Wed
Oct 28 2009 2:12pm

With this Steam-Powered Prosthetic Arm, I Could Be As Strong as... A Normal Person

Whenever I talk about steampunk, I usually wander around to the issue of race (you may have noticed this; it’s kind of a thing). Sometimes I use the term “person of colour,” or “steampunk of colour,” or “visible minority.”

I was thinking of the latter term: “visible minorities” and I realized that there has been a subset of people who are definite visible minorities, as well as invisible minorities, that aren’t often thought about.

The terms are various, according to region: people with disabilities, disabled person. Each term has its own socio-political implications. A bit like how steampunk means something vastly different to various people, heh. I'll be alternating between the two in this article, because I find pros and cons in both terms.

Before I move on to how this intersects with steampunk, I’d like you to take a minute or two to read about the Spoon Theory and the Social Model of Disability. The former offers a metaphor for able-bodied people to understand their privilege in relation to those suffering from disabilities. The latter is a model which offers a mindset with which to understand the social structures in place which continue to hinder people with disabilities. It will also enable you to understand the purpose of writing this article in the first place.

Steampunk, as we all are aware, draws its inspiration from the Victorian era, which, for all its accomplishments, wasn’t very good to people with disabilities. Halifax, where I live, has a few Heritage Houses, many of which were built during the era, and it doesn't take much to see that most of them are wheelchair-inaccessible. By and large, disability issues fall off the steampunk radar. That doesn't mean there aren't any steampunks with disabilities. Out of curiousity, I put out feelers on Brass Goggles.

In fact, there are quite a few, and disabilities don’t really stop anybdy — Mark F. has been living with chronic muscle and join pain for 30 years (plus osteoarthritis; we should note that for many, it's never just one illness, but a whole clusterfuck of problems which exacerbate each other), and yet has managed to refurbish an entire work cubicle, among other projects. Many other steampunks with disabilities also involve themselves with the physical side of steampunk: DIY, costuming, conventioneering.

One might think that disability issues would be fairly straightforward in steampunk — wheelchair-bound? Build steampunk contraptions around mobility devices. “I typically use a cane to walk,” MarkF said, “but a plain one just screams tediousness.” So he built himself a Sherlock Holmes-themed umbrella-cane, with weaponized ice-tips:

This is one walking stick you do NOT want to mess with.

Which only goes to show — improvements are the order of the day, not a return to the olden days, as another BG member, Thistlewaite, notes, “I used to own an antique wheelchair, wicker seats, made of oak, ornate metal appointments, etc. When my lady became disabled, I invested in an excellent, modern folding wheelchair, made of nylon and space-age materials, not motorized (power by Thistlewaite, don’t y’know) but the best chair I could find.” Everything else in the Thistlewaite household, however, is decorated according to their own steampunk tastes.

Among other challenges are costumes that can be worn even when the wearer is wheelchair-bound. “I have to build costumes that will hold up to my collapsing to the ground at any moment,” Jordan, or Dr. Oliver Cross on the Brass Goggles forum, tells me. He also admits, “it is mildly frustrating to see people inventing incredibly impressive contraptions built around mobility devices and adaptation devices, although in my case, what frustrates me about them isn't that they're being built, but that I wasn't the one who invented them!”

Functional steampunk'd motorized wheelchair at Dragon*Con, photo by Michael Eades

So what improvements can be made at steampunk gatherings and conventions? In order to answer that adequately, we have to figure out the nature of the disability first, and some of the answers are, of course, obvious. Miss Groves, suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression stemming from CFS, points out that being limited in movement means she cannot get out to gatherings, which leads to her feeling out of the loop. In the event she does manage to get out, she loses energy quickly, so being able to sit down quickly becomes an issue.

Just being able to have plenty of spaces to sit down immediately available is a wishlist across the board, alongside other “regular” problems:

  • wheelchair-accessibility

  • parking availability close to entrances

  • gentle slopes (stairs can be a trial), and

  • walking distances between locations.

Claire Bradley told me, “what prevented me from attending the Asylum gathering was that the accomodation was too far away.” In January, Claire suffered from bronchitis, which led to post-viral fatigue and then escalated into ME/CFS. “[If the accommodation had been closer], I could go to the gathering for an hour or so, sleep/recover for a bit, then go out again, but i can't manage a whole day without lots of breaks in between.”

But these are problems which anybody with disabilities would have. Steampunk-wise, there are some problems which can be rather surprising. Dr. Oliver Cross suffers from a slew of conditions: epilepsy, fibromyalgia, asthma, synesthetic with Asperger's syndrome, deteriorating audial and optic nerves, and two rebuilt ankles. As an epileptic, he points out that strobe lights in steampunk inventions and props can trigger a seizure. (I'm fond of strobe lights myself, so this was particularly jarring. I never thought of strobe lights as anything more than entertaining at best, annoying at worse; to be reminded that it is a health hazard for someone else is discomfiting.)

For others, though, steampunk activity is not so much a hindrances, but a help, or a complement. “Neuro-atypical” types (such as those with Asperger's) may find that steampunk accommodates their energies. (I use quotation marks because I don't want to pretend there's a set standard for “neurotypical.”) The creativity in steampunk can be a welcome distraction, a boost for those suffering from depression. To be able to get out of the house, expend energy on projects and having a goal that can be set, worked on, and accomplished, be it a costume, accessory or modification, can be uplifting. (Also, it is, as always, a surprise for people who suffer from depression come out to admit it and find others who have the same trouble. We may all suffer varying levels and forms of depression, but if you're out there, know this: you are not alone. The stigma surrounding mental illness is enormous, and I find most of us suffering from depression are leery of calling it a disability.)

Like racial diversity, representations of people with disabilities are far and few in between. There is only one major character with disabilities in the steampunk canon: Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless, from Wild Wild West (Dr. Arliss Loveless in the movie remake). “[T]he first Dr. Loveless is doubly frustrating,” Oliver Cross told me, “as he was originally introduced as a sympathetic, if somewhat delusional, character, only to be transformed into a lunatic megalomaniac by the end of the series.“ MarkF reminded me that disabilities simply did not factor into 1800s science fiction literature, since technological workarounds weren't available. As such, there's very little to draw on for inspiration from typical steampunk canon, besides Dr. Loveless' steam-powered chair. Seeing as most disabilities are not visible, he continues to point out to me, there's really very little motivation on the part of most steampunks to consider disability issues.

Sounds rather depressing, doesn't it? I asked MarkF if he thinks there should be more representation of disability issues in steampunk, and he surprised me by saying, “actually, disabilities are addressed extensively throughout Brass Goggles.”

Huh?

“They're just not called as such,” he explained. And then he continued to explain, and I shall just copy-paste the entire thing here because I don't know if I could even word it better: “Because steampunk is a mix of Victorian era sci-fi, much of the literature, clothing, and props require its members to build/write these things from scratch, since there are essentially none of these items available commercially. BUT — does the greater steampunk community think of these creations in terms of overcoming real disabilities? No, or rarely so. Why? Because steampunkers have the mindset of Victorian sci-fi — using post-industrial technology (which never actually existed) to enhance the ‘normal’ human condition. They create mechanical devices to enhance strength, vision, hearing, etc, of normal people, but of course they don't think in terms of the disabled except that normal folks are themselves disabled compared to steampunkers enhanced by Victorian gadgetry. But in fact much of the steampunk paraphernalia are simply neo-Victorian disability aids. Even the one true steampunk symbol, goggles, are vision enhancers” (emphasis mine).

Steampunk'd Bluetooth device by Nicrosin. 
It's a prop, but it looks like it could be a hearing aid. Yoinked from
Slippery Brick

So, there are alternate narratives for people with disabilities after all. The wishful thinking of your average, able-bodied (or temporarily able-bodied, since we'll all grow old eventually and gain all the joy of ill health that Father Time bestows) (or “disability-impaired”) person to build devices that will make them stronger is the same wishful thinking of a disabled person who wants to be, well, “normal.” Yet, even as most of our stories hash out the issues of the disadvantaged, especially of the poor, why don't we consider the disadvantages of people with disabilities? If anything, our stories would only be all the more richer for the inclusion of such characters, just as our stories would be richer with racial diversity. We don't because for most people, disabilities just aren't something we think about, and we usually expect those with disabilities to work hard just to keep up with us normies.

I could go on about general attitudes towards disability issues, the assumption of “normalcy” that affects how we treat those with disabilities, and other things which affect a disabled person's right to live with the same dignity as everybody else, but that would make for a long, tedious, un-steampunky post, so if you want to educate yourself, there are plenty of resources online.

This isn't a post designed to make you feel guilty about the privilege you have in being able to move unhindered, or to have infinite spoons at your disposal. A few years ago, I was close friends with a dude who had (and still has) muscular dystrophy disorder, which meant that he was wheelchair-bound. It didn't stop him from making the best of life in his motorized wheelchair, and he was much more interesting than I ever will be, but occasionally, I would say, “this place is so awesome! We should go!” and he would point out, “I can't go there. It's not wheelchair-accessible.” I would feel rotten, both for having forgotten this very crucial point, and for not being able to do anything to make places more wheelchair-accessible for him. But we both moved on, and found other things to do together that were accessible to us both.

Disability issues are real, even if we use steampunk as a form of escapism — it's a human rights issue and it stands to reason that at a steampunk convention or gathering, we would want everyone to have as much fun as possible. Steampunks with disabilities are part of that everyone, and while it may seem, at first glance, to be a huge use of resources accommodating their immediate needs, remember that what's good for one subsection of the community can be extended to all other subsections of the community. Making a place accessible, even if no one we know who is coming has disabilities, is only smart thinking, since in case shit happens, at least we were prepared, and no one has to stay stuck at home. Toning down on our strobe-light usage can't possibly take that much effort (seriously, surely aesthetics don't override another person's health?) and making space to someone who has mobility issues is just a sign of consideration.

Anyways, I think that's enough thinky for the day, so, I'll just end with a general conclusion: we may not be able to cure diseases, nor make actual steam-powered prosthetic limbs, nor wish away the disabilities faced by our fellows, but we can always do our little bit to make sure that everyone is afforded the right to mobility, dignity and consideration. Disabilities are disadvantages only in the face of an able-ist world, after all.

And no, I personally don't need a steam-powered prosthetic arm. You should totally invent one, though, just in case someone needs it.


Jaymee Goh is a freelancer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She likes writing to promote diversity and draw attention to intersectionality.

52 comments
Piechur
1. Piechur
I have to tell you something, Tor.com guys. I'm fed up with this blogger's deep socio-political, racial, psychological, gender & health aspects of steampunk. She'll bore us to death.
Helen Wright
2. arkessian
Thank you for this excellent post, Jaymee.

And for Piechur, if you're bored here, why not read something else instead?
Piechur
3. Piechur
But there's nothing else to read here. Steampunk Month on Tor.com has turned into a one-man-show (or should I say "one-woman-show").
Piechur
4. LukeHogbin
@Piechur:

And the internet consists of only Tor.com?
Erika Nelson
5. Odessa_3
Jaymee: nice illumination of the intersections of steampunk and disability. Some of my academic work focuses on disabled figures in science fiction (particularly looking at the cyborg, as you allude above with your focus on tools and prostheses). Yet I've never considered steampunk in particular in this light. Strong work.
Piechur
6. Lindalee Stahlman Volmert
As someone who is disabled, let me say I appreciated this article. I also found the article on steampunkers of colour interesting. So as far as I am concerned, tor.com is doing well giving this writer a forum.
Piechur
7. Piechur
How about "Blond vs Dark-haired Steampunks" article?
Piechur
8. Rockula Bacchus
Very well thought out and written, Jaymee.

Glad some of us gave you some insight.

As to 'Piechur' and being 'fed up with this blogger's deep socio-political, racial, psychological, gender & health aspects of steampunk. She'll bore us to death'.....

Why not try a 'Buffy' site instead.

Rockula.
Torie Atkinson
9. Torie
@ 7 Piechur

Troll somewhere else, please. Just because you didn't enjoy the post doesn't give you the right to harass folks who did. If you're bored, there's a great big internet out there.
Piechur
10. Piechur
Wait a second. I'm into steampunk, not into Buffy :-)

I'll stay here for a while.
Melissa Cooper-Martin
11. Melissima
I'm delighted to see this article on Tor.com. Thanks for bringing disability into the discussion, Jaymee.

I use a power wheelchair and a prosthetic arm (look me up if you ever need a prototype-tester, eh?) I am frustrated by the rarity of strong, non-villainous characters with disabilities in speculative fiction.

This is not to say there are none - Jenny Casey from Elizabeth Bear's "Hammered" comes to mind - but I would love to see more of them.

Life with a disability is challenging, but it is also fraught with the same conflicts and struggles all humans face - plenty of action for a protagonist to deal with. And since Steampunk gleefully provides devices and technology that can be used to enhance sensory or physical function, it seems a perfect venue to highlight literally "differently abled" characters who attack some dire situation with bravery, intelligence, and the very determination they've drawn on to thrive.
Piechur
12. Piechur
Torie @ 9:
"Troll somewhere else, please. Just because you didn't enjoy the post doesn't give you the right to harass folks who did."

Just because you enjoyed the post doesn't give you the right to harass folks who didn't. So don't call me a troll, troll.
Tudza White
13. tudzax1
Re: The ear piece.


The ticking!! Help me please, I can't make it stop!!
Piechur
14. Susan at Stony River
Loved this! Jaymee, thank you for posting. I've forwarded the link to several friends and family who will surely appreciate it.

I have arthritis and two of my kids have autism; I have a disabled sister and a wheelchair-dependent brother-in-law. My life seems filled with disability, but you're right--my reading certainly isn't!

Hopefully more novelists (and event-planners) will take up the challenge. I'd love to see what happens.
Alejandro Melchor
15. Al-X
I enjoy Jaymee's posts because they are succulent food for thought, which is one of the same reasons I read tor.com on a daily basis. They are clearly biased and a bit of uncomfortable reading, but all in a good way, because they have allowed me to devote some mental cycles to issues that do merit attention and have been unjustly absent from my everyday musings.

So, there, Piechur; when you say "...bore us to death..." you're clearly speaking about you and the little voices in your head, because I see more "us" enjoying Jaymee's contributions.
Piechur
16. Piechur
I'm speaking about me and those who don't even bother commenting this piece. Do you really think there are only 10 happy readers here?
Piechur
17. Thistlewaite
Thanks for the article! I will mention that there has yet to be a venue that I could not get my wheelchair bound wife into...it's a question of gumption, eh? I'll admit that on a number of occasions, I have hauled her backwards up a flight of stairs by main strength, and I do realize that not everyone has a "muscleman" attending their wheelchair, so accessibility remains of paramount importance. I would also note that everyone...yes, everyone!...is disabled to some degree, whether they realize it or not, and it will only get more evident with age. No one has an infinite number of spoons!
Thanks again for your kindness, and your insight, Jaymee!
~Thistlewaite
Helen Wright
18. arkessian
@Piechur, I'm sure it's a comfort to you that the lurkers support you in email... But I'm still confused about why you would read a post you clearly expected to bore you.

On a rough count, there have been circa 200 posts this month on tor.com, only 13 of which (give or take) have been by Jaymee. If the first 12 had led you to suppose that the 13th would not be to your taste, why waste your valuable time reading it? And then even more of your time whining about it, and showing everybody else how self-centred you are?
Piechur
19. R. Emrys
I know an 18-month-old with one arm (actually, more like 1.2 arms, but I'm rounding), and a beginner's prosthetic with dinosaurs printed on it. All the neighborhood kids want to know when he's getting his "robot arm." (His mother may be poking around here somewhere, actually. And may still have a link to the modular arm site for adults? Some of those would steam up very nicely.)

When I get older and hard of hearing, I want that hearing aid! Even if it is really a Bluetooth. It's much nicer than the ear trumpets that actual Victorians used. One of Steampunk's appeals is often technology that is BIG and jazzed up, but sometimes smaller is better.
Piechur
20. CousinJessica
Kage Baker's "The Women of Nell Gwynne’s" is an excellent novella with a disabled non-evil titular character.

Having recently attended a convention with a disability, I have to say that sufficient seating in public areas would do a great deal to help make lives easier. Sitting on the floor was often the only available seating, and that sucked.

And it's probably not a fun or interesting topic for many people, but for those who have (or had, in my case - back to 86% of normal function, woo-hoo!) a disability, it's one of those things that's simply impossible to ignore. I find the connection to steampunk a way to stuff it on topic, but it really cuts across all science fiction & fantasy genres.
Sam Kelly
21. Eithin
I've been enjoying Jaymee's posts immensely - this is one of the best things about the Steampunk Month for me, since I'm one of those troublesome non-costuming non-roleplaying people who's nevertheless intensely interested in social history, material culture, and non-dominant cultural strands. I'm also disabled myself - depression and anxiety, mostly - and with a partner who is a wheelchair user.

Hm, now I'm wondering about steampunk treatments for mental health problems. The problem with steampunking up the historical ones, though, is that they're already absurdly and grotesquely strange to us, from brass-and-leather vibrators to trepanning. At least experimenting on your own brain is pretty damn punk.
dustin worthey
22. dman762000
Every writer has their own style. Jaymee likes to write about social equality. JD Falksen likes to write about politics and history. Others like to write about other things. Every reader also has a style. If your particular style dosen't fit what the writer has written, find a writer that fits your style. You'll be happier and there won't be any need to gripe about what the writer has written.
Piechur
23. Anon E. Moose
dMAN you're an idiot. If you're going to name someone, get it right. its G.D. Falksen... An amazing writer who has immense potential and talent as well as is capable of writing a blog that pertains to steampunk without sounding like a clueless bimbo.
Piechur
24. Anon E. Moose
Jym... jst stck t wht y knw nd sty t f r stmpnk. 'm mzd y cn typ wth bth hnds bnd, yr ft n yr mth nd yr hd p yr btt. 'm rlly sck f rdng yr hlr thn th crp, bcs y cnstntly blg bt thngs y knw NTHNG bt. ntrvw smn wrthwhl... n ctlly... jst dnt blg nymr... vr.
Piechur
25. Piechur
arkessian @ 18:
On a rough count, there have been circa 200 posts this month on tor.com, only 13 of which (give or take) have been by Jaymee.

We're talking about Steampunk Month on Tor.com, remember? There have been only about 70 posts in this category, 13 of which by Jaymee (!). Enough.
Ashe Armstrong
26. AsheSaoirse
I'm really only commenting on the beginning. You said, "...for able-bodied people to understand their privilege...". I find this kind of...well, kind of a touch of bullshit. It makes it sound like anyone who's not disabled was given that gift by someone or something. Now, I am by no means saying that anyone disabled is somehow lesser or any of that tripe. What I AM saying is that saying someone born with a normal working body or someone who isn't in some sort of debilitating accident or develops a debilitating disease isn't necessarily privileged. Basically, I just think the word choice privileged in regards to being able to walk is just a bad choice. I get that we could seem privileged to the disabled but I just wholeheartedly disagree.
Sam Kelly
27. Eithin
Regarding the privilege thing, here's an explanation. It's not good that the terminology upsets you, but that's what we use - everyone's specialist jargon sounds like bullshit to those not used to the field.

To summarize, some people have things others don't; they're privileged in that way. The average human being has fewer limbs & eyes than Michelangelo's David, so a "normal able-bodied human" is better off than average.
Torie Atkinson
28. Torie
@ 12 Piechur

Just because you enjoyed the post doesn't give you the right to harass folks who didn't.

You're right; it's being the moderator that gives me that right. You've been warned twice now: move on from this thread. Future posts of yours here will be deleted.

@ 24 @ 25 Anon E. Moose

Real nice, right to the ad hominem attacks, complete with sexist language. Same goes for you: move on.

Take some pointers from @26 AsheSaoirse for how to disagree with a post without insulting the blogger or your fellow commenters.
Jaymee Goh
30. Jha
To everyone who said "thank you" - you're very welcome. Just doing my small bit to bring awareness so long as Torie lets me talk! ^^

Odessa: Thank you, but I can't claim credit for thinking it up. Without talking to others, I wouldn't have considered it that way myself.

CousinJessica: It really does. You may see more posts about disabilities in other subgenres of fantasy and scifi in the future (one hopes) and I thought about it in relation to steampunk because it occurred to me that steampunk has become very much an out-and-about sort of subculture, rather than one where it's focused solely on literature.

Piechur: Duuuuuude! Did you just try to diss the editor of this site? OMGWTFBBQ!

Eithin: Girl Genius features a mad social scientist. He.... doesn't seem to do much to really address mental health issues tho.

Anon E. Moose: I'm sure GD really appreciates having a troll in his fanbase. /sarcasm

AsheSoirse: One of the key features of having privilege is that you don't notice it. However, if you were to compare yourself to someone who has disabilities, you would find yourself somewhat better off. Have you read the Spoon Theory? That illustrates really well the kind of ease you would have. It's not to say your life is going to feel easier ("life is pain, princess... anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something") but your challenges will be, however marginally from your point of view, somewhat lighter than someone with disabilities.
Piechur
32. HMSHottentot
Some honest criticism and feedback:

1)She says "we" a lot in her articles and I think that's a problem; no one person can speak for all steampunks, and she should know that based on her own statements. It's offputting. I'd suggest either narrowing the scope of her articles to her own perspective, or stick exclusively to objective facts.

2)She has a way of using unnecessarily pedantic language that gets in the way of some otherwise very good points. It's important for someone to bring these issues up, but it's hypocritical to talk about equality while talking down to one's audience as if they were illiterate boors.

3)She does give some interesting food for thought, but I have the feeling that there will always be a problem for this young lady; I doubt steampunk culture will ever be inclusive to her standards. There will always be a lonely Asian kid in the corner someplace, or someone who can't find the wheelchair ramp at the convention center. I'm sure that she wants to positively influence the actions and thoughts of the steampunk community, which is okay, but this is not the forum to press for such widespread social changes, or even to begin pressing for them.

4)I would encourage her to continue writing and hone her skills, but also to research her audience a bit more and take care not to alienate them, lest she be a rabbi with a congregation of one.
Torie Atkinson
33. Torie
@ 32 HMSHottentot

I appreciate the calm tone with which you approached this, but don't attack the blogger; discuss the post. If you disagree with her ideas, disagree with her ideas, but disagree with an argument and not a person. If you have issues with the post, say so, but don't make this about her--it's antagonistic and borders on ad hominem attacks.
Piechur
34. T-Boy
I doubt steampunk culture will ever be inclusive to her standards. There will always be a lonely Asian kid in the corner someplace, or someone who can't find the wheelchair ramp at the convention center. I'm sure that she wants to positively influence the actions and thoughts of the steampunk community, which is okay, but this is not the forum to press for such widespread social changes, or even to begin pressing for them.

...

Are you serious?

You know what, I get that there will always be injustice where we are. And I don't mean petty crap like a lonely Asian kid sitting alone in the corner -- I mean there will always be people who... I don't know, will never learn to read. Will die under under the age of 5 due to inadequate medical care. Will never do the things you take for granted because they have FMS, or osteoarthritis.

But that doesn't mean you throw your hands up in the air and give up. It means you work on your expectations and focus on what you can do, not what you can't do.

And who asked you if this was a place to press for social change? There are people who are happy to see Jhameia post. They want her to continue, because they like how her perspective is more than just "ooh look shiny gearz and funny clothez".

There are people here, I suspect, who would have dismissed the steampunk movement as vacuous and empty, and are now revising their thoughts, thanks to what Jha writes. Isn't that a good thing? That's what some of you want, right? More mainstream relevance?

If you don't like seeing her stuff, there's always the "Back" button. Or get GD or someone else to post more.
M G
35. Merin
Thank you for this post--and, really, all of your posts.
Piechur
36. Anon E. Moose
'm s gld smn dcdd t ws cptl d t dt my scnd cmmnt. M f y cnnt tk crtcsm y shldn't b pstng n th frst plc. My pnn stll stnds tht th thr f ths pst s, n fct, s gnrnt s ths sh ccss thrs f bng. Fr ll f y t thr gng "grt rtcl... h wndrfl wrtng" *smcks wth bk* Clrly y'r nw t ths mvmnt. Lrn bt bt stmpnk bfr y h n wrshpng ths thr. nc y d, y'll s why myslf nd Pchr rn't sch trlls bt hv kndly rmvd r hds frm r rrs nd r nt frd t sy wht s mny r thnkng. @Trr, N mttr wht thrd s pstd y r gng t gt ppl wh dslk t... t hppns. Jst dl wth ths f s wh r gng t b blnt bt t. N mttr f ts n ttck r cnstrctv bght f nsghtfl crtcsm... ts ll th sm. Bst dvc: mk sr yr thrs knw wht thy r tlkng bt. jdgng by wh Jym ntrvws, nd n wht... sh knws nthng.

-Th Ms
Piechur
37. HMSHottentot
@T-Boy:

Throwing one's hands in the air is exactly what not to do; my point was simply that this is an issue that is in no wise limited to the very small and relatively insignificant world of steampunk, but in my view she makes it seem as if it is. It's a global problem. Granted, change can be sparked even in small corners, but why should steampunks be charged with a greater responsibility to be inclusive/mindful of others' challenges than the general population?

@Torie:

Though my criticism was blunt, I did not intend it as an attack. An author needs to be able to accept and process criticism and feedback from readers, and whispering sweet nothings is not really my style. I'd like to see her writing improve so her articles can be stronger and more effective at getting her points across. I'm not sure how you can address someone's writing style without referring to the person themselves.
Helen Wright
38. arkessian
@HMSHottentot

why should steampunks be charged with a greater responsibility to be inclusive/mindful of others' challenges than the general population?


I'd expect any population or community to meet these standards, not just the steampunk community.
Piechur
39. HMSHottentot
^Exactly.
Helen Wright
40. arkessian
@HMSHottentot

I'm confused. Are you agreeing with me that Jaymee is justifiably challenging the steampunk community to meet those standards? Or suggesting that, because other communities don't always meet them, that steampunk should be exempt from the challenge?
C C
41. Hatgirl
@26 You said, "...for able-bodied people to understand their privilege...". I find this kind of...well, kind of a touch of bullshit.

Amen. I am someone who needs to follow the "Spoon" method through life, but I really dislike using the word "privileged" to describe those who don't. Hard to describe why... guess for me it has the connotation of being angry at the healthy folk for being healthy.

"Lucky" - that's the word I prefer to use. Unlike the race discussion, everyone is just a patch of bad luck away from being on the other side of the disabled discussion...
Piechur
42. HMSHottentot
@arkessian

The former. My original point, however, was that steampunks are not so special as to need more nudging/guilt-tripping about this than anyone else! Disability awareness is not a specifically steampunk issue; it's a human issue. Yet it seemed to me by the way this article is written that that is her perspective.
Jaymee Goh
43. Jha
HMS: I saw your criticism and agreed with most of it, but strongly disagree with the "wrong forum" argument. It's very strange to me that you would ask me to have a look at my audience - namely, readers of Tor who I have no control over, because they are people, therefore different and diverse. My issue is that I feel my post lacked comprehensiveness nor truly represented disability issues properly within a steampunk context. This is Steampunk Month, so I was writing about disability issues as one might face within the steampunk subculture. Now, outside of Steampunk Month, you can be sure I'll be blogging more generally and will not be so focused on the intersectionality.

Hatgirl: "Lucky" has the connotation that it's just a matter of chance. The word "privilege", however, indicates that challenges that people with disabilities face are tied into social systems. It's not something to get angry about - it happens to be a fact of life. Although you bring up an interesting point! I think the term "lucky" would make me mad! Different people, different strokes, different words =)
Helen Wright
44. arkessian
@HMSHottentot

Thanks for explaining.

We're in agreement that it's a human issue. It doesn't seem to me that Jaymee's perspective is different, only that she feels the issue is worth exploring in the context of steampunk, but I understand that you don't read it the same way.
Piechur
45. Anon E. Moose
rlly... ths gn?! mtr.
C C
46. Hatgirl
@Jha Different people, different strokes, different words =)

Oh, you've got that right! That's why the use of the term "privileged", which personally gets my hackles up, didn't make me disagree with the article as a whole.

I quite liked the article - I've read a bit of steampunk but haven't been that involved in the community around it, so I was suprised to learn that disabilites aren't that commonly referenced. I would have thought that given the prevelence of amputees, deafness etc. in Victorian times that steampunk would abound with cool cyborg-ish replacements. It seems not!
Piechur
47. Carolyn Dougherty
If it's something that interests you, it's worth spending some time studying the Victorian street scene--you'll actually discover a surprising number of people we'd call disabled today, veterans of the Crimean and other wars. They were probably much more active and visible in a place like London 150 years ago than they are now. Remember Dr. Watson and his Jezail bullet.
Sherry Ramsey
48. wordsmith101
For heaven's sake, someone buy poor Anon some vowels.
Liza .
49. aedifica
wordsmith101 @ 48, I expect Anon was disemvowelled. Effective, isn't it?
Ashe Armstrong
50. AsheSaoirse
@27. Eithin: Thanks for the link. I kinda figured that something like that was the reasoning behind it. And to the blogger as well, I'm not trying to diminish the difficulties of those with disabilities, I hope I made that clear. It's just a phrasing I find...mmmm, less than accurate. The link @27 posted explained it better and I get the why and the purpose, it's purely an outlook thing, I guess.

@Hatgirl: I've gotta agree with OP on the term "lucky" with regards to lacking disability. It almost seems like a slap in the face but I realize where you're comin from, given you agreed with my statement.

I guess when ya get right down to it, I kinda look at it like, "Alright, fuck it, let's move on, get things rollin the way they should and stop worryin about what makes us different so much." Race, disabilities, gender, sexuality, whatever. Work yo thang, nah mean? Admittedly, I have a habit of breaking things down to the point of over-simplification.

PS- Given this discourse, I'm rather glad I stumbled upon (literally, not using the feature) this site, especially during steampunk month.
Piechur
51. thetroubleis
Wow, I love this post. I'm struggling with figuring out how to incorporate my service dog into my steampunk costume.

I'm also a person of color and some of hostility I've seen from some folks also isn't helpful. Luckily, the community where I am is pretty nice.
Piechur
52. Sasha-feather
http://access-fandom.dreamwidth.org/

This post has been linked at Access Fandom at Dreamwidth.
Piechur
53. Sasha-feather
This is a really great post and I appreciate it. The pictures are wonderful.

One thing: Please don't say "Wheelchair-bound". Please say wheelchair user instead. Reasons why are detailed in this post:
http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/11/18/abliest-word-profile-wheelchair-bound/
Piechur
56. leisure
Do you want a holiday soon? Do you love jewellery and pottery? Explore the craft stalls of Queen Victoria Market Melbourne and
For more info visit: leisure

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