• Sissies, Loafers, and the Feebleminded

    Author(s):
    Ryan Lee Cartwright (see profile)
    Date:
    2022
    Group(s):
    Critical Disability Studies, Disability Coalition Network - Group One, LGBTQ Studies
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Queer, queer crip, history of sexuality, critical disability studies, disability studies, Disability, queer, Rural, social welfare, working-class
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/nnx2-fq64
    Abstract:
    Focusing on rural white communities in the early twentieth century, this article examines how disability, queerness, and economic estrangement were intertwined in American eugenic assessments of the “unfit.” In doing so, it attends to the knotty relations of power by which such communities were simultaneously adjudged deviant and bestowed with the privileges of whiteness. Eugenic family studies supported claims to white superiority by regulating and preventing reproduction among “unfit” rural white communities who might reveal the sham of white supremacy. Yet eugenicists were also concerned about same-sex sexuality and other nonproductive sexualities among the unfit, despite their focus on the “science of better breeding.” This article first analyzes how eugenicists defined a desire for work as the counterpoint to perverse sexual desire. Next, it examines how state institutions used a legal “conduct test” to classify a person as incapable self-support — and therefore feebleminded — on the basis of same-sex sexual relationships, refusal to marry, interdependence, or failure to meet gendered labor norms. Throughout, the article details how eugenic family studies mapped disability, nonproductivity, and nonheteronormativity onto rural landscapes. It concludes by contending that rural queer studies can leverage these landscapes of marginality to think with the racialized city rather than against it.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    Attribution
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