Quoted: Susan Wendell

Feminist organizations have become more aware of the need to make their activities accessible to women who use wheelchairs, women who need written material in alternative formats, and women who need Sign Language translation, but much feminist practice still assumes a consistently energetic, high-functioning body and mind, and certainly not a body and mind that are impaired by illness. Moreover, in their writing and organizing, most feminists still assume that feminists are giving, and not receiving, care, and that all significant contributions to feminist movements happen in meetings, at public events, and in demonstrations on the streets. The accepted image of a good feminist still includes handling paid work and family responsibilities and having plenty of energy left over for political activity in the evenings or on weekends. In these circumstances, women with chronic illnesses are likely to find it difficult to participate in feminist movements or to identify themselves as feminists.

— From “Unhealthy Disabled: Treating Chronic Illnesses as Disabilities” (originally published in the Fall 2001 issue of Hypatia)

3 Comments

  1. Really? That’s odd; I mostly do feminism by challenging normalized evil as and when I encounter it. I’ve never been to a meeting in my life.

  2. Although I’m sure everyone here has read it, I nevertheless highly recommend Wendell’s _The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability_ (published 1996) to anyone who has not yet done so.

  3. I love Susan Wendell, but this might be a bit out-dated; the internet has made it so easy for me to be an activist with a chronic illness, to connect with other activists, to exchange and spread ideas while managing my limited energy.