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Posts tagged ‘The Times’

The connection between the Lake District & ready to use veg

Throwback Thursday 2

Please……. bear with me……. there is a real connection.

In January last year, The Times newspaper published two columns with distinctly ableist views. 
The first was on 5th January written by Jeremy Clarkson.

Clarkson is well known for his reactionary views on gender and sexuality, so I guess I shouldn’t expect him to be disability aware.

His article took issue with some comments from Richard Leafe who runs the Lake District national park authority. Leafe was saying that the area is not doing enough to attract black, asian and minority ethnic visitors. Leafe also said that there’s a similar issue with young people and those who are less able in terms of their mobility.

Whilst Clarkson’s main argument is anti-ramblers, his casual ableism about the idea of making an old railway line into a tarmac path for wheelchair users is just unacceptable.

Encouraging and enabling disabled people to use the countryside and outdoor activities means having enough car parking, properly designed and monitored, discounted prices for entry and routes that you don’t need a mini 4×4 to navigate.

The second column was published on 25th January, it was written by Carol Midgely, and titled ‘M&S peels and appeals to Britain’s lazy cooks.’

M&S prepped vegetables in packet

Sure, we all want and need to save the planet, but prepared vegetables are a must for many disabled people. Many of us cannot prepare vegetables or fruit, we need someone to do that for us. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have carers, usually only get them for a short time.

I was actually told by one Social Worker that I could never have fresh vegetables or any food that wasn’t cooked in a microwave as the carer would not have time to do anything else! No wonder I developed severe physical health problems and anaemia.

Having ready prepared fruit and vegetables can help disabled people have a balanced and nutritious diet. They are really important for us.

So Times journalists, before you diss the need for disabled people to access our national parks or buy ready prepped fruit or vegetables – stop and think – you are just one illness or one accident a way from being disabled. You might just be grateful for wheelchair accessible paths and pre-prepared fruit and vegetables one day.

Ending PJparalysis doesn’t work for us

Carol Midgley’s Comment article in The Times today strikes an arrogant and unrealistic tone. Her assumption that the new NHS campaign #endpjparalysis is good for everyone is not correct or helpful. 

I fully understand the need for post-operative patients to begin to mobilise as quickly as possible to prevent DVT. But the presumption that every NHS patient should be up and dressed during their time in hospital is not realistic. Who is going to help those for are too frail or ill to do this for themselves? 

I’ve had 5 hospital admissions in the last 4 years. Each time I have needed help from nurses to get dressed. Many elderly and frail patients do not even get help to eat their meals in hospital. Who is going to help those people to get dressed?  

19% of the UK population is disabled in some way. We are also likely to make up the majority of patients on any ward. Another article in the same paper talked about the rising number of bed-blocking patients. The reason: there was no social care available for vulnerable people. That care is needed precisely because people cannot do basic tasks for themselves. Forcing all patients to get dressed gives a false impression to Social Workers of how fit people actually are. 

I’ve had Social Workers seeing me at home, dressed, but lying on my bed. They then presume that I’m capable of cooking a meal without help, or doing a myriad of other household tasks. I have most likely used up all my energy for the day, getting that far. Because they see me looking ‘respectable’ a whole set of unrealistic expectations appear in their thinking. These become intrenched and are difficult if not impossible to dispel.

Carol’s final point about needing to wear a bra to feel “fully functional” struck me as particularly ludicrous. Lots of disabled women find it difficult, if not impossible to wear a bra. This is especially true for those of us with arm or spinal problems. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to work in some way, may not have the choice to dress as she does. So, Carol, next time please check your ability privilege, before making your judgements.



No way Ms Watson!

I am incensed by Shane Watson’s column in the T2 Section of today’s Times. The headline ‘Real Women don’t hold hands; why are we fetishising women’s friendships?’

Which planet has she landed from? No, that isn’t a typo, Shane Watson is woman journalist who writes for The Times on a regular basis.

Reading the article, I had to double check that it wasn’t written by Shane Watson the cricketer, so anti-feminist were her views.

I really do not understand why she is so uncomfortable with two women, whatever their sexuality, holding hands. She seems to regard women who are close friends and are photographed hand in hand as creepy and unnatural.

Well, I have news for her, close women friends have for years walked down a road arm in arm. You only have to look at old photos of trips to the seaside to see groups of woman showing their friendships, it not a new phenomena as Ms Watson claims.

She goes on to explain that she doesn’t have such tactile friendships with her own friends and that she will often speak to her male friends (in preference to female ones) about relationship issues. I think she is missing out on the closeness that other women value. For many women, being able to share concerns with another woman is an essential part of our lives. It provides a safe space where the closest of secrets can be shared and unbiased advice given.

I don’t believe that such support and comfort can be found in the often complex and unequal relationships women have with men.

Maybe Ms Watson’s unhappiness is some sort of unrecognised need within herself?

I remember as a teenager how angry and uncomfortable my own mother was when I was openly affectionate with other women, there was absolutely nothing sexual involved, just enjoyment of a closeness that I couldn’t share with my very undemonstrative parent. But, such was my mother’s discomfort, that her response was extremely vitriolic.

On talking with my mothers sisters, all of whom were warm and affectionate, they felt that her reaction was due to the fact that I was able to make friends easily with other women whereas my mother’s haughtiness pushed friends away.

Friendships between women are precious, valued, life enhancing and affirming, special and very important at every stage of our lives. They can bridge age gaps and enable knowledge to be shared between different generations of women.

Women who are secure in their sexuality and their relationships with other women do not deserve to be derided and condemned. Their choices should be respected and celebrated.


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