3 thoughts on “Week 9 Day 1 Discussion Question 2

  • March 30, 2022 at 10:15 am

    The articles by Wendy Lu, Samantha Renke, and Amy Kavanagh are infuriating, but unfortunately not entirely shocking. At this point, I’ve accepted that assaulters will commit acts of sexual harassment and violence against women and non-binary people regardless of any identity, but the lack of specific research and conversation about sexual violence towards those with disabilities is horrifying. In both of these women’s stories, there is the common narrative (from perpetrators) that they are offering help to the women and that they should be grateful. They have no regard for their own lack of consent in this situation, and it’s clear that offenders rarely view disabled women as having a voice, having autonomy, or the ability to resist. It is partly for these reasons that many men offering their “help” become enraged after being rejected; in a way, they take it as an attack on their masculinity (as they are not needed to “protect” and “rescue” women from the woes of everyday life), as well as an unexpected rejection (to the offenders) since they often view their own “services” as transactional or at the very least something any woman should be “grateful” for.
    The lack of prevention on behalf of law enforcement in regards to sexual violence against women with disabilities is also shocking. The story where Wendy Lu talks about the man who was sexually harassing her in public and the indifferent NYPD officer speaks volumes about the reality of how sexual violence is reported. How can women report abuse when law enforcement or authority figures are so quick to dismiss incidents? It’s as Wendy Lu says, they don’t get it.

  • March 29, 2022 at 11:36 pm

    The articles by Lu and Kavanagh detailed encounters that are truly horrifying and cause one to lose faith in society. The premise of both articles stems from individuals engaging in dangerous and uncouth acts, marginalized groups. It would seem that the perpetrators of this violence always seem to use the act of providing ‘aid’, or assistance as their entry point to engaging in assault. Kavanagh and Lu both reiterate how they are assumed to be in need of help or require the support of a ‘strong man’ when it is in fact on the contrary, and they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Although these articles were sad to read, they highlight misogynistic behavior and its prevalence in society today. Furthermore, the dangerous combination of said misogyny and ableism work to hate, hurt and oppress those who are marginalized. Ultimately, the action point from both articles was to create and raise awareness; sexual assault is a problem society is well aware of, however, society must acknowledge that these actions can and do happen to the disabled. It is not a remote possibility or rare occurrence, and it happens more than we think. Disabled persons should not be excluded, least of all from movements against sexual assault and for equal rights and fair treatment.

  • March 29, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    All of these stories are very alarming to read, and unfortunately all of them seem to have persistent shaming and misogynistic behaviour in common. Both Lu and Kavanagh detail how even though individuals who are seemingly more well intentioned or attempting to help are ultimately being disrespectful or infantilising in a way that is more harmful than helpful. They both also discuss how disabled women are sexually harassed or assaulted and seen as vulnerable. They also mention the paradox in which society has traditionally viewed disabled people as sexless, saying how many find it ‘impossible to imagine a disabled woman being groped on the train’ despite the fact that disabled women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted. Therefore, disabled women have been incorrectly seen not as women holding their own sexual agency and power, but as sexual objects to be stared at and touched at other people’s whim. This works hand in hand with the sexist assumption that women are in need of protection or support from any man who would accept them. Lu mentioned the obsession of certain men to ‘look after’ her and this has made me curious about the fetishization of disabled people and how these women navigate that. Kavanaugh’s article particularly stood out to me as she discusses how the #metoo movement overall failed to address sexual harassment within the disabled community and I find it inspiring how she hopes to expand the much-needed research into these issues. Reading these in conjunction with Judith Butler’s discussion is interesting as I see elements of this culture prevalent even within Middlebury. My disabled friends often complain about how inaccessible both the college campus is as well as the institution itself and it makes me wonder if a more accessible campus would consequently lead to a culture that is more accommodating and accepting of disabled people.

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