3/21/16: Exile and Pride by Eli Clare
Facilitated by Jessica Beliles, Erin Scott, and Eli Bergman
**To begin, we want to acknowledge that this piece is a memoir. Eli Clare uses the self as the epicenter to springboard his theoretical discussion. In light of this, we just want to say that we welcome and encourage bringing in a discussion of self within any of these topics.
- How do you see the thread of ‘home’ that Clare identifies in the introduction woven through the chapters?
- What does ‘home’ have to do with disability studies/activism/intersectional politics?
- Clare consistently describes “chasms” between different parts of self: ie: he describes “waiting for my bone marrow to catch up to my politics[…]no longer in my body, unable to contain the tug-of-war between what is home and what is war zone.” Does this kind of conflict of the self resonate with you, or with your understanding of disability studies?
- Clare introduces the concept of the body as home. In discussion of exile, there is exile both from the physical place of home and the self. How are these types of displacement intertwined and how do they inform one another?
- How do bearing witness and pride intertwine and inform one another?
- Clare gives a lot of consideration to language and the history of naming. How is language related to pride? How is language related to exile? Can one individually reclaim or give new meaning to words, or does reclamation require community?
Clare tackles the desexualization of disabled bodies in media portrayals and in constructions of sexual identity. He discusses the relationship between sexual objectification and “the creation of self-defined sexuality.” In one example, he discusses his friend’s experience:
“When I was in high school, I’d go cruising with my girl friends. The boys would hoot and holler at us, Hey baby, you’re hot, or just wolf whistle. But later if they saw my leg braces and crutches, they’d come over to me, quietly apologize, tell me they didn’t mean it. They were sincere. Now 20 years later, now that I’m a dyke, I’m hungry for sexual attention. I want dykes to wolf whistle at me, to stare at my body, not as though I were a freak in a freak show, but stare, eyes full of desire, eyes undressing me. I want them to still mean it after they see my wheelchair” (128).
–>This is reminscient of “The Lust of Recognition,” a video produced by Mia Mingus featuring Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Ellery Russian. The video can be found here https://leavingevidence.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/video-crip-sex-crip-lust-and-the-lust-of-recognition/. Directly under the video is a link to download the transcript.
CW for mentions of sexual abuse and incest in the video.
How can the concept of the lust of recognition be used to supplement and nuance Eli Clare’s discussion of sexual objectification and sexual subjectivity?