Tag Archive | "Climbing"

Sex, Disability, and the Price of Admission to The New York Times

Having a perspective that is never represented in public is a tough position to be in. Especially when what you see is something about how silly or wrongheaded things are and how they could be made much more fair, more just, if only everyone could start seeing things from multiple perspectives, including yours, rather than through the narrow lens served up 24/7 by schools, the media, our governments, and our insular and homogenous communities.

For years you might try to ignore or deny what you see. Maybe the rest of the world is right and you’re wrong. After all, there are so many of them, and they all seem to agree. You have times when you think you’re not just wrong, but delusional or paranoid. That you’re actually imagining what you see, or that your perspective itself is a sign of illness, disease, sociopathy.

But hopefully you hang in there. You might spend years figuring it out, thinking and feeling it through, talking with friends and others, some of whom learned from your perspective, or told you that you’re right, that there’s nothing wrong with you, and that the world would in fact be a better place with if your perspective were shared.

And then maybe one day, after being ignored for your whole life, and never seeing someone with your perspective given a platform to speak to the public, someone comes along and says they find you fascinating and they’d like to help you share your thoughts with the world.

There’s just one catch. They get to write it all down, and then they will edit what you say, and rearrange your words, and even add some of their own. And above it all, in big letters, at the very top, will be their words, not yours.

What do you do?

This is the position that journalists put disabled activists in every time they decide that the subject of sexuality is one that might suddenly apply to people with disabilities.

And this is the conundrum that I was thinking of while reading an important but typically ignorant piece in the New York Times about sexual surrogacy in France.

The ignorance announces itself in the title:

“Disabled People Say They, Too, Want a Sex Life, and Seek Help in Attaining It”

First of all, “disabled people” aren’t some small, homogenous and easily defined group you can point to and say “Look! I found the disabled people!”. In fact, as disability activists often point out, disability is part of identity, rather than a medical diagnosis and what’s more by most definitions of disability, disabled people comprise the largest “minority” of the global population. Since the article isn’t about specific functional limitations, it implicitly acknowledges this, but the headline explicitly doesn’t.

The article itself and the accompanying video focus on one woman, Laetitia Rebord. Even though the video is edited for maximum dramatic effect (complete with music that lets you know how poignant each and every moment is), it’s clear that Laetitia is funny, insightful, and has a complicated take on issues related to sexuality, bodies, desire, and rights. Instead of conveying any of that, the article begins:

“In her sexual fantasies, she is a fit and impetuous blonde who dominates her male partners. In real life, she is a virgin who relies on an electric wheelchair, her body touched only by home care aides and medical personnel.”

And so everything that is actually interesting (and complicated) about Laetitia and about this story and about the broader social context is reduced to a stereotype that feeds the basic ableism that will already be stirring in most New York Times readers as they read this article.

To be honest, in my fantasies I’m a fit and impetuous blonde who dominates my partners. And in real life I’m none of that. Does the fact that, for now, I move through the world using legs instead of wheels, make this fantasy any more or less tragic? Is the New York Times aware that our fantasies almost never conform to our realities? Or that we generally don’t really want our fantasies to come true (I’m sure my imagination would be sorely disappointed by real life as a blonde)? Folks at The New York Times might know all this, but they wouldn’t apply such logic here, because it’s assumed that everyone who wheels around wishes they could walk for real.

It’s sort of an amazing feat of writing. An article which is ostensibly about a group of disabled people fighting for their rights manages to strip the main characters of agency at every turn.

Take for example the one line description of Mark O’Brien, the poet and journalist whose article about seeing a sex surrogate was the basis for the 2012 film The Sessions. Here, what was a bold journalistic enterprise and a major personal journey becomes “the sexual awakening of a disabled man by a sexual surrogate.” This is kind of like describing someone climbing Mt. Everest, and giving the credit to the ropes.

But even having said all of that, I still think the article is important and I’m glad it was published. It raises several questions about sexual rights, sexual support, and what it means to have a sex life, which are rich questions to consider. And if you can read through the self-importance of the paper of record, it also introduces us to a few people who have managed to hang in there and are trying to help us understand the world a little better by example. I wish they didn’t have to sacrifice so much for the lesson, but since they have I think it’s the least we can do to dig in and consider these other perspectives.

Next week that’s just what I’ll do.

Read More: Disabled People Say They, Too, Want a Sex Life, and Seek Help in Attaining It

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Source: About.com


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Rainbow Rose

A Rose By Any Other Name

Rainbow Rose

Dutch florist, Peter de Werken is the inventor of a trade secret process for creating rainbow roses. The picture says it all. The flowers are treated with natural pigments into their stems, so when they grow each petal has a different color. The flowers are sold under the name of rainbow rose or happy rose and are only available as cut or dried flower arrangements.

The Happy Roses Company describes the process in the following way, “Roses are placed in special water. Different substances are dissolved in this water. The rose branch absorbs this water as part of a natural process. This is what changes the color of the petals. What makes Happy Roses unique is that the inventor has managed to color a few petals, for example, yellow, whilst at the same time other petals color differently, for example, blue, orange or lilac.” The whole process takes 12 to 24 hours. BTW Did you know that the very first plant patent was for a climbing rose?

Photo courtesy of Rainbow Rose Company

Source: About.com


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Hiking  near Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Year-round Playground for Adventure Travelers

Hiking  near Steamboat Springs

Hiking in the wilderness, mountain biking on singletrack, rock climbing and fly fishing, then soaking in a natural hot springs.  Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has it all.

Photo:

© Lois Friedland

Source: About.com


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Reel Rock High Adrenaline Films on TV Just This Week

Especially if you didn’t see one of the Reel Rock adventure travel films during the 2012 tour, you won’t want to miss one of the Reel Rock shows that start tonight. Check out the film clip on Outside Television.

Emmy-winning adventure filmmakers Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer circled the world capturing exhilarating sites and stories as top personalities in mountain adventure and rock climbing best the world’s most vertical terrain.  Eight TV shows during the next week bring the best of the 300-city Reel Rock Film Tour to television for the first time.

Source: About.com


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View from Jerusalem Old City Walls

“Back to the Beginning” TV Special Shows Views from Jerusalem’s Walls

View from Jerusalem Old City Walls

In yesterday’s special television program “Back to the Beginning”, Christiane Amanpour’s journey included views from the walls surrounding the Old City in Jerusalem.  Here are some of the views you’ll get while climbing on the ramparts around the vibrant Old City.

Photo: © Lois Friedland

Source: About.com


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Ritz-Carlton-Palm-Beach

Pre-Xmas: Genius Time to Get Away. We Rec: Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach

Ritz-Carlton-Palm-Beach

Getting away during the weeks just before Christmas is a luxury travel secret. Tropical resorts are hushed and sedate. It’s the quiet before the storm.

One inspired getaway right now is The Ritz Carlton, Palm Beach. Luxury Travel’s Miami-based Guest Author Sara Liss visited with her young family. Her story communicates, basically, “get here soon.”

Eau-Spa-Ritz-Carlton-Palm-Beach

Among The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach’s charms:

  • Eau Spa, “a fantasy playground for grownups,” says Sara
  • A Club-Floor Lounge so caring and comfortable, “you could hang here all day, relaxing and snacking”
  • Ritz-Carlton-Palm-Beach-Club-Lounge

  • A cool kids’ club with a rock-climbing wall and Glee stage
  • A teen club whose guests can deejay or shoot a modeling portfolio

See what else Sara and her crew loved about The Ritz Carlton, Palm Beach >>

Ritz-Carlton-Palm-Beach-Kids-Club

Photos: Pool, Eau Spa, Club Lounge martini, Aquanuts Kids’ Club ©The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach.

Source: About.com


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Cortina, Italy

6 Resorts in the Alps – Prime Choices for Winter Sports

Cortina, Italy

Here are six of the best resort playgrounds in the Alps for winter sports.  Whether you want to stay in Switzerland, Austria, France or Italy, to go skiing, snowboarding, climbing, or winter walking,  you’ll have a good time in any of these villages.

© OT Chamonix © David Ravanel

Source: About.com


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Iceland With Epic Tomato

Warm – or Cold – Epic Weekend Escapes

Iceland With Epic TomatoEpic Tomato, the UK-based adventure travel company that runs a variety of entertaining trips with unexpected twists has put together several Epic Weekends. If you like warmth, go gorilla trekking in Uganda or watch tree climbing lions in Tanzania or hike with a nomad family in Morocco. Prefer cold? Overnight in a private cabin facing a smoking volcano in Iceland, then go ice fishing. Epic Tomato, which has a U.S. office, has many longer trips, too.

Photo: Courtesy of Epic Tomato

Source: About.com


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Biking in Suesca, Colombia

Hike, Bike and Sample Your Way Through Coffee Country

Biking in Suesca, Colombia

Where can you bike through coffee country and stop at organic coffee fincas, go climbing in tumbled rocky terrain, and hiking among the towering Quindio wax palms? Colombia offers it all  to active travelers in a mix of gentle countryside and rugged terrain.

Photo courtesy of Sergio Caceres Sanchez/Bogotá Bike Tours

Source: About.com


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Tomato Tossing Time in Spain: August 29, 2012

A crazy, crowded, messy melee — that’s La Tomatino, the annual tomato throwing festival jumping off in Bunol, Spain (near Valencia) August 29, 2012. Imagine a mosh pit with tomatoes added, plus some diversions like climbing a greased pole to capture a ham. Getting the picture? Check out some visual aids and the whole La Tomatina 101 from About.com’s Guide to Spain, Damian Corrigan, and enjoy!

  • Tomatina Tomato Fight 2012
  • Tomatina Calendar of Events
  • Getting from Valencia to Bunol

Photo © Damian Corrigan | Student Travel blog home

Source: About.com


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