Tuesday, May 16, 2006

301: where has rainmound been

Moody and depressed about the recent developments in the Gallaudet community. I keep trying to think of a better way, a more refined way to express the problems represented by Jane Fernandes.

The Kaftans ask if this is really identity politics. I want to point out something. deafdc.com and many others have been highly critical of protestors in the past. They are very logical people and want clearly reasoned objections before standing up. But people like Ridor at first based their objections on their gut instinct that something was wrong and began to investigate and write. Over time heart, in this specific instance, prevailed over head: now many bloggers on deafdc.com have changed their opinion about this protest. CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

So I believed seriously the objections of so many students. But there is also something going on here about identity. Jane Fernandes wants to "unite the university." She divided the University. She cracked it into many different camps. I wrote on Julie Feldman's blog:

I’d like to suggest that the issue of real importance is one of where a person is in their acceptance of their own deafness, Deafness, hearingness, Hearingness, etc. etc… people achieve a state of Deafhood where they learn where they are on their own mental map, and where they can be to obtain their maximum personal power: this allows them to see themselves as others see them.

We have to remember when we use terms like d/D, no matter what their source of personal power, we are repeating discrimination against us - after all, amongst ourselves, there is no true difference; the difference is in how we communicate with hearing people; but it comes back and it divides our community, to whom it should be meaningless (except to people who are brainwashed to think otherwise.)

Example, even though I speak and sign both, it really doesn’t matter to me. It’s not a huge mindblowing issue. I take people as they come. To CERTAIN PEOPLE, the issue is obviously very important, to the point of superseding their view of the individual.

Oh god, I spent too long in Women’s Studies… Look, you know how sometimes people get so blinded by the gender question that they can’t see what women can really do because they’re women? Same thing, but with Deaf people. Deafhood is also about comfort with internal and external diversity. We must become comfortable enough with our deafuality so that we don’t become upset with the deafuality of others.

Just like men who are most comfortable with their own sexuality are more comfortable around gay men than others.

It makes sense that Jane Fernandes is divisive (and BOY! Is she divisive! To throw a whole country into whangdoodliness!) As others have noted, she too uses terms of difference inside Gallaudet. She is talking about difference. She is emphasizing difference. She is forcing false identity politics, for a reason: she wants us to FIGHT EACH OTHER instead of UNIFY. Within a university for Deaf people, what the hell does it matter who is what? When the students all come to the University, you know what I would do? (Yes, I'm an idealist.) Hold a Hogwarts-style banquet. Tell them it doesn't matter what they were before they came there. Now they are Deaf. It doesn't matter how well they sign; they are Deaf. It doesn't matter any of those differences. The language they can learn. The culture they create and change by their participation. They can speak? Call them "Deaf, can speak." We need to learn about, create, become comfortable with, and accept our "deafuality." We need to do it in a way that we feel comfortable being ourselves whereever we are. We want someone to lead us in that journey. This is why the Kaftans say:
She is right in saying the future of Gallaudet includes people of varying backgrounds, including those coming to know ASL and Deaf culture late in life. She is wrong, as is Howie Kent, however, in saying that has anything to do with why anyone in their right mind thinks she should or shouldn’t be president of Gallaudet University.

Right. Because they're all Deaf people. By virtue of making that (for some) first step of learning about themselves or taking that knowledge to higher education to transform with it into an educated citizen, they become Deaf. They plant the seed of Deafhood. Some may have it longer than others; that doesn't matter. We need to grow the seed. Because once you say "Deaf people can do anything except hear," what's next? Isn't it, "Well, let's do everything, now!"

Our society becomes ordered, when we become ordered within our minds; our minds become ordered when we become ordered within our hearts. -Confucius


Anonymous said...

Dearest Joey! Great blog! One of the best, yet. Especially like the WS bit.



Liza said...


I like how you express yourself, and I feel that your insights have a lot of wisdom to them. Deafuality, a very interesting word for me to ponder on. Thank you. You have given me something I find important to think about.

Btw, I am enjoying your Fingered serials immensely (just finished the first issue), and I would call the experiment a great success.. keep up with them!! :)

-A New Fan