FEMINIST DISABILITY STUDIES
This section focuses on the interdisciplinary field of Feminist Disability Studies. Feminist Disability Studies begins with the assumption that disability is always inextricably linked to other social markers, such as gender, race, sexuality, and social class. Issues explored within Feminist Disability Studies are wide-ranging and span diverse disciplinary and interdisciplinary locations. Some of the topics addressed include the phenomenology of the lived body, issues of representation and subjectivity, and the politics of appearance and care.
Adair, V. C. (2005, Fall). Class absences: Cutting class in feminist studies. Feminist Studies, 31
Adair criticizes the inattention to social class in women's studies scholarship and teaching and moreover, that the very poor are erased when they are assumed under the framework of "working-class studies." She questions why social class, especially poverty class, coverage is so minimal in feminist and working-class studies and calls on everyone to recognize the dangers in such omissions. She suggests that a first step to addressing these erasures is to pay more attention to the ways in which social class is "both personal and structural": such attention can create spaces within which poverty-class students and colleagues might "come out of the broom closet" and have their identities validated.
Anderson, G. W., Monsen, R. B., & Rorty, M. V. (2000, May). Nursing and genetics: A feminist critique moves us towards transdisciplinary teams. In G. Anderson (Ed.), Nursing, ethics and genetics: Calling for a multiplicity of voices in our ethical discourse [Special issue]. Nursing Ethics, 7
Genetic information and technologies are increasingly important in health care, not only in technologically advanced countries, but world-wide. Several global factors promise to increase future demand for morally conscious genetic health services and research. Although they are the largest professional group delivering health care world-wide, nurses have not taken the lead in meeting this challenge. Insights from feminist analysis help to illuminate some of the social institutions and cultural obstacles that have impeded the integration of genetics technology into the discipline of nursing. An alternative model is suggested—the transdisciplinary model—which was developed initially by a nurse and introduced in the 1970s into the delivery of health care and social services for children with developmental disabilities. This holistic model enables all health care professionals to have an equal voice in determining how genetic health care will be globalized.
Asch, A. (2000). Critical race theory, feminism, and disability: Reflections on social justice and personal identity. Ohio State Law Journal, 62
Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, those who fight for disability rights can acknowledge some progress in the situation of people with disabilities but can also recognize that the insights from critical race theory and feminism have lessons for the disability rights movement as well. This article considers the application of critical race theory and feminist theory to such topics as who should be able to use the anti-discrimination provisions of the ADA, how to evaluate the interaction of impairment with environment, differences among impairments and environments and their implications for inclusion of people with disabilities in society, the merits of integration as a goal, and disability-consciousness as part of personal identity.
Avery, H. (1994, June). Feminist issues in built environment education. Journal of Art and Design Education, 13
Asserts that, in any inquiry involving women and urban structure, variables such as class, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, and disability require attention. Maintains that women use the built environment differently from men and discusses three major reasons for this phenomenon.
Barron, K. (1997, April). The bumpy road to womanhood. Disability & Society, 12
This paper is based on a qualitative study dealing with societal constraints with regard to womanhood for physically disabled young women in Sweden. The findings show that the young women are subjected to stereotyped views on what having an impairment involves and have to deal with certain normative criteria of what constitutes womanhood. Despite being “children” of their time and culture, i.e. rejecting the traditional subservient role of “the disabled” and of women generally, the young women yearn for the pursuing of tasks, such as caring for children and the home, closely linked to the traditional role of (non-disabled) women. It is argued that this can be understood as a means of counterbalancing an early acquired role of passive recipient. Alongside a positive identification with the group of “the disabled,” the interviewees strive towards being seen as something other than disabled, i.e. as women.
Barshay, J. M. (1993). Another strand of our diversity: Some thoughts from a feminist therapist with severe chronic illness. In M. Fine (Ed.), Women with disabilities: Found voices [Feature issue]. Women and Therapy, 14
This study represents the author's attempt to open the subjects of disability and accessibility-for-all in the women's community and specifically the feminist therapy community. This study is a revised version of a presentation given at the May 1990 Advanced Feminist Therapy Institute Conference in Chicago. The author's illnesses, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity/Environmental Illness are "women's illnesses," and, as such, are generally misunderstood and ignored. For this reason, the author describes in some detail her personal experiences, physical and emotional, of becoming and being severely chronically ill. The author discusses shortcomings in the women's therapy community's response to disabled women and suggests some analysis of the phenomenon of what she calls the "active unwillingness to know."
Begum, N. (1992, Spring). Disabled women and the feminist agenda. Feminist Review, 40
Based on literature focusing on both disability and gender, it is argued that the concerns of disabled women strike at the core of both the disability rights and feminist movements. Three factors that play a crucial role in understanding the lives of women: gender roles, self image and sexuality, are discussed.
Bell, M. (2006). Re/Forming the anorexic "prisoner": Inpatient medical treatment as the return to panoptic femininity. Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, 6
Through a theoretical and discursive text analysis, medical protocols for the inpatient treatment of anorexia nervosa are exposed as part of a disciplinary regime that enforces women's embodied conformity to normative femininity. Although anorectic practices are read as a threat to the patriarchal social apparatus because they represent women's autonomous manipulation of their bodies, medical protocols are read as a means of returning the female body to masculinist control. From a Foucauldian and feminist perspective, treatment mechanisms of surveillance and routinization function as a medical panopticon constructed to re/form the anorexic woman. Her return to the broader social panopticon is achieved only through her disciplined conformity, whereas her "recidivism" is deemed an individual failure. Medicine's collusion with the subjectifying force of normative femininity is thus laid bare: For her failure to conform to the punitive identity of "woman," the anorexic individual becomes a patient/prisoner of the medical panopticon.
Berwald, C., & Houtstra, T. (2002). Joining feminism and social group work practice: A women's disability group. Social Work with Groups, 25
This article describes the development and structure of an outpatient group created by two social workers at a rehabilitation hospital that clinically combines feminist practice and social group work practice. Group work practice has long been established as a way to deal with psychosocial issues in rehabilitation but having a feminist approach at the forefront is new. Offered annually for the past five years the group is for adult women with any type of disability. Measures used to evaluate the group show a statistically significant change from first group session to last group session for the women. Feedback from the participants is also favorable.
Bethune-Davies, P., McWilliam, C. L. & Berman, H. (2006). Living with the health and social inequities of a disability: A critical feminist study. Health Care for Women International, 27
Clients living at home with chronic disabling conditions together with their caregivers, service providers, and policymakers face major challenges in optimizing health care. In this critical feminist interpretive study we examined the experiences of women receiving home care for chronic disabling conditions. Five themes emerged: struggling with the embodied limitations of disabling chronic conditions; actively seeking health; struggling with service limitations; seeking ways to manage; and living with isolation and marginalization. Having done this study, we learned that home care services do not always contribute sufficiently to the overall health and well-being of women living with chronic disabling conditions and, in fact, may negatively impact upon their health.
Blackford, K., Cuthbertson, C., Odette, F., & Ticoll, M. (1993, Summer). Women and disability [Feature issue]. Canadian Women's Studies, 13
The editors of this issue are feminists, most of whom have disabilities, who identify the contributors as feminist disability theorists who insist that the personal is political. The issue includes articles by women from backgrounds that vary in class, race, ethnicity, and sexual or gender orientation in order to highlight the diversity in the lives of women with disabilities. Many of the authors raise questions that challenge traditional feminist thinking (about the body, about reproductive rights, about objectification and about language, for example), while others relate personal experiences or provide information on studies conducted with women with disabilities.
Boswell, M. (2001, Fall). Sexism, ageism, and "disability": (Re)constructing agency through (re)writing personal narrative. Women and Language, 24
Boswell examines paradoxes involved in living with "disability," arguing that such paradoxes arise from a complex interaction among a set of habitually expressed oppressions. She also discusses how feminisms, ostensibly devoted to dismantling these isms, sometimes perpetuates dominant discourses instead.
Boyer, M. (2004, March). The disabled female body as a metaphor for language in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
. Women’s Studies, 33
“For Sylvia Plath, writing the disabled body in The Bell Jar
engenders a series of intimate encounters with the ineffectuality of language. The mind/body connection, or, more pointedly, its dis-connection, is explored in this article by utilizing a combination of feminist and disability studies, highlighted by the theoretical concepts of Julia Kristeva and Jacques Lacan” (p. 199).
Broom, D. H. (2001). Reading breast cancer: Reflections on a dangerous intersection. Health, 5
Because breast is the most common female cancer, it is no surprise that it has prompted lobbying and extensive clinical research. Many women have written autobiographical accounts of their diagnosis and treatment, but there has been little effort to apply the perspectives of feminist or other social theory to our understandings of breast cancer. I propose that breast cancer is located at a meeting point between (at least) four sets of discourses and practices: those relevant to all life-threatening illness, those surrounding most or all cancers, those informing female-specific conditions and conditions of the breast specifically. This article considers how each of those domains defines and informs experiences of breast cancer and its treatment. I offer a reflection on that four-way intersection, and a move towards specifying how sociocultural fears about death, disease, sexuality and femininity converge to isolate and silence women who are diagnosed, to frame their choices and experiences, and to shape their stories.
Buzzanell, P. M. (2003, Fall). A feminist standpoint analysis of maternity and maternity leave for women with disabilities. Women and Language, 26
Maternity and maternity leave do not simply mean pregnancy (or adoption) and the time taken from work to recover from childbirth/adoption. Instead, these processes can be experienced in a variety of ways that are simultaneously empowering and disempowering for the women who gain access to specialized knowledges through these events and discussions with others. In this study, I examine one woman 's discourse about her pregnancy and maternity leave. "Julianna's" standpoint emerges as a tension-filled, contradictory, and ironic statement of what life entails for a pregnant woman with disabilities in an able-bodied world. As she presents her story, she displays the ways in which she pieced together data and insights. Feminist standpoint analyses of her discourse and practices can open opportunities for further explorations of policies and practices adapted to different women's life conditions.
Brueggemann, B. J., Garland-Thomson, R., & Kleege, G. (2005, Spring). What her body taught (or, teaching about and with a disability): A conversation. Feminist Studies, 31
Brueggemann, Garland-Thompson, and Kleege focus on their challenges and strategies as feminist scholars and teachers with disabilities in the classroom. Key to their discussion is the function of different structures--pedagogical and institutional--that both enable and deter their efforts. In the classroom, students forgetting about their disabilities or normalizing them seems to erase the productive tension through difference that their presence introduces. Their goal is not to erase disability, but rather to reconfigure students' understandings of disability as not having a master status--to change the way disability matters to the students.
Carter, J. A. (2002, Autumn). A dialogue with divas: Issues affecting a scholarly agenda in special education, from Africana feminist perspectives. Journal of Negro Education, 71
This article highlights a study of African American women holding doctoral degrees in the field of special education and their experiences in composing scholarly agendas. It includes a plethora of themes regarding their resistance to the dominant cultural paradigm as it relates to initial experiences with special education programming, doctoral studies curricula, motivational supports, processes of hiring, and critical concerns for the field of special education. Each of these themes is contrasted with descriptions in the literature to provide better understanding of the unique perspective of Africana feminist scholarship. The findings from this study contribute new dialogue to professional development in higher education special education.
Chester, A., & Bretherton, D. (2001, November). What makes feminist counselling feminist? Feminism & Psychology, 11
Feminist counselling is often characterized as a belief system. Described broadly in this way it has been difficult to clearly articulate its boundaries. The aims of this study were to provide clarification by exploring understandings of feminism among feminist practitioners and implications of these definitions for the rhetoric and practice of feminist counselling. Descriptions of feminism and feminist counselling were collected, via self-administered questionnaire, from 140 Australian feminists who were counsellors. Definitional categories were compared with previous North American research. Although comparisons across time and continent revealed few differences, inconsistencies emerged within the sample. These discrepancies underscored the need for a stronger theoretical base within feminist counselling in Australia.
Chrisler, J. C. (2001). How can feminist therapists support women with autoimmune disorders? In E. Kaschack (Ed.), Minding the Body: Psychotherapy in Cases of Chronic and Life-Threatening Illness [Feature issue]. Women & Therapy, 23
Although many autoimmune disorders are unfamiliar to most Americans, together these disorders represent a significant proportion of the total incidence of chronic disease. Women are diagnosed with autoimmune disorders more often than men, and the sex difference is substantial in some disorders. The peak age of onset of these disorders is from early adulthood to mid-life, which violates the popular assumption that only older people experience chronic, debilitating illnesses. The unpredictability of autoimmune disorders, the knowledge that they are progressive and incurable, the possibility of deleterious treatment side-effects, and the general public’s unfamiliarity with autoimmune disorders combine to make living with one a frustrating and isolating experience. The purposes of this article are to educate feminist therapists about autoimmune disorders and to encourage feminist therapists to use their expertise to help support women who are adjusting to life with an autoimmune disorder.
Dobkin, A. (1999, August/September). Can a disabled woman be a feminist? off our backs, 29
The Disability Caucuses' workshop titled "Can a Disabled Woman Be a Feminist?" is discussed. Several women offered their views concerning this question.
Carlson, L. (2001). Cognitive ableism and Disability Studies: Feminist reflections on the history of mental retardation. In E. Kittay, S. Silvers, & S. Wendell (Eds.), Special issue: Feminism and disability. Hypatia, 16
This paper examines five groups of women that were instrumental in the emergence of the category of "feeblemindedness" in the United States. It analyzes the dynamics of oppression and power relations in the following five groups of women: "feebleminded" women, institutional caregivers, mothers, researchers, and reformists. Ultimately, I argue that a feminist analysis of the history of mental retardation is necessary to serve as a guide for future feminist work on cognitive disability.
Collins, K., & Valentine, D. (2004). Discovering women with disabilities. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 2
The unique characteristics, strengths, and challenges facing women with disabilities are discussed. A feminist perspective is used to identify and understand the implications for developing policy, and providing services for and practicing with women with disabilities. Rather than utilize a traditional paradigm that places the problem within the individual woman with a disability, disability is explored within a social context.
Corker, M. (2001). Sensing disability. In E. Kittay, S. Silvers, & S. Wendell (Eds.), Special issue: Feminism and disability. Hypatia, 16
Disability theory privileges masculinist notions of presence, visibility, material "reality," and identity as "given." One effect of this has been the erasure of "sensibility," which, it is argued, inscribes, materializes, and performs the critique of binary thought. Therefore, sensibility must be re-articulated in order to escape the "necessary error" of identity implicit in accounts of cultural diversity, and to dialogue across difference in ways that dislocate disability from its position of dis-value in feminist thought.
DePauw, K. P. (1996). "Space: The final frontier": The invisibility of disability on the landscape of women studies. Frontiers, 17
DePauw reflects on the often misunderstood and ignored intersection of gender and disability, an intersection she sees as a "final frontier." Feminist issues often have revolved around the female body and the exploitation of it; when disability issues are raised, it can work to disrupt and complicate issues of exploitation and control of female bodies and identity.
Full text of this article can be found online at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/
Deutsch, H., & Nussbaum, F. (Eds.). (2000). “Defects”: Engendering the modern body
[Corporealities: Discourses of Disability]. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Organized around three broad topics: disability, monstrosity, and imperfections, the collection examines the cultural construction of dis/ability during the early modern and Enlightenment periods. The final chapter by Kaplan troubles feminism’s historical grounding in the rhetoric of liberal individualism and autonomy.
Dobson, T., & Luce-Kapler, R. (2005, October). Stitching texts: Gender and geography in Frankenstein
and Patchwork Girl
. Changing English, 12
This paper considers how two related texts--one in print and one in hypertext--are locations for adolescents to undertake the work of 'literary anthropology' in considering questions of gender and subjectivity. The first text is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
, which invites readers to grapple with questions of how adolescents negotiate relations with their parents and others, of how masculinity and femininity are produced and construed, and of how cultural mores inform both processes. The second is Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl
, a hypertext novel that parodies the former. Both texts offer a multilayered reading experience for adolescents juxtaposing print and digital technologies, themes of boundary and displacement, and issues of identity and sexuality.
This is an interesting article, despite the fact there is no specific reference to disability. For those interested in Patchwork Girl
, go to http://www.eastgate.com/catalog/PatchworkGirl.html
Duffy, Y., & Koppelman, S. (1994, Summer). Colloquy: Yvonne Duffy and Susan Koppelman reflect on feminism, disability, and the review media. Belles Lettres, 9
Since the publication of Barbara Hillyer's Feminism and Disability
, relations between the disability rights and feminist movements have become strained. Critical responses to Hillyer's book are examined.
Edut, O. (2004). Body outlaws: Rewriting the rules of beauty and body image
(2nd ed.). Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.
Pick up a magazine, turn on the TV, and you'll find few women who haven't been fried, dyed, plucked, or tucked. In short, you'll see no body outlaws. The writers in this groundbreaking anthology reveal a world where bodies come in all their many-splendored shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. In doing so, they expand the national dialogue on body image to include race, ethnicity, sexuality, and power—issues that, while often overlooked, are intimately linked to how women feel about their bodies. Body Outlaws offers stories by those who have chosen to ignore, subvert, or redefine the dominant beauty standard in order to feel at home in their bodies. In a culture where plastic surgery has become nearly as routine as a root canal, this expanded and updated edition of fresh and incisive commentary challenges the media’s standard notions of beauty with honesty and humor. Included are several new essays outlining the latest trends in the beauty industry such as botox, plastic surgery, and exercise bulimia, as well as a fascinating analysis of how men are affected by these same rigors, a thorough resource section, and a curriculum guide.
Eerikäinen, H. (2001). Love your prosthesis like yourself: “Sex,” text and the body in cyber discourse. In A. Koivunen & S. Paasonen (Eds.), Conference proceedings for Affective encounters: Rethinking embodiment in feminist media studies.
University of Turku, School of Art, Literature and Music, Media Studies. Retrieved June 6, 2005 from http://www.hum.utu.fi/mediatutkimus/affective/eerikainen.pdf
“Why from an artificial limb trying to substitute for a bodily loss has become a technological extension of the body allegedly augmenting and enhancing not only the range of abilities of the subject, but most of all, post-corporeal pleasures of the 'postmodern body,' a body enveloped by computer screens and networks all calling for immediate interfacing and interaction and promising an enjoyable experience of indulging oneself in a total immersion…? How is it that a bitter necessity has turned into an object of utopian dreams, even a vehicle of libidinal fantasies? Why is the prosthesis seductive? Why is the prosthetic body ‘sexy’?”
Ellis, A., & Llewellyn, M. (1997). Dealing with differences: Taking action on class, race, gender and disability.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Dealing With Differences
is a classroom-tested action guide to dealing with issues and prejudice around class, race, gender, and disability. The exercises, discussion topics, and readings provide a framework to bring these complex issues out in the open as positive forces for change. Students share lived experiences to engage in active learning.
Contains 48 lesson plans in six study units that can be used in any curriculum or advisory period.
Elshout, E. (1994, Fall). Women with disabilities: A challenge to feminist theology. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 10
A discussion of the challenges posed to feminist theology by women with disabilities. The feminist movement is not sufficiently conscious of its own "ableism." Feminists who criticize the traditional sex roles of wife and mother are insensitive to the fact that women with disabilities are taught that they are asexual, as oppressive a message as that conveyed by heterosexism. What is more, feminism's strategy of complete separation from patriarchal society ignores the fact that women with disabilities experience constant and tangible barriers such as physical inaccessibility. The writer suggests that women with and without disabilities need to communicate, so that a new critical feminist anthropology can be engendered; an anthropology that will take not only gender into account, but also sickness, disability, and age as powerful shapers of self and society.
This same issue contains responses to Elshout’s article by Dorothee Wilhelm, Carole R. Fontaine, Nancy L. Eiesland, Valerie C. Stiteler, Adele B. McCollum, and Margaret Moers Wenig.
Emlet, C. A., Tangenberg, K., & Siverson, C. (2002). A feminist approach to practice in working with midlife and older women with HIV/AIDS. Affilia, 17
Older women with HIV/AIDS constitute an invisible population that is often ignored by organizers of HIV prevention efforts as well as by HIV and aging organizations. This article explores the importance of a feminist approach to practice with a population affected by the intersection of ageism, sexism, and AIDS phobia. A support group for midlife and older women with HIV/AIDS is described, and four themes that were identified by the group participants are discussed. AIDS service organizations, the aging network, and policy makers must begin to recognize the critical need to support and assist older women with HIV/AIDS.
Ewing, D. W. (2002). Disability and feminism: Goffman revisited. Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, 1
The author concludes that Goffman's description of the difficulties involved in identity management for persons with disabilities are as true now as when Stigma
was first written. However, Goffman was unaware of the interaction between disability and feminism when he wrote Stigma
in 1963. Women with disabilities are subject to additional disadvantages in ways that many professionals may not recognize. Suggestions are offered for human services professionals when working with women who have disabilities.
Fawcett, B. (2000). Feminist perspectives on disability
[Feminist Perspectives Series]. London: Pearson Education.
Illustrates the parallels between Disability Studies and feminist theory, as well as possibilities of a feminist poststructuralist approach to the study of impairment and disability.
Ferri, B. A., & Gregg, N. (1998). Women with disabilities: Missing voices. Women's Studies International Forum, 21
This paper analyses how disability informs and complicates gender identity for women with disabilities and demonstrates that disability is a feminist issue. The first section underscores the dual silence of women with disabilities who remain largely unheard of, both in feminist literature and in the disability rights movement. The status of women with disabilities in the United States reflects their position as an oppressed group in terms of educational opportunity, rehabilitation and vocational program access, occupational attainment, economic status, and social outlets. The second section of this paper suggests possible points of entry into several debates within feminist literature that would be broadened or transformed by a disability perspective. Issues of reproductive rights, control of women's bodies, newborn's right to treatment, the construction of gender as informed by disability, and sexual representations are among the issues analyzed. Finally, the last section of this paper analyzes various strategies for change, including standpoint or minority models and strategies within feminist thought that may be useful or emancipatory for women with disabilities.
Fiduccia, B. W., & Wolfe, L. R. (1999). Women and girls with disabilities: Defining the issues—An overview.
Washington, DC: Center for Women Policy Studies and Women & Philanthropy. Retrieved March 1, 2005 from http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/pubfiles/1999womenand
Prepared for the first-ever conference for grantmakers on women and girls with disabilities, convened by Women and Philanthropy in June 1999, this report briefly addresses a wide range of issues-–including physician assisted suicide, access to health care, reproductive rights and health, family life, education and employment, violence against disabled women and girls, and disabled women’s leadership. The report also considers how applying a “disability lens” and reflecting the values and vision of disability feminism can help us bring the voices and visions of disabled women and girls to the policy arena and to feminist research, policy and advocacy agendas.
Findlen, B. (Ed.). (2001). Listen up: Voices from the next feminist generation
(2nd ed.). Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.
In this new, expanded edition of the acclaimed collection, writers and activists cover a wide range of topics, from blending careers and feminist politics to the intersection of traditional culture and third-wave sensibilities. Of great interest is Nommy Lamm's chapter on feminism-disability experiences.
Frost, L. (2003). Doing bodies differently? Gender, youth, appearance and damage. Journal of Youth Studies, 6
Feminist writers have identified young women's engagement with their appearances as a source of alienation from their bodies. There are now concerns that “feminization” of youth behaviour will lead to similar difficulties for young men, and this papers sets out to examine whether they too are experiencing levels of identity damage from this. The contemporary context of identity construction will be briefly considered. That for boys and girls practices of consumption can offer group affiliations but can lead also to exclusion and isolation is discussed. That boys are under pressure to produce bodies that are sporty, strong and 'hard' is then argued. The paper concludes that there are similarities in the pressures on boys and girls to “do looks,” but that the failure to do this and the experience of being excluded and/or devalued that this may produce may have more to do with class, “race” and poverty than with gender.
Garland-Thomson, R. (2001). Re-shaping, re-thinking, re-defining: Feminist Disability Studies
[Barbara Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities]. Washington, DC: Center for Women Policy Studies. Retrieved March 31, 2005 from http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/pubfiles/2001reshapingrethinking
Describes the aspects of feminist Disability Studies--focusing on representation, the body, identity, and activism--and explains how feminist disability analyses link and expand Disability Studies and women’s studies. An alternate version of this paper in HTML can be downloaded at: http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/reportscategory.cfm?ProgramID=9
Garland-Thomson, R. (1994). Redrawing the boundaries of feminist Disability Studies. Feminist Studies, 20
In this review essay, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson argues for the recognition of feminist Disability Studies within feminism. She states that feminist critical analysis does not usually recognize disability as a category of otherness (as it does with race, class, and gender) unless the study specifically states this focus. Although helpful, she would like to see a shift away from women’s autobiographical accounts of their own experiences with disability, which often promote the “disaster/terror/pity scenario of disability,” to an articulation of feminist Disability Studies as a “major critical subgenre within feminism.” She asserts that feminist Disability Studies can be located in the broader area of identity politics if discourses of the body marked as deviant are included.
To illustrate her argument, Thomson draws on four feminist works. The first three, Invalid Women: Figuring Feminine Illness in American Fiction and Culture, 1840-1940
by Diane Price Herndl, Monstrous Imagination
by Marie-Helene Huet, and Tattoo, Torture, Mutilation, and Adornment: The Denaturalization of the Body in Cultural Text
edited by Frances E. Mascia-Lees and Patricia Sharpe, do not deal with “disability” specifically; instead, Thomson interprets these works in a feminist Disability Studies perspective. She uses the fourth book, Barbara Hillyer’s Feminism and Disability
, because it specifically addresses the issue of disability and feminism, and because it embodies the feminist principle that the personal is political. Thomson hopes that these four books introduce perspective into the emerging field of feminist Disability Studies.
Garland-Thomson, R. (2003). Integrating disability, transforming feminist theory. NWSA Journal, 14
(3), 1-32. Retrieved March 31, 2005 from http://iupjournals.org/nwsa/nws14-3.html
This essay aims to amplify feminist theory by articulating and fostering feminist disability theory. It names feminist disability studies as an academic field of inquiry, describes work that is already underway, calls for needed study and sets an agenda for future work in feminist disability studies. Feminist disability theory augments the terms and confronts the limits of the ways we understand human diversity, the materiality of the body, multiculturalism, and the social formations that interpret bodily differences. The essay asserts that integrating disability as a category of analysis and a system of representation deepens, expands, and challenges feminist theory. To elaborate on these premises, the essay discusses four fundamental and interpenetrating domains of feminist theory: representation, the body, identity, and activism, suggesting some critical inquiries that considering disability can generate within these theoretical arenas.
Garland-Thomson, R. (2005). Feminist disability studies. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30
“Just what is feminist disability studies? It is more than research and scholarship about women with disabilities, just as feminist scholarship extends beyond women to critically analyze the entire gender system. Like feminist studies itself, feminist disability studies is academic cultural work with a sharp political edge and a vigorous critical punch. Feminist disability studies wants to unsettle tired stereotypes about people with disabilities. It seeks to challenge our dominant assumptions about living with a disability. It situates the disability experience in the context of rights and exclusions. It aspires to retrieve dismissed voices and misrepresented experiences. It helps us understand the intricate relation between bodies and selves. It illuminates the social processes of identity formation. It aims to denaturalize disability. In short, feminist disability studies reimagines disability.”
Gerrschick, T. J. (2000, Summer). Toward a theory of disability and gender. Signs, 25
Disability has a profound effect on the material and nonmaterial experience of gender. Gerrschick addresses how disability affects the gendering process, how it affects the experience of gender, how having a disability affects women's and men's abilities to enact gender and in what ways the experiences of men and women with disabilities similar and different.
Goodman, L. A., Glenn, C., Bohlig, A., Banyard, V., & Borges, A. (2009). Feminist relational advocacy: Processes and outcomes from the perspective of low-income women with depression. The Counseling Psychologist, 37
This article describes a qualitative study of how low-income women who are
struggling with symptoms of depression experience feminist relational advocacy, a new model that is informed by feminist, multicultural, and community psychology theories. Using qualitative content analysis of participant interviews, the authors describe the processes and outcomes of feminist relational advocacy from participants' perspectives; they also consider how emergent themes fit with principles of the model, including the importance of women's narratives, the inseparability of emotional and practical support, the centrality of the advocacy relationship, and oppression as a source of emotional distress. The article concludes with a discussion of the practice and research implications of the study, highlighting the possibilities of feminist relational advocacy as a new tool for counseling psychologists and the lessons for advocacy models in general.
Guertin, C. G. (2003). Chapter 2. The matrix: Information overload, ii. Feminist dis/orientations. In C. G. Guertin, Quantum feminist mnemotechnics: The archival text, digital narrative and the limits of memory.
Doctoral Disseration, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, University of Toronto. Retrieved June 6, 2005 from http://www.mcluhan.utoronto.ca/academy/carolynguertin/2ii.html
This is a chapter from a doctoral dissertation exploring and analyzing new feminist digital/hypertext media, which now allows women with another avenue of expression.
The author discusses how digital media now “emerge(s) as a form that seems to embody the potentialities suited to feminist musings.” While discussing how historically women were limited in their narrative discourse by “devalued mediums--journals, letters, diaries--or tailoring existing forms to their use,” they now have “access to technology and new writing spaces.”
Of note, one work analyzed, “The Patchwork Girl,” uses a site map that is “…organized on a model of the graveyard (entered through the headstone), and the archive of the text is contained in the database of individual graves where her donors cluster together geographically adjacent to one another underground, just as they are in her form, but functioning as uneasy neighbours in both locations. This site map and ecosystem of body part lenders tells the unrecorded stories of women of the era—a swarm of forgotten, faceless, unknown souls who each have their own disabilities and afflictions, and methods of subverting the official system.”
Hall, K. Q. (Ed.). (2002, Fall). Feminist Disability Studies [Special issue]. NWSA Journal, 14
(3). NWSA Journal
is the official publication of the National Women's Studies Association and publishes the most up-to-date, interdisciplinary, multicultural feminist scholarship linking feminist theory with teaching and activism. This special issue focuses on feminist Disability Studies that draws upon and challenges analyses of bodily norms, identity, accommodation, representation, and oppression in both feminism and Disability Studies. Feminist Disability Studies also provides a theoretical framework for expanding an understanding of historical and ideological connections between marginalized embodiments, and the essays included in this volume address many of these themes.
Hans, A., & Patri, A. (Eds.). (2003). Women, disability and identity.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
This volume consists of critical and theoretical articles about women with disabilities in both developed and developing countries. Disabled women and their place in these societies has been a subject that has been neglected in the past, therefore these essays will fill a gap in the evolving literature on disability studies.
The nature of the problems faced by disabled women are such that they need to be addressed by both the feminist and disability movements. But the fact is that they remain invisible within the women's movement at large. This volume, therefore, attempts to provide a space to women with disabilities in the global feminist literature and movement.
Hawthorne, S. (2007). Land, bodies, and knowledge: Biocolonialism of plants, indigenous peoples, women, and people with disabilities [Comparative Perspectives Symposium: Bioprospecting/Biopiracy]. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 32
In the worlds of exploration and mining, prospectors make claims on parcels of land, looking to make a profit in the future; bioprospectors are making claims on biological resources with a view to making a profit (Hawthorne 2002, 266). From a feminist perspective, there are several ways to understand resources. Resources, in an unadorned way, can mean simply the plants, animals, and products of the land. However, this does not adequately cover what bioprospectors are claiming, since the claim is made as if we—all people—have equal and open access to all resources.
The claims on biological resources are made on two sources: land that is inhabited by indigenous and traditional peoples, as well as the resources of rivers and seas; and bodies of women, indigenous and genetically isolated peoples, and people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. I want to look at these sources separately, although the issues involved are analogous. In the same way that it can be argued that the bodies of the poor, people of color, and women have been colonized in the preceding centuries along with the colonization of land, so too it can be argued with bioprospecting.
Hershey, L. (2003). Rights, realities, and issues for women with disabilities. In R. Morgan (Ed.), Sisterhood is forever: The women’s anthology for a new millennium
(pp. 233-243). New York: Washington Square.
Hershey briefly reviews issues of importance for women with disabilities, and emphasizes the importance of solidarity between feminism and disability rights.
Hewett, H. (2004, Summer). My sister’s family. In J. Baumgardner & A. Richards (Eds.), Young feminists take on the family. The Scholar & Feminist Online, 2
(3). Retrieved March 2, 2005 from http://www.barnard.edu/sfonline/family/hewett_01.htm
“The pages that follow draw from the years I have spent observing my parents and the members of our extended family striving to create a rich and meaningful life for my sister. While noting some of the important work authored by disability studies and feminist scholars, this essay focuses on my family's experience in its exploration of the thorny issues that families with disabilities face. My hope is that our story will join the collective cry for a more inclusive vision of family and for social policies that support all families, including those who fall outside of what, in this country, is deemed `normal.’”
Hillyer, B. (1993). Feminism and disability.
Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Written out of a need in the feminist movement to include women with disabilities and a need in the disability rights movement to address the unique experiences of women, Feminism and Disability combines the personal, political, and intellectual aspects of feminist theory and disability theory. Hillyer discusses such issues as body awareness, community, nature and technology, and the ways in which cultural standards of language, independence, and even mother-blaming are constructed. She also challenges political movements which stress productivity and normalization in order to include more types of people and more aspects of the human condition.
Holmes, H. B., & Purdy, L. M. (1992). Feminist perspectives in medical ethics
[A Hypatia Book]. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.
The aim of this volume is to show how a feminist perspective advances biomedical ethics by uncovering inconsistencies in traditional argument and by arguing for the importance of hitherto ignored factors in decision making. These essays include both theory and very specific examples that demonstrate the glaring inadequacy of mainstream medical ethics.
Inahara. M. (2009). This body which is not one: The body, femininity and disability. Body & Society, 15
In the social system in which we live, the imaginary body is an able body. The able-bodied has established its representations that are the projection of able-bodied subjectivities. In this article, I shall develop a psychoanalytic account of physical disability in order to open up possibilities for physical disability beyond its position as castrated able-bodiedness. Psychoanalysis, to me, is not simply about `sexuality' but can also be used to analyse `physical disability', indeed all aspects of one's subjectivity. I shall propose the appropriation of psychoanalysis to explain the construction of subjectivity, whether it is able-bodied or disabled, in a way that parallels the male/female dichotomy. Within an able-bodied symbolic, in which the able-bodied takes itself as normal, it is impossible to illustrate the multiplicity of the disabled. Following Irigaray's claim that the ambiguity of female sexuality does not conform to male notions of sexuality, I argue that the com!
plexity of the disabled body does not fit into the able-bodied norm of subjectivity. In this article, I shall be drawing on Irigaray's theory of embodied subjectivity to argue against the masculine-able-bodied-based theory of subjectivity found in Freud and Lacan.
Kingston, A. K. (2003, April 20-24). Maternal power against a deaf Irish state: Unearthing the narratives of mothers of children with learning disabilities.
Paper presented at Gender and Power in the New Europe, the 5th European Feminist Research Conference, Lund University, Sweden. Retrieved March 31, 2005 from http://www.5thfeminist.lu.se/filer/paper_319.pdf
“This paper discusses findings from a qualitative study of mothers with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Down syndrome and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Ireland. Firstly, I will give a brief historical introduction to existing disability policies in Ireland and give examples of the power struggle between mothers and the Irish State. Secondly, I discuss my preliminary research findings of my participants’ lived experience of mothering a child with special needs. Finally, I will argue that the feminist movement has ignored this group of women in our society who, as active agents for their children, are fighting a very lonely battle and need a structured feminist forum for emancipation.”
Kittay, E., Silvers, S., & Wendell, S. (Eds.). (2001). Special issue: Feminism and disability. Hypatia, 16
is a journal for scholarly research concerning philosophy and women's studies. The essays in this issue address theoretical dimensions of understanding women's disability identity and seek to stimulate philosophical thought about these situations. Among the excellent papers offered for Hypatia
's exploration of women and disability were works with a different focus, one more concerned with concrete and practical aspects of living with disability. The second part of this double issue examines personal and political practical themes of disabled women's lives, in both North America and other parts of the globe.
Kittay, E., Silvers, S., & Wendell, S. (Eds.). (2002). Special issue: Feminism and disability II. Hypatia, 17
This is Part II of a special issue on feminism and disability. The articles in Part II have a more practical orientation. The authors, who offer perspectives on disability from India, Australia, the United States, and Canada, all bring personal experience and practical concerns to their philosophical inquiry.
Kvingne, K., & Kirkevold, M. (2002). A feminist perspective on stroke rehabilitation: The relevance of de Beauvoir's theory. Nursing Philosophy, 3
, 79-89. Retrieved March 31, 2005 from http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/pdf/nup_kvigne.pdf
The dominant view of women has changed radically during the last century. These changes have had an important impact on the way of life of women in general and, undoubtedly, on women as patients. So far, gender differences have received little attention when developing healthcare services. Stroke hits a great number of elderly women. Wyller et al. found that women seemed to be harder hit by stroke than men; they achieved lower scores in tests of motor, cognitive and ADL functions, both in the acute phase and 1 year after stroke. It is reasonable to expect that differences in outcome among male and female sufferers may in part be explained by the fact that rehabilitation services are designed primarily to meet the needs of men. de Beauvoir's feminist theory maintains that one's body is fundamental in creating the person, which is a lifelong process. Traditionally, the female body has been exposed to alienation and oppression through life. This has led women to develop a life in immanence. This we feel can be of significance in connection with rehabilitation after a stroke, particularly for elderly women. In this article we will discuss how de Beauvoir's theory can throw new light on the experiences and rehabilitation of elderly women and point to ways of improving the process of rehabilitation.
Kvigne, K., & Kirkevold, M. (2003). Living with bodily strangeness: Women's experiences of their changing and unpredictable body following a stroke. Qualitative Health Research, 13
The authors' aim in this phenomenologial and feminist study was to gain a deeper understanding of how female stroke survivors experienced their body after a stroke. They recruited 25 women in a rural area in eastern Norway who had suffered a first-time stroke and interviewed them in depth three times each during the first 1 1/2 to 2 years following the stroke. The data analysis was inspired by phenomenological method. The stroke survivors' experiences of their bodies were characterized by profound, disturbing, and, in part, unintelligible changes during the onset and the process of recovery from the stroke. Their experiences can be summarized under three major themes: The Unpredictable Body, The Demanding Body, and The Extended Body.
Kwiotek, R. G. (2002, December). Disability, gender and power: Finding a useful theoretical framework and an appropriate methodology.
Paper presented at Using Emancipatory Methodologies in Disability Research, NDA Disability Research Conference 2002, Dublin, Ireland. Retrieved March 2, 2005 from http://www.nda.ie/cntmgmt.nsf/0/87418679FAE58B0E80256F02004753E9/$File/Disability,%20Gender%20and%20Power%20-%20%20Finding%20a%20Useful%20Theoretical%20Framework%20and%20an%20Appropriate%20Methodology.htm
“This paper will describe the process of developing a theoretical framework and identifying an appropriate methodology for researching complex, multi-dimensional power structures, exploring and revealing the absence of the voices and concerns of Irish disabled women from two social movements in Ireland, i.e. the women’s movement and the disability movement. The shortcomings and limitations of the social model of disability will be addressed from a feminist-disability-theory perspective and possible alternative approaches will be suggested.”
Lamp, S. (2006, Fall). 'It is for the mother': Feminists' rhetorics of disability during the American eugenics period. Disability Studies Quarterly, 26
Since the inception of the current U.S. disability rights movement, there has been tension between mainstream American feminists and disability rights activists over disabled women's right to control our bodies. While many nondisabled women now take such freedom for granted, disabled women continue to have decisions about our bodies determined by others who are part of the dominant culture. Why have mainstream feminists, who base their ideology upon the fallacy of a social construct of "inferiority," been unable to generalize their analysis to include disabled women?
This essay contributes to women's and disability studies scholarship, exploring eugenic-period feminists' ideologies about disabled people to better understand the roots of the friction between these two movements. I compare the lives and work of two of the period's influential feminists: Charlotte Perkins-Gilman and Margaret Sanger, examining their use of eugenic language and ideology through close readings of papers, diaries and autobiographies in order to understand the formation of a movement to liberate non-disabled women at the expense of disabled people.
Lindeman, K. (2001, Fall). Persons with adult-onset head injury: A crucial resource for feminist philosophers. In E. Kittay, S. Silvers, & S. Wendell (Eds.), Special issue: Feminism and disability. Hypatia, 16
The effects of head injury, even mild traumatic brain injury, are wide-ranging and profound. Persons with adult-onset head injury offer feminist philosophers important perspectives for philosophical methodology and philosophical research concerning personal identity, mind-body theories, and ethics. The needs of persons with head injury require the expansion of typical teaching strategies, and such adaptations appear beneficial to both disabled and non-disabled students.
Lisi, D. (1993). Found voices: Women, disability and cultural transformation. Women & Therapy, 14
The cultural consequences of disability on the lives of six women are explored. The relationship between disability rights and feminism and ethnic identity and the impact of disability on the sense of self and personal goals are considered.
Lloyd, M. (1992). Does she boil eggs? Towards a feminist model of disability. Disability, Handicap & Society, 7
The author examines disability from the perspective of disabled women. She focuses on the social model of disability rather than a medical model and asserts that disability is another form of oppression experienced by women. She argues that disabled women have been excluded from both the women's movement, which is oriented toward non-disabled women, and from the disability rights movement, which is oriented toward disabled men. Using the history of black feminism, the author argues for a reframing of the analysis in which to explore the simultaneous experiences of gender and disability.
Lloyd, M. (2001). The politics of disability and feminism: Discord or synthesis? Sociology, 35
Early formulations of the social model of disability have been subject to critical amendment by disabled women. Disabled women activists have, however, been equally critical of the failure of mainstream feminism to recognise the disability perspective. This article continues the approach taken by the author in an earlier paper in which she proposed the development of a model which understands the concerns of disabled women as central to both feminism and disability politics. It explores some of the complexities of a feminist agenda for disabled women in the linked arenas of sexuality, reproduction and motherhood, considering the contribution of a disability rights perspective to these core areas of feminist debate. It moves on to examine the potential contribution of a feminist disability perspective to the reconceptualisation of informal caring, where the experience of disabled women might help to untangle some of the dilemmas experienced by both men and women in the critical issues of caring and dependence.
Lorber, J., & Moore, L. J. (2002). Gender and the social construction of illness
(2nd ed). Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
The authors consider the interface between the social institutions of gender and Western medicine in this brief, lively textbook. They offer a distinct feminist viewpoint to analyze issues of power and politics concerning physical illness. In the extensively revised second edition of this successful text, the authors add chapters on disability and genital surgeries. They also update and expand their discussions of social epidemiology, AIDS, the health professions, PMS, menopause, and feminist health care. For a creative, feminist-oriented alternative to traditional texts on medical sociology, medical anthropology, and the history of medicine, this is an ideal choice.
Lunn, M., & Munford, R. (2007). "She knows who she is! But can she find herself in the analysis?": Feminism, disability and research practice. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 9
As non-disabled researchers carrying out feminist research with disabled women, we enter the research arena on the coat-tails of identity, power relations and politics. In this article we present an analysis of power relations in the researcher/participant relationship. The politics of identity is an important component of this analysis. Drawing from a study undertaken with six disabled women, we suggest that the use of research methods that begin from and, are informed by, the participation of those being researched, are likely to produce results that are more representative of the participants' lived realities.
Magubane, Z. (2001). Which bodies matter? Feminism, poststructuralism, race, and the curious theoretical odyssey of the "Hottentot Venus.” Gender & Society, 15
This article critiques dominant feminist analyses of the "Hottentot Venus." It argues that these analyses of the construction of Black women as "other," which borrow heavily from poststructuralism, make race and gender transhistorical and metaphysical constructs. The article critiques what has become the theoretical orthodoxy on the "Hottentot Venus." It takes issue with two presumptions in particular: first, that there was a core image of the Black woman in the nineteenth century, and second, that the fear of the anatomy of the "other" is the source of negative representations of Black sexuality. The article proposes an alternative way of understanding the construction of Black women in colonial discourse. It argues that social relations, rather than psychological dispositions, determine how bodies are seen and perceived.
Manson, D. (2006, Fall). "The trance of the ecstatica": Margaret Fuller, animal magnetism, and the transcendent female body. Literature and Medicine, 25
In Woman in the Nineteenth Century
(1845), the American feminist Margaret Fuller promoted the "magnetic" element of the woman as a source of liberation and empowerment. During the time that she was composing this work, animal magnetism, or mesmerism, was a popular form of medical treatment in America and Europe. Fuller suffered chronic pain from intense headaches and spinal curvature, and her letters and essays indicate that she found relief in magnetic treatments at a time when women were thought to be particularly susceptible to the mesmeric trance. Fuller's experiences with mesmerism not only provided a remedy for her physical ailments but also contributed to her theory of feminism. This essay examines mesmerism as a form of holistic healing for Fuller, tracing her journey from a woman encumbered by intense pain to a woman who celebrated her magnetic female body and the spiritual liberation it afforded.
Marston, C. L. (1997, August 2). Hand-ling media research on disability: Toward including a feminist "exile" perspective on theory and practice.
Paper presented to the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication annual conference, Chicago, IL. Retrieved June 6, 2005 from http://list.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9710a&L=aejmc&F=&S=&P=5081
“In this paper, I hope to emphasize the relevance of a disability perspective to feminist theory and to the practice of feminist media research. I will begin by discussing feminist theory's open system of theory and practice, as well as the incompleteness of feminism without the inclusion of a disability perspective. I will then discuss the space in feminist media studies for a disability perspective and articulate the issues central to a feminist disability framework. Lastly, I will suggest preliminary ideas toward a program of research for feminist disability scholars in media. This program will explore the potential for research on representations of disability in the mainstream and alternative media, as well as on workers with disabilities in the journalistic and academic workplaces. These points will be based on my preliminary explorations of literature on feminism, feminist media studies, and disability studies.”
Marston, C. (1999). Learning to be a journalist: A feminist disability critique of cyborgs, college newsworkers, and RSI work culture. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 23
The goal of this article is to provide a theoretical and historical context and argument for the necessity of studying college newsworkers. The author examines feminist disability and cyber theories to articulate the need to understand the cultural context of technology within a society that constructs unrealistic and damaging limits for what constitutes "able" bodies and workers. The author situates this project within American journalistic work culture, which she refers to as RSI work culture because cultural factors are implicated as causes of occupational injuries such as repetitive strain injuries.
Mays, J. M. (2006, March). Feminist disability theory: Domestic violence against women with a disability. Disability & Society, 21
Women with a disability continue to experience social oppression and domestic violence as a consequence of gender and disability dimensions. Current explanations of domestic violence and disability inadequately explain several features that lead women who have a disability to experience violent situations. This article incorporates both disability and material feminist theory as an alternative explanation to the dominant approaches (psychological and sociological traditions) of conceptualising domestic violence. This paper is informed by a study which was concerned with examining the nature and perceptions of violence against women with a physical impairment. The emerging analytical framework integrating material feminist interpretations and disability theory provided a basis for exploring gender and disability dimensions. Insight was also provided by the women who identified as having a disability in the study and who explained domestic violence in terms of a gendered and disabling experience. The article argues that material feminist interpretations and disability theory, with their emphasis on gender relations, disablism and poverty, should be used as an alternative tool for exploring the nature and consequences of violence against women with a disability.
May, V. M., & Ferri, B. A. (2005, April/August). Fixated on ability: Questioning ableist metaphors in feminist theories of resistance. In B. J. Brueggemann & M. E. Lupo (Eds.), Prose and/in Disability [Feature issue]. Prose Studies, 27
This essay examines the ubiquitous use of ableist metaphors in contemporary feminist discourses and outlines two particular ways in which feminist theorists use disability to locate objects of remediation: first, the construction of disability in opposition to knowledge and second, the use of disability to highlight the subtle workings of power and privilege. In addition, we critique ableist notions of mobility and movement, which are used to define and imagine liberation, resistance, and transformation. Because many rhetorical uses of disability reinscribe normative and exclusionary paradigms within otherwise libratory feminist theories, we assert the need for new metaphors and frames of reference to more adequately theorize multiplicity and to more fully realize social transformation. Transforming the ways we use language in order to more fully realize its paradoxes and playfulness will, we argue, yield more intersectional analyses and more fruitful political coalitions.
McCarthy, M. (1998, September). Whose body is it anyway? Pressures and control for women with learning disabilities. Disability & Society, 13
What women with learning disabilities think and feel about their bodies should be of interest to those concerned with women's rights and disability rights. Yet scant attention appears to have paid to these issues. It has been suggested in the past that one of the “blessings” of having a learning disability is that one is free from many of the pressures society places on individuals to conform. However, the research presented here suggests that far from being immune to these pressures to conform, women with learning disabilities are, indeed, subject to strong influences, and overt and covert control mechanisms shape their bodies and minds towards achieving certain norms of femininity.
McGraw, L. A., & Walker, A. J. (2007). Meanings of sisterhood and developmental disability: Narratives from white nondisabled sisters. In S. A. Lloyd, A. L. Few, & K. R. Allen (Eds.), Feminist Theory, Methods, and Praxis in Family Studies [Special issue]. Journal of Family Issues, 28(4), 474-500.
Integrating thought from critical feminist and disability theorists via a strategic social constructionist perspective, the authors analyzed 10 in-depth qualitative interviews to begin to understand the dialogue between (a) how nondisabled sisters understand themselves and their siblings with developmental disabilities and (b) wider systems of power or discourse. The women in this exploratory study described themselves as good sisters by portraying their siblings with disabilities as normal, emphasizing opportunities for moral enhancement, minimizing personal sacrifices, and accepting the gendered nature of family care. This study suggests that nondisabled sisters co-opt ideology that holds women accountable for moral conduct in families to oppose discourse that devalues people with disabilities. This ideology does not, however, help them transcend a gender system that requires mothers and sisters but not fathers and brothers to engage in family care.
McFadden, S. H. (2001, February). Feminist scholarship as a meeting ground for age and disability studies [Book review]. The Gerontologist, 41
This is a review of two books where as the author analyzes the texts, she suggests that feminist theory could serve as a connection between gerontology and Disability Studies.
McRuer, R. (2005, Winter). We were never identified: Feminism, queer theory, and a disabled world. In T. Meade and D. Serlin (Eds.), Feature issue on Disability and History. Radical History Review, 94
McRuer posits that feminist, queer and disability studies “need a postidentity politics, but a postidentity politics that allows us to work together, one that acknowledges the complex and contradictory histories of our movements, drawing on and learning from those histories rather than transcending them” (p. 151-152).
Meekosha, H. (1998). Body battles: Bodies, gender, and disability. In T. Shakespeare (Ed.), Disability Studies reader: Social science perspectives
(pp. 163-180). London & New York, NY: Cassell.
Calls for the need for a feminist theory of embodiment complicated by insights gained from Disability Studies.
Meekosha, H. (2002). Virtual activists? Women and the making of identities of disability. In E. Kittay, S. Silvers, & S.Wendell (Eds.), Special issue: Feminism and disability II. Hypatia, 17
This article examines the rise of a feminist engagement with the disability rights movement. Three realms of social being—individual, society, and the state—interact in the making of the identities of disability. The emergence of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), suggests the ways women with disabilities come to identify with an autonomous women's group and the ways in which the particular forms of our activisms are produced.
Meekosha, H., & Dowse, L. (1997, Autumn). Enabling citizenship: Gender, disability and citizenship in Australia. Feminist Review, 57
This paper queries the absence of disabled voices in contemporary citizenship literature. It argues that the language and imagery of the citizen is imbued with hegemonic normalcy and as such excludes disability. Feminist perspectives, such as those which argue for a form of maternal citizenship, largely fail to acknowledge disability experiences. Exclusionary practices are charted and links are made between gender, race and disability in this process. A citizenship which acknowledges disability is fundamental to re-imaging local, national and international collectivities.
Meyer, B. (2002, December). Extraordinary stories: Disability, queerness and feminism. NORA: Nordic Journal of Women's Studies, 10
In June 2002 the editors of NORA participated in three US-organized conferences on current gender research in Anglo-American contexts. These were, respectively, The First International Conference on Queerness & Disability at San Francisco State University, The Disability, Difference and Tolerance Conference in Oakland and the 23rd National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Las Vegas. The essay is an introduction to the emerging and intersecting interests of feminist research, queer and disability studies arising from the discussions and insights of these conferences.
Mitchell, A., Rundle, L. B., & Karaian, L. (Eds.). (2002). Turbo chicks: Talking young feminisms.
Toronto: Sumach Press. Turbo Chicks
is an energetic collection of prose, poetry, theoretical explorations, zines and photo essays. The contributors come from all walks of life, different ages and experiences, sexual orientations, social and cultural backgrounds. Together their pieces build a conversation that is vital to hear. They present issues that feminists struggle with everywhere: how to put convictions into practice, how to talk about race, class, education, ability, sexuality and the privileging of voice. Each contributor identifies ten people who have influenced her and provides her own definition of feminism that broadens the dialogue. Especially of interest is the chapter by Alessia Di Virgilio, “Young Women and Disability.”
Morell, C. (2004). Empowerment theory and long-living women: A feminist and disability perspective. In N. J. Smyth (Ed.), Women and girls in the social environment: Behavior perspectives [Special issue]. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 7
Empowerment theory is central to social work and to feminist gerontology. Yet an emphasis on increasing power and control over the circumstances of one's life does not neatly "fit" the involuntary bodily realities that figure centrally in the experiences of late age. The project of this article is to argue that the paradox of late life empowerment is that it requires acceptance and affirmation of the weak, suffering, and uncontrollable body. This is one of 12 articles of a special issue on women and girls in the social environment.
Morris, J. (1991). Pride against prejudice: Transforming attitudes to disability.
Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.
Morris, a disabled feminist and activist, provides a feminist analysis to the study of the experiences of women with disabilities. Basing her arguments on the feminist principle that the personal is political, Morris eloquently challenges such issues as prejudice, abortion, and the notion that people with disabilities lead lives that are not worth living. She further discusses the history of people with disabilities in institutions and under the Nazi regime. Morris also examines the meaning of disability in Western culture and the meanings of history of segregation, dependence, and an emerging independence of people with disabilities. Pride Against Prejudice
is a commentary on political activism and rights, and stresses the need to fight back against the prejudice, stereotypes, and oppression of an abelist culture.
Morris, J. (1993). Feminism and disability. Feminist Review, 43
The author discusses the absence of women with disabilities from feminist scholarship and feminist theory. Morris claims that a significant failure of feminism is that it fails to incorporate disabled women into its politics, theory, research, and methodology. She argues that feminist theory would benefit from the inclusion of the concerns and experiences of disabled women, and that feminist theory and feminist methodology have major contributions to make to disability research. The author discusses her anger and frustration with feminism in two ways: first, that disability is generally invisible from feminism's mainstream agenda, and second, that when disability is a subject of research by feminists, the researchers objectify disabled people so that the research is alienated from their experiences rather than attempting to understand the experiences of disabled women.
Morris, J. (1992). Personal and political: A feminist perspective on researching physical disability. Disability, Handicap & Society, 7
Morris asserts that feminist theory and methodology have largely ignored and alienated women with disabilities and the research conducted by disabled people. She argues that feminist theory needs to take up the challenge of applying its principles to the study of disability and to examine the lives of disabled women. In turn, Morris feels that disabled women and disability research in general has much to learn from feminist methodology; mainly the principle of making the personal political. In addition, Morris outlines the role she sees for nondisabled researchers interested in researching disability-related issues. She views the role of the nondisabled researcher as an ally, and calls on nondisabled as well as disabled researchers to continue to study the ways in which the nondisabled society oppresses its members with disabilities. Lastly, she argues that disability research is of great importance in the general understanding of the perpetuation of inequalities in society.
Morris, J. (Ed.). (1999). Encounters with strangers: Feminism and disability.
London: The Women’s Press Ltd.
Feminism has transformed countless aspects of women's lives, from employment and parenting to domestic violence and reproductive rights. Yet at the heart of these contributions lies an enormous oversight: the failure to incorporate and address the interests and experiences of disabled women. The result has been a limited perspective that undermines feminism's much-needed contribution to essential debates-on motherhood, abortion, equal rights, and much more. Now, in this groundbreaking book, leading activists explore the ways feminism can and must acknowledge disabled women for the benefit of all. Revealing the ways in which disabled women have been rendered nearly invisible, it shatters received feminist wisdom on a wide range of core issues. Offering cogent evidence of the many ways in which disabled women's experiences would revitalize feminism today, Encounters with Strangers
makes an invaluable contribution to a more inclusive understanding of disability rights, outlining how new and vital alliances may be achieved.
Moser, I. ( 2004). Sociotechnical practices and difference: On the interferences between disability, gender and class.
Oslo, Sweden: Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo. Retrieved June 6, 2005 from http://www.tik.uio.no/natureculture/papers/Sociotechnical-Practices-and-Difference.pdf
In feminist and cultural studies, there is a growing body of work concerned with how people’s lives are subjected to multiple, intersecting axes of differentiation and power. But also in STS there is growing concern that we seem unable to address more than one difference at the time, and so fail to interrogate the making of class, race and ethnicity, along with gender and sexuality, in science, medicine and technology. This article aims to contribute to this debate, in STS and beyond, and in particular to interfere with the current popular use of the concept of ‘intersectionality’ to think about these matters. Working through empirical materials collected in a study of disability, it asks how differences such as disability, gender and class are made and unmade in sociotechnical practices. It is shown that interactions between enactments of difference are complex, contradictory, unpredictable and often also surprising, and defy simple conclusions about their effects and politics. The argument is that these patterns of interference need to be investigated in situated practices, and that we have to carefully examine how processes of differentiation interact not only to support and reinforce each other, but also clash, challenge and undermine each other.
Moss, P., & Dyck, I. (1999). Body, corporeal space, and legitimating chronic illness: Women diagnosed with ME. Antipode, 31
The trendiness in using the body as a unit of analysis does not keep us from trying to understand how the body is part of the mundane stuff that makes up everyday life, particularly the chronically ill body. In our research with women diagnosed with chronic illness, we found that women experience their bodies, both sensorially and in their capacity for labor and leisure, through social scripts, seeming economic imperatives, and their own blood, sweat, and tears. The synchronous existence of the discursively ill and materially ill body seemed to be highlighted in these women's accounts of their experiences of myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E., popularly referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS). This spurred us to rethink the body in terms not just of embodied social practices but also of embodied experiences. In this paper we draw on women's experiences of M.E. as a way to assist in building a radical body politics. We first review and critique various attempts to come to terms with the simultaneity of the discursive and material body. We then present our empirical study comprised of in-depth interviews with women diagnosed with M.E. and living in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We then elaborate the notion of corporeal space as a way to access embodied experience. We close with comments about how body and space create a nexus through which we can access bodily existence within space.
Nayak, A., & Kehily, M. J. (2006, September). Gender undone: Subversion, regulation and embodiment in the work of Judith Butler. In L. Barton (Ed.), Troubling identities: Reflections on Judith Butler's philosophy for the sociology of education [Special issue]. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 27
Judith Butler’s philosophical writings on identity have provided inspiring, if occasionally ‘troubling’, ways of rethinking gender. A key contribution has been the challenge to conventional social constructionist ideas and thinking on subjectivity. In developing a paradigm of performativity, Butler’s work takes us beyond the territory of identity secured in much previous feminist poststructuralist debate. She does so in part by providing an ontological critique—a type of ‘queering’ if you will—of such seemingly knowable categories as ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘girl’ or ‘boy’. In addressing the radical interruption in identity theorising offered in Butler’s writing, we consider the arresting claim that identity is a type of ‘doing’ that is only made manifest at the point of action. To explore the theoretical, empirical and political issues at stake, we draw especially upon Butler’s writings on identity and ally this to some of our own ethnographic research on gender, youth and schooling. Here, we explore young people’s compulsion to enact and display stylised forms of gender embodiment, and the spectacular enactments of transgression that can elicit a practice of gender dissimulation. Our focus is upon the subversion, regulation and embodiment of gender identities and its implications for the sociology of education.
Nicki, A. (2001, Fall). The abused mind: Feminist theory, psychiatric disability, and trauma. In E. Kittay, S. Silvers, & S.Wendell (Eds.), Special issue: Feminism and disability. Hypatia, 16
I show how much psychiatric disability is informed by trauma, marginalization, sexist norms, social inequalities, concepts of irrationality and normalcy, oppositional mind-body dualism, and mainstream moral values. Drawing on feminist discussion of physical disability, I present a feminist theory of psychiatric disability that serves to liberate not only those who are psychiatrically disabled but also the mind and moral consciousness restricted in their ranges of rational possibilities.
Nicki, A. (2002, October). Feminist philosophy of disability, care ethics and mental illness. Nursing Philosophy, 3
Thought-provoking critique of feminist philosophy of disability, especially how it focuses more on physical disabilities rather than mental disabilities.
Odette, F. (1994, Summer). Body beautiful/body perfect: Challenging the status quo. Where do women with disabilities fit in? Canadian Woman Studies, 14
“When I decided to write about the issue of body image and its impact on women with disabilities, the challenge brought with it a chance to explore the link between fat oppression and the experiences of women with disabilities. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on this issue as it effects the lives of women with disabilities, which may reflect the belief that the lived experiences of many women with disabilities are not important nor perceived as valid by mainstream researchers.” This article is also available online at the web site http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/7319/sex.htm
Olkin, R. (2003). Women with physical disabilities who want to leave their partners: A feminist and disability-affirmative perspective. In M. E. Banks & E. Kaschak (Eds.), Women with visible and invisible disabilities: Multiple intersections, multiple issues, multiple therapies, Part II [Special issue]. Women & Therapy, 26
Four domains of barriers for women with physical disabilities who are considering leaving a partner are outlined. These obstacles include (a) physical needs; (b) financial needs; (c) custody concerns; and (d) relationship issues. Disability policies can have direct bearing on the lives of women with disabilities, and hence on their freedom to choose to remain with or to leave a partner.
Parker, S. (2004, July 26-28). Searching for the absent citizen: Enabling and (dis)abling discourses of social citizenship.
Paper presented at Disability Studies: Putting Theory Into Practice Conference, Lancaster University, UK. Retrieved March 2, 2005 from http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/apsocsci/events/dsaconf2004/
“Theories of citizenship have traditionally been predicated upon notions of the universal subject–a subject which presupposes a white, able, male body, engaged in market participation.”
Patterson, A., & Satz, M. (2002). Genetic counseling and the disabled: Feminism examines the stance of those who stand at the gate. In E. Kittay, S. Silvers, & S.Wendell (Eds.), Special issue: Feminism and disability II. Hypatia, 17
This essay examines the possible systematic bias against the disabled in the structure and practice of genetic counseling. Finding that the profession's "nondirective" imperative remains problematic, the authors recommend that methodology developed by feminist standpoint epistemology be used to incorporate the perspective of disabled individuals in genetic counselors' education and practice, thereby reforming society's view of the disabled and preventing possible negative effects of genetic counseling on the self-concept and material circumstance of disabled individuals.
Preece, J. (2002). Feminist perspectives on the learning of citizenship and governance. Compare, 32
(1), 21-33. Retrieved March 31, 2005 from http://www.educationarena.com/educationarena/sample/sample_pdfs7/
This paper offers a critical appraisal of citizenship and governance in relation to gender. It draws on poststructuralist themes which look at the relationship between power and discourse. This perspective provides an analytical tool for exploring how gender has been understood in the construction of citizenship and governance values in Europe. Whilst the focus of this discussion is gender, the implications of this analysis for disability and race are also highlighted. The paper argues for a broader, more inclusive, ethical definition of active citizenship that, in turn, will influence how people learn to be citizens and take part in governance. A selected literature identifies different ways in which citizenship is portrayed and learned through texts, schooling, family and social behaviours and traditions. The changing European and globalisation contexts provide additional commentary on the demands for new forms of citizenship and governance. Particular attention is paid to the notion of active citizenship with some recent interpretations of the dichotomy between private (family) and public (political) domains in relation to citizenship and gender. The final sections then analyse different attempts to re-define a gender sensitive concept of citizenship, concluding with the argument for an ethical education which would empower women to play a more active, citizen role in governance.
Price, J. E. (2007). Engaging disability [Book review]. Feminist Theory, 8
Price reviews Disability/Postmodernity: Embodying Disability Theory
; Desiring Disability: Queer Theory Meets Disability Studies
; Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance
; Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities
; Cultural Locations of Disability
; and Foucault and the Government of Disability
"Disability Studies is a growing field within the UK. Yet those outside the area often evince confusion as to its aims and focus, perceiving it to be of little relevance to those who are not disabled. In this review I hope to demonstrate the importance of disability to a wide range of disciplines, not only in the social sciences but across the arts and humanities, in much the same way that gender, race and sexuality have established their broad significance" (p. 77).
Prilleltensky, O. (1996, Winter). Women with disabilities and feminist therapy. Women & Therapy, 18
Feminist therapy has been criticized in the past for its exclusive focus on the lives of white, middle class, heterosexual women. Recent attempts to correct this wrong include increased attention to therapeutic work with diverse groups of women. The objective of this paper is to contribute to this positive trend by exploring a feminist therapy approach to working with women who have physical disabilities. Being female and disabled, women with disabilities are at risk for suffering oppression due to the interactive effects of sexism and ableism. This paper explores the feminist therapy principles "the personal is political," "egalitarian relationships," and "valuing the female perspective," as they pertain to therapeutic work with women with disabilities.
Prince, A., & Silva-Wayne, S. (Eds.). (2004, July). Feminisms and womanisms: A women's studies reader.
Toronto: Women’s Press. Feminisms and Womanisms
brings together theory and praxis, so that feminist discourse interacts as a partner with the lived experience of women's social action. The selections combine classics in feminist thought with work from modern theorists and offer a solid foundation in international feminism.
Of particular interest are the chapters, “Emerging from the Shadows: Women with Disabilities Organize” by Diane Driedger and “Reformulating the Feminist Perspective: Giving Voice to Women with Disabilities” by Neita Kay Israelite and Karen Swartz.
Rakow, L. F., & Wackwitz, L. A. (Eds.). (2004). Feminist communication theory: Selections in context.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. "Feminist Communication Theory
is a book 'of' and 'for' feminist communication theorists, providing the potential to help individuals understand the human condition, name personal experiences and engage these experiences through storytelling, and give useful strategies for achieving justice….[the editors] examine the work of feminist theorists over the past two decades who have challenged traditional communication theory, contributing to the development of feminist communication theory by identifying its important contours, shortcomings, and promise.
The book is constructed around the three key concepts of difference, voice, and representation to reflect on how feminist theory reshapes our thinking about gender and communication. Feminist Communication Theory
represents a variety of voices from different theoretical, cultural, and geographic perspectives to illustrate the complex challenge of constructing new theoretical positions.”
Of particular interest is the chapter by Anita Silvers, “Reconciling Equality to Difference: Caring (F)or Justice for People with Disabilities.”
Rapp, R. (2001, December). Gender, body, biomedicine: How some
feminist concerns dragged reproduction to the center of social theory. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 15
This article tracks the growth of medical anthropology in the United States in the decades since the 1970s, as it has intersected the expansion of feminist activism and scholarship. I argue that feminist attention to embodied inequalities quickly focused on reproduction as a site of investigation and intervention. Medical anthropology has benefited from feminist concern with stratified reproduction, especially its interrogation of nonnormative and stigmatized fertility and childbearing. When reproduction becomes problematic, it provides a lens through which cultural norms, struggles, and transformations can be viewed. Examples drawn from prenatal diagnosis are particularly revelatory of the diverse interests and stakes we all hold in reproduction.
Rice, C. (2009). Imagining the other? Ethical challenges of researching and writing women's embodied lives. Feminism & Psychology, 19
Feminists influenced by post-conventional and critical perspectives confront a significant challenge when researching women's embodiments: the dilemma of representation. For researchers from positions of bodily privilege, issues of interpretation intensify when researching and writing across physical differences distorted by colonial and other hegemonic histories and legacies. In this article, I draw from interviews with diversely embodied women to discuss difficulties encountered in interpreting their narratives of embodiment. I reflect on strategies of embodied engagement, including de-centring my bodily self, re-visiting my body story, and imagining the other's embodied experiences in the creation of provisional meanings about participants' bodies and lives. To shed light on risks and rewards of researcher-embodied reflexivity to study sensitive subjects such as appearance and difference, I show how analysing my `body secrets' invites deeper exploration into dynamics of bodily privilege and abjection underpinning women's accounts. I conclude by questioning the ethics of my `imaginative leap' into other/ed women's lives and by considering more broadly the perils and possibilities of traversing the space between self and other, and other in the self, within feminist research.
Roets, G., Reinaart, R., Adams, M., & Van Hove, G. (2008, January). Looking at lived experiences of self-advocacy through gendered eyes: Becoming femme fatale
with/out 'learning difficulties.’ Gender and Education, 20
In this article, we attempt to intersect the interdisciplinary characters of disability studies and gender studies, in order to make sense of the activism and lived knowledge of/with two women with the label of 'learning difficulties'. Inspired by Deleuze and Guattari's anti-essentialist notion of devenirs-particules, we find our multiple selves involved in cross-cutting relational storytelling, as such destabilising essentialist, biological determinism towards women with/out the label of 'learning difficulties'. Thus in becoming femme(s) fatale(s), we make the most of a science capable of grasping the continual interplay between agency, structure and context, creating a 'becoming space' where we, as activists with our academic allies, can think and act with one another.
Rohrer, J. (2005, Spring). Toward a full-inclusion feminism: A feminist deployment of disability analysis. Feminist Studies, 31
This paper is a feminist exploration of disability studies and the movement that gave it birth. It is part of my work as a nondisabled feminist to interrogate my own ablism and to look for the opportunities disability analysis provides for fuller theorizing and activism. I explore possible paths toward feminist theorizing and praxis that are inclusive of disability. These paths offer expanded theoretical landscapes and additional tools for use in feminist social justice struggles. I begin by briefly sketching the context in which we find ourselves as U.S. citizens, scholars, and activists since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the founding of the Society for Disability Studies. This environment offers imperatives, opportunities, risks and responsibilities for the inclusion of disability awareness and people with disabilities within every aspect of life. I then focus on a few illustrative theoretical tools and sites of feminist inquiry and activism that are deepened and challenged through the deployment of disability analysis: simultaneity, irony, interdependence, body politics, and "choice."
Rousso, H. (2001). Strong proud sisters: Girls and young women with disabilities
[Barbara Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities]. Washington, DC: Center for Women Policy Studies. Retrieved March 1, 2005 from http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/pubfiles/2001strongproud
Paints a portrait of disabled girls and their needs and resilience, looking at a range of issues – definitions and demographics, access to health care, substance abuse, exercise and sports, depression, self-esteem, eating disorders and body image, disability identity, role models and media images, social and sexual development, violence, educational equity, and employment.
Samuels, E. (2002, Fall). Critical divides: Judith Butler’s body theory and the question of disability. In K. Q. Hall (Ed.), Feminist Disability Studies [Special issue]. NWSA Journal, 14
Until 1999, major works in disability studies tended to ignore the influential body theories of Judith Butler, or to argue that her theories relied upon the disabled body as a constitutive Other. Between 1999 and 2001, however, a number of works have appeared which apply Butler's theories to disability. I consider both the original disregard for Butler and her recent adoption in disability studies to shed light upon possibilities for developing integrated feminist disability theory and praxis in the future. I suggest that applying Butler's theories to disability should take place in a contextualized and critical mode, and that substituting disability for Butler's own terms of sex or gender without fully considering the implications of such a substitution may obscure important differences between identity-categories. Finally, I challenge feminist and gender theorists such as Butler to include and account for the disabled body in their future work.
Schriempf, A. (2001, Fall). (Re)fusing the amputated body: An interactionist bridge for feminism and disability. In E. Kittay, S. Silvers, & S. Wendell (Eds.), Special issue: Feminism and disability. Hypatia, 16
Disabled women's issues, experiences, and embodiments have been misunderstood, if not largely ignored, by feminist as well as mainstream disability theorists. The reason for this, I argue, is embedded in the use of materialist and constructivist approaches to bodies that do not recognize the interaction between "sex" and "gender" and "impairment" and "disability" as material-semiotic. Until an interactionist paradigm is taken up, we will not be able to uncover fully the intersection between sexist and ableist biases (among others) that form disabled women's oppressions. Relying on the understanding that sexuality is one such material-semiotic phenomenon, I examine the operation of interwoven biases in two disabled women's narratives.
Shabot, S. C. (2006, November). Grotesque bodies: A response to disembodied cyborgs. Journal of Gender Studies, 15
In this paper, my aim is to show some of the problems that the figure of the cyborg may raise, in order to show how in many cases the cyborg has been used, even if in a dissimulated way, to reinstate the 'natural', normative order with its known distinct and very well defined categories and divisions. But, more importantly, I propose here an alternative to the figure of the cyborg which, I believe, has more possibilities of 'keeping the promises' of subverting the normative order of Western thought. This alternative is the one presented by the figure of the grotesque body. The grotesque body, I will argue, contains in itself the seeds of a real hybrid, fragmented, non-binarian thought. The relevance of my proposal is that, in opposition to the cyborg, the grotesque body does not present the dangers of a reinforcement of the old categories which support the powers-that-be in maintaining oppression and domination. Unlike the cyborg, the grotesque body does not make possible a return to the Cartesian frame, with its clear danger of losing one more time the embodied subject (and losing with it the concrete, non-neutral subject), which the postmodern and feminist thought strived so hard to bring to the philosophical and political scene.
Shaw, C., & Proctor, G. (2005, November). Women at the margins: A critique of the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Feminism & Psychology, 15
“The diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is applied predominantly to women and, in particular, to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. In this article, we argue that this diagnosis distracts from the aetiological importance for psychological distress of the experience of childhood sexual abuse, and that it pathologizes survivors. We have developed our understandings of the psychiatric response to women’s distress within very different locations in the psychiatric power structure–one as service survivor with a diagnosis of BPD, one as a clinical psychologist. Yet, differently located as we are, we both believe that the diagnosis of BPD individualizes and pathologizes women for their responses to oppression, because of its fundamental failure to locate and understand distress within its social context. We draw on feminist, postmodern and anti-psychiatric critiques in order to present and develop our shared perspective on the diagnosis of BPD, and challenge health professionals and wider society to locate survivors’ distress within the context of sexual violence and gender power relations in society.”
Sharp, K. & Earle, S. (2002, March). Feminism, abortion, and disability: Irreconcilable differences. Disability and Society, 17
There has been considerable discussion of the political allegiance between the feminist and disability movements, but the question of abortion remains a thorny one. Disability rights advocates have been keen to demonstrate that it is possible to believe in a woman's right to sovereignty over the body and, yet, be opposed to the selective abortion of an impaired foetus--discribing the latter as a form of 'weak' eugenics. The aim of this paper is to show that, whilst there may be some points of agreement between the feminist and disability movements on the question of abortion, there exist fundamental and irreconcilable differences.
Sheldon, A. (1999, September). Personal and perplexing: Feminist disability politics evaluated. Disability & Society, 14
Like the women's movement before it, the disability movement is now experiencing internal debates about issues of commonality and difference. Recent critiques of the social model of disability have advocated a move towards a so-called feminist emphasis on the individual experiences of disability and impairment. This paper argues that such an approach represents a very narrow view of feminism and its potential contribution to disability theory. It further suggests that less individualistic approaches offer a more effective way forward for disabled people, women and people from other oppressed groups. Despite similarities between the disability movement and the women's movement, tensions often exist between their respective agendas. It is proposed that only by moving beyond descriptive accounts of personal experiences can disabled people, women and other oppressed people recognise their commonalities, forge coalitions, and make society a better place for all its citizens.
Shildrick, M. (2002). Embodying the monster: Encounters with the vulnerable self
[Theory, Culture & Society]. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Written by one of the most distinguished commentators in the field, this book asks why we see some bodies as “monstrous” or “vulnerable” and examines what this tells us about ideas of bodily ”normality” and bodily perfection.
Drawing on feminist theories of the body, biomedical discourse and historical data, Margrit Shildrick argues that the response to the monstrous body has always been ambivalent. In trying to organize it out of the discourses of normality, we point to the impossibility of realizing a fully developed, invulnerable self. She calls upon us to rethink the monstrous, not as an abnormal category, but as a condition of attractiveness, and demonstrates how this involves an exploration of relationships between bodies and embodied selves, and a revising of the phenomenology of the body.
Shildrick, M. (2004, August). Genetics, normativity, and ethics: Some bioethical concerns. Feminist Theory, 5
Where feminist critiques of bioscience have uncovered a whole set of operations that range round the Foucauldian notions of biopower and normativity, and have explored genetic discourse in particular to question the stability of self-identity, feminist bioethics has lagged behind. Despite an engagement with the technologies of postmodernity, including those associated with genetic research (and especially in its relation to reproduction), there has been, with relatively few exceptions, a reluctance to explore the implications of postmodernist theory. The difficulty is that bioscience itself is now throwing up a problematic that destabilizes the central agent of ethical theory - the modernist sovereign subject. Using the field of genetics and the mapping of the human genome as a focal point, this paper suggests that bioethics should move on from conventional analytic strategies and, like feminist science studies, embrace uncertainty and complexity. The task is to fashion a new form of ethical response grounded in the notions of embodied connection and fluidity.
Shildrick, M., & Price, J. (1999). Breaking the boundaries of the broken body. In J. Price & M. Shildrick (Eds.), Feminist theory and the body: A reader
(pp. 432-444). London and New York: Routledge.
Argues for a radical politics of disability that conceives disability as a transgressive category that “demands that we rethink not simply the boundaries of the body, but equally those between sameness and difference, and indeed self and other” (p. 442).
Silvers, A. (1998). Reprising women's disability: Feminist identity strategy and disability rights. Berkeley Women's Law Journal, 13
“To both the narrower and the larger end, I will consider how feminist identity strategy, which has been liberatory for the typical or 'normal' woman, responds to the bias that the general culture visits on women with disabilities. And I will ask how feminist liberatory theory should address the unjust curtailment of opportunity which is a commonplace experience for those women with disabilities who strive for `normal’ social participation. Juxtaposed, these two lines of inquiry will indicate how identity strategy restricts, but how a disability perspective can further, feminist liberatory theory.”
Smith, B. G., & Hutchison, B. (2004). Gendering disability.
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Disability and gender, terms that have previously seemed so clear-cut, are becoming increasingly complex in light of new politics and scholarship. These words now suggest complicated sets of practices and ways of being.
Contributors to this innovative collection explore the intersection of gender and disability in the arts, consumer culture, healing, the personal and private realms, and the appearance of disability in the public sphere—both in public fantasies and in public activism. Beginning as separate enterprises that followed activist and scholarly paths, gender and disability studies have reached a point where they can move beyond their boundaries for a common landscape to inspire new areas of inquiry. Whether from a perspective in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, or arts, the shared subject matter of gender and disability studies—the body, social and cultural hierarchy, identity, discrimination and inequality, representation, and political activism—insistently calls for deeper conversation. This volume provides fresh findings not only about the discrimination practiced against women and people with disabilities, but also about the productive parallelism between these two categories.
Smith, D. E. (1990). The conceptual practices of power: A feminist sociology of knowledge
[The Northeastern Series of Feminist Theory]. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
In this book Dorothy Smith, one of the leading feminist theorists today, argues that conventional sociology perpetuates traditional patriarchal relations of power through ideological practices. She is especially concerned with the application of sociological ideology to the human service bureaucracy and the way institutions of mental health reconstruct women's lives.
Special feature: Women and disability [Part I]. (2002, November/December). Off Our Backs, 32
Special feature: Women and disability [Part II]. (2003, January/February). Off Our Backs, 33
These issues illustrate that the cross section of oppressions that is created when a woman is black or a lesbian is much more mediated than the cross section of oppressions created when a woman is also disabled. In this two-part series of off our backs, our contributors share personal narratives and commentaries on what their lives as women with disabilities are like. These two issues are sold as a “Teaching Packet.”
Sprague, J., & Hayes, J. (2000). Self-determination and empowerment: A feminist standpoint analysis of talk about disability. In M. A. Bond, A. Mulvey, & M. Terenzio (Eds.), Feminism and community psychology [Feature issue]. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28
In this paper we offer a feminist analysis of talk about self-determination and empowerment in the context of disability, focusing on the case of developmental disabilities. We find strains of the same patterns feminist epistemologists have argued shape the organization of formal knowledge from the standpoint of the privileged. At the extreme, people with developmental disabilities appear as objects without selves, outside of the context of interpersonal and social structural relationships that constrain who they can be by defining them as other, often in multiple and interacting ways. Empowerment, from the dominant standpoint, becomes an abstract attribute or condition; something a person has or does not have. Taking the standpoint of women and other marginalized people offers a view of self-determination as a person's development of his or her self. Empowerment becomes a potential characteristic of a social relationship, one that facilitates the development of someone's self. The most empowering relationships are mutual, recognizing and building on the diverse contributions and needs of participants in ways that seek to minimize inequalities over time. The reason some of us are self-determining is that we are in interpersonal and social structural relationships that empower us. To construct interpersonal and social structural relationships that empower people with developmental disabilities requires challenging the way dominant conceptualizations of independence and productivity also express the standpoint of the privileged. The standpoint of women allows all of us to talk more of how we connect with and facilitate one another's developing selves within communities.
Stuart, M., & Ellerington, G. (1990, Spring). Unequal access: Disabled women’s exclusion from the mainstream women’s movement. Women and Environments, 12
“The purpose of this article is to examine the tensions between the two movements [the feminist movement and disabled women] and to suggest some possible solutions.” This is one of first articles reporting on the exclusion of women with disabilities from the “mainstream” women’s movement, primarily focusing on Canada.
Stocker, S. S. (2001). Problems of embodiment and problematic embodiment. Hypatia, 16
Using Judith Butler's notion that bodies are materialized via performances, "resignifying" disability involves a "democratizing contestation" of staircases because they exclude those in wheelchairs. Paleoanthropologist Maxine Sheets-Johnstone shows how consistent bipedal locomotion, together with the knowledge that we will die (upon which mutuality is based), are ingredients of our pan-hominid speciation, not contingent constructions. As axiologically important as contestation is, it forecloses the possibility of achieving a mutuality with others, that is wonderfully possible.
Stone, S. D. (1995). The myth of bodily perfection. Disability & Society, 10
Grounding her arguments in social constructionism, the author examines the myth of bodily perfection in relation to those with disabilities. She argues that this myth plays an integral role in creating a category of people labeled disabled and of relegating them to the status of "other." Stone draws on the experiences of women to discuss the idea of appearance norms and claims that feminist critiques of these norms have virtually ignored the pressures on women who do not have full use of their bodies. Therefore, many women often try to hide their disability or pass for normal. She concludes by arguing that the myth of bodily perfection and appearance norms which deny the experiences of disabled women contribute to the denial of disability and therefore are oppressive. Stone calls for acknowledging disability as a means of honoring humanness.
Taub, D. E., Fanflik, P. L., & McLorg, P. A. (2003, May). Body image among women with physical disabilities: Internalization of norms and reactions to nonconformity. Sociological Focus, 36
Body norms for women are based on stereotypical gender expectations regarding physical appearance. Although women in general are exposed to societal standards of the ideal body, women with physical disabilities encounter unique circumstances in meeting these expectations. Women with physical disabilities are often stigmatized because they violate norms of body aesthetics & body shape. This research examines the extent to which women with physical disabilities internalize body norms & the reactions these women have to their nonconformity to societal body standards. In-depth, tape-recorded interviews, investigating a variety of social & interpersonal issues, were conducted with 21 female university students with physical disabilities. Using content analysis, the researchers examined the interviews for common themes & patterns relating to body image. The major categories that emerged were (1) awareness of body norms, (2) compliance with body norm, & (3) reactions to nonconformity to body norms. The study illustrates that women with physical disabilities have two general reactions to societal expectations of the ideal female body: emotional responses & stigma management. The lack of questioning of cultural body norms by respondents is discussed as it relates to the rural, small town study location.
Thomas, C. (1999). Female forms: Experiencing and understanding disability
[Disability Human Rights and Society]. Berkshire, United Kingdom: Open University Press.
This book explores and develops ideas about disability, engaging with important debates in disability studies about what disability is and how to theorize it. It also examines the interface between disability studies, women's studies and medical sociology, and offers an accessible review of contemporary debates and theoretical approaches. The title Female Forms
reflects two things about the book: first, its use of disabled women's experiences, as told by themselves, to bring a number of themes to life, and second, the author's belief in the importance of feminist ideas and debates for disability studies. The social model of disability is the book's bedrock, but the author both challenges and contributes to social modelist thought. She advances a materialist feminist perspective on disability, producing a book which is of multi-disciplinary relevance.
Thomas, C. (2006, June). Disability and gender: Reflections on theory and research. In R. Traustadóttir (Ed.), Gender and Disability [Special issue]. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 8
This paper reviews theory and research on disability and gender from a UK perspective. It reflects upon the theoretical perspectives and debates that are to be found in UK disability studies today, and considers their relevance for research on the gendered nature of disability. Themes in empirical research are noted, as is the representation and treatment of disability in mainstream feminism(s). The paper warns about the danger of exclusion through nominal inclusion.
Tischer, I. (2003, October). "No guts, no glory." Ragged Edge Online
. Retrieved June 15, 2005 from http://www.raggededgemagazine.com/extra/gutsglory.html
This commentary on the life and death of Terri Schiavo was reprinted in 2004 in the feminist journal, off our backs
Tong, R. P. (1999, Fall). Dealing with difference justly: Perspectives on disability [Book review]. Social Theory and Practice, 25
Tong reviews the book Disability, Difference, Discrimination: Perspectives on Justice in Bioethics and Public Policy
by Anita Silvers, David Wasserman and Mary B. Mahowald with feminist and disability insights.
Traustadóttir, R. (2003, August). Disabled women and feminist research.
Presented at Gender and Power in the New Europe, the 5th European Feminist Research Conference, Lund University, Sweden.
Feminist research places increasing emphasis on examining the many differences among us and the concept diversity has become a buzzword in feminist research. This is a word loosely defined but popularly used. In thinking about diversity people have recognized that gender, age, “race,” sexuality, and ethnicity matter; thus groups who have previously been invisible, including women of color, immigrant women, lesbians and older women are now in some way more visible. One group, however, continues to remains mostly invisible in feminist research; disabled women. Disabled and non-disabled feminists have expressed their deep concerns that the voices of disabled women have been missing in most feminist texts so their lives are unknown, their contributions unrecognized and the effects of social discrimination and inequality in their lives ignored. As a result there is newfound interest in the lives of disabled women and an increasing number of studies have been conducted over the past few years. This presentation provides an overview of this research. It examines when and how this research started, who the researchers are, what characterizes this research, how it has developed, what theoretical approaches are being used and what this body of research tell us about the lives and experiences of disabled women.
Tremain, S. (Ed.). (1999). Bodies of knowledge: Critical perspectives on disablement and disabled women.
London: The Women’s Press, Ltd.
This sort of interdisciplinary collection of essays on disablement and disabled with its critical/theoretical women, focus, has never been published in Canada. Although there have been collections published in the United States, these have been few and few between. Politicized analyses on disablement remain urgently needed. From a disability-rights perspective, disablement is by and large an effect of inaccessible forms of communication, exclusionary architectural design and infrastructural planning, and demoralizing attitudes. Viewing disablement in this way enables us to recognise the way in which ableism interconnects with other systems of oppression such as racism, poverty, and sexism.
Topics discussed in this collection include disablement and representation, the relation(s) between ableism and racism/classism/homophobia, anti-ableist activism and other progressive social/political movements (feminist, antiracist, etc), and the social construction of disablement.
Twohey, D. (2001). Feminist psychotherapy in cases of life-threatening illness. In E. Kaschack (Ed.), Minding the Body: Psychotherapy in Cases of Chronic and Life-Threatening Illness [Feature issue]. Women & Therapy, 23
In this article the author discusses therapeutic issues facing clients and psychotherapists who deal with life-threatening illnesses. She writes from the dual perspective of feminist client and psychotherapist, having recently undergone surgery for the removal of a malignant brain tumor. Numerous feminist therapeutic issues have emerged post-surgically including changed relationships, new boundaries, individual denial, altered sexuality and existential issues. Personal vignettes introduce each subsection, culminating in considerations for psychotherapists. Conclusions are then drawn.
Walter, U. M., & Peterson, K. J. (2002). Gendered differences: Postmodern feminist perspectives and young women identified as “emotionally disabled." Families in Society, 83
Little consideration has been given to adolescent girls identified as having emotional disabilities in either the research or clinical literature. Social workers continue to use developmental theories that are based on males, and thus contribute to the persistent silence about the needs of this population. Feminist and postmodern perspectives can serve to highlight how dominant discourses around "gender," "emotional disabilities," and "psychological development" influence social work theory and practice with this population. This paper uses feminist and postmodern re-visions of developmental theories to deconstruct the current research and clinical practices with female adolescents and shows how these re-visions can inform our thinking about adolescent girls identified as having emotional or behavioral disabilities.
Watson, N., McKie, L., Hughes, B., Hopkins, D., & Gregory, S. (2004). (Inter)dependence, needs and care: The potential for disability and feminist theorists to develop an emancipatory model. Sociology, 38
In this article we examine the tensions between feminist and disability studies perspectives on care. We argue that an emancipatory model of care is one that must address these tensions. In developing this model we consider the notions of (inter)dependence and need across the lifecourse. Drawing on the work of Fraser (1989), we propose that the notion of 'needscape' can be used to construct a 'discourse bridge' that will mediate between the disability studies and feminist perspectives on care. Notions of care and caring have been subject to criticism by feminist and disability theorists. There is a presumption by some that care is an activity to which women are naturally suited and this forms a starting point for the claim associated with the feminist view that care is a source of women's exploitation. For disability activists notions of care are dis-empowering. The person in receipt of care is often assumed to be passive and dependent. This is exemplified in the limited access of disabled people to choices over the nature and form of the social support that they may need.
Watson-Gegeo, K. (2005, July-August). Journey to the 'new normal' and beyond: reflections on learning in a community of practice. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18
Through poetry and strips of narrative, this paper discusses the embodied experience of chemical sensitivity and the anthropologist author's and other patients' journey through altered perception towards knowledge, community and transformation in the context of a medical clinic. The narratives are situated in several strands of relevant theory, including Merleau-Ponty's work on the primacy of perception, feminist perspectives on embodied experience and standpoint epistemology, disability studies, identity creation through narrating the self, and Lave and Wenger's situated learning in a community of practice.
Wendell S. (1989, Summer). Toward a feminist theory of disability. Hypatia, 4
We need a feminist theory of disability, both because 16 percent of women are disabled, and because the oppression of disabled people is closely linked to the cultural oppression of the body. Disability is not a biological given; like gender, it is socially constructed from biological reality. Our culture idealizes the body and demands that we control it. Thus, although most people will be disabled at some time in their lives, the disabled are made "the other," who symbolize failure of control and the threat of pain, limitation, dependency, and death. If disabled people and their knowledge were fully integrated into society, everyone's relation to her/his real body would be liberated. This article was reprinted in the book, Feminist Perspectives in Medical Ethics, edited by Helen Bequaert Holmes and Laura M. Purdy.
Wendell, S. (1996). The rejected body: Feminist philosophical reflections on disability.
London and New York: Routledge.
In The Rejected Body
, Susan Wendell, a woman with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, draws parallels between her own experiences with illness to feminist theory and Disability Studies. She argues (as many others have), that feminist theory has neglected to incorporate the perspectives and experiences of women with disabilities, and that these perspectives must be included in future discussions of feminist ethics, the body, and the social critique of the medical model. Wendell also examines how cultural attitudes about the body contribute to disability oppression and society's unwillingness to accept different types of bodies.
Wendell, S. (1997). Toward a feminist theory of disability. In L. J. Davis (Ed.), The Disability Studies reader
(pp. 260-278). New York: Routledge.
The author argues that disability is not a “biological given,” rather it is a social construction of biological reality (like gender) and because of this, the fact that 16% of women have disabilities, and that feminist thinkers have raised the most radical issues concerning cultural attitudes to the body, a feminist theory of disability is needed. Wendell argues that those with disabilities are constructed as “the other” and because of this are seen as failing to control their bodies (control of our bodies is demanded by society) and as symbolizing the threat of pain, limitation, dependency, and death. She calls for people with disabilities and their knowledge and experience with their bodies to be fully integrated into society, and concludes that in this way bodies would be liberated.
Wendell, S. (1999). Feminism, disability, and transcendence of the body. In J. Price & M. Shildrick (Eds.), Feminist theory and the body: A reader
(pp. 324-334). London and New York: Routledge.
Critiques contemporary feminist theorizing around the body as uninformed by the lived experience of women with disabilities and argues for a rethinking of the possibilities for strategic transcendence of the body in ways that do not necessarily lead to alienation.
Wiener, D. R. (2005, September). Antipsychiatric activism and feminism: The use of film and text to question biomedicine. Journal of Public Mental Health, 4
This article examines the relationships between antipsychiatric activism and feminism, paying particular attention to the civil liberties of mental health consumer/survivor/expatient (c/s/x) individuals in relation to mental health practices. It argues that a continually rigorous exploration of the complex (and at times uneasy) relationships between antipsychiatric activism, feminism and mental health practice is necessary and useful for pursuing social justice by working toward the diminishment of mental health inequalities. The article includes an overview of the 'spectrum' of antipsychiatric stances and a review of some of the literature covering the relationship between antipsychiatry and feminism, and uses cinematic and literary examples to highlight the complexity of addressing issues like medication 'compliance' and 'non-compliance' among mental health users and consumers in biomedical contexts.
Wilkinson, S., & Kitzinger, C. (Eds.). (1996). Representing the other: A feminism & psychology reader.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
This innovative collection addresses a challenging issue in contemporary feminist theory and practice: whether--and how--we should represent members of groups to which we do not ourselves belong. The discussions identify key concerns related to representation and difference.
Contributors draw on personal experiences of speaking 'for' and 'about' Others in their research, professional practice, writing or political activism. Problems of representing Others with ethnic or cultural backgrounds different from one's own are highlighted, and the discussions extend to representations of children, prostitutes, infertile women, 'fat' women, gay men with HIV/AIDS and people with disabilities.
Women and disability [Special issue]. (1985, Spring). Resources for Feminist Research, 14
(1). Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.
This is a 110-page collection of articles, essays, poetry, book reviews and lists of resources and references around the theme "Women and Disability." Most of the articles are first-person accounts from women who have disabilities and deal with these women's experiences of poverty, discrimination, cultural isolation, self-image, parenting, relationships, powerlessness, and so on. There is no serious attempt in any of these articles to theorize around women with disabilities but the issue contains a wealth of information about where to find resources about women with disabilities. The issue focuses almost solely on women who have physical disabilities. A back order of this issue can be ordered at the journal’s web site: http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/rfr/pages/journal.html
Worell, J. (2000). Feminism in psychology: Revolution or evolution? The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 571
This article discusses the major contributions of feminism to the discipline of psychology in the areas of theory, research, and practice. Among the most important of these innovations are the introduction of the psychology of girls and women as legitimate topics of study; naming and exploring important issues in the lives of women; reconstructing research methods and priorities to study women in the context of their lived experiences; integrating multiple diversities into all areas of the discipline; developing innovative approaches to therapeutic practice; transforming institutions toward being more inclusive and collaborative; and advocating for social action and public policies that benefit the health and well-being of both women and men. Although feminist scholarship and practice have permeated substantive areas of the discipline in both subtle and visible ways, many sectors of psychology remain wary of perspectives that are openly feminist. Feminist psychology remains active, however, and will continue to insist on the visibility of women in all its sectors and practices and on a discipline that values and promotes equality and social justice for all.