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Masculinity and Disability

ncordon's picture

In our last class, we discussed ideas relating to masculinity and disability. We found that people view physical disability as an infringement upon masculinity because it affects a man's ability to perform physical labor, a task often associated with masculinity. Chapters five and six highlight the nuances of this subject when it discusses how many soldiers became disabled after the Revolutionary War, therefore, their disability was seen as more "heroic" than those born with physical disabilities. Nevertheless, many physically disabled people struggled to find a job after the war because they were confined to their corporeal abilities. Losing their economic autonomy posed a threat for their masculine ideals, and it also posed a threat for national identity. Immigration officials at Ellis Island attempted to rectify this by selecting who could be a citizen based on gendered ideals of feminity and masculinity. Masculinity and disability didn't work together in the historical assembly of national identity,  so all men with physical or intellectual disabilities were sent back to their home country. In self-selecting citizens,  the United States perpetuated the idea that masculinity and disability contradict one another. So why can't the two function together? Well in addition to the economic  drawbacks of disability at the time, disability also affected a man's ability to reproduce. This includes both the physical aspect and the socialized notion that disabled men are not attractive (as the beginning poem looks at).  In considering the idea of attraction and disability I want to think about body dysmorphia and body image in physically disabled communities. What does that look like?