The Ashley Treatment

•January 10, 2007 • 1 Comment

I haven’t been able to write about this little girl because it brings up so many feelings and confusions. One of my very favorite bloggers bfp has put into words what some of us bloggers, who have no experience of disability, have been unable or even unwilling to say. So, thank you bfp for your thoughts and for inadvertently giving me the courage to do the same.

I want to say first of all that I have no experience of caring for a disabled child and I am not disabled myself. I lived with a woman who was severely disabled for 6 months, acting as one of her independent living “helpers”. The truth is I probably got more out of that experience than she did. One of the best things I learned was how to get totally drunk in the local pub together and ride shotgun on her wheelchair all the way home (It was downhill). Couldn’t resist that, Elaine !

Most people blogging this case have focused on how the parents are nice people and are doing this in the best interest of their “pillow angel“. Let me just say that I am sure her parents think they were acting in her best interests and, from what I read, they adore their daughter. I have been faced with making decisions about my child and it’s hard. I cannot imagine how much harder it must be when you are parenting a severely disabled child. I am not dismissing their difficulties. I am questioning the advice they were given by doctors and other professionals. I am questioning the choices they finally made.

I was offered the “chance” to circumsise my boy at three days old. I was told it was routine and would save problems occuring in the future, for my child and his future sexual partners. People told me it would be almost painless and (probably) without complications. I remember the confusing thoughts. If I said no and he had problems later, how will I live with that ? But my overiding feeling was “Is this my choice to make?” I don’t want to get into religious arguments here but as I do not have a one, that wasn’t a consideration. I decided the choice wasn’t mine.

How does this relate to this case ? Possibly, not at all… but that’s what came up…

Ashley was “given” a hysterectomy.

“Ashley has no need for her uterus since she will not be bearing children,” they said, adding that the decision means she will not experience the menstrual cycle and the bleeding and discomfort commonly associated with it

There are other ways to manage the discomfort or pain of the menstrual cycle that do not involve surgery and dealing with menstrual blood should not be a problem for the kind of caregivers the parents would want ?

Just because someone will not bear children, through choice or circumstance, does that mean they should have their wombs removed ? Should we be removing the wombs of infertile women ? Or women who decide not to have children ? No.

The parents also said that the operation would remove the possibility of pregnancy, should Ashley be raped ! Don’t you think we should be doing something about rape rather than removing people’s wombs ? It’s not our wombs that cause rape for goodness sake.

Ashley also had her breast buds removed. One of the reasons given was to avoid discomfort caused by lying down. I don’t know medically of course, but I have never heard of such a thing ? This kind of pre-emptive strike disturbs me. We will never know if she would have suffered discomfort because of her breasts? She will never have them.

Another reason given was that both sides of the family have a history of breast cancer (which is of concern) but there are monthly examinations and mammograms aren’t there?

Again, sexual abuse was cited as another reason for breast removal. And again… it is not breasts that cause rape and abuse. If that was the case, are we advocating that all girls should have their breasts removed to prevent it?

People without wombs or breasts are raped or sexually abused. In my humble opinion, this should not be part of the argument in this case.

Anyway, bfp says it far better than me

Is it ok to cut off a disabled woman’s legs because she’s not going to use them in traditional ways ?

I don’t know what else to say other than that I find this “pre-emptive surgery” very disturbing. She had her appendix removed just in case she got appendicitis. We do not remove the appendix of children just in case… even if they are unable to tell us what hurts and where. We have doctors and scans and all kinds of technology to find out what is wrong, don’t we ? Where does it all end ? Should we remove her teeth too because she might get an abcess or a cavity and she uses a feeding tube anyway?

It’s complicated. Much more complicated than I have suggested here. I know that. It’s hard. I know it’s hard and I cannot imagine what it must be like to have a severely disabled child.

But keeping this little girl suspended as a little girl is surely not the answer ?

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The Execution of Saddam Hussein

•January 4, 2007 • 3 Comments

I am against the death penalty. Full stop.

The Quaker Agitator has a superb post, written before the execution, that explains exactly why he opposes it and I agree 100%.

The grainy footage of the hanging is the most sought after video on the internet and the sad truth is that it seems many, many people disagree with us about the death sentence. It is also extremely chilling to think that people really want to see someone being killed. I would like to have found out the truth about the ALL the crimes that Hussein committed and and ordered. I am certain that the families of the thousands of victims of his regime would rather have found out the truth. Now we will never know. Instead of justice, we have a 2 minute video of a state-sanctioned killing.

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Happy New Year

•December 31, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Have fun celebrating the coming of a new year and see you in 2007

James Brown 1933-2006

•December 27, 2006 • Leave a Comment

The Godfather of Soul, James Brown died on Christmas Day at the age of 73.
His last words were

I’m going away tonight

I’ll miss you, your music and your incredible performances.

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Duke Rape Charges Dropped

•December 23, 2006 • 16 Comments

I didn’t wade into the raging discussions about the Duke rape case because of the hidieous outpouring of hatred that appeared all over feminists blogs (and I was in the middle of my own crisis with haters on my main blog). However, I read today that rape charges have been dropped against the white boys involved although DO NOT FORGET this case is not over. They still face kidnapping and sex charges.

This has caused screams of delight across blogland and cries of “She lied !” and “I told you so !” Another sad day for all victims of rape because we are now even less likely to be believed after this high-profile case.

Lucky White Girl has a post on being unapologetic about our solidarity with the woman.

First and foremost, I’m proud to have stood in solidarity with the woman then and I’m proud now to stand in solidarity with her now. Why? Because even if it can’t be pr oven that rape as defined under NC law was committed it’s clear that something unsavory went on at that party that reeks of racism, sexism and classism

She goes on to say in a her eloquent post

What does it all mean? In the end I think we did the right thing. We listened to a poor, young black woman who accused wealthy, young white men of a crime. We took her seriously. Thirty years ago it might not have even gone this far. If the fact that these boys behaved as they did is cause for shame, the fact that the rest of the nation reacted as we did –with shock and outrage– is cause for hope.

Spotted Elephant posts her angry response at Bipolar View

The racism in this case is overwhelming. The sexism is so standard that I want to scream. If you think the fact that the woman worked as a stripper is relevant, you’re a sexist. If you think it’s irrelevant that the woman who was assaulted was African American and the boys who attacked her were white, you’re not only a racist, you’re a fool. If you immediately disbelieve a woman who says she’s been raped, you’re a waste of human tissue.

I imagine the backlash against both these posts will be swift and ferocious too. Whatever the outcome of this case, rape victims will be the ones who are affected most especially if they are black. People will have this particular rape case in their minds for many years to come. It is already hard enough to come forward and report rape. Most of the time the woman is not believed anyway. How much harder will it be now ?

In solidarity

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BNP Ballerina

•December 23, 2006 • 24 Comments

Racists never look like monsters… some of them look like Simone Clarke (below)

Should someone be fired because they are a member of the BNP (British National Party) and hold racist views about immigrants even though they work in a multicultural company ?
The Sugar Plum Fairy in English National Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker had to confront angry colleagues before yesterday’s matinee performance after she was revealed to be a member of the British National Party.
Simone Clarke, 36, was named by a newspaper that had infiltrated the party and obtained a membership list.
She believes that immigration has got out of hand even though 9 out of ten of the prinicpal dancers in the company are immigrants. As is the father of her child.

The dancers were instructed not to comment yesterday, but Clarke said in a recent interview that she does not mix with the other performers outside working hours. “I don’t socialise with people in the company,” she said. “It’s all too much.”

Personally, I would not want to work with someone who is a member of the BNP but I suppose people cannot be fired because of membership to a political party but perhaps she will not get a principal role in the next production ?

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The audience reactions were varied

A look inside the shady world of the BNP

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Christmas Holidays

•December 22, 2006 • 2 Comments

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Cross-posted from THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY

My Christmas holidays start today… so here’s wishing you all a very happy, loving and peaceful festive break. Thank you to all my friends here on my blog for making this venture something worthwhile. To all of you, best wishes for the rest of the year and high hopes for 2007. I will be spending this time with my beautiful family and my fabulous friends and reminding myself how lucky I am to have them.

I will be back sometime next week (I will be checking in though, so all vile comments will still get deleted. You know who you are and I really hope you can find it in yourself to spread some love instead of hate, even if it’s just for Christmas. Peace. DD

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