Integration and transformation: an examination of the role of sexuality in formulating a queer/crip subjectivity for people with disabilities

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University of Alabama Libraries

This thesis investigates the current cultural discourses surrounding sexuality in persons with disabilities and argues that in order to move away from existing conceptions of personhood and citizenship that are rooted in ableism and are thus possibilities only for nondisabled persons, persons with disabilities and their nondisabled allies must embrace the queer potential advocated by crip theorists, who have so usefully applied the insights of queer theorists to the field of disability studies. I will begin by interrogating the relationship of disability studies and feminist theory by examining the societal/cultural construction of normative bodies. Next, I will focus on how notions of citizenship and who constitutes "proper" or "acceptable" political actors are rooted in ideologies of ability, ideologies which are themselves often predicated on the assumption of "normal" sexual functioning, among other normative assumptions. Then I will explore the historical policing of the sexuality of disabled persons and argue that access to sexual knowledge and expression is crucial to helping disabled persons create positive self-identities and a sense of themselves as subjects. Finally, I will conduct a critical reading of these issues on the television show Glee, which exemplifies the failings of the existing cultural models of disability and sexuality but also provides examples of the power and promise of a queer crip subjectivity, and briefly compare Glee to other televisual representations of disabled sexuality.

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Women's studies, Gender studies