Toward a feminist theory of disability

Hypatia. 1989 Summer;4(2):104-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.1989.tb00576.x.


We need a feminist theory of disability, both because 16 percent of women are disabled, and because the oppression of disabled people is closely linked to the cultural oppression of the body. Disability is not a biological given; like gender, it is socially constructed from biological reality. Our culture idealizes the body and demands that we control it. Thus, although most people will be disabled at some time in their lives, the disabled are made "the other," who symbolize failure of control and the threat of pain, limitation, dependency, and death. If disabled people and their knowledge were fully integrated into society, everyone's relation to her/his real body would be liberated.

MeSH terms

  • Disabled Persons*
  • Ethical Theory
  • Female
  • Feminism*
  • Health
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Prejudice*
  • Self Concept
  • Sick Role
  • Women