I assume you’ve already seen this, but just in case you haven’t, they have this series of mildly passive aggressive politeness reminders on the trains in Japan. This one reads “your seat should only be as wide as your bottom, not the width of your spread legs.” Words to live by.
Laurie Penny’s Saudade
There are more of us than you think, kicking off our high-heeled shoes to run and being told not so fast
The best minds of my generation consumed by craving, furious half naked starving-
Who ripped tights and dripping make up smoked alone in bedsits bare mattresses waiting for transfiguration.
Who ran half dressed out of department stores yelling that we didn’t want to be good and beautiful
Who glowing high and hopeful were the last to leave the gig our skin crackling with lust and sweat and pure music
Who wrote poetry on each other’s arms and cared more about fucking than being fuckable
Who worked until our backs stiffened and our limbs sang with the memory of misbehaviour that was what it was to be a woman
Who dared to dance until dawn and were drugged and raped by men in clean T-shirts and woke up scared and sore to be told it was our fault
Who swallowed bosses’ patronizing side-eyes stole away from violent broken boys in the middle of the night and vowed never again to try to fix the world one man at a time
Who slammed down the tray of drinks and tore off our aprons and aching smiles and went scowling out into the streets looking for change
Who stripped in dark rooms for strangers’ anodyne dollars because we wanted education and were told we were traitors
Who sat faces upturned to the glow of the network searching searching for strangers who would call us pretty
Who bared our breasts to hidden cameras and fought and fought and fought to be human
Who waited in grim hallways with synth-pop crackling over the speaker system for the doctor to call us clutching fistfuls of pamphlets calling us sluts whores murderers
Who crossed continents alone with knapsacks full of books bare limbs clear-eyed vision running running from the homes that held our mothers down
Who filled notebooks with gibberish philosophy and scraps of stories and cameras to prove we were there keeping our novels and the name of out children close to our hearts
Who were told all our lives that we were too loud too tisky too fat too ugly too scruffy too selfish too much too and refused to take up less space refused to be still refused refused refused to be tame
Who would never be still. Who would never shut up. Who were punished for it and spat and snarled and they shook the bars of our cages until they snapped and they called us wild and crazy and we laughed with mouths open hearts open hands open and would never not ever be tame.
Sara, I’m with you in hospital, in the narroe rooms where you have put off your veil to count your ribs through your T-shirt, short hair and secrets and quiet defiance crying together that we don’t know how to be perfect-
Lara, I’m with you in mandatory art therapy, where we draw pictures of weeping cocks and are told we are not making progress-
Lila, I’m with you in a north London bathdroom, watchhing unreal maggots crawl in the cuts in your arms and listening to your girlfriend drunk and raging through the wall-
Andy, I’m with you in Bethnal Green where you love ambitious angry women with heart brain pen fingers tongue and you have a line from Nietzche tattooed over your cunt-
Adele, I’m with you in the student occupation, with your lipstick and cloche hat and teenage lisp drawling that there’s not enough fucking in this revolution and we must take action-
Kay, I’m with you on the night bus, half drunk and high dragging bright-eyed boys home to our bed, where we watch them worn out sleeping and whisper that we will never be married-
Katie, I’m with you in Zuccotti Park, where a broken heart is less important than a broken laptop is less important than a broken future and we watch the cops beating kids bloody on the pavement for daring to ask for more-
Tara, I’m with you in Islington where you have thrown all your pretty dresses out of the window and flushed your medication so you can write and write-
Alex, I’m with you and a bottle of Scotch at two in the morning when you tell me that no man will make us live for ever and we must seduce the city the country the world-
We are always hungry.
There are more of us than you think.
Laurie Penny’s Saudade, from Fifty Shades of Feminism (via mollycrabapple)
|—||Christian Zabriskie, “Libraries in New York City: Why We Give a Damn and Why You Should Too” (via schoollibraryjournal)|
hi. thanks for running this blog! I was wondering what you consider the difference between mad and mentally ill. and also, do you consider mental illness a disability? I’m new to all this mad pride stuff but I have recently begun to identify as mentally ill (depression, anxiety, & ptsd) and have found it empowering. I also am starting to see connections to disability rights stuff. would you mind sharing your personal experience with those terms? thanks!Anonymous
Hello!! Thank you so much. This is a GREAT question and I apologize for the delay in answering it. Though I have journaled a lot about this, and written publicly a little bit in the past, I didn’t want to just regurgitate the same response so I’ve been pondering. A mad scholar, Shayda Kafai, has a little footnote in her recent essay (“The Mad Border Body: A Political In-betweeness”) published in the Disability Studies Quarterly. She says this:
“I have chosen to use the term “madness” as opposed to “mental illness” for several reasons. Mental illness is language that is entrenched within the medical model. Madness on the other hand, while it was used as a derogatory term, has been reclaimed. Similar to the term queer, madness, in its reclamation and re-appropriation by individuals from within the community possesses agenic power.”
Which I think is a really good distinction between the terms!
I definitely identify as both mad and mentally ill, and also as “in and out of the attic.” I think a big part of the difference is what is being framed and how. mental illness is a term offered by the medical model, and it is part of a history of psychiatry which seeks to treat/cure illness, which sadly often has translated to punishing & disciplining mentally ill people. The psychiatric home of the term “mental illness” is involved with a very asymmetrical power relationship, with the doctors and professionals being the ultimate authority. Basically the mental-illness-narrative is authored by doctors treating the “insane” as what some people call “the known”, or as experiments. Madness is a reclamation of power, like the Disability rights movement’s favored political slogan, “nothing about us without us.”
Doctors historically have very cause-and-effect ideas about symptoms. An example of this might be like… abuse creates trauma which creates mental illness. While this is true for many people, its use as a medical narrative is actually very limiting for people. Solutions from the medical model often involve correcting a traumatized and mentally ill person’s symptoms because their symptom-expression is inconvenient for society, instead of social-justice based solutions, which involve changing society so people stop getting abused and traumatized. Signifying something outside of the medical paradigm is political. As a “mad” person I have more agency, I am reclaiming. As a mentally ill person I am constrained to a narrative in which I am an object of someone else’s study.
I also think that a mad identity is a dis-identification with sanity. Whereas a lot of stuff with mental illness is like… trying to get access to sanity. Identifying as mad is kind of like.. if sanity involves me being a specimen you are trying to “heal”, then i don’t want to be sane. I can be mad, healed, and love myself, all without being sane.
I truly support you embracing any stigmatized term! Both mental illness and madness are stigmatized. I’m mentally ill, but if I say mad it conjures up my symptoms, expressions, and politics at the same time, and I really like that.
I have further nuances with how I identify within a mental illness framework also. My constellation of symptoms and expressions has been interpreted in the medical model/ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as “bipolar II”. In addition, I feel that I AM bipolar II, I feel that I am manic depressive, and more specifically hypomanic. So I’m like ok, I’m bipolar II. However, I ALSO identify with the Borderline Personality Disorder community, though not actively AS borderline. This is because I was sent to a psychiatric lockdown facility as a teenage girl, and like most young girls-interrupted & sent to in-patient, I was diagnosed and given a treatment plan around my supposed borderline symptoms (and “Defiance Disorder Not Otherwise Specified” and several others over the course of my time there). So even though I do not agree that I am or have borderline, I identify very strongly with that community, and I have symptom overlap & treatment overlap with them. This is perhaps a bit tangential, but I wanted to illustrate how complicated a mad/mentally ill locations can truly be, and that it is OK for you to develop, research, edit, strengthen, whatever, the words you use to describe yourself.
I absolutely think mental illness is a disability. In fact, Lawrence Carter-Long, a disability advocate and activist with a physical disability, said something along the lines of madness is the final frontier of the disability movement during his representations-of-disability-in-film retrospective.
In short, I believe I have a disability because some things are ridiculously hard for me. I have joked: “come defeat me in a game of gin rummy and you will see” hahaha. But honestly more importantly, I believe I am disabled because societal structures pathologize my expressions. For example, my work ethic confronts capitalist notions of value, productivity, time, etc. I have been fired from or sometimes weirdly quit every job I’ve ever had. I’ve had terrible intrusive strange experiences with landlords in many of my living situations (which in a more socialized/socialist paradigm I’m pretty sure might qualify me for some help, but not really in the U.S.). As a result, I am not en-abled by society’s structures. In terms of physical disability, I really appreciate the anecdote that stairs en-able certain bodies, those able to walk up stairs, while dis-abling other bodies who are not able to walk up stairs. I feel structurally dis-abled because of my bipolar and so I feel that I am disabled/have a disability.
Nonetheless, I have uncomfortable amounts of internalized oppression issues over identifying specifically with having an active impairment which limits my life, because of my 15 months forced reform in confinement. This is a painful subject for me but maybe I will write more about this someday. This is something I am working on.:’( I really admire people like basketball player Royce White, who unapologetically identify with mental illness and thus as someone with the rights of a person with a disability under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act.
Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are real experiences with real challenges that deserve serious respect. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I support you. <3 <3 I think it’s awesome that identifying with mental illness has been empowering for you. It has been for me too.
I hope this was helpful. Never hesitate to reach out to me :D
Sending you love and appreciation,
k. adelle / / miss diagnose
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
p.s. “mental illness” is a term that has been used by many activists, usually for access to health/care. having a preference for “mad” doesn’t mean like.. all work being done around “mental illness” is a sham. it’s a certain way of framing that has been used by us, for us, strategically, with mixed results.
p.p.s. my mug right now says “getting old is for the birds” and all the birds have like little shawls and caps and canes it’s so cute.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
|—||Kurt Vonnegut (via cielito-lindo)|
|—||Angela Davis (via socialjusticewarriorgirl)|
Every so often I read about Twin Oaks, and think that I want to live there. Then I remember about air conditioning, and also that I kind of do depend on streaming video, at least, if not broadcast TV. And that years of hearing about the capitalist myth of scarcity makes me touchy as hell about the idea of not having my own financial assets, even though I don’t really have financial assets now.
Why can’t we build an intentional community that has air conditioning?
When comments are better than the article, Atlantic edition (“The Cheapest Generation: Why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy”)