JB: I've been exploring the idea of disability as a strength rather than the societal perception of the disabled body as 'weak.' My idea derives from the concept that people with disabilities accomplish many of the same things that nondisabled people do with a so-called "compromised" body. I wonder what you think of this?
ST: Well firstly I'd like to touch on the word disabled. I like the definitions of the words disability and impairment that exist within the Social Model of Disability. Under this model, the word disabled is used to describe the disabling environment and culture that different bodies live in (for example stairs and negative stereotypes disable me). Impairment is used to describe one's body, one's diagnosis (which is in itself arguably a cultural creation). When I hear or say 'disabled people' I think of people who are oppressed not by their bodies (or not only by their bodies), but by a discriminating and inaccessible world. Thus, when I answer these questions, I'll be using the word impairment for when I'm talking about one's individual experience in their specific body and disabled when I am talking more broadly about the experience of living in a body that is disabled by society. Of course, sometimes they are too entangled to separate!
One of my favorite quotes and in fact definitions of impairment/disability comes from the disabled dancer/artist Neil Marcus. Marcus says, "Disability is not a 'brave struggle' or 'courage in the face of adversity'...disability is an art. It's an ingenious way to live."
Guest Post: Feminism, Disability, and John Currin - Feministing