Today is Blogging for Women Who Support Us Day, and I really haven’t forgotten, I’ve just had stomach trouble from antibiotics, so it’s hard to focus on writing a new entry.
I will dedicate a post to a woman who supported me and who had a great positive impact on my life and the direction I took. Please join me by also writing a post for the strong women – past and present – in your lives.
I’ve been fortunate to know a lot of strong women. I’ve described a few in my life before, so here are some I haven’t described as much.
Relatives first, I guess.
My great-grandmother, who I wish I’d known better than I did (and yes, I did know her), traveled to America by herself while she was still a child. She raised seven children (several of them would have been classified as disabled by today’s standards, although I’m sure the family would be shocked to know that, and one of the probably-autistic ones ended up being her caregiver in old age) during the Depression. I have trouble seeing her as anything but a strong woman, and I regret that she died before I had the chance to know her better (I was 11 or 12 at the time).
My mother was often quite explicit about certain kinds of gender biases. I remember a boy coming by and playing with the toys, and saying an ambulance driver had to be a man. She’d ask him, “Why does it have to be a man?” She asked those kinds of questions all the time.
One of my staff in California, Debra Kahrs, introduced herself by saying she believed women could do anything men could do, and she believed strongly in equality for women. She’d worked in non-standard jobs for women, like construction, and taken a lot of flak from the guys. She had been in the psych system as a teenager, and understood what it meant to be under the control of staff. She lost her job at least once for taking a client’s side in things and teaching a client self-advocacy by example. She tried to go by what was right, rather than what was policy, at a fair amount of cost to herself. She also came with me to Autreat and co-presented on institutions with me.
Cal Montgomery is a disability rights activist who has had a fair amount of influence in my life, both personally and intellectually. She’s been a friend, and she’s also been someone to bounce ideas off of and see what she thinks, or to see new ideas from. She’s been there for me at times when almost nobody else was, when I was depressed or having flashbacks. I can say that most of my thinking as an adult has been influenced by her (in a good way) one way or another.
It’s hard to write about human beings with that much influence in my life, in short little paragraphs like that, but it’s what I can do at the moment.