Women with Disabilities: Essays in Psychology, Culture, and Politics

By Michelle Fine; Adrienne Asch | Go to book overview

2.Sex Roles and Culture: Social and Personal Reactions To Breast Cancer

BETH E. MEYEROWITZ, SHELLY CHAIKEN, and LAURA K. CLARK

For many people, the word "disability" calls to mind the image of a person disabled since birth, of an adult who has become disabled through serious injury, or of an older adult who has become disabled later in life. Nevertheless, people in middle age are not immune to disability. Instead of a marked decrease in the incidence of disability in mid-life, there is a shift from primary causes such as infections, birth complications, and accidents to chronic disease. For example, cardiovascular disease and cancer account for approximately 70 percent of all deaths ( Michael 1982), and the onset of these diseases frequently occurs in mid-life.

With a chronic disease (that is, one that continues over a long time) many patients are not in imminent danger of death but must learn to live with the disabling effects of the disease. Of the three in ten Americans who are expected to develop cancer, nearly 40 percent will live for at least five years after they are diagnosed ( American Cancer Society 1983). Many of them will need to adjust to disabilities caused by cancer and its treatment.

This chapter focuses on aspects of the experience of a chronic illness in middle age that may affect, and be affected by, sex roles and sex-role stereotypes. Disabilities that begin in mid-life disrupt ongoing behavior in people who have well-established roles and who do not have ready access to support from similarly disabled peers. Moreover, some patients may hold the stigmatizing, stereotypic attitudes toward people with disabilities that are held by many non-disabled individuals ( Dembo 1982). These attitudes might intensify the emotional impact of the disease and could lead patients to disavow the similarities between

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Women with Disabilities: Essays in Psychology, Culture, and Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction: Beyond Pedestals 1
  • Notes 31
  • References 32
  • I: Bodies and Images 39
  • Notes 40
  • 1. on Embodiment: A Case Study of Congenital LImb Deficiency in American Culture 41
  • Notes 68
  • References 70
  • 2.Sex Roles and Culture: Social and Personal Reactions to Breast Cancer 72
  • Notes 85
  • 3. in Search of A Heroine: Images of Women with Disabilities in Fiction and Drama 90
  • References 110
  • Ii: Disabled Women in Relationships 111
  • Notes 112
  • 4. the Construction of Gender and Disability in Early Attachment 115
  • References 136
  • 5. Daughters with Disabilities: Defective Women Or Minority Women? 139
  • References 170
  • 6. Friendship and Fairness: How Disability Affects Friendship Between Women 172
  • Notes 192
  • References 192
  • 7. Disability and Ethnicity in Conflict: A Study in Transformation 195
  • Notes 213
  • 8. Never-Married Old Women and Disability: A Majority Experience 215
  • Note 224
  • References 224
  • Iii:Policy and Politics 227
  • 9. Women, Work, and Disability: Opportunities and Challenges 229
  • References 243
  • 10. Disabled Women and Public Policies for Income Support 245
  • References 267
  • 11. Autonomy as A Different Voice: Women, Disabilities, and Decisions 269
  • Notes 292
  • 12. Shared Dreams: A Left Perspective on Disability Rights and Reproductive Rights 297
  • Notes 305
  • 13. Smashing ICons: Disabled Women and the Disability and Women's Movements 306
  • Notes 329
  • References 331
  • Epilogue: Research and Politics to Come 333
  • Notes 336
  • About the Contributors and Index 337
  • About the Contributors 339
  • Index 343
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