I asked PBW for the chance to tell you about a blog I’ve been really enjoying reading. Disability Studies, Temple U has been doing a series on disability and N. American politics. They have two great pieces up about suffragettes and disability that some may not know anything about:
- Victoria Woodhull, the first female candidate for president, who ran with VP Fredrick Douglass, was both a eugenicist and the mother of a differently-abled son who she took campaigning with her.
- Jane Adams – who did not run but was an important feminist and suffragette was differently-abled and managed to do considerable community organizing throughout her adult life
These posts remind us that women’s issues and disability issues have been a part of American politics from the founding of the nation and that we have had both presidential candidates and president’s with disabilities before. It is an important counter-narrative to Palin as somehow unique in her discussion or desire to focus on disability issues.
I also think that the language Woodhull and her contemporaries use to describe her son echo a more modern day version of embracing one’s differently-abled child as “overly special” or a “special burden” or any other language that consistently draws attention to difference.
FYI – the blog does more than American politics but I thought this was timely and fitting with the discussions that are going on here lately. 😀