Week 9 Day 1 Discussion Question 3

How did watching “An Examined Life” with Sunaura Taylor and Judith Butler make you think about the ways in which non-normative bodies are policed and stigmatized? Can you see a connection between their conversation and either Adair’s or Garland-Thompson’s arguments about how nonconforming bodies are devalued and othered in modern capitalist society?

2 thoughts on “Week 9 Day 1 Discussion Question 3

  • March 30, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    Sunaura Taylor and Judith Butler talk about the social repression of impaired people, distinguishing between a structurally-affirmed disability and embodiments that are impaired. Taylor talks about how increasing physical access in public spaces, viable public transportation systems and curb cuts, help precede greater social acceptance of disabled people because of interactions becoming more frequent. This aligns with Garland-Thomson’s perspective of disability as continuously produced and reproduced by disabled people’s “interaction with a cultural environment, both material and psychological, that is at odds either with the functioning or the configuration of their bodies.” Butler poses the questions: do we or do we not live in a world where we assist each other? Are basic needs there to be debated? Butler at one point says non-normative bodies challenge individualism, which I thought was interesting. The prospect of helping a nonconforming-bodied person for maybe a conforming-bodied person is at odds with the individualism championed by capitalism. When Sunaura Taylor would enter stores and coffee shops, she and every other customer all demanded assistance of some kind. The modern capitalist doctrine of self-reliance takes the form of attitudes wherein people believe they owe each other nothing. When it comes to assistance, nonconforming bodies that require help are viewed as burdening this sense of individualism. This is all despite the fact that no individual, conforming body or not, is completely self-reliant but have required and will always require help from others in some way.

  • March 29, 2022 at 10:45 pm

    The distinction made in Disability Studies that Sunaura Taylor brings up between disability and impairment was eye-opening. Impairment is defined as one’s own embodiment, referring to the medical term of one’s disability. Whereas disability is “the social repression of disabled people”. This pertains to the fewer opportunities that are made available to a disabled person in society, such as housing or employment options. Sunaura goes on to speak about the disabling effects she faces daily in society. She talks about the example of her working up the courage to go into a coffee shop. She refers to going into the coffee shop and asking for help as a “political protest”. This idea ties into Garland-Thomson’s beliefs that disability is put into a social context, where “the social problems and judgments of inferiority that disabled people face are produced by their interaction with a cultural environment, both material and psychological, that is at odds either with the functioning or the configuration of their bodies”. And so, if one’s body does not fit the cultural standards their body is viewed as “devalued”, where they are an outcast. For Sunaura, it is little things, like going into a coffee shop, where she is faced with discrimination and is viewed as what Garland-Thomson refers to as a “personal misfortune”. Sunaura talks about how she would be able to pick up a coffee cup with her mouth by herself, however, her hesitation to do so stems from this act not being normalized in our society. This strengthens Garland-Thomson’s point, where disability “is the unorthodox made flesh…that the body cannot be universalized”. As a society, we have this idealized version of how our bodies should appear and how our bodies should perform daily actions. This is the issue that arises, as disabilities are not normalized nor fit into these societal expectations of the body and appearance. The need to fit into such standards drives our capitalist society. There have been many cosmetic procedures performed, along with commercial products to fit into this ideal standard of the body’s appearance.

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