Being a woman with a disability comes with a whole realm of unique and challenging issues. Gemma is the feminist podcaster with a disability who broadcasts her thoughts and issues to the world. We spoke to her about what it means to be a woman with a disability and the growth of her podcast.
1. What inspired you to start a podcast?
Before becoming ill I actually was a voluntary Radio Presenter for a Hospital Radio station. I loved it! I talked to people when they were at their most vulnerable, in hospital, away from home and loved ones. Fast forward a couple of years and a new diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, I felt unheard and wondered if others felt the sane way. I had done blogging before but the computer screen played havoc with my eyes, I also felt that I couldn't get out all of what I wanted to say. I missed Radio and the buzz it gave me, I missed feeling useful and hearing from listeners so I thought, hmm, podcasting maybe the right path to take.
2. You’re very open about your illnesses and disability, what made you decide to talk about it so openly?
Thank You, For me openness is extremely important and educational, Disability or health conditions can affect anyone at anytime, Its important to get awareness of health conditions out there, My own view is that, I like many in the world have disabilities that cause pain, isolation, anxiety and worry, I have 'invisible illnesses' where by looking at me you cannot tell, many cannot tell that it's rough going at times but I also feel humour plays a role, I feel if you can laugh at it in a way or see the lighter side your half way to managing it, for example there have been many a night I have had my head over the toilet battling a migraine and say "that all you got, you won't win". It's looking at it from a sometimes sarcastic/witty point of view. Laughter is often the best medicine.
3. What challenges do you face as a woman with disability?
Hormones! Lol. No seriously, my point of view as a woman is that my health conditions are tied up with hormones, it irritates me I cannot change this, at times it feels like a weakness, I think perhaps as a woman you get looked at as very vulnerable, maybe as a hypochondriac too, but one thing that has served me well is intuition.
4. What do you think we need to work on as a society to make it an easier space to be disabled?Great question, I think it starts with education, we learn on how to live in the world as an adult, but what happens if you are ill?, usually going by my experience you learn the hard way which makes navigating the world different There's a gaping void of understanding around disability, for many, another is government, a lot of the time governments come across as they see the disabled and those with health conditions a burden on society and in a way sanction individuals for being ill. Finally, I think many need to make opportunities available and ACCESSIBLE, I believe this is the best way to help people with disabilities thrive and prosper. Yes, we have health conditions but we are intelligent, talented, strong and empathic.
5. Do you think being a woman with disability comes with specific issues in comparisons to males with the same sorts of issues?
In a way yes, I also think it's how men and women are portrayed in society. Of Late men and women are seen as equal which is how it should be. But many believe men should be seen as strong, masculine and a provider, but if a man has a disability or health condition then what? Its a template that's not viable and very demoralising but it does depend on your point if view, I have a brother tell me how his experience with migraine was, he reacted the same way, felt the same, cried, couldn't move, you have friends on social media both sexes that have M.E, Epilepsy, Depression, EDS, Anxiety, MS both sexes react in the same way,health conditions don't care but the way to combat this is more awareness of all health conditions.
6. What are your plans for 2017?
Ooh good question, I'd love to reach out and connect to more people, even those without chronic health conditions. My personal plan is to have more experiences which the podcast is enabling me to do and continue to concentrate on my health.
7. Finally - Where can we find your podcast!
You can find my podcast at imaginationwithin.podomatic.com every Tuesday and Friday, expect humour and honesty!