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jrizzo's picture


Garland-Thompson seemed to be introducing disability studies as a field that introduces knew ways of thinking the body, and specifically the recent development of an ability/mandate to change the body we were given to satisfy the "normalcy" requirements of whichever society we happen to be born into.  She seemed to make much of the notion of societal expectations as arbirtrary standards, or if not arbitrary certainly not the only way or the "natural" way.  In class, we jumped right on her band-wagon.  There were allusions to the nefarious medical community, which unthinkingly pushes for "normalizing" surgery on disabled or deformed patients.  I understand the worries of those who felt this was wrong becuase doctors assume that the disabled person cannot live a life that is rich and happy as the "abled" person.  I agree that the exceptional examples of poets, runway, playboy models even, that we encountered were inspiring, but I guess I'm not sure I see what is so terrible about favoring normalizing surgeries when the disabled do now typically have a more difficult situation than those who are not.  To say nothing of legitimate health issues, having some visible deformity and attracting The Stare is not the same thing as being a woman and attracting The Gaze.  The Gaze contains cultural attitudes and dangers that must be addressed and done away with.  People stare at things that are different.  Sometimes gawk.  Sometimes it's very impolite, but the unusual does attract attention.  This does not mean unusual has to be good or bad, but I think this is something undeniable that should give pause to those make blanket statements about the unfortunate situation of the disabled being culturally constructed. 


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