Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Cultural Front

Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

Rate this book
Crip Theory attends to the contemporary cultures of disability and queerness that are coming out all over. Both disability studies and queer theory are centrally concerned with how bodies, pleasures, and identities are represented as "normal" or as abject, but Crip Theory is the first book to analyze thoroughly the ways in which these interdisciplinary fields inform each other.

Drawing on feminist theory, African American and Latino/a cultural theories, composition studies, film and television studies, and theories of globalization and counter-globalization, Robert McRuer articulates the central concerns of crip theory and considers how such a critical perspective might impact cultural and historical inquiry in the humanities. Crip Theory puts forward readings of the Sharon Kowalski story, the performance art of Bob Flanagan, and the journals of Gary Fisher, as well as critiques of the domesticated queerness and disability marketed by the Millennium March, or Bravo TV's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. McRuer examines how dominant and marginal bodily and sexual identities are composed, and considers the vibrant ways that disability and queerness unsettle and re-write those identities in order to insist that another world is possible.

281 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2006

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Robert McRuer

9 books22 followers
Robert McRuer is a Professor of English at George Washington University. His work focuses on queer and crip cultural studies and critical theory.

--from the author's website

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
133 (34%)
4 stars
146 (38%)
3 stars
81 (21%)
2 stars
21 (5%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
Profile Image for Anjum Choudhury.
221 reviews
October 23, 2021
I finished this book exclusively so that I could get all my feelings out in a truly scathing review, so let's not waste any time, shall we?

Honestly, I have no idea how this book comes so highly recommended when it seems as though it's unedited. Frequent typos aside, this books reads like a college paper that an overly enthusiastic teacher's pet wrote about something that they've been dying to talk about but no one ever listens to them. And look, I'm all for passion in a subject. It's clear that Mr. McRuer is passionate. But GOD, this book reads like shit.

First of all, I swear the sentences in this book are written to be intentionally obtuse. They're long and winding with lots of parenthetical inserts and vocabulary used just to sound smart. I swear, if I hear the word 'hegemony' again (a good word, to be fair), it'll be too soon. He frequently loses himself halfway through one of these winding sentences and I'm left thinking, wait, does this have anything to do with disability or queerness? Did it ever? He gets so far away from his supposed theses so many times that now, at the end of the book, I'm not really certain I can say that he ever had one.

And you know what, I get it. This is an academic text and, truly, I'm dying to know how it's taught by teachers who use this book. Do they dare use the whole thing? Or are there particular passages that they see as gems and highlight for their students. Because honestly, at the end of this book, I'm struggling to pan for any gold. BUT the issue with this book to that end, the part that REALLY grinds my gears, is the fact that this book RAILS about accessibility. Shouts that the capitalistic "neoliberal" world that we live in is so inaccessible to the disabled, and then he puts out This Book. This book, that is nearly impossible for me to read, when I have the privilege of a college degree, and other academics who were reading this book with me. This book, that I had to rent, because buying a new hard copy would have been WAY out of my price range. This book, in how it's presented, is the antithesis of accessibility. Only the most privileged would be likely to even come /across/ this book, much less be able to afford it and pinch out any meaning from it. It's absolutely ludicrous and truly hypocrisy at its finest, and the fact that the author doesn't seem to notice makes it hard for me to believe a single word that he says.

What I gather from this book, is that Mr. McRuer had a list of, I don't know, 10 books and movies that he really liked, and wanted to write book reports on, but never got the chance, boo hoo. And so, for our pathetic reading pleasure, he decided to give us full synopses of these books and movies, so that I know more about As Good As It Gets than I do about my own life now. He spent so long giving us an in depth analysis of this movie as well as a handful of others that he seems to have lost the forest for the trees. Because look, I mention that movie in particular because it was at the beginning of the book, where I was still trying /really hard/ to glean whatever I could from the unfamiliar theories being posited in this book. And he brought up good points about the movie's success or lack thereof. The idea of a character being cured of OCD by love is not only ridiculous but harmful. And a stereotype we continued to see in media long after the publishing of this book, like in Glee. But is that something I need to spend nearly an entire intro of a textbook on. NO. IT'S NOT.

This whole thing was a glorified book report at best, rarely giving any /actual/ theory besides whining to us when media said something that he found offensive. Queer Eye said the R slur. Yeah, that freaking sucks. And yeah, the acknowledgement that marginalized groups piggyback on making fun of other marginalized groups is a great observation, super important, but did he actually spend much time delving into that? No. Instead, he spent his pages making fun of how the theme song isn't appropriate. So sorry, Mr. McRuer, it turns out that most songs speak in hyperbole. I'll go have a chat with Los Angeles about it.

And then the epilogue. This guy's like, "hmm, I've spent a whole book theoretically talking about the intersection of queer theory and disability theory (but not actually talking about it) and now I'm gonna tackle illegal immigration. Yeah, I think 10 pages should do the trick!" WHAT? Why??? You didn't NEED to use people who died crossing the border to illustrate your line of "all people become disabled if they live long enough." WE KNOW WHAT IT MEANS. It doesn't NEED names on a sign to become more clear. It's just Mr. McRuer trying to cover way too much and failing because he gets too in the weeds with his fantasy book reports.

What I will acknowledge is that for being written in 2006, most of this ages pretty well. There are a few terms that have definitely changed, but I appreciate the sensitivity with which he attempted to approach these topics. The fact that he was always trying to remind us of intersectionality was great and, I recognize, probably somewhat uncommon for the time.

He tried. He clearly cared and he tried. But he needed some collaborators to reel him in because on his own, this was a whole ass mess.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
42 reviews12 followers
April 7, 2008
Absolutely pivotal in Disability Studies as a discipline. His concept of compulsory able-bodiedness has changed the trajectory of studies on the body. Remarkable.
683 reviews10 followers
February 8, 2018
As a disabled person, a queer person, and a freelance cultural studies scholar, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability, by Robert McRuer is exactly the sort of book you’d expect to find me reading sooner or later. There are many reasons to consider the relationship between crip theory and queer theory, and how they relate to other bodies of theory - feminist studies, race theory among them. Disability and alternative sexualities are situated in the body, they share a history of being pathologised, and seen as states requiring medicalisation, rehabilitation, and isolation. They carry high risks of stigmatisation. They challenge and subvert narratives of normality in a way that gender and race do not. As McRuer notes, “Able-bodiedness, even more than heterosexuality, still largely masquerades as a nonidentity, as the natural order of things.”

The book is structured as a series of essays examining various aspects of disability theory, or “crip theory” with particular attention to how they intersect with queer conceptualisations and experiences. The first chapter focuses on ways of “coming out” and becoming identified as disabled. McRuer points out that self-identification as disabled is something that occurs in opposition to a compulsory ablebodiedness inherent in society, much as coming out as queer occurs in opposition to compulsory heterosexuality.

“In many ways, the system of compulsory able-bodiedness I analyzed in the introduction militates against crip identifications and practices, even as it inevitably generates them. Certainly, disabled activists, artists, and others who have come out crip have done so in response to systemic able-bodied subordination and oppression. Stigmatized in and by a culture that will not or cannot accommodate their presence, crip performers (in several senses of the word and in many different performance venues, from the stage to the street to the conference hall) have proudly and collectively shaped stigmaphilic alternatives in, through, and around that abjection. At the same time, if the constraints of compulsory able-bodiedness push some politicized activists and artists with disabilities to come out crip, those constraints simultaneously keep many other disabled and nondisabled people from doing so.”

The next section of McRuer’s book is titled “Capitalism and Disabled Identity: Sharon Kowalski, Interdependency, and Queer Domesticity” and is centered around the case of Sharon Kowalski and the disability-informed strategies utilised by proponents of same-sex marriage. He argues in particular that “...intracommunity debates over gay marriage and other “normalizing” issues are centrally about disability and disability oppression.”

“...the lesbian and gay emphasis on normalizing issues such as marriage deploys a fundamentally “stigmaphobic” strategy, “where conformity is ensured through fear of stigma” (Trouble with Normal 43). The stigmaphobic strategy is most troubling, for Warner and other queers, because it proscribes larger discussions of social justice and queer cultural generativity. To cite just one crucial example: most of the complaints about lesbian and gay partners not being able to get health insurance through their spouse have not included an acknowledgement of how many people in general don’t have adequate health insurance, let alone a broader critique of the corporate health insurance industry (a critique that was fairly basic to earlier gay liberationist and feminist writing).”

He further discusses ways in which the heterosexual nuclear family, constructed under capitalism as a means of reproduction of (able-bodied) workers, is inimical to disabled domesticity. As a site of (re)production, the disabled are increasingly moved out of the home and into institutions.

As a personal sidenote on this point, when I arrive at a hospital to receive medical care, I am generally assumed to be a transfer patient from a longterm care facility. The idea that I live at home in my condition is not considered. One side effect of this is that ambulance services, which are normally required only in emergency situations by able-bodied people, but which are necessary for me to travel anywhere, are covered by various forms of government or private insurance for disabled people being transferred from institution to institution, but not for me if I travel from home to a medical facility for non-emergency care, a “loophole” which has increasingly placed me in debt. Disability and domesticity are viewed are mutually incompatible and no provision is made for those who insist that it is not.

In the third section of his book, “Noncompliance: The Transformation, Gary Fisher, and the Limits of Rehabilitation,” McRuer starts by discussing the idea of rehabilitation as reflected in the situation of Sharon Kowalski. Where Thompson and Kowalski perceived the possibility of a rehabilitation that involved a return to the home for care, and encompassed the idea of home as a queer and crip space, Kowalski’s parents could only understand rehabilitation as a return to the compulsory state of heterosexual ablebodiedness: “for them, able-bodied/heterosexual normalcy began at home, and if Sharon could not return to such a state of normalcy, then she would have to remain incarcerated in nursing homes.” With this as a starting point, McRuer goes on to “... address disability studies critiques of ideologies of rehabilitation more directly, through consideration of a few texts produced in the normalizing decade after Sharon Kowalski did, in fact, return home to live with Thompson and Patty Bresser.”

The first of these texts is a documentary, The Transformation, which chronicles the intervention of a fundamentalist Christian mission in a community of Black and Latinx transfolk; the film follows the recruitment of Sara, a trans woman, into the ministry and her transformation into Ricardo, showing “...[the] journey from the transgender streets of New York to a housed, married, and Fundamentalist Christian life in Dallas.” The second text is the journals and short stories of black writer Gary Fisher, Gary in Your Pocket: Stories and Notebooks of Gary Fisher, edited and published by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick three years after Fisher’s death from complications of AIDS. McRuer also discusses Audre Lorde’s Cancer Journals.

McRuer presents mainstream concepts of rehabilitation as focused on repairing and removing alterity and recreating homogeneity. It implies that “...the rehabilitative contract (“everyone agrees”), then, essentially stipulates that, in return for integration, no complaints will be made, no suggestions for how the world, and not the disabled body or mind, might be molded differently. No complaints will be made even if the contract in effect relegates disabled people to the margins.”

Rehabilitation becomes a process of normalisation, of demanding that the queer, disabled, damaged, different, degraded self be made normal, or be excluded, institutionalised, outcast. Narratives that bring the subject home, render them as able, acceptable, capable, while remaining a queer and disabled person still are seen as resistant, non-compliant.

The fourth essay in McRuer’s examination of crip theory, “Composing Queerness and Disability: The Corporate Universality and Alternative Corporealities,” is an exploration of composition, corporations, and corporeality:

“Chapters 2 and 3 focused on highly charged institutional and institutionalized sites where cultural signs of queerness and disability appear and where, in many ways, they are made to disappear to shore up dominant forms of domesticity and rehabilitation, respectively. In this chapter, I turn to another institutional site, the contemporary university, where anxieties about disability and queerness are likewise legible. In particular, I extend the critical dialogue on composition and the contemporary university by arguing for alternative, and multiple, corporealities. I contend that recentering our attention on the composing bodies in our classrooms can inaugurate and work to sustain a process of “de-composition”—that is, a process that provides an ongoing critique of both the corporate models into which we, as students and teachers of composition, are interpellated and the concomitant disciplinary compulsion to produce only dis- embodied, efficient writers. Most important, I make the somewhat polemical claim that bringing back in composing bodies means, inevitably, placing queer theory and disability studies at the center of composition theory.”

As McRuer notes, one consequence of compulsory heterosexuality and ablebodiedness is that social and cultural institutions are constantly engaged in a process of composing straight, able bodies capable of production and reproduction within the corporate, capitalist system.The teaching of language usage, of composition, is a part of that process, of creating bodies fit to serve corporate needs through their uniform skills of composition and communication.

The fifth section, “Crip Eye fir the Normate Guy: Queer Theory, Bob Flanagan, and the Disciplining of Disability Studies” begins with a discussion of the politics of how society sees - and represents for others to see - the disabled. Taking the media text Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as a point of departure, McRuer examines the ways in which representations of disability rooted in a model of progress and normalisation fail to serve the disabled but instead support the narrative of compulsory ablebodiedness: “In other words, some things don’t keep getting better; visual rhetorics of disability do not necessarily improve over time, nor do they posit (or construct, instruct, or assure) a disabled viewer.” McRuer offers a counterpoint in the masochistic performance art of Bob Flanagan, who incorporates both bdsm and his cystic fibrosis into his work, to the point if titling one performance piece “Bob Flanagan’s Sick” - suggesting “In a moment of danger and noncompliance, however, “some future person” or collectivity might detect in that sick message the seemingly incomprehensible way to survive, and survive well, at the margins of time, space, and representation (they might, in fact, detect that surviving well can paradoxically mean surviving sick).”

Taken as a whole, McRuer’s book interrogates and challenges assumptions, constructions and representations of disability, showing how disability queers the master cultural narrative if productive, corporatised, consumerist normality. It raises questions, and dies not always offer answers, only new ways of considering the disability identity and its relation to the social structures that surround it. It’s not an easy book, but it is a most thought-provoking one.
Profile Image for Michael.
214 reviews55 followers
March 4, 2009
In Crip Theory (2006), Robert McRuer develops a crip theory, understanding ability to be similar to sexuality, in that both able-bodiedness and heterosexuality are compulsory, both can never fully be achieved. His critique is placed within a neoliberal ideology that sees identity as flexible, in which identity is not fully stigmatized, difference is celebrated (to a degree), and even "normal" folks are allowed flexibility. He explains that this flexibility is often controlled by allowing the queer or disabled subject to appear, for the heterosexual able-bodied person to be slightly queer and disabled, only for an epiphany moment in which the heterosexual, able-bodied subject recovers from crisis and re-enters the heterosexual, able-bodied order; queer and crip subjects then disappear or lose their queerness and cripness. His example is As Good As It Gets (Introduction).
Profile Image for Dwight Davis.
625 reviews33 followers
March 16, 2017
A fascinating work at the intersection of queer theory and disability studies that makes use of a wide range of cultural texts to argue for a more accessible world. McRuer argues that just as compulsory heterosexuality functions as a norm in American society to the exclusion of queer folks, compulsory able-bodiedness also functions as an extension of capital to subjugate the disabled. McRuer both crips queer theory and queers disability studies, offering a view of embodiment that challenges notions of rehabilitation and compliance.
Profile Image for Colin Cox.
444 reviews8 followers
December 15, 2021
Originally published in 2006, Robert McRuer's Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability remains indispensable for its scholarly exploration of able-bodiedness and heteronormativity. For example, in the introduction, McRuer writes, "Able-bodiedness, even more than heterosexuality, still largely masquerades as a nonidentity, as the natural order of things" (1). As this passage suggests, McRuer explores compulsory behaviors and ideas in Crip Theory. Later in the introduction, he writes, "I put forward here a theory of what I call 'compulsory able-bodiedness' and argue that the system of compulsory able-bodiedness, which in a sense produces disability, is thoroughly interwoven with the system of compulsory heterosexuality that produces queerness" (2). McRuer wants to understand how systemic hierarchies, while expressed and exercised differently, have a similar structural bent. That is to say, the structural injunction called compulsory heterosexuality carries the same structural mechanics as compulsory able-bodiedness. The remains me of a wonderful book on race and racism called Race Craft by Barbara J. Fields and Karen E. Fields. In it, they argue against a pearl of conventional wisdom that suggests racism emerged from race to argue the opposite: race as a construct emerged as a justification for racism. Similarly, I would argue, the disabled or "crip" body emerged not from able-bodiedness, but instead, the notion of the abled body emerged as a justification for disabled prejudice. In short, disabled prejudice preceded the construction of the normative body.

It should come as no surprise that McRuer connects hegemonic concepts like compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory able-bodiedness to capitalism. McRuer writes, "in the emergent industrial capitalist system, free to sell one's labor but not free to do anything else effectively meant free to have an able body but not particularly free to have anything else" (8). McRuer continues, "Like compulsory heterosexuality, then, compulsory able-bodiedness functions by covering over, with the appearance of choice, a system in which there actually is no choice" (8). We see the irony of what McRuer suggests in the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, bosses and the capitalist class often scoffed at the idea of alternatives to traditional work environments, such as remote work or hybrid work schedules. Of course, remote work existed before the pandemic, but as the pandemic revealed, moving most, if not all, traditional, computer-based office work remote was not as disruptive as the capitalist class historically suggested it would be. Therefore, the pandemic disclosed what many disabilities scholars have argued for years; the reticence to reimagine work disproportionately affected people with disabilities or "crip" bodies, which simultaneously reaffirmed our system as one "in which there actually is no choice."

But McRuer's articulation of the problems with flexibility, as both a practice and a concept, is when, I argue, he sounds the most psychoanalytic. Whether by accepting someone as queer in the workplace (moments of heteronormative or able-bodied epiphany) or by adapting to scheduling changes, the flexible subject "is successful precisely because he or she can perform wholeness through each recurring crisis" (17). What I like here is McRuer's emphasis on "performative wholeness," which borrows from figures like Judith Butler quite heavily. But when I read "performative wholeness," I think of the big Other. Slavoj Žižek, for example, describes the big Other as "the order of appearances." Similar to how performative wholeness exists for no one, in particular, so too does one perform particular appearances for the big Other. But he extends our understanding of the big Other to suggest the big Other is not simply some controlling symbolic mechanism. Instead, the big Other is an audience for the transgressiveness housed within, in this case, the order of heteronormativity and able-bodiedness. However, since the big Other does not and cannot exist, no one or nothing exists to register this transgressiveness. Therefore, when we perform wholeness, when we behave flexibly in the face of a crisis, no one exists to register the elements of our performative wholeness that are, in fact, not whole.

McRuer's larger point about flexibility matters because it suggests that flexibility, as a concept, is, ironically, flexible, especially as it relates to queer and disabled subjects. He writes, "heterosexual, able-bodied characters...work with queer and disabled minorities, flexibly contracting and expanding, while queer, disabled minorities flexibly comply" (17-18). Therefore, far too often, queerness and disability become part of a hegemonic system instead of offering a challenge to it.

There's more to Crip Theory than I address here. As a piece of scholarship, Crip Theory is a tour de force. I would, however, feel remiss if I did not address McRuer's use of language. Too often, McRuer's prose, perhaps in an attempt to situate itself in a history of dense, syntactically-challenging critical theory (a critical theoretical tradition embodied by figures like Judith Butler), is unnecessarily clumsy while, admittedly, retaining its sophisticated theoretical profundity. Okay, I hope you see what I did there.
Profile Image for Kora Dzbinski.
46 reviews4 followers
January 12, 2023
incredibly, deeply important text for queer crip theory(and my own work in queer mad studies) but it felt like ????? such a chore ??????? 5 stars for content, 3 for engagement, ended up at 4.
Profile Image for gothictrade.
4 reviews6 followers
June 26, 2019
I have some conflicting feelings about this. I remember a month or so ago there was an instagram influender who released a gildan tee with a word or phrase on it and seemed to be surprised that it didn't sell well - despite the effort she put into the photography and model selection. I think the efforts of the styling, photography, and fair payment of models is good. However the lack of sales sparked the conversation.. 'Are you surprised? Did this really need to be made? Are you adding anything new to the market / table?'

I like reading queer theory and I like reading disability theory. So I seeked out a book that seemed to have both / make connections with one another. I recognize the similarity of the two in the sense that society is structured a certain way.. to make things more accessible for how some people function as opposed to how others function. Outliers are definitely both the disabled and the queer community.

I think I would be more interested in an analysis on how it actually matters.. ie how things are set up to make it more difficult / harder to manuever as a queer and or disabled person than just how you can feel a part of the same community in the sense of identity politics.

Also the text was a bit hard to read at some times but maybe thats just the fault of me.

Anyways why its complicated feelings for me is because of the 'did this really need to be made' sense.
1 ) I could have misread and or misunderstood the books intention, and there were parts I didnt read, that could maybe have changed my opinion or point of view on the book and its purpose if I better understood or opened up to it.
2) It is not my place to tell someone that something is unnecessary to create. People have their own reasons for creating their art and writings.
3) Just because this book wasn't meaningful to me doesn't mean it isn't or won't be meaningful to someone else. Someone maybe new to the subject matter and eager to read any information on either / both disability theory and queer theory. Also someone who does strongly identify as both disabled and queer and had similar thoughts or interests as the topics of these books and gets an entertaining or satisfying read out of it because of that.

But also because of what I mentioned above I didn't particularly like it and it isn't for me. And thats okay!
Profile Image for Caspar.
3 reviews3 followers
August 18, 2014
This book had been on my to-read list for at least two years, so I was excited to finally get to read it, but it...didn't quite live up to my expectations. The book attempts to discuss a way of conceptualizing disability theory and disability studies by discussing its similarities with queer theory, often comparing the two and using one as a lens to look at the other. As a queer disabled person, this appealed to me; however, McRuer doesn't really discuss whether he himself is disabled, which kind of leaves me with a weird feeling. Since "crip" and "cripple" are slurs used against (physically) disabled folks, it's inappropriate for able-bodied people to use it.

My biggest complaint with the book, however, is that it was really lacking in terms of a racial component to the analyses. McRuer skirts around the issue occasionally, using some examples of people of color, but primarily cites white authors from the queer theory canon and does not spend nearly enough time expanding his new theoretical basis to include a racial lens, and I fear that that simply perpetuates racist structures within queer and disability theories both. McRuer also neglects to talk about trans people (aside from one oddly placed example from a documentary called The Transformation which focused on a trans woman of color, if I remember correctly) and transmisogyny/cissexism, which seems to me to be a gross oversight. Overall the book was okay, but I wanted way more out of it.
Profile Image for Teresa.
799 reviews6 followers
November 13, 2020
McRuer makes one point: the compulsory nature of able bodiedness. This point was crucial for crip theory but, in the mean time, he reduces his arguments into nothingness and is an excellent case of a man with privilege putting words into the mouths of others who are not speaking for themselves. In several cases, he actually takes on the identities of others by virtue of proximity and in other cases, he gives people identities they seem like they would never have chosen. Coupling a condescending tone with a seeming refusal to admit that he has defined "Crip" in a limited way made this almost intolerable.
Profile Image for áine.
9 reviews
January 4, 2023
I honestly feel like I shouldn't have forced myself to finish this because I feel as though I am taking away very little from this book. I don't think McRuer's arguments were clear, cohesive or expanded upon very well, a lot of ink was wasted on things like detailing the entire synopsis of a film and other filler. The actual relevant points could have been edited down into a single essay of like 10/20 pages. The language at times is difficult to interpret and when you finally do decipher it, it really wasn't worth the effort.
Profile Image for R.J. Gilmour.
Author 2 books11 followers
May 12, 2015
Every once and awhile a book comes along that affects the way you see the world. McTuer's Crip Theory is one of those books. Looking at the intersection between queer theory and disability studies McRuer maps a way for crip theory to develop. The range of resources he incorporates and the cultural instances he uses as a forum for analysis make this an important book for anyone interested in disability studies. I cannot remember the last time I was so excited by a work of theory.

"Compulsory heterosexuality is intertwined with compulsory ablebodiedness; both systems work to (re)produce the able body and heterosexuality. But precisely because these systems depend on a queer/disabled existence that can never be quite be contained, able-bodied heterosexuality's hegemony is always in danger of collapse." 31

"In many ways, the late queer theorist Gloria Anzaldua serves as a model for me in this risky project-in the context of this chapter she might be identified as the late crip theorist who was always adept at noting both how various progressive movements were congruent and how difficult it could be, nonetheless, to bride the gaps between them. From one queer historical perspective, it is fortuitous that Anzaldua writes, in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, that "we are the queer groups, the people that don't belong anywhere, not in the dominant world nor completely within our own respective cultures. Combined we cover so many oppressions. But the overwhelming oppression is the collective fact that we do not fit, and because we do not fit we are a threat" (La Prieta, 209)." 37

"The squint-eyed, the perverse, the half dead: in short, those who cross over, pass over, or go through the confines of the 'normal'" (Borderlands/La Frontera, 3)" 39

"As Cindy Patton suggests, rather than never talking in private (the U.S. heterosexual model), gay men in North America and Europe committed to an "emancipatory model" continually talked and debated safer sex in public and thus did not need to grill our partners, however multiple, in private (indeed, when the private grilling didn't happen it on some level marked one's political commitment to communal solidarity)(Fatal Advice 108-111; Inventing AIDS, 46-49). These commitments (to safer practices and to textured, public conversations about sex) validated that the variety of life-affirming cultural forms and relations we had generated outside compulsory heterosexuality, and outside the couple form, would remain viable." 55-56

"The image of the Good Gay," he writes, "is never invoked without its shadow in mind-The Bad Queer, the kind who has sex, who talks about, and who builds with other queers a way of life that ordinary folk do not understand or control." (114-Micheal Warner) 82

"In Talmadge Wright's study of inner-city homelessness, to be out of place entails "risking inspection by others, having one's identity defined by others as suspect, as 'deviant', or 'criminal,' or as just 'sick.' Homeless bodies, poor bodies, visible to passerby, visible to the streets, are open to the public's gaze, to the gaze of authority." 118

"One paradox facing (and shaping) the queer public intellectual, however, is that she or he so often speaks or writes about challenges to authoritative systems like heteronormativity from authorized, and heteronormative, spaces (often, but by no means always, the small space for authoritative queer speech that has been forged, or granted, within the academy)." 132

"As queer and disability studies have repeatedly shown, the bourgeoise culture of the past few centuries has only become more obsessed with the composed, self-possessed, "norma" subject, properly located in a hierarchical social order." 153

"The immense popularity of the shows [freak shows] between the Jacksonian and Progressive Eras suggests that the onlookers needed to constantly reaffirm the difference between 'them' and 'us' at a time when immigration, emancipation of the slaves, and female suffrage confounded previously reliable physical indices of status and privilege such as maleness and Western European features (Extraordinary Bodies)." 192-193
Profile Image for Brenden O'Donnell.
100 reviews2 followers
June 10, 2016
McRuer queers the popular disability studies notion that "disabled" is the one identity category that, sooner or later, we'll all own: he adds the idea that, sooner or later, any body can become normate (or, the figure by which we define normative). As a consequence, he introduces a method for looking for crips, or cripping a text, so that we do not only, per disability studies, see disability more clearly, in context, but also, disability becomes desirable and politically potent.
Profile Image for Marianela.
166 reviews2 followers
August 10, 2021
Signos culturales de lo queer y de la discapacidad todo bien. Fecha de publicación 2006, no entiendo porque se reedita algo q esta hiper desactualizado. Mi culpa obviamente solo leere cosas actuales. El epílogo sin embargo me encantó sobre cuerpos globales.
Profile Image for Kev.
79 reviews
April 19, 2023
Second time reading this. I don't very often re-read things. This is one of those books that had a real impact on me when I first read it, 5 or 6 years ago.

McRuer is a lovely writer. Generous and witty and incisive - the politics of this book are clearly on the left-er side of things and McRuer is very much inviting the reader in a compelling way.

The correlation between crip and queer identities is clearly laid out - McRuer is clear to not overstep and collapse boundaries between 'crip' and 'queer' but he is also keen to identify the senses in which the two groups share intentions and outcomes. There's plenty of criticism of (eg) conspicuous consumption, the ways in which cultural artefacts like 'Queer eye for the straight guy' carry ablist narratives in the process of 'normalising' gay identities.

It's maybe a bit of a post-Tumblr cliche to talk about 'normalising' things so it's lovely to read McRuer enthusiastically exploding the idea that normalisation can have a deleterious effect on certain groups - sentiments "we're all a bit queer" or "we're all a bit crip" elide the sense in which specific people have specific needs and wants. A discussion on how crip / queer / BDSM identities subvert ideas of 'good' and 'deserving' crip by investing figures with humanity rather than eternal subjects of pity.

It's a book that comes from an academic world and there's a sense that the citations - Derrida, Butler, Foucault etc - are definitely from that world. But it's by no means overbearing and far from being an insular academic work - it's lovely and plain and clearly-written in such a way that I'd quite happily give it to most people. I did, in fact, buy a second copy because my first one disappeared after having given it to someone and I suspect this second copy will have a similar fate of me excitedly giving it to someone else.

Since reading it first time I've read a few more books in the disability theory area and they're usually enlightening, as well as covering similar territory - all of them enthusiastically citing Audre Lorde's Cancer Journals which I'd agree is a strong necessity. Crip Theory has panache and a kind of *coolness* too it that's unlike much disability theory - it's a kind of cocksure, swaggering kind of book in a gentle and kind way.

Can't recommend it highly enough, honestly.
Profile Image for Aspen Mixon.
5 reviews
December 27, 2022
I really liked what I learned from this book, bit it was very difficult to read. It's complex topics, but I feel like it could have been written in a more accessible way for people outside academia. I personally am a college senior studying rhetoric and still found it difficult to get through and comprehend at times, so for folks who haven't had the luxury of as much education this may be too inaccessible.
Profile Image for carmen.
58 reviews1 follower
October 21, 2022
Puxéralle 4 estrelas pero en retrospectiva este libro no seu momento radicalizoume e fíxome procesar certas cousas así que agora lévase 5 por #impacto.
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.