The Ethics of Care
Edited By Jeanne Adèle Kentel
Hayley Fitzgerald ‘Knowing’ Disability: ‘I’m the Alien from Outer Space’ 117
Hayley Fitzgerald ‘Knowing’ Disability: ‘I’m the Alien from Outer Space’1 Disability and the Story of Stigma In 1965, Paul Hunt advertised in The Times newspaper and invited disa- bled readers to capture their lived experiences by writing an essay. When I read the twelve narratives in Stigma: The Experience of Disability (1966) I realized there was nothing extraordinary about these tales. They vividly portray the complexities of life: struggles, the mundane, discrimination, resistance, joy, and pleasure. However, it is precisely the everydayness of life that makes this edited collection unique. Indeed, in the Foreword, Townsend (1966: vi) describes what was to follow as ‘an uncomfortable book’; uncomfortable because these kinds of tales were usually untold and shielded from society, as if in some way this rendered our ablist value system more palatable. From this perspective, disabled people tend to challenge relations with wider society through notions associated with being ‘unfortunate’, ‘useless’, ‘dif ferent’, ‘oppressed’, and ‘sick’. In this con- text, Hunt (1966: 150) claimed, ‘we are dif ferent, abnormal, marked out as members of a minority group. Normality is so often put forward as the goal for people with special handicaps [sic], that we have come to accept its desirability as a dogma’. Prior to this collection of essays, disabled people had largely been represented in medical terms, as if it was only their ‘func- tional limitations’ or ‘physical deficiencies’ that mattered. At the time of 1 I would like to dedicate this chapter to the memory of Dot Mainwaring,...
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