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Desexualization/Identity and Disability

smalina's picture

I'd like to spend some time in class talking about the desexualization of disabled people, and how this tendency of the oppressor to erase or ignore the humanity of the "other" extends to other parts of identity, including gender identity, sexual orientation, race, etc. Through reading A Disability History of the United States, we saw some examples of how sexuality was used against people with disabilities, or as a way of defining disability (for example, women who were essentially considered disabled because they became pregnant at a young age--many of these seem very tied up in misogyny and sexism--or the men who were considered physically/mentally "unfit" for society because of their relationships with other men). The news article we read on the court case also raised a lot of questions about society's insistence upon seeing people with disabilities as incapable of consent/sexual agency/perhaps even sexuality at all. I know that this topic will also come up in the context of CCW, as we begin to discuss Natalie's project on understanding and talking about our bodies, sexualities, and gender identities.

I'd also like to think about these elements of identity in relation to the articles we read on autism and ToM--what does it mean to claim an identity if you are understood as not being able to relate to others, or even to yourself? Does denying that people with autism have the ability to reflect on their own emotions and communicate them on a deep, rich level deny them identity and the community that comes with claiming an identity?