Regarding Freak SeparatismPosted: April 6, 2012
Note: This is the opinion of a member of the Front; it has not been endorsed as any policy of the Front.
One of the fundamental demands, often the most basic demand, of freak rights has been ‘inclusion’- inclusion by accommodation. We have demanded interpreters, braile, academic and sensory accomodations, wheelchair access, and so much more- and these are important things to demand. We should keep demanding them. However, no matter what we demand, the world we are asking to be included in, is still a world designed from a ‘typical perspective; the day when our needs are made central from the beginning, and not added on later, is still a long ways off- and some of our needs might never be central or fully accommodated by the neurotypical/physical-typical society.
Mindful of the knowledge, that to live in the world of the ‘typicals means to navigate the spaces and institutions of their world, it is time to discuss, in earnest, the idea of freak separatism.
It must be clarified- we are not discussing a ‘freak homeland’ of any sort here. There is like to be no nation-state ruled by and for freaks. The logistics of such a project, the settling of people into the area, the rarely-peaceful struggles for political independence, the question of prior inhabitants are all too vast; we have learned from the last half-century of struggle over that strip of land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean that attempts to create a new homeland for any people can raise terrible issues. A nation-state is unlikely. Nor are we discussing the so-called ‘intentional communities’ that are in reality glorified asylums run by neurotypicals and the medical profession.
What we should discuss, and what is being discussed, is a form of ‘limited’ separatism. By this we mean, the creating and maintaining of spaces, communities, and institutions, defined and controlled by and for freaks- either certain freak communities or pan-freak spaces. Freak separatism means signed theater and poetry written for and by deaf people. It means social clubs and safe spaces run for and by freaks. It means wheelchair-positive architecture, peer-support mental health care, para-athletic teams, sensory-friendly study and social space, and freak-run intentional communities. Separatism exists within, or ‘near to’, the hegemonic and ableist society, but separates itself from the fundamental assumptions and norms underlying that society. Freak separatism means creating freak-centric spaces, both physically and socially, in which our needs and perspectives are not simply accommodated, but affirmed and made the normative standard.
This is the freak separatism that we must build; inclusion is an important demand, but it cannot be our only one. We must demand inclusion, but also the right to our own spaces.