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2/22 Reading Response

jcoletti's picture

In reflecting on the readings for today’s class, I was thinking about the importance of reflecting on and valuing the affective dimensions of disability-- particularly through centering of the lived experiences of disabled people (in addition to theory; which while often useful, does not fully encompass physical and embodied experience). This is described by Eli Clare when he is talking about his frustrations about both impairment/not being able to do the things he wants to do as well as ableism and not being able to distinguish between the theoretical divide between disability/impairment or social/individual body or where to direct feelings. Additionally, although less significant, there are many affective responses (often inappropriate) experienced and personified by able-bodied people about disability and towards disabled people-- such as pity, infantilization, or impatience/inconsideration. 

I think about a lot of negative feelings and discomfort which able-body/minded people often feel in relation to disability and all of the effort that goes into maintaining an ableist world which could very easily turn on them (or not work great for them to begin with) when that energy could be redirected into building environments that work for everyone. I do think a great deal of this has to do with fear associated with the possibility of becoming disabled, particularly because of the way in which creating a world in which disabled people, elderly people, etc. can thrive radically challenges current structures of power and systems which manage and control bodies. I really appreciated Mia Mingus’s discussion of access intimacy as inherently relational and in particular the quote:  

"The power of access intimacy is that it reorients our approach from one where disabled people are expected to squeeze into able bodied people’s world, and instead calls upon able bodied people to inhabit our world. It challenges able bodied supremacy by valuing disability—not running from disability—but moving towards it. It asserts that there is value in disabled people’s lived experiences. In this way, it reframes both how and where solidarity can be practiced. Access intimacy is shared work by all people involved, it is no longer the familiar story of disabled people having to do all the work to build the conversations and piece together the relationship and trust that we know we need for access—that we know we need in order to survive."

Most immediately, this raises questions for me about how to more actively engage with access practices in all of my relationships and spaces I inhabit -- which I am definitely looking forward to exploring and discussing with the class.