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TelethonsSpectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity$
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Paul K. Longmore

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190262075

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190262075.001.0001

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Gender, Sexuality, and Disability

(p.137) 10 Smashing Icons

Paul K. Longmore

, Catherine Kudlick
Oxford University Press

Ideologies of disability and the body intersected with ideologies of gender and sexuality to define the identities of not only people with disabilities but also nondisabled persons. In an era when gender ideologies and identities were in flux, telethon framings of disability implicitly tried to stabilize traditional conceptions of heterosexual masculinity and femininity in two ways. Consistent with the charity tradition, telethons contrasted disabled people—especially children—with nondisabled adult male and female benefactors who embodied dominant standards. At the same time, the agendas of cure or rehabilitation tacitly promised to make disabled children into suitable adult women and men and to ensure disabled adults of normal, which was to say normative, gender roles and identities. Meanwhile, many people with disabilities battled social prejudice in their efforts to fashion positive gender and sexual identities.

Keywords:   patriarchy, corporate family image, masculinity, femininity, gender norms, sex and sexuality, marriage and family, employment, discrimination, self-image

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