Homless, Disabled and Female Equals Less Than

image I followed a link from Finally A Feminism 101 which led to this disgraceful cartoon. I am not going to link to the original site to prevent the creator of this trash from receiving any traffic from me.

This cartoon is problematic for a myriad of reasons.  Note that the female starts the conversation by citing a hatred of homeless people.  Why is it as a society we feel it is okay to devalue people based on their ability to consume?  Daily we walk by homeless people on the street, failing to make eye contact, or acknowledge them in any real, and meaningful manner.  We rush by them in large urban centres to return to our little cubicles of safety that we call homes.  The only reason she does not hate this woman is because she has a disability.  What we can see from this commentary is that unless one has a disability, homelessness is the fault of the individual and therefore, they are worthy of our derision.

The desire to blame the individual totally negates the exploitative capitalist economy that we are all slaving under. It is further an internalization of false class allegiance. The very concept of owning property is meant to keep a division between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.  When at the beginning of the month your landlord comes to collect her/his rent money recognize it for the predatory act that it is.  Shelter is a basic human need and the landlord capitalizes upon this need to enrich her/himself.  Despite the memories and or connections that may have been made in an abode, the inability to pay will quickly lead to an eviction, despite having paid years of rent. Over the course of a lifetime a renter will have paid the value of the property but because of a financial system wherein they are either disqualified from getting a mortgage, or having been offered a rate of interest that is nothing less than legal loan sharking, at the end of the day renters end up with zero value for their investment. The solution to this obvious inequality  is certainly not to blame those that are victimized by a system of exchange that is designed to exploit.

Upon hearing the life situation of this disabled woman the man refers to her as a slut…nice discipline word. imageHe has no  idea whether or not she had  children in a “legitimate” long term relationship.  The simple act of engaging in sex is enough for her to be characterized as a slut. Socially men may have sex freely with little fear of repercussions while virginity and chastity are promoted as the norm for the female.   Even when we are in relationships that have been sanctified by religion or the state (read:marriage) our ability to respond sexually is directly related to the ideas that we have been taught about sex.  To be sexually aggressive or act in pursuit of an orgasm is not feminine, good girl behaviour.

How does this female “ally” respond to the slut shaming stated by the man..”It’s a little hard to close your legs if you don’t have any”…Right because if the whore had legs to begin with she would know enough to follow the script and be sexually passive like the rest of the women on the planet.  Of course if you are disabled you are not sexual being. Nope..sex can only occur for you if you are being raped, it certainly isn’t something that you would actively seek out.  These ideas are certainly hegemonic in our society.  We constantly frame a disabled individual as asexual as a way of dealing with out discomfort about their bodies and their needs.  We believe in a way that it elevates them because they are assumed not to need to participate in the “dirty act” for fulfillment.  Why should they want to have sex anyway it is not as if they are the equal of an able bodied person right?

In the final act of able bodied privilege the man realizes that he has the opportunity to violate her because she has no legs.  Here we can see an intersection between disability and gender.  Of course her body is available to be raped she does after all have a little thing called a vagina.  The idea that she is entitled to bodily integrity is something that he simply cannot grasp.  In fact her disability makes her even less entitled to live a life free of violence.

This cartoon is the perfect example of the ways in which class, ability and gender intersect in our society.  The more invisible a marginalized body becomes the greater the possibility that they will be subject to violence.  The current high level of anomie encourages us to minimize not only their lives but their essential human worth.  When I see images like this, I cannot stop myself from asking why certain bodies do no seem to matter…in the end I realize that a great deal has to do with fear.  Most realize exactly how precarious their living situation is and there is a fear of ending up on the streets, or in the case of disability, “catching” the disability.  We other what we do not want to become because to empathize would be to recognize our own vulnerability in this culture of injustice.  When we express our cultural power by exploiting or marginalizing others not only are we saying that they don’t matter we are expressing a deep seated fear that we don’t matter either.


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