Blogging for Women who Support Us


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.


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Developmentally disabled, physically and cognitively disabled. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died in 2014 and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

9 responses »

  1. Well, not inspirational then. Wrong term to use. But definitely (from the little I know) you come across as being a good friend.

  2. Sorry, I forgot to add. I hope this comes out the right way and doesn’t offend, but, you don’t inspire me. I like reading your posts and I think you write a lot of sense, but what you write about is mostly what already made sense to me and what I already think. So you haven’t changed my perceptions or inspired me to be a stronger person. But you’re someone I’d like to know in the real world. There’s a chance there’d be loads we would argue about, but I think I could have a good argument/debate with you.

  3. inspirational in the sense of giving people good ideas and possibly encouraging people towards doing something, i think is appropriate.

    the other sense that people often use, in contexts of looking at disabled ppl from outside and of hanging up ‘inspirational’ posters on one’s walls, i have no clear handle on the exact meaning of it, but it feels creepy.

  4. n: Exactly. It’s a pity that perfectly good words — like, say “special” and “overcome”, have been so twisted, and so often used for the purposes of sugar-coated manipulation, as to evoke maudlin violin or something . . .

  5. I’d say you are inspirational in the same way that I’d say it of Marie Curie, Mary Wollstonecraft etc – but I think in general I’d try and avoid the word, knowing the implications that it has. You’re definitely a positive influence on my thinking, in terms of you make me think about stuff that I’d just blindly accepted in the past.

  6. You definitely are a source of inspiration, in the original sense of the word. You make people think in new ways. You lead by example. You project yourself as a creative force onto the canvas of the world. And to answer an older posting of yours, where you say you once wished you did not exist, I think the world is a better place because you exist.

  7. You certainly give me plenty to think about. So you inspire thought in me.

    You haven’t had the same sort of impact on me, however, as my grandmother, who was a cancer researcher in the 1950s. (She’d graduated from medical school in 1929.) It was assumed in my family that of COURSE a woman could be a scientist as I was growing up, even if there were very few role models shown to me outside the family. I don’t know if I was specifically inspired to anything in particular, but it was nice not being called on the gender thing by anyone in my family when I was studying mathematics in college. (I’d gotten called on it by some other people at various times, which was annoying.)

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