We began the class with a reward quiz, its questions based on the readings assigned for the week. There were protests and theories on what would happen if the entire class just refused to take the test but overall, the class was compliant. During this class period we mainly discussed the differences in relationships between persons with disabilities and vice versa, bringing up the question if it was even possible for a person with a disability and an ablebodied person to even have a healthy relationship.
The first poem we analyzed was Jillian Weise’s “The Old Questions” which was assigned the class prior, but never discussed.Throughout the poem the speaker is trying to have an intimate moment with the potential partner but is interrupted by the partner’s intrusive questions. After reading, Dr. Foss explained that the purpose of this poem was to explore the idea of curiosity vs intimacy. When asking what the class thought of the poem it was mentioned that the partner seemed to have more interest in the prosthetic leg rather than the speaker as a person. They also mentioned that the potential partner felt as though they had the right to know everything about it, as if it was an expectation. Their points were connected to real life examples when persons with disabilities are only connected to their disabilities rather than their personalities. For example, a female who is blind only referred to as “that blind girl.” Another point that was brought up was that the wall in the poem could represent a barrier for an experience the speaker could never have, a “love without prerequisites.” Dr. Foss interjected and mentioned that the reader could have that kind of love but just not with the partner the speaker is currently with. He also mentioned that there had to be some sort of connection prior to the start of the poem because they are in an intimate situation at the start. The discussion on this poem then ended with the point that the questions being asked to the speaker were nothing new, hence the title “The Old Questions”, as well as able bodied people feel as though they have the right to have their questions answered in exchange for something else such as an intimate moment.
We then moved on to focus on this week’s poem, Laura Hershey’s, “Working Together.” After reading, we concluded that the poem focused on the idea of relationships either intimate or not and the feeling behind them. Dr. Foss stated that the poem could’ve been read two ways, with a negative or positive feeling towards it and both versions had different messages to them. The negative view on the poem came from the phrases and words “sneer”, “heft”, and the job “no one thinks of doing.” Half of the class took that as the caregiver seeing the speaker as a burden and inferring that people with disabilities are nothing more than that. Just the job “no one thinks of doing.” It also implies that the speaker doesn’t like the way they are getting taken care of. The word “heft” feels as though the speaker is a burden that needs to be hauled or that the caregiver has to be reminded where certain limbs are, and they have to help the caregiver “forget”. The positive side saw the two sharing a bond and they each had their own jobs to do. The class saw the two in the same way as a parent helping their child; with lots of care and concentration. The interaction between the two inferred that there was no problem between able bodied persons and people with disabilities, that it wasn’t a burden or strange at all.
Anna Mollow and Robert McRuler’s, “Introduction” from Sex and Disability was our next topic. We broke into our first small group of the day where my group decided to focus on Anna’s experiences. We discussed how society has certain views on what disability is and how it should look like. For example Anna getting cat-called where the male told her she was too pretty to be disabled. Society feels as though disabilities are more physical than mental and there has to be something wrong with you for you to fit that standard. We also discussed how having a physical disability takes away the right for the person with the disability to tell anyone. Dr. Foss compared it to coming out and never having the chance to come out to whoever you want. He explained it as frustrating as well as extremely disrespectful. When getting back into large group discussion, the topic shifted on how people with disabilities were not seen as desirable in both intimate or work related situations. A classmate’s example was assigning parking spots based on socioeconomic class but then calling someone out when they dont look like the class they park in. Another classmate brought up the point that when it comes to the workplace, employers turn away people with disabilities because of image and the idea that an able bodied person would be more efficient. The action enforced the stereotype that people with disabilities are helpless and cannot be able to work and do better than an able bodied person.
Finally, we talked about the two fiction pieces that were assigned, Keith Banner’s, “The Wedding of Tom to Tom ” and Susan Nussbaum’s, Good Kings Bad Kings. When discussing Banner’s work the group focused more on the ending. With the main character, Anita, taking Tom and Tom to the motel after their “wedding” Dr. Foss asked the group if the action inferred that love between people with disabilities was seen as a joke. As if they were throwing the couple a bone. The class was split between answers, half of the class seeing Dr. Foss’ point after the statement while the other half still seemed to believe it was a kind gesture. The negative half of the class thought that the story was trying to focus on the obsessive behaviors of Tom and Tom and infer that people with disabilities cannot desire one another without the obsession. The other half of the class pointed out the relationship between Anita and Archie was the obsessive one, not Tom and Tom. Dr. Foss then asked that side if that meant that it was able bodied relationships that are seen as obsessive and unhealthy rather than the other? The class could not come up with an answer and could only ask another question: was the story actually progressive or just disappointing? When Nussbaum’s novel came up in discussion, my group focused on what we enjoyed about the story and what caught our attention rather than the deep topics. A classmate brought up how in the story Joanne just wanting human interaction was the reason she got her job, but at work she was put on display as a “role model.” We found it interesting how she was fine with that even though to us it seemed as if she was being used. Class ended before we could come to a conclusion.
Duck Joke Count: 4
“I hereby declare upon my word of honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this work.” -Miranda Colbert