Differal: a made up word offering a play on difference, deferral and feral; think Derrida with an added wild card. The feral element represents unruly bodies/minds; our dis-order, our deviance.
I took a quick visit to the Oxford dictionary website to check their version of ‘deference’ before writing this introduction. Above the Oxford definition was an advert boldly demanding in solid block capitals ‘TRANSFORM YOUR BODY’. The ad seemed to be an order, an effort to discipline; it pissed me off.
The first dilemma then. I plan to write about difference, about different identities, abilities and attitudes. I am partial to anonymity, mostly to avoid assumptions being made around my gender, sexuality, ability, race, class, age, and all those other tidy little compartments that we often singularly signify complex personhood with. However, authenticity and a need to avoid the deceptive style of the grand narrator, which has dominated the majority of historical discourse, requires that I own my position and am transparent about who I am and where I sit/stand. Self disclosure therefor wins the day in this blog.
Without an honest consideration of ‘situated knowledges’ (Donna Haraway, Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (Fall 1988) pgs. 575-599. ) as opposed to objectivity with its false guarantees of the apex perspective, how are any of us to gather the threads of more nuanced understandings of the world we inhabit, and move away from absolutist tendencies which mercilessly dictate and define?
So, owning my own story. Before I have the audacity to start spouting opinions and sharing my views, you need to know who I am and how I identify my self. Here is a formula:
- Female I’m led to believe. I have grown quite fond of this idea.
- Scottish, white, and oh so aware of it.
- Disabled in medical and legal jargon, yet I puzzle over the fluctuating nature of my particular brand of disability: relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in mostly well behaved flavour, not causing too many averted eyes and awkward silences, whilst often infusing me with abilities that make the most able body/mind appear, well, disabled.
- Intersectional feminist with particular interest in disability studies.
That is my given and chosen formula, for this moment at least, more is always on its way.
‘Difference Without Deference’ then. What am I talking about? Firstly that our difference, I feel defiantly, should offer no deference, no subservience to constructed notions of normalcy and authority. The normative mind/body is a myth which commands obedience in order to create a standardized set of minds/bodies within society. Once we begin to rattle the cages/structures of belief that uphold assumptions of what constitutes normal and other, their foundations are quickly revealed to be insecure. The second issue I try to highlight is that difference, that is, in marked bodies/minds, receives no deference. There appears no breathing/resting space for deviation from majority led norms, furthermore, bodies/minds which go off the beaten track of acceptable demeanor are given little respect and position, being more likely to receive reproaches in sliding scales of fixing interventions: rehabilitation, therapies and cures, violence, rejection and marginalization.
This blog will be a bit of an experiment in both content and style through which I will attempt to shake up some of the standard formulas of acceptable demeanor. Wish me luck.