Our Bodies, Ourselves: An Examination of Female & Disabled Embodiment

Date

2024-05-02

Authors

Carroll, Libby

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Worldwide access

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Abstract

Popular and profitable internet and social media platforms have eased access to pornographic materials around the globe. Pornography is everywhere, all the time. One troubling outgrowth of internet pornography is a phenomenon known as inspiration porn. Coined by the late disability activist Stella Young, the term “inspiration porn” refers to any objectifying depiction of a disabled person that treats the person as a source and site of inspiration for nondisabled people. The operating force behind inspiration porn is a narrative of disabled people as stark figures of otherness, overcomers of broken bodies, or grateful recipients of charity. Inspiration porn thus reduces personhood from a complex web of essence and identities to a singular marker of selfhood: disability. By conflating human essence and identity—by equating what one is with who one is—inspiration porn effectively denies personhood to disabled people. In this paper, I argue that the philosophical and theological assumptions undergirding our cultural ideology, rhetoric, and practice toward women and disabled people leads to an objectification of both people groups, resulting in pornography. I analyze prominent images of inspiration porn to identify and illustrate the similar logic of objectification at work within both erotic and inspiration pornography. Finally, I explore alternative phenomenology and theology of embodiment that offers generative contradictions to pornography’s denigration of “extraordinary” bodies.

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Keywords

Philosophy, Theology, Feminist Theory, Embodiment, Disability Studies, Pornography

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