Reeve, D. (2008) ‘The red wedding dress and other stories: Intersections of psycho-emotional disablism, impairment effects and gender’, paper presented at Subjectivity: International Conference, Cardiff University, 27-29 June.
This paper draws on my PhD which explores the nature of psycho-emotional disablism – a form of social oppression which operates along emotional pathways – and the ways in which this affects the different ways that people with impairments identify (or not) as disabled.
I will discuss the experience of internalised oppression and prejudiced attitudes – examples of psycho-emotional disablism – and show the impact this had on one disabled woman’s subjectivity, as well as her emotional well-being. Although at times the reactions of others left her feeling vulnerable and exposed, she also gave examples of where she had created her own alternate subjectivities. These stories also revealed how psycho-emotional disablism was intertwined with impairment effects, structural disablism (e.g. environmental barriers) and other factors such as gender and age.
Finally I will briefly discuss these stories in the light of Braidotti’s concept of a ‘nomadic’ subject (1994, 2002) suggesting that this could provide a useful metaphor for examining the myriad ways in which people with impairments see themselves as ‘disabled’ or not, and how this is highly context dependent.