This has been an awakening, realising I am nothing, that I have to beg , to plead my case for existence, it hurts, it fucking hurts. To see your right to access society on an equal basis, or even to access it at all, debated as a money saving issue by people who remain unaffected by any of the changes they wreak on others lives. This a barely coherent rant taking on disability, feminism, intersectionality and the festering pile of bullshit that is neo-liberal capitalist society.
My thoughts are still somewhat muddled, I am not well versed in political writings, I cannot quote any great thinkers on these matters but I have seen how those of us who are ‘economically inactive’, or who cost more than we earn are portrayed, how we are demonised.
To say I have ‘no value’ or even a ‘negative value’ may seem harsh, but it is true. It’s a realisation thats been rather painful, after all we’re all fed this bullshit that we’re all kind and caring and we aren’t like those barbaric other places we bomb. We’re fed this individualist bullshit from our youth, this ‘work hard and you’ll prosper’ nonsense. That if you are a good person you will be treated well, that only those who do wrong or ‘have something to hide’ will be punished.
Capitalism does not see people as people, it sees people as a means to economic activity, if you don’t make money you are seen as a drain, a leech, a scrounger. The very fact you exist as a human being is not seen as enough justification that you be treated as a human being. This is the crux behind ideas such as ‘the deserving poor’ and ideologies which assert people must contribute (financially, nothing else seems to matter, your humanity certainly doesn’t matter) before they can draw anything out of a welfare state. How there is a need to justify yourself before your ‘superiors’ to prove your worthiness to access services such as education, health and benefits. ATOS medicals are not so different from Victorian charities who assessed your moral virtue and need according to THEIR priorities. One cannot simply be a human being in need, you need to be the right kind of human being in the right kind of need, in the right kind of circumstances, preferably bathed in some sort of angelic light and in a prostrate position before your betters. Your humanity means nothing, you need to behave the way your superiors demand and if it the mood takes them they might offer you some scraps.
Having been ill since I was 11 and I remain sceptical about my ability to ever be able to support myself through work not topped up by benefits or the generosity of my parents. I am one of those ‘never put anything into the pot’ types the rightwing press hate. I don’t earn much money, I cost more than I earn due to ill health. I am essentially useless to capitalism and moreover traditional leftist discourse (from what little I have read) focusing on economic activity and the class of ‘workers’ I am not included. I’ve mused on this before after seeing Selma James speak about her wages for housework campaign amongst other things, being, for the most part, unable to work at least to a level I’m able to sustain myself independently, where do I fit in all this analysis? as I have stated previously;
If our worth to society is measured by our economic contributions and productivity then what the hell to do we with the people who will never be able to contribute? Or those who will only be able to contribute on a part time or sporadic basis?
I still have no answers to this, only that what I see currently does not work, I feel left out of mainstream political discourse, which sees me as a nuisance or something to be pitied. I am seeing how things all fit together, intersectionality, feminism (women are far more likely to take on unpaid caring work), disability activism and ideas such as the social model and kyriarchy. My politics is developing far beyond feminism, I’m starting to see how this all interacts, intersects even. Sometimes I wish I had the luxury to only focus on gender. This is why I am so passionate about intersectionality.
To have my existence ignored by most political ideologies, to be told we must all fight for the workers when so few acknowledge those of us who can’t work, or who can’t work enough to support ourselves without state help, as independent people with our own voices worth listening to. To be told conversations about ‘inclusion’ (by which I mean at the very least having your existence acknowledged) are just ‘identity politics’ and ‘tokenism’ by a load of privileged fuckwits. I will not be used as inspiration porn to make others feel better, or demonised as being somehow detached from reality or just ’jumping on the bandwagon’ for asserting how vital intersectional analysis is to so many. To be told my life is just ‘academic nonsense with complicated long words’ or some other bullshit by people with no fucking clue about my life and experiences, or those of millions of other women. To be told constantly we wont get anywhere unless we’re nicer, yes NICER, to those who not only ignore our voices, our experiences but actively dismiss them and our analysis of them as ‘too difficult’ (well my life has been fucking difficult, I still have to live it) and think we’re all mean bullies for speaking out, for asserting our right to have our voices heard. I’ve been nice all my life and I’ve been ignored, this isn’t meanness this is a cry of frustration, it’s bitterness borne out of bitter experiences, it’s a fucking primal scream, it’s valid anger at being treated as a lesser being.
To be forever told we should be grateful for the scraps thrown down to us, to be forever reminded of your cost and nuisance, your cost to ‘the taxpayer’ and your damn cheek of demanding your right to access healthcare, education and the bare minimum amount of money to exist on.
To be told that whatever you do unless you earn money you aren’t ‘contributing’, to be constantly harassed, examined and have the intimate details of your life poured over by untrained professionals with a vested interested in ignoring medical evidence. To have your health made WORSE by this constant pressure, it makes you feel less than human.
I don’t want to be pitied, to be told I’m brave (apparently existing as someone with chronic illnesses is so HIDEOUS I must be SO BRAVE to still exist, or something) patted on the head and patronised. I don’t want to be demonised. I just don’t want to have to fight all the fucking time to be seen as human. But realising I have no value to capitalism, to the society I live in, it’s liberating in a way, I have little to loose by being outspoken, sweary and angry so I will be.