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Don't Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back

Don't Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back

by Harilyn Rousso


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For psychotherapist, painter, feminist, filmmaker, writer, and disability activist Harilyn Rousso, hearing well-intentioned people tell her, "You're so inspirational!" is patronizing, not complimentary.

In her empowering and at times confrontational memoir, Don't Call Me Inspirational, Rousso, who has cerebral palsy, describes overcoming the prejudice against disability—not overcoming disability. She addresses the often absurd and ignorant attitudes of strangers, friends, and family. 

Rousso also examines her own prejudice toward her disabled body, and portrays the healing effects of intimacy and creativity, as well as her involvement with the disability rights community. She intimately reveals herself with honesty and humor and measures her personal growth as she goes from "passing" to embracing and claiming her disability as a source of pride, positive identity, and rebellion. 

A collage of images about her life, rather than a formal portrait, Don't Call Me Inspirational celebrates Rousso's wise, witty, productive, outrageous life, disability and all.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439909379
Publisher: Temple University Press
Publication date: 01/18/2013
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 878,782
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Harilyn Rousso is a disability activist, feminist, psychotherapist, writer, and painter. She is the President of Disabilities Unlimited Consulting Services, founder of the Networking Project for Disabled Women and Girls, coeditor of Double Jeopardy: Addressing Gender Equity in Special Education and author of Disabled, Female and Proud!

Table of Contents



I  Close Encounters with the Clueless
1 Who’s Harilyn?
2 Birth, Mine
3 Close Encounters with the Clueless
4 The Beggar and the Cripple
5 The Stare
6 Always the Other
7 Why I am Not Inspirational
8 Home

II On Leaving Home
9 Wedding Day, 1933
10 Dancing
11 Exploding Beans
12 My Sister
13 Adolescent Conversation
14 On Leaving Home
15 Hideous Shoes
16 Driving High
17 Eli
18 My Father, Myself
19 Driving away from Home

III On Not Looking in the Mirror
20 Walk Straight!
21 On Not Looking in the Mirror
22 Facing My Face
23 Meditations on Speech and Silence
24 Daring Digits
25 Right-Hand Painting
26 Being Only One: Some Meditations on Solitude

IV What's a Woman?
27 What’s a Woman?
28 He Was the One
29 Blank Page
30 Buying the Wedding Dress
31 First Date
32 First Night
33 Mixed Couple
34 Sylvester
35 Faces of Eve
36 Tough Bird
37 Hand in Hand

V Why Claim Disability?
38 Finding My Way
39 Keeping the Distance
40 That “Inspirational” Label
41 Token of Approval
42 Disabled Women’s Community
43 The Story of Betty, Revisited
44 Listening to Myself
45 Activist Sisters
46 Toilet Troubles
47 My Mentoring Project
48 Why Claim Disability?
49 Broken Silences
50 Eulogy for My Nondisabled Self
51 Eulogy for My Freakish Self
52 Ode to My Disabled Self

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