Intersection between a Social Gender and Disability: A Self-concept of Women with Disabilities in the Post-feminist Context

JANKAUSKAITE Margarita
SUMSKIENE Egle
GRIGAITE Ugne
Publication Date 
October 2016
35 p.

The goal of this article is to analyse the intersection between a social gender and disability, and identify differences between both the perceived and attached identities of women with disabilities. Two qualitative research studies on women with disabilities in Lithuania reveal ambiguity in the relationship of women with disabilities, towards factors that form their identities. Disability here is realised on a deeper level: it structures respondents’ self-perception and self-reflection. The research also points to the fact that this part of an individual’s identity is straightforwardly perceived in their society and more profoundly ruminated by the women themselves. The ‘invisibility’ of the womanhood here suggests that this part of an identity is perceived as a ‘natural’, unquestionable aspect, which is beyond criticism. Such an attitude absorbs rather than transforms normative provisions and hinders the development of practises directed at subordination of gendering structures.

 

From the perspective of a normative subject, disability and womanhood have equal weights, since both these aspects of identity represent deviation from the ‘norm’, as well as other differences and subordination. However, both these aspects have different meanings in the self-perception of women with disabilities. The social model of disability acknowledges various obstacles in the environment, which hinder personal independence or create disability. Gender on the other hand, is often naturalized, and a systemic gender-based discrimination remains unmentioned. Hence, discriminatory structures related to disability are targeted, but gender subordination remains unchallenged.