Open Boundaries a canadian Women’s Studies Reader Second Edition

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Open Boundaries

A Canadian Women’s

Studies Reader

Second Edition

Barbara A. Crow

York University

Lise Gotell

University of Alberta



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Dedicated to the memory of strong women who have marked our lives:

Helen Daly, Anna Pellatt and Odelle Anita Mastine Watterson

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Crow, Barbara A., 1960–

Open boundaries : a Canadian women’s studies reader / Barbara A. Crow, Lise Gotell.

— 2nd ed.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-13-124545-7

1. Feminism—Canada. 2. Women—Canada. I. Gotell, Lise II. Title.

HQ1181.C3C76 2005 305.42'0971 C2004-903515-0

Copyright © 2005 Pearson Education Canada Inc., Toronto, Ontario

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“What is Women’s Studies?” Lise Gotell and Barbara A. Crow 1

“What Do We Need Now: Celebration? Commiseration? Or New Boots for Walking—21st Century Challenges for Teaching and Research in

Women’s Studies,” Louise H. Forsyth 9

A Selected Bibliography

“Questions of the Field: Women’s Studies as Textual Contestation,”

Susanne Luhmann


Chapter One: Who Is the Woman of Canadian Women’s Studies? Theoretical Interventions

Philophical Investigations (in a Feminist Voice),” Cressida J. Heyes


“Introducing Racism: Notes towards an Anti-Racist Feminism,” Himani Bannerji

“Canadian Anti-Racist Feminist Thought: Scratching the Surface of Racism,”

Enakshi Dua


“Invocation: The Real Power of Aboriginal Women (Keynote Address:

The National Symposium on Aboriginal Women of Canada, University of Lethbridge, 19 October 1989),” Jeannette Armstrong


Riding the Feminist Waves: In with the Thirds?” Natasha Pinterics


Chapter Two: Activisms

“The Great Undoing: State Formation, Gender Politics, and Social Policy in Canada,” Janine Brodie

“Halfway to Equal?” Linda Trimble and Jane Arscott

The Next Stage: Canadian Feminism,” Judy Rebick and Kiké Roach


“Women’s (In)Equality before and after the Charter,” Diana Majury

“The Aboriginal Women’s Movement,” Grace Ouellette

“Hot Potato: Imperial Wars or Benevolent Interventions? Reflections on

‘Global Feminism’ Post September 11th,” Sedef Arat-Koc 126

“War Frenzy,” Sunera Thobani

Chapter Three: The Gendered Division of Labour and the Family

Thinking It Through: Women, Work and Caring in the New Millennium,” Pat Armstrong and Hugh Armstrong


“Restructuring Public and Private: Women’s Paid and Unpaid Work,” Pat Armstrong

“‘And We Still Ain’t Satisfied’: Gender Inequality in Canada: A Status Report for 2001 (Executive Summary),” prepared by Karen Hadley for the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and the CSJ Foundation for Research and Education

“Gender Paradoxes and the Rise of Contingent Work: Toward a Transformative Political Economy of the Labour Market,” Judy Fudge and Leah F. Vosko

“Who Pays for Caring for Children? Public Policy and the Devaluation of Women’s

Work,” Katherine Teghtsoonian


“Complicating the Ideology of Motherhood: Child Welfare Law and First Nation

Women,” Marlee Kline


“Families of Native People, Immigrants, and People of Colour,” Tania Das Gupta 199

“‘From Same-Sex to No Sex?’: Trends towards Recognition of (Same-Sex)

Relationships in Canada,” Susan B. Boyd and Claire F. L. Young


Chapter Four: Engendering Violence

“Neither Forgotten nor Fully Remembered: Tracing an Ambivalent Public Memory on the 10th Anniversary of the Montréal Massacre,” Sharon Rosenberg

“The 1999 General Social Survey on Spousal Violence: An Analysis,”

Yasmin Jiwani


Tracking and Resisting Backlash against Equality: Gains in Sexual Offence Law,”

Sheila McIntyre

“Legal Responses to Violence against Women in Canada,” Elizabeth A. Sheehy

“Gendered Radical Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George,” Sherene H. Razack

Chapter Five: The Body: Reproduction and Femininity

“Abortion Litigation,” Sheilah L. Martin, QC

“A Special Report to Celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Decriminalization of Abortion: Protecting Abortion Rights in Canada,” The Canadian Abortion

Rights Action League (CARAL)


“Abortion,” Susan Wendell

“Feminism, Reproduction, and Reproductive Technologies,” Vanaja Dhruvarajan

“First Person Familiar: Judicial Intervention in Pregnancy, Again: G. (D.F.),”

T. Brettel Dawson 307

“Between Body and Culture: Beauty, Ability and Growing Up Female,” Carla Rice

“The Flight from the Rejected Body,” Susan Wendell

“From Airbrushing to Liposuction: The Technological Reconstruction of the

Female Body,” Fabienne Darling-Wolf


Chapter Six: Sexuality

“The Making of an Un/Popular Culture: From Lesbian Feminism to Lesbian Postmodernism,” Kathleen Martindale

“Lesbianism: A Country That Has No Language,” Mariana Valverde

“Heterosexuality and Feminist Theory,” Christine Overall

“Isn’t Love a Given?” Lee Maracle 372

“The Silencing of Sexuality,” Cassandra Lord

“Critical Identities: Rethinking Feminism through Transgender Politics,”

Eleanor MacDonald 381

Suggested Readings 390

Bibliography 397

Index 408


Rather than a field contained within fixed borders, Canadian Women’s Studies is marked by a sense of mobility and “open boundaries.” Our challenge as Women’s Studies scholars is to continue the feminist work of “asking questions” and to sustain a place where such questions can be posed. While the controversies that mark feminist scholarship are not settled, we believe that Women’s Studies is a vital intellectual place where questions can be asked, appreciated, and debated. As Jean Robinson has recently written, “Women’s Studies is still a place where resistant ideas are voiced, where opposition to cultural and social norms is accepted, and where the very subjects of study still have to be justified to a doubting, highly critical academic community” (Robinson, 2002, p. 209).

When we were asked to do a second edition of Open Boundaries, we realized that the sense of mobility and questioning that had animated the first edition could only be sustained by rethinking the content of a new reader. In the first edition of Open Boundaries, our focus was on the formative texts in Canadian Women’s Studies—interventions that had inaugurated and shaped this field of intellectual inquiry. In this second edition of Open Boundaries, our emphasis has shifted towards the contemporary. In this reader, we introduce students to the crucial questions, debates, and issues that together comprise the still open and unsettled terrain of Canadian Women’s Studies.

This collection is shaped by our own intellectual trajectories. We trained together as graduate students (in Political Science and Sociology) at York University from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. As students committed to feminist inquiry, we were forced to seek out relevant courses, often outside our own disciplines, at a time when feminist challenges had yet to fundamentally reshape the nature of disciplinary projects. We studied feminist theory from a generation of scholars who had been the driving force behind the establishment of the first Women’s Studies programs. We were introduced to rich debates around the origins and dynamics of women’s oppression and we were fundamentally influenced by the socialist feminist approaches that grounded the works of many of our professors.

We are, in many ways, part of a bridge between what has been referred to as “second wave” feminism and the “third wave.” As graduate students, we were engaged in the second wave feminist project of constructing a grand theory of women’s subordination. As our own work as Women’s Studies scholars began in the early 1990s, we were profoundly affected by the challenges that rocked the second wave feminist project of “grand theorizing.” In the face of postmodern insights about the irreducible complexities and uncertainties of the social world, the insistence on the social constructedness of analytic frameworks, and anti-racist and anti-essentialist feminist critiques of the exclusiveness of the feminist project, our own intellectual work was reconfigured. It was reconfigured in ways that might be seen as quite consistent with the defiant critical project of third wave feminism.

Third wave feminism has been primarily concerned with race and sexuality, with a deep skepticism about the unity of the category “women” and an interrogation of the orthodoxies that are perceived to reside within second wave feminism. For many of our own students, no matter how much our own concerns overlap with the thrust of third wave feminism, we are aligned with second wave feminism. Perhaps this is a function of our graying hair; perhaps it is also because we encourage our students to appreciate the complex contributions of second wave feminism alongside their own concerns with differences and contradiction. The position of “inbetweenness” that we occupy—this bridge, this ambiguous inter-generational space between the second and third waves of Canadian feminism—places feminists of our generation in a position to construct and mediate a conversation between second and third wave feminisms. This second edition of Open Boundaries provides a place for this conversation.

The sense of open boundaries that we believe is integral to Women’s Studies made it difficult to determine the content of this new edition. We are not trying to define the contemporary contours of the “discipline” in this reader; Women’s Studies is by necessity interdisciplinary and feminist “definitions” are temporary and changing. Our approach has been to bracket some central topics, questions, and contributions. There were many pieces we wanted to include, but space requirements limited our selections. We debated how to include as many pieces as possible. Many of the pieces have been abridged to allow us to capture the main points of a wide variety of feminist authors. We selected six topics that have been central areas of analytic inquiry and debate within contemporary Canadian feminism: “Who Is the Woman of Women’s Studies? Theoretical Interventions”; “Activisms”; “The Gendered Division of Labour and the Family”; “Engendering Violence”; “The Body: Reproduction and Femininity”; and “Sexuality.” These six areas are ones that frame the organization of many introductory courses.

The first chapter, “Who Is the Woman of Women’s Studies? Theoretical Interventions,” sketches out the terrain of Canadian Women’s Studies by grappling with the deep tensions that have marked efforts to define its object of inquiry. Whereas many Women’s Studies texts have begun by laying out competing feminist theories (liberal feminism, radical feminism, socialist feminism, postmodern feminism, and so on), we believe a rethinking of this typical point of departure is now necessary. Feminist theory is no longer preoccupied with the search for grand explanatory frameworks. Postmodern feminism, with its rejection of grand theory and its attention to “women” as a constructed category, has shifted the terrain of feminist theory. Anti-essentialist feminism has called attention to the exclusions that accompany any effort to define a homogenous women’s experience that would serve as the ground of feminist theory. Canadian anti-racist feminism is now a rich and diverse tradition; analyses of differences and power relations among women, especially racial differences, have produced a re-articulation of feminist understandings of gender, contesting overarching concepts such as women’s oppression and patriarchy as inadequate descriptions of social worlds that are marked by multiple axes of power. Third wave feminism, with its embrace of differences and contradiction, embodies the shift away from grand explanatory frameworks. It is these tensions and theoretical shifts that we seek to capture in the first chapter of the reader. We do not mean to suggest, however, that the question of essentialism and differences has supplanted the insights and contributions of established feminist frameworks. In fact, as we see in the contributions in later chapters, liberal feminist concerns have shaped inquiries into women’s political under-representation, radical feminist theory underpins and shapes much contemporary work on gendered violence, and Canadian socialist feminists have continued to develop internationally recognized analyses of the contemporary contours of the gendered division of labour.

Other chapters of this text reveal how Canadian feminist analysis has developed and sustained a dialogue around key issues in a contemporary context marked by backlash and complexity. In Chapter 2, “Activisms,” we explore feminist efforts to create and reshape political activism in an era characterized by severe obstacles to national feminist organizing. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women, with a thirty-year history as the voice of organized Canadian feminism, is now defunct, as Canadian governments have cut back and cut off the public funding that helped to sustain critical feminist engagement in public policy. Historically, the Canadian women’s movement has had an engaged relationship with the state, and has lobbied the government to encourage equality through the extension of the welfare state. The embrace of neo-conservative agendas, decreased funding for social programs, and the construction of social movements as “special interest groups” have had an extremely damaging impact on feminist activism. Today, we need new strategies to keep social justice on the government platform. The Charter of Rights has provided opportunities, albeit constrained, for feminist legal activists to push forward demands for substantive equality. The literature on the Canadian women’s movement reveals significant theoretical and activist engagement with race, gender, class, and sexuality. Native women are organizing in diverse ways to contest the damaging impacts of colonialism. Moreover, in the post-9/11 context of the “War against Terrorism,” Canadian feminists have intervened to contest American militarism and to forge global links among women of the north and south. These various interventions reveal the way in which feminist activism is being rethought and enacted.

Just as the shape of activism is being reconfigured, so too are the social, material, and political conditions which Canadian feminists confront. In Chapter 3, “The Gendered Division of Labour and the Family,” we explore the shifting contours of the sexual division of labour and the interrelations between work and “family” in an economic environment marked by globalization, the expansion of precarious work and deepening gender, race, and class inequalities. In Chapter 4, “Engendering Violence,” we try to reveal the importance of rethinking antiviolence activism in a context where systemic feminist analyses of violence are being silenced and in which past feminist approaches are being called to task for their inattention to race, class, and sexuality. In Chapter 5, “The Body: Reproduction and Femininity,” we confront feminist efforts to contest the continued regulation of reproduction and the disciplinary norms of femininity, through exploring the questions of access to abortion, debates around new reproductive technologies, the problem of prenatal coercion and challenges to “beauty norms” built upon racialized and ablelist foundations. Finally, in Chapter 6, “Sexuality,” we seek to highlight the ways in which Canadian feminism has confronted the institution of heterosexuality, from the insights of lesbian feminists to queer theory. The readings in this chapter together undermine heterosexual privilege and compulsory heterosexuality by giving voice to lesbian and transgender identities and interrogating the racialization of sexuality.

As we emphasize in the reader as a whole, the creation and sustenance of feminist knowledge is vitally important. Without the rich spaces offered by Women’s Studies programs, this project would not continue. Women’s Studies plays a particular role in the university. Its interdisciplinary approach allows students to look at topics from a broad range of academic disciplines. It takes a problem-based approach to thinking, and encourages this thinking as a development in contemporary higher education. The kind of rigourous critical thinking that Women’s Studies promotes is essential if universities are to fulfill their role in helping people find their place in an increasing plural, interdependent, and changing world. Certainly, as Louise Forsyth highlights in her essay in this reader, Women’s Studies confronts multiple challenges at the beginning of the 21st century, but this is also a time of exciting possibilities.


I would like to thank Professor Lise Gotell, good friend, scholar and colleague for her intellectual acumen that has shaped the second edition of this reader. As well, I would like to thank my close family, Michael Longford and Eli Crow-Longford, for their continued support.

– Barbara Crow

Without the enthusiasm and commitment of my friend and colleague, Barbara Crow, this collection would not have materialized. Barbara dragged me into this project kicking and screaming, but I am very pleased with the book that has emerged. I would also like to thank my partner, Adien Dubbelboer, for her support and double-duty childcare while I was in the middle of a tight schedule. To my son, Liam Gotell, I owe much quality time. Finally, I am grateful for my many conversations with wonderful feminist colleagues—Chris Gabriel, Annis May Timpson, Sharon Rosenberg, Cressida Heyes, and Heather Tapley. These conversations shaped my thinking on this collection.

– Lise Gotell

We would like thank the research assistants who worked on the second edition—Melanie Beres, Joyce Clements, Jenn Martin, Barb McLean and Suzanne MacFarlane.

We are enormously appreciative of the editorial staff we have worked with at Pearson. We have particularly appreciated the support and work of Carolin Sweig and Jon Maxfield—who have made this project worth doing.

We are grateful to the following reviewers for their thoughtful comments and suggestions: Jeff Braun-Jackson, Memorial University; Nuzhat Amin, University of Toronto; and Darlene Juschka, University of Regina.

Finally, we are indebted to the many voices that mark the diverse, rich and contested terrain of Canadian feminist thought. This is the ground from which this collection has grown.


Arat-Koc, S. (2002). Hot potato: Imperial wars or benevolent interventions? Reflections on “global feminism” post September 11th. Atlantis, 26(2), 53–65. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Armstrong, J. (1996). Invocation: The real power of Aboriginal women. In C. Miller and P. Chuchryk (eds.), Women of the First Nations: Power, wisdom and strength (pp. ix–xii). Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Armstrong, P. (1997). Restructuring public and private: Women’s paid and unpaid work. In S. Boyd (Ed.), Challenging the public/private divide: Feminism, law, and public policy (pp. 37–61). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Armstrong, P., & Armstrong, H. (2002). Thinking it through: Women, work and caring in the new millennium. Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, 21–22 (4/1), 44–50. Reprinted with permission by Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme.

Bannerji, H. (1987). Introducing racism: Notes towards an anti-racist feminism. Resources for Feminist Research/Documentation sur la recherche feministe, 16(1), 10–12.

Boyd, S. B., & Young, C. F. L. (2003). From same-sex to no sex?: Trends towards recognition of (same-sex) relationships in Canada. Seattle J. Soc. Just. 3, 757–793.

Brettel Dawson, T. (1998). First person familiar: Judicial intervention in pregnancy, again: G. (D.F.) Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 10(1), 213–228.

Brodie, J. (2002). The great undoing: State formation, gender politics, and social policy in Canada. In C. Kingfisher (Ed.), Western welfare in decline: Globalization and women’s poverty (pp. 90–110). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL). (2003). A special report to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion: Protecting abortion rights in Canada.

Darling-Wolf, F. (2000). From airbrushing to liposuction: The technological reconstruction of the female body. In B. Miedema, J. M. Stoppard & V. Anderson (Eds.), Health, wellbeing and body image. Toronto, ON: Sumach Press.

Das Gupta, T. (2000). Families of Native people, immigrants, and people of colour. In N. Mandell & A. Duffy (Eds.), Canadian families: Diversity, conflict, and change (2nd ed.) (pp. 146–187). Toronto, ON: Harcourt Brace. Reprinted with permission of Nelson, a division of Thomson Learning:

Dhruvarajan, V. (2002). Feminism, reproduction, and reproductive technologies. In V. Dhruvarajan & J. Vickers (Eds.), Gender, race and nation: A global perspective (pp. 205–221). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Dua, E. (1999). Canadian anti-racist feminist thought: Scratching the surface of racism. In E. Dua & A. Robertson (Eds.), Scratching the surface: Canadian anti-racist feminist thought (pp. 7–31). Toronto, ON: Women’s Press. Reprinted by permission of the Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.

Forsyth, L. H. (2003). What do we need now: Celebration? Commiseration? Or new boots for walking? – 21st century challenges for teaching and research in Women’s Studies.

Fudge, J., & Vosko, L. F. (2003). Gender paradoxes and the rise of contingent work: Toward a transformative political economy of the labour market. In W. Clement & L. Vosko (Eds.), Changing Canada: Political economy as transformation (pp. 183–209). Montreal, QC, & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Heyes, C. J. (2000). Philosophical investigations (in a feminist voice). In Line drawings: Defining women through feminist fractice. Ithaca, NY & London, UK: Cornell University Press. Copyright © 2000 Cornell University. Used by permission of the publisher.

Jiwani, Y. (2001). The 1999 General Social Survey on Spousal Violence: An analysis. Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, 20, 34–40. Reprinted with permission by Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme.

Kline, M. (1993). Complicating the ideology of motherhood: Child welfare law and First Nation women. Queen’s Law Journal, 18, 310–319, 338–341.

Lord, C. (2001). The silencing of sexuality. In A. Mitchell, L. B. Rundle & L. Karaian (Eds.), Turbo chicks: Talking young feminisms (pp. 207–212). Toronto, ON: Sumach Press.

Luhmann, S. (2001). Questions of the field: Women’s Studies as textual contestation. In Im/proper subjects? Social difference as knowledge and pedagogy in Women’s Studies. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, York University, Toronto, ON.

MacDonald, E. (1998). Critical identities: Rethinking feminism through transgender politics. Atlantis, 23(4), 3–12.

Majury, D. (2002). Women’s (in)equality before and after the Charter. In R. Jhappan (Ed.), Women’s legal strategies in Canada (pp. 101–138). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Maracle, L. (1988; 1996). Isn’t love a given? In I am woman: A native perspective on sociology and feminism (pp. 20–30). Vancouver, BC: Press Gang Publishers.

Martin, S. L., QC (2002). Abortion litigation. In R. Jhappan (Ed.), Women’s legal strategies in Canada (pp. 335–378). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Martindale, K. (1997). The making of an un/popular culture: From lesbian feminism to lesbian postmodernism. Reprinted by permission from Un/popular culture: Lesbian writing after the sex wars by Kathleen Martindale, the State of University of New York Press, © 1997 State University of New York. All rights reserved.

McIntyre, S. (with Boyle, C., Lakeman, L., & Sheehy, E.) (2000). Tracking and resisting backlash against equality: Gains in sexual offence law. Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, 20, 72–83.Reprinted with permission by Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme.

National Action Committee on the Status of Women & CSJ Foundation for Research and Education. (2001). “And we still ain’t satisfied”: Gender inequality in Canada: A status report for 2001 (Executive Summary). Prepared by Karen Hadley. Reprinted with permission by the Centre for Social Justice.

Ouellette, G. (2002). The Aboriginal women’s movement. In The Fourth World: An indigenous perspective on feminism and women’s activism (pp. 29–52). Halifax, NS: Fernwood Press. Reprinted with permission by the publisher.

Overall, C. (1990). Heterosexuality and feminist theory. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 20(1), 9–17.

Pinterics, N. (2001). Riding the feminist waves: In with the thirds? Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, 20/21(4/1), 15-21. Reprinted with permission by Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme.

Razack, S. H. (2000). Gendered radical violence and spatialized justice: The murder of Pamela George. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 15, 91–130. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Rebick, J., & Roach, K. (1996). The next stage: Canadian feminism. In Politically speaking (pp. 88–104). Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre. Copyright © 1996 Judy Rebick and Kike Roach. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Rice, C. (2002). Between body and culture: Beauty ability and growing up female. In V. Dhruvarajan & J. Vickers (Eds.), Gender, race and nation: A global perspective (pp. 205–221). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Rosenberg, S. (2003). Neither forgotten nor fully remembered: Tracing an ambivalent public memory on the 10th anniversary of the Montréal Massacre. Feminist Theory, 4, 5–27.

Sheehy, E. A. (2002). Legal responses to violence against women in Canada. In K. M. J. McKenna & L. Larkin (Eds.), Violence against women: New Canadian perspectives (pp. 473–491). Toronto, ON: Inanna Publications.

Teghtsoonian, K. (1997). Who pays for caring for children? Public policy and the devaluation of women’s work. In S. Boyd (Ed.), Challenging the public/private divide: Feminism, law, and public policy (pp. 113–143). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Thobani, S. (2001, October 15). War frenzy. Retrieved November 3, 2003, from http://www. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Trimble, L., & Arscott, J. (2003). Halfway to equal? In Still counting: Women in politics across Canada (pp. 157–164). Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.

Valverde, M. (1985). Lesbianism: A country that has no language. In Sex, power and pleasure (pp. 75–108). Toronto, ON: The Women’s Press. Reprinted by permission of the Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc. and/or Women’s Press.

Wendell, S. (1996). Abortion. In The rejected body: Feminist philosophical reflections on disability (pp. 151–156). New York, NY: Routledge. Reproduced by permission of Routledge/Taylor & Francis Books, Inc.

Wendell, S. (1996). The flight from the rejected body. In The rejected body: Feminist philosophical reflections on disability (pp. 85–93). New York, NY: Routledge. Reproduced by permission of Routledge/Taylor & Francis Books, Inc.
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