Aug 9, 2022
The article uses the example of the "barrier-free" design for disabled individuals to argue that the concept of "disability" is a relative and flowing concept, and that it is a class created by the power structure.
Dec 5, 2022 12:44 AM
In today's modern world, especially after the pandemic, power shifting to the right occurred worldwide. Everyone could become a victim of the transparent and solidified structure in the domination of right-wing power. However, we are directing our hatred and anger toward each other without knowing it. That is why I would like to discuss the importance and how to resolve divisions and oppositions between different classes generated by the power structure.
First, I would like to show how the structure stifles and violates the human rights and diversity of all of us, especially the minorities. On July 29, 2022, an unknown group set a Kanban on the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo that said, "Empower weak men, don't take away our marriage freedom and reproductive rights." The intention and target of the protest were unknown. The problem, however, was that the ambiguity of the protest led to a wide range of interpretations. If the target of the Kanban is women who look down on so-called "weak men" in the rhetoric of lookism, it will become a typical backlash toward feminism. On July 30, 2022, the Diversity Network from the University of Tokyo released a protest letter but received numerous negative comments, reacting to the "misogynist" word and claiming that the letter is another movement of radical feminists to seek power.
It is noteworthy that few people realize that gender power structure tortures both men and women. Patriarchal society created and consolidated the rhetoric that it is normal and natural that a male is more potent than a woman. However, the so-called strong women and weak men were left behind during the competition and choices resulted from the gender structure. In other words, it is the structure created by the patriarchal society that has deprived marriage freedom and reproduction rights, showing that the society is depressing democracy. Not only women and minorities' marriage freedom and reproductive rights are being denied throughout the world, but men are also suffering from the power structure. The sad thing is, especially in this case, those who turned their anger toward feminists failed to see the evil of the hidden power structure.
The strong's disability to recognize the structure's existence is because they feel their power is natural and self-evident, but feminism hinders their granted power. Yet, nobody should take the power structure for granted.
In fact, structures of gender and race are imagination's creation and concepts created by the strong in history to oppress the weak. As Kimberly Barrett discussed in "Deconstructing race will help eliminate racism," the notion of race, an American invention that served to rationalize enslavement, genocide, and disenfranchisement toward colored races in the United States, was proved to be an illusion by modern science. Nevertheless, most people remain ignorant of the power structure.
Concerning this issue, I would like to raise an excellent model of the structural dismantling between the healthy and the disabled to discuss the importance and necessity of structure's deconstruction. In the 1970s, the concept of "barrier-free" came into being in the U.S. to support wounded soldiers. However, many of the "barrier-free" designs, which additively remove "barriers" in the normal's imagination from common space for "disabled" people, turned out unpopular and unaccepted by them. The result is that the healthy usually felt unnecessary to help the disabled, who already attained benefits from barrier-free design, and the disabled always felt uncomfortable in the common space because of others' starring and discussion. In light of this, people began to rethink the concept of "disabled" and "healthy," leading to two conclusions: first of all, "disability" is a relative and flowing concept, meaning anyone could become disabled in certain circumstances; secondly, "disability" is a class of structure created by the power. This comes to the time of deconstructing the structure of the healthy and the disabled, giving to the birth of "universal design," aiming to create products and environments that are suitable for all people and do not create "barriers" in the first place.
In my perspective, applying universal design thinking to deconstruct gender and race issues is crucial because minorities face the same situation under the power structure. For example, in "Maybe you only look white," Becca Gercken-Hawkins illustrated that, while benefiting from the university's hiring politics because of her Cherokee and Irish American ethnicity, she found it uncomfortable when facing others' prioritizing ethnicity over her professional level. Real human rights are not something that the majority or the strong bestow upon the minority or the weak. We can never achieve true diversity and human rights under the rhetoric of the power structure. Therefore, the deconstruction of the power structure is imminent for all human beings.
Then, how can we deconstruct the power structure? In the cultural area, the education of humanity is essential. In the speech "What value do the humanities have?" Judith Butler emphasized that humanity will endow immeasurable impact, output, and benefits to the democratic movement. She argues that humanity will extend our critical thinking ability from our narrow culture to a more spacious perspective to understand others' lives. Thus, we can look through the violence and inequality beyond the power structure. Only in this way will we attain the knowledge and sympathy to question and rebel against all the things taken for granted by the power structure.
- Author:Sunshine Yang
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