Sid Marcos is the ED of Outlandish Travel, an organization dedicated to promoting accessibility and socially sustainable travel. In her off time you can find her in San Diego, vlogging on This Is CRIPPLE or hanging with her Great Dane at a coffee shop. For her first guest blog with IZ, she shares her experience of being a woman with a disability, intersectional discrimination, gender roles and complex ideas of beauty and fashion.
"Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s supposed to mean to be a woman. Every culture perpetuates its own certain ideas of femininity. These images of femininity are intimately linked to further perceptions of sexuality, gender and beauty and engender a static image of what it is to be a woman.
What we don’t realize when we begin, ourselves, to sculpt our personal view of what it is to be a woman is that we are defining femininity on social standards that are ultimately arbitrary. And as women, we perpetuate these performances through how we speak, interact and dress.
Because we only ever see a woman’s body used to portray roles that are hyper-sexualized, hyper feminine, and objects of beauty, we cannot separate the idea of a dynamic womanhood from our cultural archetypes. We employ this archetypal imagery adversely towards women in a form of social policing, applying to them titles like “whore” and “dyke”.
Basically, when we don’t see women whose purpose is to represent something that is not beautiful, sexual or feminine we deauthorize their experience as a woman.
And then I consider what it means to be a disabled woman. With ableism as the lynchpin of our existence, there’s usually not much room for sexist expectations on top of it all.
This is why we usually see cripples represented as sexless people. Ableism is the stripping of all individualism and the consequential process is desexualization.
So I often end up wondering what a good disabled female role model would look like.
“She should be radically, overtly sexual”, I think, to debase the sexless narrative.
But then “..but not tooo sexual because women’s sexuality is already massively exploited...”
And the dialogue continues in my head, debating all standardizations and perceptions - until I realize that there’s no space to be a disabled woman in our culture; no room for us to self-define. With our appearance, our choices and our sexuality being viewed as publicly owned for criticism and commentary; given our history with Ugly Laws and undetermined notions if we should even want to pursue an idea of beauty - I can’t imagine what a “good” representation could possibly look like.
So I’ve finally come to this “F*ck it” conclusion. There is no such thing as a good role model. And I suppose this to be a feminist epiphany because I’m finally realizing that disabled women simply are who we are - and that’s the best representation I can ask for."
Find out more about Sid by connecting with her on Twitter, Instagram and subscribing to her YouTube channel.