One persons Courage…

You hear about it in the news, inspirational articles, and in the whispers of people discussing someone’s life. Sometimes you hear it to your face. “You are so courageous.” I have been facing my fears lately and there has been some courage yet, most of what people tell me is courage is merely a will to live. Is the Will to Live what makes us couragous? Does this invalidate courage?

When I hear about someone being courageous, brave, or something along that line the picture in my mind is a bit gender normative and sexist. It’s a brave soldier in a black and white movie with bombs exploding behind him rescuing the little woman and running away from gunfire without breaking a sweat. I am well aware this is a very skewed image that remains in my mind. I use this image to invalidate my own experience often.

How can I be courageous? I just didn’t give up. I didn’t notice it until tonight. Giving the speech about my Thirty Seconds, I was reminded it is courageous to save a life. I found myself afraid of those words. Why fear courage? I think it is the responsibility to be something more than human that the media shows us courage is. Batman is couragous. He’s a super hero. I am just a small and broken woman at the end of her endurance trying to make it through every day.

I am trying to teach myself what courage can be, beyond the black and white John Wayne dreams. I am trying to teach myself that courage is simply living. Transgendered people who have the courage to go through the change, to live in the sex that fits their minds and not their bodies are courageous because it is their will to live. They can die for being who they are.

How terrifying it must be to have to pee in public. How terrifying it must be to go clothes shopping, to go out and feel that fear… what if someone figures out who they are and in their ridiculous hatred they attack? That is courage. It is also horribly sad that we live in a world where it is not a hate crime to attack a trans individual. I didn’t know that until recently, I thought that it was a hate crime. It should be. Living without a legal saftey net, living without basic human respect, and living without the ability to be accepted by any other minority (except for some of us who actually do care) takes courage. There are trans persons who are unable to live as they wish, because it is too dangerous.

It takes courage to live at all. It takes courage for the college student to go to her late night class, because she hears all the warnings about rape. It takes courage for the woman who was date raped to speak up, risking victim blaming and slut shaming. It takes courage for the teen mother to take pride in being a mother, bucking against the stereotypes about teen mothers. It takes courage for the disabled man to go up a flight of stairs on his hands and knees to see if his able bodied friends and family are alright after hearing a gunshot. He couldn’t escape if there was a killer. That is courage.

To revile the word courage is to revile the act of living. It takes courage for our students to go to school. We live in a world where the terror of school shootings is very real, where the hate that a disabled student feels can destroy their minds and their souls. We live in a world where there is no safe haven. It takes courage to raise a child with disabilities and to love them. It takes courage to admit that you are disabled.

It takes courage to say that you do not want to see a movie because it is full of sexism. It takes courage to be a Womanist. It takes courage to be a Feminist. It takes courage to be an advocate. It takes courage to write. It takes courage to cry. It takes courage to go out, knowing discrimination is waiting for you. It takes courage to date a person who is of another color. It takes courage to love someone who is of the same sex.

In a world as full of toxic messages, it is cowardly to defame courage. To hold the power to inspire one person is enough to change the world. To inspire countless thousands? That is a gift unparalleled. Forgive me for feeling that I was unworthy of the word courage.

I have been courageous. I am courageous to write about my time as a Victim. I am courageous to have ideas and to share them. I am courageous to start a business during a Depression.

You are courageous too. I am sure you can list ways you are courageous. I would like the comments on this post to be dedicated to your courage. What have you done that is courageous today?

Today my act of courage is to start planning the wedding ceremony for two young women in love. My acts of courage in life will include officiating their wedding ceremony. I do this with pride, and to honor their love and the courage it takes to stand up and proudly say, “I am Gay, I am Pagan, and I am in Love!”

Thank you for your life. Thank you for your courage.

Beauty

I am tired of the stereotype of beauty. I grew up being told that a girl should like men who look like Brad Pitt. I like women with soft lush curves, big and strong ones too. Many would consider my past conquests masculine, or overly thin, or fat. No one type fits what I like. I too have “strange” preferences for the men I have dated and these too tend towards those with meat on their bones, they have body hair, they are dark skinned, fair skinned, or really just alive.

Most of them, but not all, are tall. With either sex I tend to reach out for the taller people, though tall has changed in meaning since the wheelchair entered my life. I can’t look up at my baby brother without hurting my neck. He sits down for me, and still towers above. He is about seven feet tall. I love height because my family is full of tall people, except my own biological father. I associate height with safety. What does this mean about the other standards of beauty? Are we all programmed to like certain things?

Yes!

A huge part of my persecution in this life has been based on facets of my physical appearance. I have red hair, very pale skin that burns the instant sun touches it, soft full lips, and I have always had curves. My smallest size is a fourteen. I was barely eating to maintain that. My body needs meat on it. I am simply a curvaceous woman. I do have an ample bosom as well, and all of these things have been picked at.

I grew up being told I should be blonde. Blonde meant perfection. I hardly find blondes attractive as a result. I am aware that most of my siblings and my own mother are all blonde, and this factors in too. I think Blue Eyes are the best, though any shade is lovely to me. Blue eyes were mocked, because they are pale. Being a minority as a white person is very rare in any part of the world, the patriarchal structure still dominates and is usually white, even in countries where white is the minority. I have always been told my pale skin makes me wealthy. Whiteness in my state is a status symbol.

In India women who are by nature in the darker end of the spectrum are considered harder to marry off, they have less value based on something as simple as their genetic make up. The lighter you are, the more respect you can gain. This is White Privilege. It has defaced an entire culture, this love of all things white has poisoned us. You see whiteness in media, dominantly with able bodied super muscular WHITE men. You see their blonde perfection everywhere. I think back to the Nazi Propaganda studies group I was a member of in High School, and that is what I see. Reflections of past propaganda, continued, accepted, and fully realized.

Curly hair is considered disheveled. Girls with curly hair wake up at odd hours to iron their hair out. I think it is lovely, and my standard of beauty includes the use of a curling iron to add curls to my hair. This is rare, the era of the Super Perm died out at the end of the Eighties, except for a few hold outs.

I am told I must wear make up to seem presentable. I do, at times like to wear make up but I do it when it feels good. Usually I will also hide some of my facial scars under make up, if I cannot shake my feelings of Paranoia. I do not allow myself to wear make up on days when my self worth is being questioned, or when my confidence would hinge only on sultry red lips.

As I write this I am watching a movie that has what I consider the equivalent of Black Face. Sophia Loren is the Millionairess, Peter Sellers is the Indian Doctor who teaches her how to be more than a spoiled snob. This movie is full of propaganda that is anti woman, anti persons of color. I was enjoying it until I realized the fallacy that a white man is playing an Indian, with hardly any alteration of skin color and a very cliched accent.

I also note that the famed figure of Sophia Lauren seems to be aided via a corset. I might be wrong, but the extremes to her figure seem to need assistance. It doesn’t feel natural to me, though it does fit the “standard of beauty”. Her hair is lightened a bit, and of course she is always shown in posh and polished appeal during this film.

I do not think Brad Pitt is handsome. I think he is mediocre. This is all about looks, not his acting. I will not malign someone for having a career. I will however state that I do not understand the requirement to find him attractive. If you want to know who I find attractive in Hollywood, you will have to dig deep. There are few people that strike me as gorgeous or stunning, especially since we have entered the Anorexia Age of Hollyweird. Health is beautiful. That inner glow of self acceptance can make anyone gorgeous.

Since my blossoming into awareness about privilege I have seen more beauty in the world. This side effect shocked me. I like to compliment people when I find them attractive, and I have had the urge to tell the entire world how beautiful it is. The beauty I see is nothing like what is in the Movies or on Television. I live in a world of diversity. The people I see daily are of mixed race, from other countries, and their voices alone are a rhythmic song.

I am not beautiful by the overly BMI oriented modern sensibilities. I never will be. I’d have to break my bones, cut my body apart, inject myself with dye, and lose my sense of self. (This statement does not mean that those who naturally fit this standard are not beautiful, it is merely a rejection of the expectation to alter myself to be just like them) I reject the need to starve myself to fit a rare body type. I reject the fashion industry’s expectation that “fat” women do not like Fashion. I LOVE clothes shopping, and am discovering that I could easily spend a million dollars on cute shoes. These are cliches about womanhood, and yet you will find I only have four pairs of shoes, two for winter, two for summer. My clothing is all rather sensible, black, and boring.

I am pigeon holed by my lack of thinness. I am trapped by the need for others to stigmatize those who are not identical to them. I am not a Stepford Cripple, I am not anything but a person. I am flesh, I am bone, and I have soul. You are beautiful. My friend who is an immigrant is beautiful. I love listening to her voice, the way that she sings while she speaks entrances me. My friend who is the son of immigrants is beautiful. He cannot see that because his world is full of hatred, hatred of the Other.

I discuss privilege with my friends. It is an unavoidable conversation now. Eventually it is addressed either by discussion of politics, feminism, or simply the venting of frustration. I no longer hide my beliefs, to survive until the next day. I am free to speak them. Most of the time these conversations hold a similar impact, someone learns something. We all do really. My friends are all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are thin, blonde, and blue eyed. I have friends who are extraordinarily fat, but give hugs that are so soft. I have friends of every shape, size, mental capacity, and ability. My friends are all beautiful. You are beautiful.

Stop stigmatizing people for not being clones. Clones are scary, according to the media pundits and science fiction. Every time the word cloning is mentioned on TV it is with the hush of fear. Disability also has that hush of fear. Stop being afraid. Fear stops you from living life. This doesn’t mean you should ignore some fears, such as the fear of hunger or the fear of a snake bite. Stop fearing things that are different. If you do not understand something, educate yourself. Don’t fear it. Don’t shun it.

This includes fine art, not so fine art, but most especially people. Children are people. Women are people. I see often abuse launched at those who are different. I experience it every time I go out. I was reminded however, of the power of kindness and decorum.

I write often about the importance of gentle resistance, passive resistance, and not striking back. I admit I fail this way at times but, every so often I am given the reminder I need, the proof that I am right. I had transferred out of my chair at Sam’s Club, into the van and rolled down the window. Beside me a harried mother of two beautiful children, her disabled mother, and a cart of groceries struggled. I watched in silence, until they were about to leave, calling out to the woman that her mother had forgotten her cane.

Her son looked up as she thanked me, glad to not have to spend another twenty five dollars on a cane, and said, “Mommy, that’s the lady from the Walmart with the kitty!” His mother paused and said, “She was on TV too.” We talked then, and I complimented her for handling the stress. I could see she was frazzled, and I let her kids talk to Sprite while she settled them in. No petting of course, but, I told her how beautiful her family is. Three words. “You have a beautiful family.” Okay, five. I never was good with numbers.

She froze, looked at her kids, and then smiled. “I wish everyone could see that.” The thing I have not mentioned is this. Her children are Triracial. They are of Asian, African, and Caucasian Descent. I wanted to take them home with me, their sweetness gave me a rare pang of desire for Motherhood. It went away before we were out of the parking lot, but not the reminder that everything you do has a lasting impression. Every word, Every laugh, Every shout, every time you teach someone something. There is impact.

What draws me to people is never what they look like. It is instead their personality, the joy they have for life, and sometimes the hope that I can grow up to be like them. I may never grow up. I am always surprised when I realize for a moment I am not a child anymore. It fades, but, that too reminds me to be innocent.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not what media tells us it should be. Beauty is merely in the existence of life. Flowers, Puppies, kittens, children, lovers. All beautiful. Be you a Homosexual, Transgendered, A person of non Caucasian ethnicity, red haired, blonde haired, black haired, green haired, or even a strange shade of orange. You are beautiful.

The Cripocalypse (Trigger Warning)

I just woke up, two hours earlier than normal and I have had a vision. A vision of what the privileged folk who refuse to see me as human might see. In truth I was thinking about my father, and how he died. I then realized he suffered for over a year with a bad heart, which means I really need to be careful and have mine checked. I will. My doctor,w hen I tell her how he died will step right up and lob referrals out into space if necessary. My father was one of the most evil persons I ever met. His level of hatred wasn’t just his children or wife, but every man, woman, and child of color, or who was independent, but especially those that over lapped. He told me often about how disabilities worked. None of it was true, and thankfully I discarded his notions before my own disabilities began to force their way to discovery.

The Cripocalypse:
It begins with one, one gimp who refuses to walk. They are just lazy you see but laziness catches like disease. Soon his children refuse to walk. Then they begin to use wheelchairs. Sure some folk might actually need them, like the veterans who let the enemy blow off their legs. After that, come the walkers, they will walk but not if they can’t lean on something. Can these people be more lazy? Not only are they lazy but all of the cripples are mexican or black. You don’t see many white cripples, and if you do they had sex with a (insert racial expletive) cripple and caught it. That’s right, wheelchairs are contagious. Someday, every man will be in a wheelchair, unable to move his body because we didn’t kill the damned cripples.

Yes, he was a bastard. I once made friends with a girl in his apartment, after he and my mother split but before the divorce. He lived there a year before he decided to see who I was playing with when I should have been cleaning and making his dinner. I was only five, but, I was a woman and therefore I was to stay in the house like his personal slave. This girl, I think her name was Jasmin, to me was absolutely wonderful. We played with her dolls, her parents did not approve of Barbie and her stereotypes. In fact her father was the person who defined that word for me. I thought it meant something as innocent as having a newer stereo and an older one.

They even fed me most of the time, for when it was Visitation Time my father made sure to either not show up, or to use my body as he wished, then discard me like trash for the rest of the time. Jasmin didn’t mind that I was afraid of her father at first, she thought it was funny until he explained it was sad. These people were the most accepting people I had ever met. The only truely accepting people. Jasmin and I were playing in the stairwell one day when he woke up, dkscovered I had made pancakes that had gone cold and were slightly burned, and came out to punish me for being five and not being able to cook the food he liked.

I will not describe his physical assault, but I was not his only victim. This was the first time I ran from him. I ran to protect my friend, as he screamed racial slurs. You see Jasmin is black. I have no idea where she is now, that was the last time I saw her, due to my father’s violence against her family. I thought she was beautiful, and I wished my skin was dark. I am as pale as she was dark. She had the darkest skin I have ever seen, it was also luminescent, like looking at a person made of obsidian. She gave me my very first hug. That was how we met.

I was crying in the stairwell, and she and her father came home. She came up and just hugged me. Then we went to play. I do miss the innocence of youth. There was still innocence you see. There were stolen moments of absolute joy, before my father found out. When he attacked me and my friend, we escaped him. I knew I had to go back but I was willing to die for my friend. Her father wasn’t home, we were both alone but we dove through that apartment door, they were our neighbors, closed it, locked it and listened to him scream about how I was going to become a black woman.

Jasmin was also the first person to show concern over bruises. Despite my conditions I do not bruise easily, I never have. My father had also had enough other children to manage beating on us without bruising as much, and rarely where someone might see. He was calculating in his abuse, to make it harder for us to tell anyone. The worst abusers are the most talented at that. The last time I saw Jasmin, I was so afraid that my father would kill me. I even told her father that. I wish I had been smart enough to take his offer up. He offered to let me stay with him until my mother came.

We did try to call her, but, she was busy. My older siblings had refused to stay with Steve, my biological father’s first name, and I was alone except my friend. The police did come, yet they ignored the fact that even his daughter was telling them he’d tried to hurt her friend. This was a defining moment in my perceptions, when the police told Jasmin and her father, to send me back. They stated the Department of Child Services would be out to inspect his care of Jasmin, but surely my father was not really hurting me. They targeted them because of their color.

Often that is the day when I see my innocence starting to disappear. I had so little chance to be a child, but with great joy I remember every moment I had with Jasmin. I remember the utter innocence to be had, before I was taught to hate. It never took. Maybe it is living in New Mexico, where the Latin@ presence is so prevelant, maybe it is the fact that Jasmin and her father cared, or perhaps it is the effort I have put into bettering myself, rejecting the lessons of a false father.

The Cripocalypse is false. I know my disabilities are contagious via genetics. If I could have one last moment to look him in the eye again, I know what I would say. “Steve, I do not respect you. How can I respect someone so close minded as to abuse their children for existing? How can I want you to live, I really was hoping you would die sooner to better the world. You hurt me, and I know you will never care. You just feared being alone when you died, you feared it and none of your children will care when it happens. I am a cripple, who likes persons of color, who likes anyone she meets until they prove they are not worthy of it. You taught me horrible things, to steal, to lie, and to beat. I reject you en masse.”

He is not the only bigot who fears the Cripocalypse. So often people try to hide the disabled, the Persons of color, and yet, isn’t color the most important part of a painting? Art screams for diversity, and the privileged persons always claim to love it. I too wonder, how many more people who hate have died, or will die in a state they most fear?

Does Super cripple help forestall the Cripocalypse?

Z slashed through a shirt to reveal Superman or Supergirl's uniform

Z slashed through a shirt to reveal Superman or Supergirl's uniform

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