haggis: (Celtic)
[personal profile] haggis
As you can tell by the last post, I am starting to work out my thoughts about carers and the caring relationship, especially how to care and ask for support as a carer in an ethical, non-oppressive way. I feel like I am on shaky ground – being a carer is hard but it is often easier than being disabled and it is easy and dangerous for carers to speak over the people they are caring for.

It occurs to me that there are parallels between being a carer and being a white person in a relationship with a person of colour or being a cis person in a relationship with a trans person.
• You may experience the oppression directly (disablism, racism, transphobia) but more frequently you experience it by association or witness it happening to the other person.
• Other people like you (white or cis or non-disabled) may include you in their disablism, racism and/or transphobia, assuming you agree.
• Mainstream society (in the West) is white, non-disabled and cis and has very low understanding of disablism, racism and transphobia. You are likely to need to educate yourself and then educate people around you.
• Support is desperately limited. Where support exists, it is generally focussed on the other person. Asking for support can feel like stealing resources from people who need it more.
• The support available can be disablist/racist/transphobic – for example when disabled people are treated as burdens, trans people are framed as deceiving/hurting their partners or inter-racial relationships are fetishised or tokenised.
• You are likely to have structural power in the relationship.
• You are likely to have internalised disablist, racist, transphobic ideas or beliefs and will mess up at some point.
• You have the opportunity to use power abusively. If you do, you can find people who will justify your behaviour.
• You are taken more seriously on the subject (of disablism, racism, transphobia) than the other person because of bullshit assumptions about objectivity.
• You can escape from the oppression more easily than the other person, for short periods or permanently by ending the relationship.
• You may find yourself permanently angry and horrified at how mainstream society equates ability with worth, enforces gender roles (sometimes violently) and works to maintain white privilege.
• Structural power is NOT the only issue and both sides of the relationship can be abusive (physically, emotionally, psychologically).
• Disablism, racism and/or transphobia make being abused by your partner or the person you provide care for even harder to talk about because of how neatly it fits disablist/racist/transphobic narratives.

I have written this as if these are simple binaries but they intersect and combine. Carers often have disabilities or need care themselves. Trans people and people of colour can be carers. Trans PoC exist. Other privileges and oppressions can affect what support you can access and how medical/social care providers treat you and the person you care for. I don’t want to overstate the parallels – these oppressions are different and work in different ways but I think I will look for good resources on inter-racial relationships and cis-trans relationships to see if there is any useful ideas there.

However, I think I have found a central theme – for someone who is not otherwise oppressed, these relationships force you to confront your own privilege and internalised -isms while discovering the oppression in mainstream society. (One of the key functions of privilege is to make your own privilege invisible to you). A key part of caring ethically and non-oppressively is learning to negotiate that within intensely personal relationships, with all the usual tides and undercurrents of love and jealousy and frustration you find there.

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June 2017

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