Sunday, November 26, 2006


There was one discordant note to the Reclaim the Night march I went to last Thursday. The organisers had done a really good job of planning the after party. There was food, and a space for a debrief, as well as performers and a party.

My problem was that the bar was on two levels, and the food and debrief part of the after-party was up a steep flight of stairs.

I say 'my problem' of course it wasn't actually my problem. My legs take me up and downstairs with relative ease - and I jumped straight in to help set-up the food. It wasn't even really a problem for my friend Betsy, although stairs are an obstacle for her.

The women for whom that flight of stairs would have been a problem weren't there in the first place.

I've been struggling with accessibility in activist movements, and where my limits are, for as long as I've been an activist. Most groups I know aren't in a financial position where they can pay to hire space, so we meet wherever we can get a free room. Sometimes, but not always, that's been accessible. Sometimes, but not always, I've objected.

But I'm limited when arguing for accessible spaces, because I know it's not arguments that convinced me, it's experience. It's because for years my friend Betsy couldn't walk up a flight of stairs. Where we went for coffee, where we went for a drink, where we went to the movies, where we bought CDs, whose flat we met up at - these decisions were all influenced by the number of steps in front of the building. I see a set of steps and part of me notices it as an obstacle.

1 comment:

  1. Lets ban all those horrible discriminatory stairs!

    That will show the evil capitalists.