Minor Bodies: Dominant Discourses and Other Normative Stigmas in the Social Space



When someone asks me to write an article about disability, I am always torn between two feelings. On the one hand, there is what I would call my responsibility to speak: I must speak about disability because I have the theoretical tools to do it; I must bear witness to disabled existence and wedge it into the field of the possible, of ordinary life. On the other hand, I have a reaction of defiance mixed with lassitude, thinking: “here we go again! I have to speak about disability. I have to reduce my voice to it, whereas I could speak about a lot of other things.” I am divided between the necessity of showing an element of social space that is usually invisible, and the feeling that I am reproducing an attitude imposed by the dominant standpoint, which wants me to speak about myself, about my disability, reducing me to my difference. The dominant standpoint (the norm) never speaks about itself; it hides behind stories imposed on different people. Normality is only defined by the differences. The dominant ableist standpoint often asks me to speak about myself, but it already knows what it wants to hear. It wants me to play a role, the role that is already given to me, the same way that women have to play the role of the perfect housewife and the sweet mother. It does not want to see me as myself. It wants to see me only as a case of disability. Therefore, I am invisible when I am shown; I am inaudible when I am asked to speak about myself. The static around disability is drowning out my voice.