Anna Hickey-Moody presented the seventh ‘First Fridays’ seminar on ‘Masculinity, Disability and Sexual Publics’ at Deakin Downtown on 7 September 2018.
Masculinity, disability and sexual publics
The field of disability studies has engaged with Deleuze and Guattari’s work in a fashion almost unprecedented by other empirically oriented disciplines, perhaps with the exception of education. In this chapter, I survey work on the sociology of disability, and disability studies more broadly, in which Deleuze, and Deleuze and Guattari’s, work has provided scholars with useful resources to think through social and cultural dynamics articulating across disability. The ways disability and masculinity are formulated in relation to each other remains a contentious issue, because the social construction of disability often regulates the kinds of publics called to engage with texts featuring men with disabilities and the kinds of fora in which men with disabilities are welcomed. While I do not go so far as to suggest exactly what a Deleuzoguattarian informed version of disability studies might look like, I show some ways that Deleuze’s thought helps us to better understand the gendered politics of the lives of men with a disability and the social production of the gendered nature of disability as it articulates in relation to sexuality. Before undertaking our own textual analysis of popular cultural texts about masculinity and disability, I examine the gendered nature of hierarchies of disability, paying particular attention to the ways disability can lead to reconfigurations of sexuality. I make some suggestions about how Deleuze and Guattari’s thought facilitates new perspectives on disability, masculinity and sexuality. In so doing, I focus in on a case study of the photographer Michael Stokes’ work on war veterans. I couple this with a consideration of the 2017 Hollywood film Me Before You, which offers a popular representation of the life, death and struggles of a man with a disability, and I finish this case studies with a discussion of the UK ‘reality TV’ show The Undatebles. All three of these texts work from the presumption that being sexually attractive and/or romantically involved has primary significance in affirming social value for men and plays a foundational role in building men’s self-esteem.
About the Speaker
About the Series
Deakin University Gender and Sexuality Studies holds a public monthly seminar series on the first Friday of each month at Deakin Downtown in Melbourne’s CBD.
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Monthly postgraduate masterclasses are also open to Deakin University students.