Rocking (and Flapping) at a 1000 Revolutions a Minute

[Content warning: Mentions of Ableism; Censored use of the r-word; Abusive Treatment]

I made it down to an occupy site!

I am in the DC area this week for a variety of things. So Tuesday afternoon I went down to the site at McPherson Square for a couple of hours. It was significant for me in part because although I’ve been really active with work groups at Occupy Pittsburgh, and been doing a lot of Occupy disability work, I’ve yet to make it down to any physical site. (Mainly it is an intersection of disablity and transport issues.) So it was exciting.

I stayed for a while, but I ended up leaving 10-15 minutes earlier than I had intended. Turns out the people in the tent behind the sidewalk where I had plopped down were Ron Paul supporters, and they got their supplies out and what not. I decided I’d rather not have my disabled self be used to create support for someone whose policy platforms tend to be counter to the needs of people with disabilities.

I made a youtube video of a portion of my time on site. (And yes, it is captioned, thanks to Universal Subtitles.)

The reason this is getting its’ own post and not getting lumped in comes from a comment on this I got from Urocyon on Google plus. She commented about how even thought stimming makes her feel like she’s releasing tension from trying not to, it is uncomfortable for her as an adult to stim in public.

I responded with-

 I think that those feelings is what makes rocking or flapping in public so… well, revolutionary and powerful. Because we’ve had those thoughts that it’s bad or wrong or something to hide ground into us to the point where we doubt ourselves and our right to exist as we are in public spaces…

Rocking and flapping and spinning and humming and pacing and racing and- well, and stimming some how becomes a challenge to those things we’ve internalized about our rights to live as we are. It is somehow this reclaiming of some part of us that we love but that we were told is wrong.

We have been told that these basic steps of self care- and that often is what it ends up being in a way- are wrong. Quiet Hands and You look like /are acting like a R[-word] and people will think you are crazy and countless other stories, these are the things we were told from a young age about how we are bad and wrong. We are trained fiercely to assimilate into a world that doesn’t want us, but other people in the warm bodies we inhabit and strangers they can love to move in behind our faces.

The week before I sat in the park and rocked, feeling my defiance, I spent several nights wishing I didn’t exist. I knew all the things I talk about here intellectually, but that base part of me is still filled with the remembered abuse of my past. The most prevalent are those that were excused at the time as treatment while speaking words describing me as a burden and my being as a barrier.

So, in the face of stress, the only answer that came to me is that I should not exist. I sat rocking and blubbering the late nights away while my sister was sleeping fighting those things from my past that still live in my head. This time I won, but today I saw a friend who was saying of herself the same things- I should not exist. This is a friend who is passionate about her rights as a person with disabilities (among other things), and still the thought- I should not exist.

When the things that make up a part of who we are is so suppressed, how can it not be revolutionary to rock in public? How could I not include this part of myself when protesting a system that treats people without economic means as worthless? Why shouldn’t I stim in the face of a world- one both outside and inside- that tells me that I, too, am worthless? (If you are new, I am indeed fond of rhetorical questions.)

I am stimming 1000 revolutions a minute when I go out and stim at a protest. I’m being Autistic, fat, disabled, queer, poor, covering, and many other things in public when I am in public, and being visible here is bringing all of those things out and into a space where revolution can happen. I am speeding our revolutions while joining their revolutions, even if it is only that tiny amount that visibility brings.

But revolution can happen in places that aren’t big protest sites too. Protest can happen even when you are alone, the only person to see it yourself and the only mind it will change is that part of you that believes what we’ve been taught. That is revolution at the most basic element- being able to change our own minds to make a more equitable world.

So yes, I rock (and flap, and…) 1000 revolutions a minute. We all do, when we dare to be who we are without apology, and dare to confront that which tells us we shouldn’t exist or aren’t worthy. We do when we dare to exist freely as people with disabilities, as Autistics, as all of the things we are.

We are a 1000 revolutions a minute.

Republished at Persephone Magazine November 28th 2011.


20 thoughts on “Rocking (and Flapping) at a 1000 Revolutions a Minute

  1. I needed to read this post today. Thank you. This is something I’ve been encountering a lot this fall — feeling like I’m a worthless person because I can’t match up with this mythical, able-bodied ideal of what it means to be. Every time I stim or rock, I try to remind myself that these are embodiments of activism. It’s hard, though, because my activist/autistic embodiments are so often regarded by others as, well, nothing positive. I wish there were more autistic people here so that we could all form an autistic chorus.

  2. 1: “Rocking in public” is a phrase that does thing to my brain and makes my heart beat faster.

    2: I know, on absolutely every level, that I shouldn’t exist.

    3: The weirdest part of last week, for me, was thousands of people suddenly deciding that I did.

    4: I think that’s the irony of this kind of activism…I write about not-existing, I live but I don’t exist…but if what I do works, and if what I believe in is true, then, suddenly, I do.

    5: I don’t know how to handle that.

    • I think i need the ability to like comments on here, because I think If I respond fully I’ll just cry, and while I am feeling able to rock, I’m not yet ready to cry here.

      (I’m sitting in the concourse at Union Station in Washington, DC right now.)

  3. Viva la revolution. Cuz it isn’t our revolution if we can’t stim.

    I am so glad you (and everyone else who commented here, and a whole lot of other people) exist. Our very being is revolutionary, and I’m glad you’re all here to revolt with me.

  4. This is a great post. I absolutely adore this sentence in particular: “We are trained fiercely to assimilate into a world that doesn’t want us, but other people in the warm bodies we inhabit and strangers they can love to move in behind our faces.” Thank you so much.

  5. Pingback: Disability & Occupy: Disability Blog Carnival #79 « After Gadget

  6. Thank you for writing this post. I am blind, not autistic, but your words ring true for me, and for all of us who are perceived as disabled (i.e, different and inadequate), by an able-bodied majority who set the standards.

  7. this is a great post! thanks. i can relate to this because of other disabilities. i recently premiered a movie i directed in seattle and i got some flack for “acting crazy” at the q&a. but my response is that this crazy person directed the movie! i think so many social rules could be discarded.

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