Here’s the poster for the upcoming panel, Reproductive Autonomy: Control of Sexuality that we’re hosting this Wednesday as part of the U of Alberta’s Pride Week. The sesssion will feature Lise Gotell and Lane Mandlis as speakers, with Moyra Lang and Rob Wilson performing an interpretative dance (ok, perhaps not, … but we’ll do something useful … or at least will be there). Please print and post, or distribute electronically. Text only version included as well.
h/t Anne Pasek
Sweden, “one of 17 [countries] in the European Union,” may soon change a law that requires transgendered people to become sexually sterilized if they decide to officially change gender. Sweden has made moves to repeal the law in January, only to be stopped by the Christian Democrat Party. However, this party has recently changed their mind, allowing the repeal to go through.
This move was partially in thanks to an online petition, by AllOut (http://allout.org/en/actions/stop_forced_sterilization), which gained 80,000 international signatures to repeal the law. However, the date for repealing the law is still pending.
Countries that still require sterilization include France, Italy, Romania, Poland, Greece, and Portugal. For a map outlining the current status of European sterilization, you can link here: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/most-european-countries-force-sterilization-transgender-people-map
In an effort to avoid gender stereotyping, Beck Laxton and partner Kieran Cooper concealed the gender of their son from the world. The gender neutrally named Sasha has now turned five and is starting school. Prior to the commencement of formative school years, Sasha has been given the choice to dress in clothes that appealed to him, be they hand-me-downs from an older sister or an older brother. When Sasha turned five, his parents were forced to reveal his gender, which means that Sasha will have to get used to being perceived as a boy by his peers. Although the school requires different uniforms for boys and girls, Sasha’s mom is intervening by letting Sasha wear a girl’s blouse with his pants.
Last year, a different couple made a similar decision not to reveal their child’s gender. Some psychiatric experts voiced their concerns:
“To have a sense of self and personal identity is a critical part of normal healthy development,” Dr. Eugene Beresin, director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, told ABC News. “This blocks that and sets the child up for bullying, scapegoating and marginalization.”
The article continues:
But as parents well know, bullying is hard for any child to avoid. It’s more important to raise someone who’s confident enough in himself to overcome peer pressure. It’s also important to have his parents have his back.
The question of personal identity is interesting as gender is certainly a big part of it. However, that’s precisely the problem couples like Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper are attempting to avoid. The question of bullying, scapegoating and marginalization is a bit trickier since such actions are certainly a product of dogmatically ingrained gender stereotyping, but they will not cease to exist just because Sasha’s parents have grown past them. Although bullying may well be hard for any child to avoid, some children do get bullied more than others. And although Laxton and Cooper are trying to inculcate a sense of self and others in Sasha, which they hope will be lacking gender stereotyping, are they also not sacrificing their child’s emotional and physical safety by setting him up for potential bullying? It is quite important to raise someone who’s confident enough in him or herself to overcome peer pressure, but it could also be the case that exposing a child to more risk of bullying may have an adverse effect on his or her confidence.
That’s not to say that Sasha will be bullied, but it will depend on his environment. If Laxton and Cooper chose an appropriate school, perhaps their goal of raising their son to be confident in himself and have a valuable dual perspective on gender will not be compromised by the very gender stereotypes they are attempting to undermine. “Egalia,” a preschool in Stockholm, Sweden comes to mind (as an example of the kind of environment in which Sasha could flourish). Staff do not use words like “him” or “her,” but rather a made-up neutral term and students are encouraged to do the same. Moreover, traditional “boy” and “girl” toys are spatially integrated so as to obliterate any value systems associated with stereotypical gender preferences. For those interested, here is the article.
Bullying has not ceased in spite of a laudable movement to curb it. Although Laxton and Cooper’s hearts may be in the right place, they have influence only over Sasha’s worldview and not that of other children (who get theirs from their own parents or guardians). Are they putting Sasha at risk, as Dr. Eugene Beresin claims? And if the answer is yes, are they entitled to make such choices for Sasha if they lead to increased risk of bullying, which could potentially be developmentally as well as physically harmful?
Check out this (amazing and depressing) post by Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper
The wrap-up of Ed Stein’s talk at the Human Kinds symposium. Here Ed talks a little about whether there are natural human kinds, whether male and female, or gay and straight, might be such kinds, and the relationship between such questions and issues of gay rights.
COMMUNITY CALL TO ACTION:
DOES PSYCHO DONUTS IN CAMPBELL, CALIFORNIA OFFEND YOU?
In March, a new donut shop opened in Campbell, California, called Psycho
Donuts. The store capitalizes on the theme of a ³fun mental institution,² a
³lighthearted insane asylum² complete with a padded cell where kids can
take photos while wearing a straightjacket, a “group therapy” area,
employees dressed in medical garb, and donuts named after psychiatric
disabilities, such as Massive Brain Trauma and Bipolar. Psycho Donuts¹
website states that it ³has taken the neighborhood donut and put it on
medication, and given it shock treatment.² The store owners have refused
meeting requests from NAMI and from the Silicon Valley Independent Living
Center. The Mayor of Campbell, Jane Kennedy, attended the ribbon cutting
for the business on April 2. The media coverage of the donut shop by the
San Jose Mercury News on March 16th unquestioningly validated the
discriminatory theme of the business.
Does this offend you? Are you as outraged about this as we are? If so,
please help us DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Send a loud and clear message to the
owners of Psycho Donuts and to the leadership of the City of Campbell that
the nationwide disability community WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS.
WHAT CAN DO YOU TO HELP? Continue reading
On October 25, 2008, the What Sorts Network hosted a public symposium to examine, well, philosophy, eugenics, and disability in Alberta and places north. Four speakers were featured on the panel, Dick Sobsey, Simo Vehmas, Martin Tweedale, and Rob Wilson. This event was video recorded and over the next month we will highlight these videos on this blog. Roughly four videos will be featured each week.
To download the full description of the symposium please click here.
With this video we begin the second part of the presentation by Rob Wilson (The first part may be found here). Professor Wilson’s presentation is titled “Building Inclusive Communities Through Practices of Collective Memory: The Case of Eugenic Sterilization in Alberta.” Part interim report, part philosophical reflection, this presentation is a glimpse into the ongoing process of exploring the eugenics history of Alberta.
Highlights: reaction to relatively recent publishing of sterilization rates, quote from MacEachran on the value of sterilization.
A transcript follows the cut.
The Audeo is being developed to create a human-computer interface for communication without the need of physical motor control or speech production. Using signal processing, unpronounced speech representing the thought of the mind can be translated from intercepted neurological signals.
CALL FOR PAPERS
July 24-26, 2009
Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Keynote speaker: Dr. Steven Angelides, Department of Women’s Studies, Monash University
Other featured speakers will be confirmed for the release of the official conference announcement to follow.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: February 27, 2009
The conference, “Disorderly Conduct” will bring together scholars from around the world and from such disciplines as sociology, philosophy, health studies, history, women’s studies, and medicine to explore and problematize the notion of a “disorder”. The conference seeks to bring front-line medical and mental health personnel who treat various “disorders” together with humanities, social science and health and disability studies scholars who work (in one way or another) on theoretical questions related both to specific “disorders” and to the notion of a disorder simpliciter. In workshops and symposia, conference participants will engage questions like the following: Continue reading
[This post is the eighth in our new series of Thinking in Action posts, the series being devoted initially at least to discussion of talks at the Cognitive Disability conference in NYC in September. The first post in the series is here and the posts run Tuesdays and Fridays ... or at least that's the plan.]
I’ve chosen a section of Anna Stubblefield’s talk “The Entanglement of Race and Cognitive Disability” for discussion in which she explains that our contemporary notion of intellect is a social construction, one which is founded on assumptions about race. In this section (running approximately from the 2 minute mark to the 5 minute mark), Stubblefield explains how it is that intellect is socially constructed and mentions two things in particular I want to consider: first, she notes that our notion of intellect is constructed around our assumptions as to what counts as successful communication and second, that due to the biases inherent to the structure of our measurements of intellect, an individual may be identified as cognitively disabled simply because their cognitive abilities are such that the method of measurement is not sensitive to them. As a result of their diagnosis as cognitively disabled, this individual is then often denied access to opportunities for future development.
I agree with Dr. Stubblefield’s arguments Continue reading
Capital D: Disability as Nation, Ground, Territory
May 25-26, 2009
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Deadline: December 1, 2008
Papers, panels, workshops, roundtables, performances, posters and other presentations, addressing the grounds—academic disciplines, reasoning, frontiers, cultures, sites—of understanding and advancing of disability studies in Canada and internationally:
• What has been and is now the status of the Canadian citizen with Disability?
• How may Canada provide ground for a unique concept of disability, both individual and cultural?
• How may Disability provide ground for a unique concept of Canada as nation?
• Do academic territories, including methods of discipline, capitalise ideas of Disability, for better or worse?
• What are the grounds for the establishment of disability studies programs and departments across Canada?
• Does Canada’s multiculturalism permit space for Disability culture, individually, socially, or politically?
• How do physical sites—bodies, buildings, environments—create grounds and territories of Disability?
The Proposal Submission Form can be downloaded at
Close-up photo of Chris Bell from the shoulders up. He is wearing a midnight blue t-shirt, rectangular glasses, silver hoop earrings, and has a thin moustache/goatee. There are books on the shelves of bookcases in the background.
“This is not a death sentence”
by Rebekah Jones
When Chris Bell found out he was HIV-positive, he went home, sat down and watched “Law and Order.” He didn’t cry or lash out at his partner who infected him, he said. He watched television and started his homework. “I had papers to grade,” said Bell, a post-doctorate research fellow and soon-to-be professor at Syracuse University. Eleven years after his diagnosis, at 6-foot-2 and 135 pounds, Bell’s emaciated figure proves how the infection plagues his body. His medicine makes him tired and sick, and he keeps losing weight.
Bell isn’t doing well health wise, but he’s pushing forward. He’s learned too much in his 34 years of living to just quit – giving up isn’t in him, he said. “This is not a death sentence; we’re all dying,” Bell said. “Nothing has changed but my level of awareness.” While the virus overwhelms his body, Bell continues to focus on what’s important to him: being an activist and an educator.
Bell’s first class as a professor at SU, CFE 600 (Disability, AIDS & U.S. Culture) starting Spring 2009, will be the only class at SU focused specifically on HIV and disability studies in American culture. His class will examine, critique and aim to redefine the way people think about disabled persons and HIV/AIDS patients. Read the entire story here: http://media.www.dailyorange.com/media/storage/paper522/news/2008/11/12/Feature/this-Is.Not.A.Death.Sentence-3538354.shtml
Acknowledgement to Beth Haller at Media dis and dat
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University Presents
“Unspeakable Offenses: Untangling Race and Disability in
Discourses of Intersectionality”
Associate Professor of Education & Instructional Leadership in
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies
University of Alabama
Wednesday, November 19
Noon – 1:30 p.m.
President’s Conference Suite, 1810 Liacouras Walk
Published: October 29, 2008
But what about ugliness?
It is an awkward topic, a wretched concept, really, and, of course, a terrible insult when flung in your direction. When a woman once told Winston Churchill he was drunk, he is said to have replied: “And you, madam, are ugly. But I shall be sober tomorrow, whereas you will still be ugly.”
Ugliness is associated with evil and fear, with villains and monsters: the Wicked Witch of the West, Freddy Krueger and Harry Potter’s arch-meanie, Lord Voldemort, with his veiny skull, creepy slits in his nose for nostrils and rotten teeth. There are the gentle souls, too, plagued through no fault of their own by their disturbing appearance: Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, the Elephant Man and Shrek, who is ugly and green but in a cute way.
Ugliness has recently emerged as a serious subject of study and academic interest unto itself, in some small part because of the success of television’s “Ugly Betty,” which ABC promoted with a “Be Ugly” campaign stressing self-esteem for girls and young women. Sociologists, writers, lawyers and economists have begun to examine ugliness, suggesting that the subject has been marginalized in history and that discrimination against the unattractive, while difficult to document or prevent, is a quiet but widespread injustice.
Researchers who have tried to measure appearance discrimination, or “uglyism” and “looksism,” and the impact of what they call the “beauty premium” and the “plainness penalty” on income, say that the time has come for ugly to peek out from beauty’s shadow.
Read the entire article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/fashion/30ugly.html?th&emc=th
Submission deadline: Jan. 1 2009
Projected publication date: Summer 2010
Co-editors: Emily Thornton Savarese, University of Iowa, and Ralph James Savarese, Grinnell College
We are looking for completed articles, from a disability studies perspective, on what the medical community refers to as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). We are especially interested in pieces that engage the so-called “low-functioning” end of the spectrum, where increasingly those presumed retarded and lacking social awareness are writing back to the empire of science. As the field of disability studies has theorized cognitive difference, it has had to refine its cherished social-constructionist approach, making sure to account for physiological distinctiveness in the organ of sensibility, a distinctiveness that has been interpreted in a myriad of ways, most quite prejudicial. We are interested in the burgeoning neurodiversity movement, which has self-consciously resisted such prejudicial interpretations, often revealing the “science” of autism to be anything but reliable and objective. How to talk about autistic difference? How to represent it? How to convey its gifts and challenges? Who can talk about it? What role should parents play in this representational arena? What role should teachers, doctors, researchers, therapists, media entities, and academics play? What kind of interdisciplinary approaches are needed to understand, respect, and even cherish autism? Continue reading
NOTE FROM ST: If you are organizing a conference and wish to make it inclusive of, and accessible to, a diverse range of disabled people, you should take some cues from the requirements for accessible presentations which are provided in this CFP following the description of themes for this conference. Notice, for instance, that the accessibility provisions are made explicit in the CFP itself. Thus, disabled individuals who wish to submit a paper and/or attend the conference are not required to contact the conference organizers themselves in order to inquire about the accessibility of the event, nor are they left to guess, hope, or take their chances in regard to its accessibility.
THEME: “IT’S ‘OUR’ TIME: PATHWAYS TO AND FROM
DISABILITY STUDIES—PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE”
The Society for Disability Studies is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its annual convention, to be held June 17-20, 2009, in Tucson, Arizona, at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort. The theme for this convention is “It’s ‘Our’ Time: Pathways to and From Disability Studies—Past, Present, Future.” Time, in all its forms, conceptualizations, and manifestations, will be the central focus of the conference, though proposals on any topic relevant to Disability Studies are welcomed. We imagine a number of different ways of approaching the issue of time, a concept critical to all aspects of disability experience and culture: Continue reading
A one-day forum hosted by the Office of the Provost and the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. The Office of the Provost and the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies are sponsoring a one-day forum on Linguistic Human Rights and the Future of Sign Languages. This event will bring together leading scholars to discuss critical issues facing the future vitality of sign languages and linguistic diversity. The event is free and open to the entire university community.
Where: Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC) atrium, Gallaudet University
When: Friday, October 24, 2008, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For the schedule of events and a list of guest speakers, go here:
Thanks to Dirksen Bauman for drawing the attention of the disability studies community to this important forum at Gallaudet.