Cheris Kramarae and Paula A. Treichler's A Feminist Dictionary (Pandora Press, London, 1985), originally published in the US, lists the following entry for "Disabled" (p124).
The older term for differently abled women; physically
challenged women. Sisters Against Disablement (SAD) are concerned with
the common assumption that disability is an individual tragedy and are
showing it for what it really is, a political designation. "We are
disabled by society not by ourselves or our "disabilities"."
(Spare Rib, Oct. 1982,13)
(see ABLEISM, TAB [Temporarily Able Bodied])
A term which "now just maintains the status quo. By whose standards is someone 'disabled' if she is doing the best she can with what she's got. Certainly not mine. The only 'disabled' people in my book are those who do not try to see through the prejudice." (sheila zakre, 1984, 20).
These quotes reveal the way in which the term "disabled" is itself regarded as a term of abuse in the US. In the UK, there appears to have been a greater move to reclaim it as a positive term and source of pride, akin to "dyke" and "Black".
Kramarae and Treichler's section on ABLEISM (p23) reads:
"Systematic oppression of a group of people because of what they can or cannot do with their bodies or minds. It is the result of too little awareness of the experience of those with disabilities." (Arachnae Rae 1981, 39)
To this definition I would add the words "assumptions about" after "because of". I would also want to discuss the extent to which prejudice and discrimination results from hatred of people who are "different from the norm".
NB: "Physically challenged", often used in the US, is an interesting term. Many people who would not define themselves as disabled can be physically challenged in particular circumstances, for instance fat people (this term has also been reclaimed), short people and those impeded by illness or injury. For this reason it is both a useful concept, particularly in relation to the external environment, and unsuitable as an alternative description to "disabled".
|Dr Ju Gosling aka ju90's ABNORMAL: How Britain became body dysphoric and the key to a cure is available now for just £3.09 for the Kindle or in a limited-edition hardback with full-colour art plates for £20 inc UK postage and packing.|