Bent: Non-Normative Embodiment as Lived Intersectionality

  • Kay Inckle
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in the Social Sciences book series (GSSS)


Intersectionality explores how systems of oppression ‘mutually construct one another’ (Collins, 1998: 63 cited in Bredström, 2006) and, in doing so, challenges universalist analyses of power, inequality, identity and marginalisation. Intersectionality has traditionally been concerned with the ways in which gender, race and social class interact and construct diversities of experience which cannot be fully conceptualised, or properly responded to, by simply ‘adding on’ categories of oppression (Bredström, 2006; Yuval-Davis, 2006; Davis, 2008). In this chapter I explore the ‘other social divisions’ (Yuval-Davis, 2006: 194) of sexuality, disability and mental-health diagnosis/ status through a methodology, or a position, of non-normative embodiment, which also reflects the intersectional project. Kathy Davis describes the methodological imperative of intersectionality as one which embodies ‘a commitment to the situatedness of all knowledge, promising to enhance the theorist’s reflexivity by allowing her to incorporate her own intersectional location in the production of self-critical and accountable feminist theory’ (2008: 71). In this way, intersectionality ‘can — by definition — be employed by any (feminist) scholar willing to use her own social location, whatever it may be, as an analytic resource than just an identity marker’ (2008: 72). In my research I use my own non-normative, queer, disabled and gendered embodiment to interrogate the parallel intersections between the experiences of gender, sexuality (or gendered sexuality/sexualised gender), mental-health diagnosis/status and physical disability — when the latter have visible cues which are read and responded to. Visible or corporeal difference is central to ‘policing and shaming’ (Butler, 1993: 238) by which norms of oppression are reiterated.


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© Kay Inckle 2010

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  • Kay Inckle

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