Crip Theory – McRuer

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York: New York University Press, 2006. Print.

In Crip Theory, Robert McRuer uses queer studies as a springboard for a comparative theory of disability. McRuer begins the text with an introduction that establishes the parallels between queer and crip theories. McRuer analyzes the ways othered bodies (both queer and disabled) have been made visible in order to keep heterosexual able-bodies invisible and removed from the realm of direct critique, to be “unspecified and disembodied” (1).  Just as heterosexuality masquerades as the norm or the “nonidentity” that needs no specification, so too – and even more so, according to McRuer – does “able-bodiedness…. masquerade as…the natural order of things” (1).  By contrast, able-bodiedness sets up disability (of which homosexuality is a part) as its visible other and, “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). In Chapter 1, McRuer argues that goals and usages of critical queer and crip theories are to show (or to queer/crip) how compulsory able-bodiedness is not an ideal and to examine bodies and desires outside the realm of restricting able-bodiedness (33). In Chapter 2, McRuer addresses queer critiques of marriage and domesticity to show how “debates over gay marriage and other ‘normalizing’ issues are centrally about disability and disability oppressions” (80).  McRuer is keen to point out the debates about gay marriage both help and hinder disability. Queer critique that seeks to normalize gay marriage or to relocate it into the “able-bodied” sphere necessarily harms conceptions of disability (86). Instead, McRuer suggests approaches similar to those of Judith Butler, which would continually disavow such norms through the perpetuation of them. In Chapter 4, McRuer analyzes the practice and production of composition theory as a pedagogical lens through which to think about disables bodies, spaces, and practices. Rather than, as he presently argues we do, teaching composition in ways the privilege the product over the process, McRuer suggests a “loss of composure” in composition focuses on “cycles of repetition” and embraces the de-composition and disorder” that are present in all composition classrooms to begin with (154). In other words, McRuer suggests a switch in focus: “If the fetishized finish product in the composition classroom has affinities with the composed heterosexual or able-bodied self, I would argue that the composing body, in contrast, is in some ways inevitable queer/disabled” (156).

Though the arguments made by McRuer in each chapter are useful, I personally found his thoughts on the composition classroom most advantageous, and not only because of my background in teaching composition courses. The concepts laid out in Chapter 4, are far more broadly applicable than just within the composition classroom space. I would argue that these same concepts could be translated into any sphere in which an individual could be said to be “composing” themselves, their thoughts, their bodies, their spaces. All of these issues have a clear applicability to games as well given that games, much like the composition classroom, fetishize the finished product.

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