Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

Excerpt

In queer studies it is a well-established critical practice to remark on heterosexuality's supposed invisibility. As the heterosexual norm congealed during the twentieth century, it was the “homosexual menace” that was specified and embodied; the subsequent policing and containment of that menace allowed the new heterosexual normalcy to remain unspecified and disembodied. As early as 1915, Sigmund Freud, in his revised “Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex,” declared that “the exclusive sexual interest of the man for the woman is also a problem requiring an explanation, and is not something that is self-evident and explainable on the basis of chemical attraction” (560), but such observations remained—indeed, as Freud's comments literally were—mere footnotes in the project of excavating deviance. Heterosexuality, never speaking—as Michel Foucault famously said of homosexuality—“in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or 'naturality' be acknowledged” (History of Sexuality 101), thereby passed as universal love and intimacy, coextensive not with a specific and historical form of opposite-sex eros but with humanity itself. Heterosexuality's partners in this masquerade have been largely identified; an important body of feminist and antiracist work considers how compulsory heterosexuality reinforces or naturalizes dominant ideologies of gender and race. However, despite the fact that homosexuality and disability clearly share a pathologized past, and despite a growing awareness of the intersection between queer theory and disability studies, little notice has been taken of the connection between heterosexuality and able-bodied identity. Able-bodiedness, even more than heterosexuality, still largely masquerades as a nonidentity, as the natural order of things.

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