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WST100: Lecture 9: Age and Dis/Ability

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Shannon Schipper

on 10 February 2014

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Transcript of WST100: Lecture 9: Age and Dis/Ability

WST100: Women, Gender, and Society
Lecture 9: Age and Dis/Ability

Disability as an Identity Category
Designates a specific minority group
Includes people with a range of physical, emotional, sensory, and cognitive conditions
Two Models of Disability
The Medical Model
Valorization of the "Normal" Body
• Social world and built environment structured to accommodate a “normal” body
• Renders people with disabilities invisible, subordinate, and inferior if/because they cannot easily inhabit these environments
• Discrimination in favor of the able-bodied
The stereotyping of, or discrimination against, people based on their age
A system for interpreting and disciplining bodily variation
A relationship between bodies and their environments
A set of practices that construct the notion of both disabled and able bodies
A way of describing the fundamental instability and impermanence of the notion of able-bodiedness
Signifies a minority rights position
Responds to discrimination
Promotes civil rights to confront challenges
Political action is necessary to improve lives

• The norm emphasizes independence, autonomy, and productivity
defines disability as a medical condition that results in individual defects
treats human variation as deviance from the norm, as pathology, and as a deficit
seeks to solve issue of disability through prevention, cure, or rehabilitation
The Social Model
defines disability as socially constructed
treats disability as different from impairment
Impairment: An individual condition that can place limits on individual activity
Disability: Limits imposed on individuals with impairments as a result of society privileging the able body
• The idea that a person’s abilities or characteristics are determined by his or her disability
• The idea that people with disabilities as a group are inferior to nondisabled people
"Towards a Theory of Disability and Gender"
- Gershick
People with disabilities might be denied recognition as men or women
People with disabilities often assumed to lack sexuality
Not everyone has the same ability to learn, understand, and respond to gendered expectations
Older women are often socially treated as "useless"
Example: Hillary Clinton
"Hillary would be 69 on Inauguration Day 2017, not particularly old for a man not out of sight of his prime, but a woman in public life is getting past her sell-by date at 69….A second failed race for president would not be much of a capstone for a distinguished career in politics, and life at the hearth with Bubba and the dogs would be more rewarding than indulging the parasites of another campaign."
- Wesley Pruden of the Washington Post

The radio host Rush Limbaugh, echoing his commentary from her first presidential run, asked his audience in April whether the American people “want to vote for somebody, a woman, and actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?”
Women's worth has been attached to sexuality
Significance of Ableism and Ageism for Women
Tiina Vares - There is a double standard of aging for women
Men viewed as "distinguished," while women are desexualized
Full transcript