Just as in deafness the age of onset of a physical disability
critically influences ones sence of self-becoming
disabled prior to the age of 7-perhaps even earlier is totally different
than becoming disabled in ones teens and older-we have little in common
other than societal barriers-the sense of entitlement; body image; sp.
ed.; medical abuse are a few of the areas that are critical to our
differences-don't minimize these differences-I'm not certain whether the
similarities are strong enough to unite us. Your thoughts?????????
On Mon, 18 Oct 1999, Lennard Davis wrote:
> I was really surprised to see you post this. First because you spend so
> much time trying to break down binaries and now here you are creating this
> rigid binary of disabled/non-disabled. To me this seems like the worst
> aspect of identity politics. My hope was that disability would create a
> new category and a way of interrogating the essentialism of identity. Now
> you've put in this limelight in which only "disabled leaders" can enter. I
> know you've argued with the notion of Deafness that would in effect exclude
> hard-of-hearing. So I don't understand how your advice jibes with your own
> While I deeply respect the argument that Simi Linton and others have made
> that disability studies and disability activism should be "lead" by people
> with disabilities, I really don't think there is a chance those areas will
> be taken over by those abled parvenus seeking power and fame. I'm not sure
> if Mairian was referring to me as one of the "non-disabled people" who
> shoud "step back from the spotlight and concentrate on the lighting and
> scenery." If so, or even if not, I think this is an interesting point that
> should be discussed.
> I've personally been very careful when I've been involved in disability
> matters to say frequently that I'm not impaired physically at the moment.
> I've given others the opportunity to say, "Well, withdraw from this
> organization, etc." And when I' ve done that, the response has always
> been--"We don't want this area to be the exclusive province of people with
> impairments. We don't want to be ghettoized." I've taken that to mean
> that disability studies, for example, wants to resist the essentialism of
> some other area studies. Personally, I don't consider myself a person with
> disabilities, but I also don't consider myself a non-disabled person.
> Since my parents were Deaf, and since I grew up in a Deaf World, I, like my
> fellow brother and sister CODAS (Children of Deaf Adults) occupy a liminal
> space. We consider ourselves bi-cultural, and, after some negotiating, the
> Deaf community in general has included us within its bounds. (After all,
> we are their children.) We are invited and attend meetings of the National
> Association of the Deaf, the World Deaf Congresses, etc. Many of us are
> interpreters or work with the Deaf.
> The point is, disability is such a varied phenomenon, as we all know, from
> chronic diseases, obesity, motor, sensory, cognitive and affective
> impairments. And what about their family, caregivers, etc. Who issues the
> membership card? Who draws the line? And if we are serious about the idea
> that today's normates will be tomorrow's people with disability, why
> exclude even the absolutely normal person from being a fellow traveller,
> contributor, debater, or whatever? What's to gain from that? What about
> all the fabulous white people who were leaders in the civil rights
> movement, who went down South in the Freedom Summer, and who even died for
> the movement?
> At 10:20 AM 10/16/1999 +0100, you wrote:
> >I tend to agree with Phyllis that giving Singer too much ad hoc air time is
> >a bad idea, but I also feel that if we have to do it, a clear strategy is
> >important. I think it would be really bad news to put a non-disabled person
> >on the platform with Singer because, since he's such a slippery customer,
> >he's bound to twist it somehow to say well there you are - disabled people
> >(apart from Adrienne of course) can't speak for themselves. The strategic
> >opportunities that are created should maximise the potential for putting
> >disabled leaders in disability studies in the limelight - or have we
> >suddenly forgotten our politics of visibility? - and I have no problem with
> >the list that Lennard has given. It is precisely at times like this that
> >non-disabled people should step back from the spotlight and concentrate on
> >the lighting and the scenery.
> >Best wishes, Mairian
> >>Lennard Davis wrote:
> >>> I'd love to debate with Singer. I spent all day yesterday driving from
> >>> Binghamton to NYC having my own private debate with Singer. Judging from
> >>> the response in my car, I won. But I WAS the only person in the car.
> >>> This discussion only reiterates what I've been saying that we need to have
> >>> a PR/speaker's bureau. I can think of any number of people to add on to
> >>> Adrienne who would be able to argue Singer into a corner....Paul Longmore,
> >>> Tom Shakespeare, Rosemarie Thomson, Simi Linton, Harlan Hahn, Nancy
> >>> Mairs....there's no shortage of persuasive argumentive sorts amongst us.
> >>> And there's no reason we should not get pro-active about finding people
> >>> like to argue, are good in public, can handle an audience, and then
> >>> assembling a list of would-be speakers. I hope that people will take this
> >>> issue up at SDS this year. I know there have been others who have
> >>> backgrounds in journalism, rhetoric, public speaking who have been
> >>> advocating this.
> >>> In the meantime, I'll look into things like getting The Nation to host a
> >>> debate on this subject. If anyone has a venue they think would be
> >>> appropriate, perhaps we can stage further debates.
> >Mairian Corker
> >Senior Research Fellow in Deaf and Disability Studies
> >Department of Education Studies
> >University of Central Lancashire
> >Preston PR1 2HE
> >Fax +44 870 0553967
> >email: [log in to unmask]
> Lennard J. Davis
> Professor and Graduate Director
> Department of English
> Binghamton University
> Binghamton, NY 13902
> 607-777-2770 Fax: 607-777-2408