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Kickstarter can be an interesting and unbelievable way(Not always in a good way!) to get an internet snapshot of someone's creative vision. In the case of people with disabilities, these "crowdsourcing" efforts can be all the more important, because people with disabilities are only rarely on the mainstream cultural stage even as characters, much less as creators. Follow me below the fold and I'll explain more. I suppose I should feel awkward about posting this again, but in view of the technical issues I experienced in Kosability last week, as well as new comments from the author as far as the brief discussion we were actually able to have, it seemed appropriate. So, to that end, a minor rehashing, followed by new material.

"What if?" More than anything that is the central question of Bethany Hoppe's latest Kickstarter project.Unlike fantasy novels or comic books that ask this question all the time, however,Pennhurst: The Divas Shall Rise, addresses a population that has been ignored in most popular histories: American women with disabilities. What if, instead of being institutionalized in places like Pennhurst, disabled women got to be part of society and fulfill their dreams? As befits most truly serious subjects, author Bethany Hoppe, who has a disability herself, and her photographer Krista Lee plan to depict disabled women in playful poses that reflect what an expanded role in society might look like. On some level, I can't say I ever planned to see Rosie the Riveter or a groovy hippie chick in a wheelchair, but once I thought about it, I wasn't able to let go of the image, either. It's rare that we ever see disabled women and when we do, they are only seldom having fun.Which is why I love Push Girls, even as I worry that all their bar-hopping and curb-jumping makes disabled life look easier than it should.

 That still bothers me, but it's nice to look at something pretty for a change. Maybe it was the similar  sense of fun that attracted me to this project."fun" and "attractive" and disabled do not go together very often in most people's minds. Maybe a project like this one will help me deal with some of the guilt I have for having opportunities because of the time in which I was born. Maybe it will make up for some of the pain when my opportunities aren't adequate to my desires. A little inspiration, especially from someone who's been there, can never hurt, right?

Personally, as a woman in a wheelchair who is a beneficiary of the struggles of earlier generations, and able to pursue my art, politics, and just everyday activities with a freedom undreamed of even fifty years ago,(even if not quite as freely as an able-bodied person) I would love the chance to, however symbolically, reclaim the terrain our mothers rolled on. In addition to a well-researched accounting of our history, the photo project will serve the greater emotional purpose of shedding light on what could be for disabled women yet unborn, as well as a chance to escape the overwhelming cultural invisibility of disabled women and our concerns. Although not,strictly speaking, a political project(Ms. Hoppe has been very clear that that is not herintention throughout) I personally feel that including women with disabilities is its own form of subversion of tired images and ought to appeal to many on Daily Kos.If we believe the old saying that "the personal is political", and I do sometimes, there is a political edge to disabled women reclaiming the grounds of an institution like Pennhurst.

Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 12:39 PM PT: Hello...I understand there may have been a technical problem with Kosability yesterday, so I thought I'd use this update to remind you that this Kickstarter ends July 7.  


As part of the disappointingly brief KosAbility discussion on Sunday, group leader postmodernista asked if I felt that disability or gender weighed more heavily on women with disabilities.  As I look at what Bethany sent me via facebook, it seems like we gave different sorts of answers!(well at least, our community is not a monolith, right?)
Here is what Bethany wrote:. Disability itself is so varied that no one's experience is quite the same as the next person. Add to this whether the person was born with disability, or it was acquired, really has a bearing on how they feel.

For me - I feel like disability has a more prominent impact because it literally affects everything I do. From parenting differently, to getting in and out of a car differently, to wearing fashion differently.

However no matter what our physicality may be...we are a person first. I look at the world from a female perspective and immediately on the heels of that is "How" I approach my views because of disability. The title might look like this: Woman with a Disability.

I hope that makes sense and does not seem contradictory. It could get super complex if we talk about sex versus gender/gender roles. Pretty interesting stuff that I'm rather passionate about! LOL!

Originally posted to chicating on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by KosAbility.

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