Sunday, January 17, 2010

Delirious Feminism: question #2 of 3

Here's my response to poet Jennifer Bartlett's second question on the Delirious Hem blogspot. See my previous post regarding question #1.

If you do believe disability has been glossed over in feminist culture? If so, why do you thing this has happened?

This begs generalization, and so I'll generalize. Yes, disability has been ignored or glossed over and for the same reasons as in culture at large. Differentness scares people, unless the differentness is framed. Also I'm not sure how much differently abled poets have chosen to go public. Writing and publication are somewhat incorporeal pursuits until there's a reading, so I don't necessarily know who has what.

Of course women are continually encouraged to tend to our looks in a no-win situation. If we're beautiful as Helen we can cause ten years of slaughter and warring (or, perhaps more true to our lives, expected to stay beautiful, or not threaten). If we're not beautiful we can be dismissed as horrors--a lesbian. God bless dykes, I say. We all need to access our inner big-breasted, no bra, T-shirt wearing mamas.

IN NO WAY am I saying that dykedom is a disability. But it is a "different" way of being. And look at public intellectual Susan Sontag, a lesbian who stayed in the closet. I'm using it as an analogy. Here's another analogy.

I, Sarah Sarai, bi-sexual, have a belly. Thus I'm "different."

Once I took a "craft" class, ho hum. Grad. school, ho hum. At one point the female poet professor mentioned dried apricots as a sense memory, then recoiled when she remembered how fattening they were, then quickly gave me a guilty look. Hello? This poet trades on a perception of good looks, when her already good poetry would be stronger if she would let herself be who she is.

Mine is a quick response not an essay so I'm going to jump, now, with dispatch, to Helen Keller. What she did to HELP the disabled was astonishing and I don't see her being celebrated. Similar to what happened with Emily Dickinson via The Belle of Amherst, where a dated and too precious play served to define Emily in everyone's imagination for generations, Helen Keller become the miracle of the Miracle Worker, rather than a woman, blind, who set up institutions and lobbied and did more to demystify disability than anyone I can think of.

This is one perspective and I'm grateful if you point out my own generalizations.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to access my inner big-breasted mama and, horribly, realized that I was him. BTW, not all dykes forgo the lacy underthings, although I'll grant you among the few I know well there is a certain trend.

    Being different is getting more difficult in the New West, I'll grant you. Even our differences are becoming Facebook clubs. Being singular has become equal to being alone.