Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Disabled Sexuality, Incorporated

The Compulsions of Popular Romance

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2012), 6, (2), 125–141.

Abstract

In light of the recent proliferation of disabled characters in popular romance novels, this article examines the implications for disabled sexuality of increased visibility within the popular romance genre. Focusing on a subset of novels with cognitively disabled characters allows us to see how these narratives move to contain and discipline disability, both by literally and figuratively incorporating it into able-bodiedness, and by rehabilitating it via the transformative power of heterosexual romance. In so doing, these narratives make plain the ideological conjunction between heterosexuality and able-bodiedness; moreover, they demonstrate how visibility within such a popular medium functions largely as an adaptive strategy to contain the threat that disabled sexuality represents, and to impose on disabled people the intertwined ideological demands of compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory able-bodiedness. Despite the limitations imposed by these ideologies, both disabled and nondisabled readers often express pleasure at seeing disability represented "realistically" in popular romance; their responses demonstrate how realism can be ideologically coercive, but also suggest a hunger for difference from which disability studies may benefit.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Ashley, Jennifer. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. New York: Leisure Books, 2009. Print. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie Google Scholar

Blaze, Kali. "I am Not Your Metaphor." Brilliant Mind Broken Body. 25 October 2011. Web. 11 June 2011. I am Not Your Metaphor Brilliant Mind Broken Body Google Scholar

Block, Pamela. "Sexuality, Fertility, and Danger: Twentieth-Century Images of Women with Cognitive Disabilities." Sexuality and Disability 18.4 (2000): 239-54. Print. Sexuality, Fertility, and Danger: Twentieth-Century Images of Women with Cognitive Disabilities Sexuality and Disability 18 239 54 Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. "Imitation and Gender Insubordination." The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. Ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin. New York: Routledge, 1993. 307-20. Print. The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader 307 20 Google Scholar

Fletcher, Lisa. Historical Romance Fiction: Heterosexuality and Performativity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2008. Print. Historical Romance Fiction: Heterosexuality and Performativity Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Print. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. "Seeing the Disabled: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography." The New Disability History. Ed. Paul Longmore and Lauri Umansky. New York: New York UP, 2001. 335-74. Print. The New Disability History 335 74 Google Scholar

Green, Billie. A Special Man. New York: Silhouette, 1986. Print. A Special Man Google Scholar

Guter, Bob, and John Killacky, eds. Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories. New York: Harrington Park P, 2004. Print. Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories Google Scholar

Has. "Disability in Romance." Booksellersueg. Ed. Sue Grimshaw. 18 September 2009. Web. 25 October 2011. Google Scholar

Holmes, Martha Stoddard. Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in Victorian Culture. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2004. Print. Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in Victorian Culture Google Scholar

Hubbard, Ruth. "Abortion and Disability: Who Should and Who Should Not Inhabit the World?" The Disability Studies Reader. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006. 93-104. Print. The Disability Studies Reader 93 104 Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. "Compulsory Bodies: Reflections on Heterosexuality and Able-bodiedness." Journal of Women's History 15.3 (2003): 77-89. Print. Compulsory Bodies: Reflections on Heterosexuality and Able-bodiedness Journal of Women's History 15 77 89 Google Scholar

"Less Than Perfect." All About Romance. Ed. Blythe Barnhill, Sandy Coleman, Lynn Spencer, and Rachel Potter. June 2009. Web. 25 October 2011. Google Scholar

Linton, Simi. "Reassigning Meaning." The Disability Studies Reader. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006. 161-72. Print. The Disability Studies Reader 161 72 Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York: New York UP, 2006. Print. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability Google Scholar

McCullough, Colleen. Tim. New York: Avon, 1974. Print. Tim Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. Print. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse Google Scholar

Modleski, Tania. Loving with a Vengeance: Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print. Loving with a Vengeance: Mass-Produced Fantasies for Women Google Scholar

Morsi, Pamela. Simple Jess. New York: Jove, 1996. Print. Simple Jess Google Scholar

O'Toole, Corbett Joan. "The View from below: Developing a Knowledge Base about an Unknown Population." Sexuality and Disability 18.3 (2000): 207-24. Print. The View from below: Developing a Knowledge Base about an Unknown Population Sexuality and Disability 18 207 24 Google Scholar

Pearce, Lynne. "Popular Romance and Its Readers." A Companion to Romance: From Classical to Contemporary. Ed. Corinne Saunders. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. 521-38. Print. A Companion to Romance: From Classical to Contemporary 521 38 Google Scholar

Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Print. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation Google Scholar

Radford, Jean. The Progress of Romance. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986. Print. The Progress of Romance Google Scholar

Radway, Janice. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1984. Print. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature Google Scholar

Rich, Adrienne. "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence." Journal of Women's History 15.3 (2003): 11-48. Print. Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence Journal of Women's History 15 11 48 Google Scholar

Rubin, Gayle. "Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality." The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. Ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin. New York: Routledge, 1993. 3-44. Print. The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader 3 44 Google Scholar

Rubin, Gayle. "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex." Feminist Anthropology: A Reader. Ed. Ellen Lewin. Malden: Blackwell, 2006. 87-106. Print. Feminist Anthropology: A Reader 87 106 Google Scholar

Stiker, Henri-Jacques. A History of Disability. Trans. William Sayers. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1999. Print. A History of Disability Google Scholar

Waxman Fiduccia, Barbara Faye. "Sexual Imagery of Physically Disabled Women: Erotic? Perverse? Sexist?" Sexuality and Disability 17.3 (1999): 277-82. Print. Sexual Imagery of Physically Disabled Women: Erotic? Perverse? Sexist? Sexuality and Disability 17 277 82 Google Scholar

Webb, Peggy. A Prince for Jenny. New York: Bantam, 1993. Print. A Prince for Jenny Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Baldys, Emily