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Disabled Mothering? Outlawed, Overlooked and Severely Prohibited: Interrogating Ableism in Motherhood

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Abstract:  The ideology of motherhood precludes disabled people in various ways: sometimes outlawing it completely, in the case of enforced or coerced sterilisation; sometimes condemning it through the sanctioned removal of children and/or adoption; and at other times complicating it severely through lack of access to accessible goods and services that all mothers require to function in their day-to-day lives—such as pushchairs/prams, baby-changing equipment and baby-wearing apparatus. Ableism, “compulsory able-bodiedness” (Campbell, 2009; McRuer, 2013), will be used as an interrogative tool to aid in the ‘outing’ of the ‘able’: to tease out the values and principles undergirding this exclusionary perception of motherhood. As such I will be drawing on autoethnographic material, in conjunction with a Studies in Ableism (SiA; Campbell, 2009) approach to analyse the bypassing of disabled mothers and to suggest tentative ways forward. In the UK 1.7 million parents identify as disabled (Morris & Wates, 2006) and perhaps many more would do so if there were no fear of censure (see, especially, Booth & Booth, 2005; Llewellyn, McConell, & Ferronato, 2003; Sheerin, 2001; Swain, French, & Cameron, 2003) and their requirements need to be recognised, heard and provided for in the consumer market. The following article will articulate how disabled mothers are barred from the sacred hallow of motherhood, and delineate the need for the media, governmental organisations and marketing corporations to address their culpability in this blatant discrimination.

Keywords:  ableism; disability; ideology; motherhood; normativity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v7i1.1551


© Julia N. Daniels. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.