Janine gave this talk at 'East End Women Take Action', an event held on 24 September 2016, organised by the East End Women's Museum.
Forthcoming TUC Disabled Workers' Conference, 18-19 May
The Committee agreed:
Performed with the Loud Poets at Chat's Palace, Hackney, on 28 April 2017.
I am quoted about autism and my sensory experiences in this article on The Independent's website.
When I ask Janine what her individual Achilles’s heel is, perceptually speaking, she immediately replies: “Adverts in public spaces – especially moving ones
Some notes from recent discussions on Marxism and autism (two meetings and some online exchanges):
- There is a capitalist market in products aimed at autistic people and their families. These range from useful resources through to fake and even abusive 'treatments' and 'cures'. As well as commodifying autistic people's needs, this also exploits the fears felt by autistic people and particularly by parents of autistic kids.
- The mass production brought about by capitalism has had the effect of 'standardising' human beings, pushing us into a narrowly-defined 'normal', in contrast with the more individual, craft-based systems of production that preceded it. On the other hand, mass production has brought major advances and increased living standards. Can socialism combine the advantages of mass production and a renewed scope for individuality and diversity?
Can Marxism can help us to understand autistic experience in modern capitalism? How might Marxism inform our struggles for equality and liberation?
There are different approaches to understanding autism. Perhaps the dominant approach is a medical one: seeing autism as a disease or tragedy, and autistic people as being broken and needing fixing. Over recent years, a more progressive approach has developed. It stresses acceptance of autistic people rather than simply “awareness”, and demands rights, equality and support rather than abusive “treatments”.
This approach is based on the concept of neurodiversity: the recognition that the human species is neurologically diverse; that different people have different brain wiring. But this more progressive approach, while welcome, does not necessarily locate autism and neurodiversity within the social, economic and political structures of society. It is important to do this — firstly, because all disability exists in a social context; and secondly, because autism is largely an issue of how people interact socially. We are all expected to follow social rules, but who makes those social rules, and how?
Yesterday saw RMT's first ever Disabled Members' Conference, held in London.
Although quite small (9 delegates, plus union officials), the important thing was that it took place at all, especially as rank-and-file members had pushed for its creation against the wishes of the union's national leadership. Now it is established, it will grow from year to year, as the union's other equalities conferences have done.