Many parallels exist between the social meanings attributed to female bodies and bodies with disabilities. Both the female body and that of people with disabilities are historically considered deviant and inferior; both are defined from a social, cultural and economic logic and, therefore, categorized from a norm.
However, the discursive equation that separates the feminine from disability has never ceased to be common. Such links are based on the socially naturalized idea of disability as a dysfunctional and socially invalidated biological body. This construction has serious, daily, implicit and explicit consequences.
:: Article | The negation of the fat body and the fantasy of a standard athletic body in Tokyo 2020 ::
An example are the constant questions about the sexuality of women with disabilities: does she have sex, feel pleasure, get pregnant, can someone love her, is she a lesbian? Or even, the ubiquitous doubts about the possibility of a life with a disability generating or taking care of others, which are supported by the eugenic argument of a work of social bioethical treatment, sterilize these women.
These examples illustrate the fact that everything that refers to the essentialization of the feminine, but clashes with the reality of women with disabilities, is proportionally consistent with a judgment of “social impossibility of existence.” This is because it breaks with the body ideals. and indicates the representation of the opposite to the employed by self-government, self-determination, autonomy and progress founded on neoliberal ideology.
:: Making the lesbian existence visible is a feminist demand ::
Thus, the lack of understanding about the theme and, certainly, the reinforcement of the idea of infantilization, uselessness and opposition to free will, divert attention from the fact that many women acquire an injury or impairment for having experienced gender violence and become women with disabilities, or become mothers and caregivers of disabled sons or daughters.
Which leads me to write the obvious conclusion that although disability is an outsider in the middle, it is substantially a close friend and ignored of the patriarchy’s denunciations. In August, they acclaim the achievement of the Maria da Penha law, use her image, but literally erase her wheelchair from the celebration. Obviously this is not a lack of attention, but a serious social marker full of contradictions that are decisive – even for groups that fight against patriarchy – and subvert this condition from the perspective of rejection, a kind of “punch in the stomach” that turns into a disease social, synonymous with isolation.
:: Brazilian Agroecology Association launches publication on the role of women and feminisms ::
There are no spaces and accommodations in the discussions about and, mainly, with what the bodies of women with disabilities represent or who experience it in another way, through their sons or daughters. As a result, in the end, these women suffer gender violence and combine their lives with neglect, death, dispossession, heading the list of abuse and rape, arbitrarily justified by the vulgar and egocentric idea of charity.
The ideal would be for the bodies of women with disabilities to be welcomed in anti-capitalist struggles as an icon of affront to the norm itself, almost as a synonym for subversion and rejection of the neoliberal logic. But it seems to me, the rhetoric of self-sufficiency only leads to an understanding of these lives from the perspective of personal tragedy that needs to be erased, hidden, cut out, because after all, “I can’t handle it”, or “I don’t know anyone like that” .
Prominent disability rights activist Judy Heumann angrily voiced in pointed words as she attended a gathering of women activists: “So I walk into a room full of feminists and all they see is a wheelchair?” .
More than a criticism, this text is about pointing out a need: we need to bring disability as an agenda to the centrality of feminist discussions, because first of all it is based on social injustices and it is through subversive women like Rosa Luxemburg, Frida , Maria da Penha (all with disabilities) that we established our own disorder.
Their existence is itself the constant threat to the norm, a refusal of the subordinate logic of the ideal. Violating the norm is being an anti-capacitator.
*Viviane Sarmento has a Ph.D. in Education from the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL), Adjunct Professor at the Federal University of the Agreste of Pernambuco (UFAPE), researcher on the social meanings of disability and activist for the Rights of people with disabilities and for the World March for Women ( MMM).
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the Brazil in fact.
Source: BoF Pernambuco
Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga