about the conflict that occurred in my last class but I'm unable to in this fora. Suffice it to say the views in question made Morgan look like Bert Massie!! Lady B is aware of the flack I got and how difficult that afternoon was. I'm not looking forward to next week as a result.

7:16 pm

Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Go on, you'll slay em in the aisles! If you are sincere in what you believe in this, that's what matters. No two human beings can agree on a subject like this it's too complex for easy definition. Stick to your guns.

7:21 pm

Blogger marmiteboy said...

My dear Charles,

Thank you for your kind words. You are so right of course. It is a complex subject. The course I train on has to make people think about themself as a disabled person (it's the remit laid down by the sponser to promote a positive attitude to disability). I am very passionate about this issue as it has been life changing for me to discover a culture for myself. I was in denial for 10 years and wouldn't even describe myself as a disabled person. Now I'm a crip and proud.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


8:04 pm

Blogger Charlesdawson said...

No, I'm not being kind. I don't do kind. I'm being objective. If you were presenting a merely factual address, then you could remain as detached as you liked; but when it involves interpretation of facts, and also personal opinions, then you must be sincere because the audience would soon pick up otherwise and you'd lose em.

And anyway, no-one, least of all me, has argued with your main premise, that a disability culture exists and that it is empowering.

Go get em, Marmite!

9:42 am


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