I really enjoyed the first reading, “Culture as Disability,” especially the part of the Vineyard deaf. It shocks me (well I would like to think it shocks me but really, what actually is shocking anymore? I feel like by now we’ve seen it all in graphic detail hundreds of times) that hearing people could go into a community that is obviously thriving and decree that it needs help because it is “disabled.” But how many times have we seen this happen? Let’s go “civilize” the Native Americans and ban their native language, steal their land, and wipe out populations while we’re at it! Let’s go “help” out countries across the world and give them the gift of a Democratic government even though historically and religiously the likelihood of success is terribly low- oh and we’ll just let militant groups take control of cities and kill off civilians while we’re at it!
For a culture that so often stresses the uniqueness of individuals and how everyone is special, it seems that we do an awful lot of categorizing and labeling. As McDermott and Varenne wrote, “No ability, no disability. No disability, no ability.” In the movie “The Incredibles,” the mother says to her son, “Everyone is special, Dash.” His response is, “That’s just a way of saying that no one is.”
While reading Eli Clare there stood out to me many strong and moving images, especially those of his childhood; the rape, being able to move out of “disabled” classes in high school, graduating with a high school diploma and a college scholarship, the physical sacrifices the loggers made, how he worked alongside them loving the feeling of swinging an ax and wearing flannel and overalls. However as the pages on logging continued to mount, and the same description of his rape and the same remarks about high school and into college continued to appear again and again in chapter after chapter I found the potency of the words waning. I found myself only half paying attention and losing focus in the repetitive sections, saying to myself “I know, I already read this…” While I understand the need to not tell everything in chronological order, I wish he had trusted his readers to remember his sharing of experiences and then refer back to them rather than to retell again and again. I don’t know if the reason he did this was to draw as much pity from the readers as possible, to drill these life experiences into us, or some other reason entirely (repetition is mostly used as a persuasive writing technique so I don’t know if we could factor that angle in at all…) but for me it simply weakened the importance of many of his experiences because I simply got tired of reading about them.
In class we were discussing some global progress (or lack thereof) on not only women's rights but gender rights in general. When I was in high school we had a Maasai warrior who was a tribal leader visit. He brought his sword and demonstrated how he would hide in the bushes and jump out to kill the lions and how those hunts were a traditional right of passage for young boys becoming men. His reason for coming to the U.S. was to spread the word about female genital mutation. For young girls that is their right of passage before they get married. Often it is done in large groups and the blade are not cleaned in between, and nothing is sterilized. He spoke to us about the importance of cultural tradition to the Maasai but also his understanding of the health risks to female.
I am a biology major, NBS concentrator at BMC. I haven't taken any GenSex classes yet but one of my hopes at college is to be able to take as many different types of classes as I can and I love Anne's classes, so I decided to show up. Even though topics in GenSex are familiar to me from my family, friends, and school I can't really say I am very involved in or understand a lot about different sexual orientations (for example) or other issues that we have/will be touching on. What I hope to gain from this class is a better understanding of how to comfortably discuss GenSex and learn about all the different ways that people can percieve their own and others' sexuality.