It all Depends®.

A river of fluid connects Anarcha's past to disability culture's present. Our society cannot tolerate incontinence; once beyond infancy, incontinence divides the human from the non-human, the right to live and the imperative to die. Our Center for Independent Living maintains a supply closet with incontinence products for those who cannot afford them. These products are prohibitively expensive for folks living on a meager social security check. Often, the inability to pay for these products is the final straw that sends people into nursing homes. Medicare and Medicaid will pay for these products if you're in a nursing home, but not if you're living at home.

Disabled and elderly people have their freedom taken from them for the simple lack of these products. I have heard people claim they'd rather die than have their children 'change their diapers.'

I have heard of disabled people confined to their homes because they are rationing their incontinence supplies and cannot afford to change them so that they smell socially acceptable. They're also afraid that someone will discover that they can't afford them, and on those grounds have them incarcerated in a nursing home, as if the nursing home really solves the problem.

I have also heard stories of disabled and elderly people being left by nurses in their own urine and feces, the maceration causing skin breakdown, which leads to infected bedsores, which leads to death. Incontinence is a terrible reminder that we are not independent creatures with full control over our bodies.

We depend on others for nourishment and for eliminating waste. When incontinent, we are reduced to our waste. We become the refuse of society, not to be lovingly cared for, but to be flushed away like a piece of shit or sanitized out of existence.


Carrie Sandahl