“If they’re going to stare, at least i’ll give them a good reason to”: Blind women’s visibility, invisibility, and encounters with the gaze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article focuses on blind women’s negotiation of their hypervisibility and invisibility and on their encounters with the gaze as blind and as women. Based on interviews with blind women in Israel, the essay employs the anthropological methodology of life history or life story narrative, focusing on three women’s narratives and providing a close reading of blind women’s experience of the visual. Addressing the ways blind women verbalize their seemingly panoptic condition of living in a state of permanent, heightened visibility absent the ability to return the gaze, I argue for blind women’s awareness of and active responses to the gaze, analyzing the ways they do not simply serve as passive spectacles but rather talk (or stare) back at the gaze they encounter, manipulating what Rosemarie Garland-Thomson terms “staring relations.” Presenting the complexities inherent in the intersections of gender, disability, and the visual field, the essay integrates the scholarships of feminist disability studies and feminist analysis of the gaze, offering an opportunity to examine the similarities and differences between the terms “gaze” and “staring,” contemplating visuality as a human condition, and enriching what Lois McNay calls the “theory of agency.”

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)409-432
Number of pages24
JournalSigns
Volume41
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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