For Christmas my daughter gave me a tote bag with the words, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” I just happened to glance at it this afternoon and it got me thinking about some of the more noteworthy misbehaving women of our times. There have been several, but the one that first came to mind was Hilary Clinton. One thing she was repeatedly criticized for was her temper. During her campaign she was called a ‘shrew’ and much worse. Yet if she’d been a man, few people would have found fault. Sarah Palin was criticized for trying to ‘upstage’ McCain. For shame! If she had been a man people would have admired her strength of character. Seems many people are more forgiving of men who break the rules. Women in office have to be fighters. We shouldn’t expect less of a presidential candidate who might have to go nose to nose with other world leaders.
What an interesting election year we had this past year, and now we’re about to have our first black president–something Martin Luther King could only dream of when he gave his speech at the Lincoln Memorial back in 1963. Imagine if Harriet Tubman were alive today. SHE was one brave woman who misbehaved so much a price was put on her head. Rosa Parks was another who simply stopped ‘behaving’ one day, by refusing to move to the back of the bus like she was supposed to. She has gone down in history as “The Woman Who Changed A Nation”
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about other women who have broken rules and changed the world. There was Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Gloria Steinem. . . and one of my favorites Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts. The story goes she had the audacity to strip down to her pantaloons to play basketball with other girls in a men’s club when she was a teenager. She believed girls could do anything boys could do. (gasp!) Teaching young girls to be ‘capable’ became the foundation of Girl Scouting, and undoubtedly influenced a lot of young girls to seek higher goals.
It might seem this has nothing to do with deafness, but it does. You see Juliette Gordon Low was deaf too. If she had lived today, I bet she would be fighting for deaf accessibility instead of equality for young women. The parallels between the Women’s movement, Civil Rights, and lack of deaf access have not been lost on me.
Deaf people are far from ‘equal’ when so much of society is unaccessible to them. When we visit the National Parks our tax dollars have paid for only to find that video presentations and tours normally accessble to the public are inaccessible to us, that is unfair and wrong. When we try to see movies with our families only to find them uncaptioned and inacessible to the deaf, it’s wrong. When we pay for expensive hotel rooms only to find their TV’s have no captioning or their phones not ADA compliant, that is wrong. When we request accommodations at work, and are turned down; when we are passed over for someone less qualified with better hearing, it’s called discrimination and it’s very wrong. The inequities against deaf are rampant. Deaf children miss out on hundreds of educational opportunities open to hearing children every day. Our public museums, theaters, classrooms, businesses find loopholes in the ADA to prevent access and our government turns a blind eye.
When will our deaf “Juliette Low” stand up and fight for us? How long will it take our deaf “Rosa Parks” to dig her heels in and demand equal access? Who will be our deaf “Martin Luther King?” When will our first deaf “Obama” be sworn into office?
We, the Deaf/deaf/hh community, are too complaisant about accommodations. We will not be treated as equals until we start misbehavin’ some. I think it’s time.