Now you see me, now you don't : gender performativity and blindness among college-aged individuals
Alaina J. Jacobsen
May 9, 2018
Department or Program
The combination of disability and gender studies has been a fairly recent undertaking -- one that considers gender roles and expectations in the face of normative ideas around ability. One area of disability studies that has not been adequately addressed is blindness. This thesis will contribute to the body of literature surrounding blindness, generally, while also bringing blindness into conversation with gender. I use interviews conducted with blind people across the gender spectrum from ages 18-28 to explore the ways they understand their gender in relation to their blindness as well as the ways they use performances to produce a counter-discourse to how non-blind people and society construct blindness. The data that I gathered from my discussions with my participants, explored through the lens of various gender studies and disability theory frameworks, represents a paradigmatic shift in gender studies: we are no longer able to speak comfortably about categories of male and female, woman and man, even if we disturb those categories by disconnecting certain bodies with certain genders. The methods my participants employed, including various techniques that are simultaneously related yet distanced from gender, depict this shift in a unique manner.