“Like, pissing yourself is not a particularly attractive quality, let’s be honest” : learning to contain through youth, adulthood, disability and sexuality

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Slater, Jenny ; Liddiard, Kirsty (2018)

In this article, we (re)conceptualise containment in the context of youth, gender, disability, crip sex/uality and pleasure. We begin by exploring eugenic histories of containment and trace the ways in which the anomalous embodiment of disabled people (Shildrick, 2009) remains vigorously policed within current neo-eugenic discourse. Drawing upon data from two corresponding research studies, we bring the lived experiences of disabled young people to the fore. We explore their stories of performing, enacting and realising containment: containing the posited unruliness of the leaky impaired body; containment as a form of (gendered) labour (Liddiard, 2013a); containment as a marker of normalisation and sexualisation, and thus a necessary component for ableist adulthood (Slater, 2015). Thus, we theorise crip embodiment as permeable, porous and thus problematic in the context of the impossibly bound compulsory (sexually) able adult body (McRuer, 2006). We suggest that the implicit learning of containment is therefore required of disabled young people, particularly women, to counter infantilising and desexualising discourse and cross the 'border zone of youth' (Lesko, 2012) and achieve normative neoliberal adulthood. Crucially, however, we examine the meaning of what we argue are important moments of messiness: the precarious localities of leakage which disrupt containment and thus the 'reality' of the 'able' 'adult' body. We conclude by considering the ways in which these bodily ways of being contour both material experiences of pleasure and the right(s) to obtain it.
  • References (5)

    Baron S, Ridell S and Wilson A (1999) The Secret of Eternal Youth: Identity, risk and learning difficulties. British Journal of Sociology of Education 20:483-499.

    Campbell, FK (2009) Contours of Ableism: The Production of Disability and Abledness.

    Lesko, N (2012) Act Your Age: A Cultural Construction of Adolescence. New York and London: Routledge.

    Shildrick, M (2009) Dangerous discourses of disability, subjectivity and sexuality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Contact Details/Author Affiliations Kirsty Liddiard, School of Education (room 1.07) 388 Glossop Road, Sheffield, S10 2JA (k.liddiard@sheffield.ac.uk) 75 words bio: Kirsty Liddiard is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate within the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. Here, she is working on a transdisciplinary research project entitled Transforming Disability, Culture and Childhood: Local, Global and Transdisciplinary Responses. Prior to this post, Kirsty became the inaugural Ethel Louise Armstrong Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

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