Thursday, June 21, 2018

When Bloggers Talk About Politics

"The Politics of Fear" by Barry Blitt, July 21, 2008

Occasionally, I make political commentary on my blog and social media channels. Occasionally this ruffles some feathers and people express feelings of discomfort when I "get political." I thought we could talk about, talking about politics on social media today.

Let's start with the basics.

I am a woman. As a woman I have experienced sexual harassment many times throughout my life. Statistically I have and will earn less than my male counterparts and I have definitely experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. I have a much higher chance of experiencing sexual violence, I am often afraid for my safety in routine situations--going out at night, going on a run alone, and even being in my own house at night when my husband is out of town. (My husband does not experience fear during any of those scenarios. Ever.) I was in third grade when I "dieted" for the first time buckling under the shame I felt for things that had been said about my body.

I am a mother to three daughters. For all the reasons above and more, I am so acutely aware of the world we live in, it's affects on their body's and minds and how I can best buffer them from the wave of female discrimination they will endure in their lives.

I am a special needs mom. I have a daughter who has received services for her condition since birth as part of the IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which is a federal law that governs early intervention, special education and related services for disabled schoolchildren ages 3-21 (or until high school graduation). She has an IEP or an Individual Education Program--a legal document--to ensure that the special services she needs in order to have the same access to public education as her peers. As a wheelchair user our lives are intricately intertwined with laws that fall under the ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990. It's because of the ADA that my daughter has access to public buildings as they are required to have accessible entrances, accessible bathrooms and accessible parking stalls.

In short, how can I NOT be political?


I can't. Politics are a part of my daily life. Whenever I hear someone say they are uncomfortable with me talking about politics on my social channels, I'm a little confused. Like the Grinch, I puzzle and puzzle until my puzzler is sore. A lot of what I talk about on here has a direct relationship to politics. I may not talk about it always talk about it overtly, but it's always there. It's a little bit like saying you hate when the weatherman starts to bring science into everything. Ugh, here he goes blathering on about science again... just tell me if it's going to rain or not! Granted, if the weatherman (or woman) was always going through the science behind every forecast, I could see that it would get frustrating as we often just need to know the basics to make our plans for the day. But you've got to respect the fact that every forecast and every chart has a basis in science and occasionally he's going to pull back the curtain.

Samesies here.

I know people love hearing about my beautiful daughters, particularly Lamp as I know many people find her inspiring. And most readers come here for the Special Needs Spotlight. These stories are powerful and have so much to share regarding humanity, dignity, love and inclusion. But it is important to recognize that all of those things are tied to politics, especially right now.

Of course I also talk about design, crafts, DIY's, music and other things not so directly correlated, but even that is done with a mindful purpose. Part of why I show up here week after week is so that our family--our special needs family--is a part of the media you see in the world. I want our family's version of normal to be seen, to be part of the collective conversation happening on social media. Of course I write about disability issues directly, but oh look, here's a sponsored post I did with my kids just like all the other blogger moms because our life is normal too. Maybe you have never seen a person with a limb difference in real life, but if you've seen Lamp then perhaps when you do meet someone it won't feel so foreign. Perhaps you'll show your children pictures of Lamp and have a discussion about disability.

But it goes beyond that even. It's about equality and opportunity.

The unemployment rate for persons with a disability is double what it is for people without a disability. While the ADA protects a lot of rights for persons with a disability in the workforce, it is still possible and legal to pay a person with a disability less than minimum wage, sometimes even less than a dollar(Many people site Goodwill Industries for it's gross practises in taking advantage of this loophole.) Also, did you know that people with disabilities--both men and women--are victims of sexual assault more than 7 times the rate for people without disabilities?


How can I NOT be political?

The 1960's are a decade I've often looked to over the years for inspiration in music, fashion and for the crazy period it was in our nation's history. People talk about that time period with so much passion as it was a time for radical social change, the sands of normalcy shifting beneath their feet. Even in middle school that era was rife with romantic sentimentality for me and I wondered what it would have been like to live during that time. My favorite TV show in middle school and early high school was The Wonder Years, set in the late 60's to the early 70's.

Lately, I've been feeling like we're living in the 1960's 2.0. Social injustice and civil rights is on the forefront of everyones minds these days. From Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ equality, the #MeToo movement, to the latest tragedy at the boarder with the horrific mess the President created when his policy resulted in separating children from their parents. And lets not forget issues of gun violence and mass shootings.

We are living in a highly charged, political climate. It is going to be a part of the conversation here on This Little Miggy and on my Instagram and Facebook channels as well. Sometimes overtly, sometimes indirectly. If you come simply to be "inspired" by stories of disability, in other words you only want me to tell you when it's sunshine or rain, well then you're going to be disappointed.

Here's what I do want you to know. I am neither Democrat or Republican--I am an independent. In my youth I swayed more Republican, and now I sway more Liberal. That being said, I have voted for both parties in Presidential elections over the years--an almost 50/50 split. Therefore, I have zero party loyalty. I'm not saying that makes me better or worse than anyone else, but what I am saying is that I am (usually) open to hearing multiple points of view and often take my stance on issues on a case by case basis. However, I will not have a discussion/argument with anyone who is clearly coming from an extremely biased point of view--meaning you clearly only read news sources from an extreme political slant. And while I sincerely mean this for both parties, from my point of view I see this slanted perspective more extreme on the right than on the left these days. That's just my observation. And while I am not party loyal, I have made it clear that I am anti-Trump. You will not change my mind on this. In general, I will say one of my biggest frustrations with politics today is the adherence to party above all else. If you can't find a fault with your own party, or on the flip side if you can't find something genuinely positive about the opposing party, I generally don't want to talk about politics with you. However we may agree on specific issues. Also, if you do have a specific point to make--a statistic or fact--I hope you are prepared to share a credible source as well.

I am not trying to turn anyone away from This Little Miggy. I'm not asking that you leave if you get uncomfortable with political discussion, (although that is always an option), I'm asking that we get uncomfortable together. I'm asking that you accept that it is an intrinsic part of my life, the work I do, and will continue to be a topic here on TLM and my other social channels.

So how about it? Wanna talk about politics today?

I want to hear what you have to say. First, do you see my point of view above about the fact that much of my life, particularly as a special needs parent, is directly tied to politics? Honestly, I'm assuming most of you do because the people who decry my political commentary and few and far between, but it feels good to have an open discussion nonetheless. Second, in general do you like it when bloggers/social media people talk about politics? Personally I love it. We're all humans and citizens and I appreciate hearing these well rounded parts of people's lives--even if they are design bloggers or something that generally steers clear of politics all together. Do you find yourself debating politics on social media? Ugh... I do. And it's a double edge sword. I've actually had some good discussions and have learned new things during kind and open debate, but often it's just two people with their heels dug in over an issue who aren't really open to an opposing point of view at all. Thoughts, feelings? I'd love to hear. 

17 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:02 AM

    Miggy, I always find your politics postings to be very even-handed and so well-thought out. I remember your post about sexual harrassment, and commented at the time. It really spoke to me because it was so similar to my own experiences in the office when I was younger. Of course I don't see anything political about issues like this. To me it's simply, "men, keep your hands off the women in the office. And think about what you're saying." Same with rights for the disabled. I guess being for those rights makes me a liberal? Okay, I'll take the label. Call me whatever, just ensure the disabled have the same access the non-disabled have. To education, to jobs, heck just to get around town and inside buildings. I've known people who rolled their eyes when our town was putting curb cuts in the sidewalks at intersections. REALLY?!

    I hope you continue to share your thoughts on "sensitive" topics and continue to speak out for women and girls.

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    1. Wow. People rolling their eyes at curb cuts. Not only are they useful for people in wheelchairs or who use walkers, they also benefit mothers who walk with strollers, or delivery people using a dolly. It's hard for me to have patience for some people's short sightedness. Especially considering one or more of thoese eye-rollers will presumably be in a wheelchair one day and they'll be grateful for those dang curb cuts.

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  2. I’m with you on so many levels. I’m a woman, four daughters, with a daughter with special medical needs. She has a 504 plan at school. I’m a registered independent and vote 50/50 for each party (generally speaking; depends on the candidates). I also cannot stand Donald Trump and i have a physiological reaction to him. Keep talking about politics. These are extremely important issues! I enjoy hearing your thoughts. I feel that people who don’t like talking about these issues are the ones who don’t have to worry about them. Keep it up!

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    1. " I feel that people who don’t like talking about these issues are the ones who don’t have to worry about them." Yep. Privilidge.

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  3. Love this. These are important issues to talk about. I noticed people commenting on another blogger's instagram a few days ago, to the tune of "I come to your account for positivity, not to have politics shoved in my face." That is such an incredibly privileged sentiment and it makes me ragey. Keep speaking up, keep speaking out, and keep being awesome.

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    1. If it's the same blogger I follow, then yes I saw this too...and I was also dissapointed in the comments. I've felt quite a bit of rage since November 2015.

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  4. Love this post. I do not shy away from political discussions in any forum. One side note, I come from a long line of Chicago police officers (almost everyone but me are cops on my dad's side of the family). I was raised with a keen street sense. When I moved out on my own my father had me read the book, "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker. I, in turn, have suggested it to many of my female friends who have described feelings similar to what you described above. I implore you to read it. You won't be sorry and it may help minimize some of the things you described. https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Fear-Gavin-Becker-ebook/dp/B0036Z9U2A

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    1. I've read it. It's a great book! And yes it has minimized those feelings a great deal.

      However, the point of what I'm saying above is that I shouldn't have to live in fear like that, not because I've read the book about how to properly listen to and understand my fears, but because violence against women isn't so prevelant that books like this have to be written. And while I'm sure this book is helpful for men, it's definitely meant primarily for a female audience. The same idea as instead of teaching women self-defense and how to avoid rape, lets teach men how to stop raping.

      But like you said, it is a great book and I have recommended it many times as well. :)

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    2. Get it. Agree whole-heartedly.

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  5. Anonymous11:20 PM

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, except when I don't ;).

    I agree with your sentiment that it's impossible to remove politics from any of this, just as it is impossible (in my mind) to remove "religion" from anything. As an aside, I don't think there could ever possibly be a true "separation of church and state" because both are made-up of people. People bring their values and beliefs (whether those beliefs and values are rooted in an organized religion or not) with them wherever they go.

    Anyway, the problem for me is that sometimes I just want a break from politics and from our very divisive, very emotionally charged culture (as you say 1960s 2.0). I live in a very socially/politically conscious suburb of Chicago and my neighbors have signs on their lawns and bumper stickers and statements galore and then I read the news, and just want/NEED a break. I love the friction that I sometimes feel with my neighbors because it makes me feel alive and forces me to be thoughtful and respectful, etc. But sometimes, I am not strong enough to dwell on these things all the time. I, quite literally, lose sleep because of anxiety and heartache for all that's going on in the world, and, admittedly, for how it affects my family (with my youngest son having Down syndrome). (Incidentally, the cure for me is submitting these thoughts and feelings and the situations themselves to God in prayer). So, again, I get why some people don't like politics on social media.

    I have to confess that I actually did "leave" one site because of this. There is one VERY well known blogger out of New York (Brooklyn) who I read for a very long time. You can probably guess who I'm talking about ;). I have always identified as a conservative/quasi-Republican, but like you I have been swaying more "liberal" as I've gotten older. Anyway, this blogger posts more and more politics lately and while I respect that she does it (because some bloggers post like we're in some kind of vacuum. I mean, how can you NOT talk about certain things??), I find that the "opposing" view is almost entirely non-existent. Her online space is a veritable echo-chamber. The comments are very weirdly "one-sided" or rather lacking in nuance. It's like "seriously? Everyone reading thinks the EXACT same way?" It's become very rah-rah, and not respectful. Sometimes the comments are downright hateful. I never feel comfortable in or trust an environment like that, so I left!

    Anyway, please keep doing what you're doing. I love your heart about all these things and that's why I come here :).

    Roxana

    P.S. Sorry for the EPIC comment!

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  6. Hi, I totally agree with you. How can I not talk about politics? It's part of life, and it's a part of MY life. I actually tend to respect people more who keep up on current events and have something to say about them. But, I know that some people, especially in the religious culture of which I am a part, value meekness and try to avoid contention, and in doing so, avoid talking about politics or current events at all. I get it, but I disagree that that is the way to go about it. I think it's more valuable to actually USE our brains and logic, while maintaining civility and respect in our conversations. Nowadays, I definitely have seen a decline in respectful debate in the political and media spheres and I think a lot of people don't know how to do it. (I'm still learning as well, but I want to try!)

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  7. As a Canadian I am generally the viewer from outside thinking ‘but how was he elected’ and I appreciate posts that include a variety of links of interesting articles that I may or may not read but that help me stay updated.
    However reflecting on the first part of my sentence my province just elected in a ‘populist’ mini trump as premier who is already making needless ripples. Ugh.
    Staying and being political makes us all better citizens

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  8. Anonymous2:38 PM

    You should be political. Do not change a thing. If you didn't mention the utter craziness going on, that would be the problem.

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    1. "If you didn't mention the utter craziness going on, that would be the problem."

      Yes, that's how I feel as well. Political issues are human issues and never more so than right now.

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  9. Lynnard11:28 AM

    Hi, I love your blog because of the visibility you provide to disability. It is so needed because people need to see themselves reflected in the world but also to remind people of our common humanity, and that our value as a person is not in any way tied to our health status.

    Bravo for writing this post. I am with you.

    And as a path toward having tough conversations, can I recommend Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg? I think we are all gonna need a lot of nonviolent communication in our lives.

    The general idea being that yes, shaming, judging, labeling, criticizing people doesn't work to change minds, but hearing what other people need and value, what emotions they are feeling, does help connect us. And the connection between us is really what matters.

    I wish it were easier said than done.


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    1. Thank you for the book recommendation...I'll check it out. I could definitely do better with non-violent communication as I tend to be a passionate debater. ;)

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  10. I'm glad you are posting about this. It's your reality, and that's what you are choosing to do, and we all DO need to respect people's online spaces. I can understand why people sometimes need to take a break - my anxiety spikes a lot more these days when I head for any news source - but a person's need to take a break shouldn't translate to distaste for a blogger's (or anyone's) right to express their frustrations with or accolades for current policies.

    I'm not sure that was very coherent. But I admire all of the people who are speaking up and speaking out.

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