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chelseam's blog

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Stigma, Mental Illness and Gen/Sex

In the Foreword of the Price book, Tobin Siebers writes that there is a way in which teachers are called upon to diagnose their students; that there is "a hidden agenda of classroom teaching- what is being diagnosed in persistent and determined ways is the mental health of students" (xii). While I agree with the notion that teachers often end up "diagnosing" the mental health of their students, I don't think I agree with the sentiment that it is as deliberate as the phrase "hidden agenda" suggests. This argument made me think about the Summers I have spent teaching swim lessons to young kids. I found myself spending a lot of time thinking about how to better teach each individual swimmer, which is intrinsically connected to thinking about the ways each student thinks and how their needs might be different than those of other kids in the class. It seems to me that while an environment of quasi-medical diagnosis may be created in classroom environments, it may often be a product of a desire to better teach and not a deliberate quest to seek out difference. However, I agree with Price that academic environments can tend to cast a negative light on mental differences and create an even more hostile environment for such differences than is found in the rest of our interactions. 

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Josh Blue and Britain's Missing Top Model

I really enjoyed the videos and images we looked at in class last week. After Anne posted the link to "Britain's Missing Top Model" (the source of the photograph of the group of disabled women in pink dresses), I spent a little time surfing youtube and trying to get a feel for the show. The clip embedded in the website didn't play on my computer, but I found a promo for the show (see link at bottom of post). A few things stood out for me. The contestant featured in this clip said, "We're disabled young women, but we're just normal young women at the same time." I was struck by her use of the word normal. In any context I find the word a bit disconcerting, as we discussed in class there are times when we want to be "normal" but others when we do not. In the context of this show I was even more disconcerted because it seemed to imply that for this group of women to be "normal" they needed to be models - to be spectacularly beautiful and sexualized in a way that is not "normal" for most women and doesn't necessarily seem good. It seems that instead of celebrating the people that these women are with their disability, the show asks the audience to see who they can be inspite of their disability. It seems that they are simply being objectified differently, the emphasis being shifted from their disability to their bodies as sex objects (This reaction strikes me as a bit extreme, but to some degree I think its true). I have similar issues with similar shows such as America's Next Top Model, which is not to say that I am above watching them!

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Week 2: Wilchins, Foucalt, and Living the Good Lie

I’ve been thinking a lot about the readings from last week, especially the Wilchins book. I was struck by Riki’s frustration with what she perceives an unwillingness of the feminist and at times the gay rights movement to collaborate with the transgender movement in order to help achieve some transgender goals. Wilchins points out that members of the constituency of feminist groups are often directly affected by issues that gender activists are working on.

She emphasizes the overlap between the gay, transgender, and feminist movements, but I think fails to adequately flesh out the unique goals of each movement. Although the three seem unquestionably related, they are by no means the same movement and do not necessarily share the same goals. It would be interesting to have seen her attempt to explore different explanations of the feminist movements’ periodic hesitancy to collaborate with the gender or gay rights movements, instead of immediately writing these decisions off as misguided and in conflict with their goals.

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