Class began with an excited “Happy Birthday” to no one in particular and a five-question quiz on the readings for today. We went back and forth between large and small groups about the Weise poem we didn’t get to the day before, the Hershey poem, the theory piece on the intersection of capitalism and disability, The Wedding of Tom to Tom, and Good Kings Bad Kings.
Our large group discussion started with a recap about the major paper/project proposal and then about the poem from last time The Old Questions by Weise. It was read aloud and the poetic speaker seems to be in another place with someone and they were potentially going to be intimate before there are many questions. Leading into our discussion today about sex and disability. How is this poem asking us to think about sex and what’s healthy? The comparison of peep shows with a sign saying “hands off our girls” and how the speaker wants to not be touched. The constant questions feel like prerequisites and barriers to making love that the speaker has gone through many times before. One student is actually having their birthday in class. “Can I touch it coming right off of hands off our girls” as the last thought on the poem.
Onto Working Together by Hershey and the two ways that people read the poem as an apathetic caretaker or two people working together and being used to their roles. Is the title indicative of the dynamic or a little bit ironic? Questions of who the caretaker is and how the two are related. The ending not being clear cut and the last stanza is ambiguous and unanswered by the poem. “Emotional support” for the caretaker from the one they’re taking care of. Loaded relationship when it comes to ‘what no one thinks of doing/except for self or child’ the speaker is saying it as something grateful. “We take ableism and autonomy for granted…so much that we don’t even consider those with mobility impairments and how much of a struggle that everyday tasks would be.” Use of the word heft rather than something gentler making it feel a little more impersonal. “Tell her that she can” and giving her permission to take care of the speaker who is vulnerable to read that line as a more intimate connection. “Across the spectrum of these relationships they can be abusive or neutral…there are people in institutions who genuinely care.” This is connected to the Banner short story and Good Kings Bad Kings.
We were sent to small groups to talk about the theory piece. Look at the anecdotes as a jumping off point and go over the intersection of sex and disability with the headings of access, histories, and spaces. “Compulsory able-bodiedness and compulsory heterosexuality” are what most people are operating. Questions of intellectual disabilities and consent on a tangent about The Wedding of Tom to Tom. In specific queer or women studies disability isn’t considered and it isn’t acknowledged and how disabled people are thought of as an enigma where they don’t think about gender or sexuality when it’s not true.
He called our attention back to large group to talk about The Wedding of Tom to Tom and the conflicting receptions of it. Is the wedding some sort of acknowledgement of their personhood or is it seen as a joke or in pitying infantilization? The potential contrast of healthy versus unhealthy relationships with Tom A and Tom B compared to Anita and Archie. The use of the R word in the story and how unprogressive that is and if the presence of that word is to view a character negatively. The conflicting view on the word and if it is important in a conversation about caretaker attitudes, but it is upsetting and potentially triggering. Surprise over the narrator being a woman with the way that she responded to things. The disturbing implications are with the wedding. Is it progressive to think about Tom A and Tom B as sexual beings are? It is also coming from Anita’s perspective and if it really is happening all the time. Is them holding hands really that big of a deal or will it really lead to something more? Raquel and Anita treating Tom and Tom as a side show and if we are invited to critique them for thinking that. “The big thing that makes her realize she loves Archie is that he just acknowledges Tom and Tom and didn’t think it was weird” space for humor in the piece. “General feeling of a lack of consent” because Tom A isn’t verbal and the parallels of relationships with one person in more power of the other. “There was just something wrong with it…not the disability or their kind of relationship” was the final remark.
Back into small groups to finish out on Good Kings Bad Kings. Quite liked the book a little worried about the Teddy and Mia. Teddy wanting his own agency and fear over what’ll happen. We dislike Michelle because she is only in it for the money while pretending she isn’t. She also chooses people who have a disability of some sort and she is presumably able-bodied who prays on young disabled people in a rough environment and judges them the entire time. Not having powered wheelchairs could be not having the funding or they don’t want them to have autonomy and independence.
“I hereby declare upon my word of honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this work.” Ren Hadeishi