Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'

    Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingBidrag til bog/antologiForskningpeer review

    Resumé

    Patriarchal societies in the West have assumed that to be human is to be a man, to be a man is to be strong and able, and to be able is to have a culturally 'normal' yet impervious body. Feminists have assailed the first two assumptions, but how does the disabled man fit in to the remainder of this ableist logic? For too long we have made discriminatory and oppressive assumptions about the male body which many men cannot live up to, for example, if they become chronically ill or are born with an impairment (Sabo & Gordon, 1995, pp. 10-11). Davis (1995, pp. 158) argues that these assumptions of normalcy continue their hegemony even in progressive areas such as cultural studies. Disabled bodies are not permitted to participate in the erotics of power nor in economies of transgression. Thus, we need to investigate how a hegemonic notion of masculinity informs and interacts with cultural notions of disability. With such an understanding we may be better able to cope with men's dire behaviour when they are confronted with illness and a dis-eased body, whether it is their own or another's. My particular focus in this paper is on the relations between men when one or more is 'disabled'. Unfortunately, these relations are often pervasively violent, insidious and subordinating, with the result that men dis-able other men. In order to explore the everyday assumptions of male ability in Western culture, which conceal dis/ability and the 'failures' of masculinity, I examine one example of autobiographical comics, a 'genre' in which comics creators tell their life narratives . Autobiographical comics give insights into the cultural narratives and discourses which bound and limit the construction of the visible self. Written and oral life narratives have been used in men's studies research to document men's experiences and practices (for example, Jackson 1990; Seidler, 1991 and Connell, 1995), as well as in disability research to bring forth the patient's perspective on illness and impairment (for example, Shakespeare et al., 1996; Monks & Frankenberg, 1995; Gershick & Miller 1995; Charmaz 1995). A focus on representations of men and disability in autobiographical comics adds to these growing literatures. Autobiographical comics creators use a unique graphic medium (both visual and textual) to narrate and construct a life story. Although such creators are few in number , there are several who have told of the effects of an impairment on their lives and their relations with others. One creator, Al Davison, is of particular interest because he narrates in subtle ways his foundational search for identity and purpose — going against the grain of hegemonic masculinity — on the margins of an ableist, patriarchal society . Al Davison was born with severe spina bifida in 1960 in northern England, and his comic book called The Spiral Cage (SC) relates in a rich graphic style the trials and joys of growing up 'disabled' in English society. It was first published in the USA in 1988 by Renegade Press . I will mainly concentrate on the longer and less chronological second version published by Titan in 1990. The jacket copy of the 1990 edition reads: "Doctors considered him a hopeless case, condemned for life to the inescapable 'spiral cage' of his own DNA. But they reckoned without the fighting spirit of Al and his parents, and this book movingly portrays in Al’s own words and pictures his struggles to overcome his 'disability' and the prejudice that surrounds it. A true story of one man’s coming to terms with his physical, artistic and spiritual potential, that will move you to laughter and tears." In his sometimes distressing autobiography we have a chance to observe the self-representation and visualisation of the fragmented and abject male body in relation to other men and a dis-abling society and body politics.
    OriginalsprogEngelsk
    TitelBending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities
    RedaktørerSøren Ervø, Thomas Johansson
    Antal sider21
    Vol/bind2
    Udgivelses stedAldershot, Hants
    ForlagAshgate
    Publikationsdato2003
    Sider238-258
    ISBN (Trykt)1840148039
    StatusUdgivet - 2003

    Fingerprint

    Masculinity
    Spiral
    Cage
    Autobiography
    Creator
    Impairment
    Illness
    Patriarchal Society
    Male Body
    Prejudice
    Comic Books
    English Society
    Visualization
    Tears
    Normalcy
    Monks
    Jacket
    Discourse
    Northern England
    Visible

    Citer dette

    McIlvenny, P. (2003). Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'. I S. Ervø, & T. Johansson (red.), Bending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities (Bind 2, s. 238-258). Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate.
    McIlvenny, Paul. / Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'. Bending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities. red. / Søren Ervø ; Thomas Johansson. Bind 2 Aldershot, Hants : Ashgate, 2003. s. 238-258
    @inbook{3aefb3309ad511dab409000ea68e967b,
    title = "Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'",
    abstract = "Patriarchal societies in the West have assumed that to be human is to be a man, to be a man is to be strong and able, and to be able is to have a culturally 'normal' yet impervious body. Feminists have assailed the first two assumptions, but how does the disabled man fit in to the remainder of this ableist logic? For too long we have made discriminatory and oppressive assumptions about the male body which many men cannot live up to, for example, if they become chronically ill or are born with an impairment (Sabo & Gordon, 1995, pp. 10-11). Davis (1995, pp. 158) argues that these assumptions of normalcy continue their hegemony even in progressive areas such as cultural studies. Disabled bodies are not permitted to participate in the erotics of power nor in economies of transgression. Thus, we need to investigate how a hegemonic notion of masculinity informs and interacts with cultural notions of disability. With such an understanding we may be better able to cope with men's dire behaviour when they are confronted with illness and a dis-eased body, whether it is their own or another's. My particular focus in this paper is on the relations between men when one or more is 'disabled'. Unfortunately, these relations are often pervasively violent, insidious and subordinating, with the result that men dis-able other men. In order to explore the everyday assumptions of male ability in Western culture, which conceal dis/ability and the 'failures' of masculinity, I examine one example of autobiographical comics, a 'genre' in which comics creators tell their life narratives . Autobiographical comics give insights into the cultural narratives and discourses which bound and limit the construction of the visible self. Written and oral life narratives have been used in men's studies research to document men's experiences and practices (for example, Jackson 1990; Seidler, 1991 and Connell, 1995), as well as in disability research to bring forth the patient's perspective on illness and impairment (for example, Shakespeare et al., 1996; Monks & Frankenberg, 1995; Gershick & Miller 1995; Charmaz 1995). A focus on representations of men and disability in autobiographical comics adds to these growing literatures. Autobiographical comics creators use a unique graphic medium (both visual and textual) to narrate and construct a life story. Although such creators are few in number , there are several who have told of the effects of an impairment on their lives and their relations with others. One creator, Al Davison, is of particular interest because he narrates in subtle ways his foundational search for identity and purpose — going against the grain of hegemonic masculinity — on the margins of an ableist, patriarchal society . Al Davison was born with severe spina bifida in 1960 in northern England, and his comic book called The Spiral Cage (SC) relates in a rich graphic style the trials and joys of growing up 'disabled' in English society. It was first published in the USA in 1988 by Renegade Press . I will mainly concentrate on the longer and less chronological second version published by Titan in 1990. The jacket copy of the 1990 edition reads: {"}Doctors considered him a hopeless case, condemned for life to the inescapable 'spiral cage' of his own DNA. But they reckoned without the fighting spirit of Al and his parents, and this book movingly portrays in Al’s own words and pictures his struggles to overcome his 'disability' and the prejudice that surrounds it. A true story of one man’s coming to terms with his physical, artistic and spiritual potential, that will move you to laughter and tears.{"} In his sometimes distressing autobiography we have a chance to observe the self-representation and visualisation of the fragmented and abject male body in relation to other men and a dis-abling society and body politics.",
    keywords = "disability, graphic novels, comic books, autobiography, masculinity, gender",
    author = "Paul McIlvenny",
    year = "2003",
    language = "English",
    isbn = "1840148039",
    volume = "2",
    pages = "238--258",
    editor = "S{\o}ren Erv{\o} and Thomas Johansson",
    booktitle = "Bending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities",
    publisher = "Ashgate",

    }

    McIlvenny, P 2003, Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'. i S Ervø & T Johansson (red), Bending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities. bind 2, Ashgate, Aldershot, Hants, s. 238-258.

    Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'. / McIlvenny, Paul.

    Bending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities. red. / Søren Ervø; Thomas Johansson. Bind 2 Aldershot, Hants : Ashgate, 2003. s. 238-258.

    Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingBidrag til bog/antologiForskningpeer review

    TY - CHAP

    T1 - Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'

    AU - McIlvenny, Paul

    PY - 2003

    Y1 - 2003

    N2 - Patriarchal societies in the West have assumed that to be human is to be a man, to be a man is to be strong and able, and to be able is to have a culturally 'normal' yet impervious body. Feminists have assailed the first two assumptions, but how does the disabled man fit in to the remainder of this ableist logic? For too long we have made discriminatory and oppressive assumptions about the male body which many men cannot live up to, for example, if they become chronically ill or are born with an impairment (Sabo & Gordon, 1995, pp. 10-11). Davis (1995, pp. 158) argues that these assumptions of normalcy continue their hegemony even in progressive areas such as cultural studies. Disabled bodies are not permitted to participate in the erotics of power nor in economies of transgression. Thus, we need to investigate how a hegemonic notion of masculinity informs and interacts with cultural notions of disability. With such an understanding we may be better able to cope with men's dire behaviour when they are confronted with illness and a dis-eased body, whether it is their own or another's. My particular focus in this paper is on the relations between men when one or more is 'disabled'. Unfortunately, these relations are often pervasively violent, insidious and subordinating, with the result that men dis-able other men. In order to explore the everyday assumptions of male ability in Western culture, which conceal dis/ability and the 'failures' of masculinity, I examine one example of autobiographical comics, a 'genre' in which comics creators tell their life narratives . Autobiographical comics give insights into the cultural narratives and discourses which bound and limit the construction of the visible self. Written and oral life narratives have been used in men's studies research to document men's experiences and practices (for example, Jackson 1990; Seidler, 1991 and Connell, 1995), as well as in disability research to bring forth the patient's perspective on illness and impairment (for example, Shakespeare et al., 1996; Monks & Frankenberg, 1995; Gershick & Miller 1995; Charmaz 1995). A focus on representations of men and disability in autobiographical comics adds to these growing literatures. Autobiographical comics creators use a unique graphic medium (both visual and textual) to narrate and construct a life story. Although such creators are few in number , there are several who have told of the effects of an impairment on their lives and their relations with others. One creator, Al Davison, is of particular interest because he narrates in subtle ways his foundational search for identity and purpose — going against the grain of hegemonic masculinity — on the margins of an ableist, patriarchal society . Al Davison was born with severe spina bifida in 1960 in northern England, and his comic book called The Spiral Cage (SC) relates in a rich graphic style the trials and joys of growing up 'disabled' in English society. It was first published in the USA in 1988 by Renegade Press . I will mainly concentrate on the longer and less chronological second version published by Titan in 1990. The jacket copy of the 1990 edition reads: "Doctors considered him a hopeless case, condemned for life to the inescapable 'spiral cage' of his own DNA. But they reckoned without the fighting spirit of Al and his parents, and this book movingly portrays in Al’s own words and pictures his struggles to overcome his 'disability' and the prejudice that surrounds it. A true story of one man’s coming to terms with his physical, artistic and spiritual potential, that will move you to laughter and tears." In his sometimes distressing autobiography we have a chance to observe the self-representation and visualisation of the fragmented and abject male body in relation to other men and a dis-abling society and body politics.

    AB - Patriarchal societies in the West have assumed that to be human is to be a man, to be a man is to be strong and able, and to be able is to have a culturally 'normal' yet impervious body. Feminists have assailed the first two assumptions, but how does the disabled man fit in to the remainder of this ableist logic? For too long we have made discriminatory and oppressive assumptions about the male body which many men cannot live up to, for example, if they become chronically ill or are born with an impairment (Sabo & Gordon, 1995, pp. 10-11). Davis (1995, pp. 158) argues that these assumptions of normalcy continue their hegemony even in progressive areas such as cultural studies. Disabled bodies are not permitted to participate in the erotics of power nor in economies of transgression. Thus, we need to investigate how a hegemonic notion of masculinity informs and interacts with cultural notions of disability. With such an understanding we may be better able to cope with men's dire behaviour when they are confronted with illness and a dis-eased body, whether it is their own or another's. My particular focus in this paper is on the relations between men when one or more is 'disabled'. Unfortunately, these relations are often pervasively violent, insidious and subordinating, with the result that men dis-able other men. In order to explore the everyday assumptions of male ability in Western culture, which conceal dis/ability and the 'failures' of masculinity, I examine one example of autobiographical comics, a 'genre' in which comics creators tell their life narratives . Autobiographical comics give insights into the cultural narratives and discourses which bound and limit the construction of the visible self. Written and oral life narratives have been used in men's studies research to document men's experiences and practices (for example, Jackson 1990; Seidler, 1991 and Connell, 1995), as well as in disability research to bring forth the patient's perspective on illness and impairment (for example, Shakespeare et al., 1996; Monks & Frankenberg, 1995; Gershick & Miller 1995; Charmaz 1995). A focus on representations of men and disability in autobiographical comics adds to these growing literatures. Autobiographical comics creators use a unique graphic medium (both visual and textual) to narrate and construct a life story. Although such creators are few in number , there are several who have told of the effects of an impairment on their lives and their relations with others. One creator, Al Davison, is of particular interest because he narrates in subtle ways his foundational search for identity and purpose — going against the grain of hegemonic masculinity — on the margins of an ableist, patriarchal society . Al Davison was born with severe spina bifida in 1960 in northern England, and his comic book called The Spiral Cage (SC) relates in a rich graphic style the trials and joys of growing up 'disabled' in English society. It was first published in the USA in 1988 by Renegade Press . I will mainly concentrate on the longer and less chronological second version published by Titan in 1990. The jacket copy of the 1990 edition reads: "Doctors considered him a hopeless case, condemned for life to the inescapable 'spiral cage' of his own DNA. But they reckoned without the fighting spirit of Al and his parents, and this book movingly portrays in Al’s own words and pictures his struggles to overcome his 'disability' and the prejudice that surrounds it. A true story of one man’s coming to terms with his physical, artistic and spiritual potential, that will move you to laughter and tears." In his sometimes distressing autobiography we have a chance to observe the self-representation and visualisation of the fragmented and abject male body in relation to other men and a dis-abling society and body politics.

    KW - disability

    KW - graphic novels

    KW - comic books

    KW - autobiography

    KW - masculinity

    KW - gender

    M3 - Book chapter

    SN - 1840148039

    VL - 2

    SP - 238

    EP - 258

    BT - Bending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities

    A2 - Ervø, Søren

    A2 - Johansson, Thomas

    PB - Ashgate

    CY - Aldershot, Hants

    ER -

    McIlvenny P. Disabling Men: Masculinity and Disability in Al Davison’s Graphic Autobiography, 'The Spiral Cage'. I Ervø S, Johansson T, red., Bending Bodies: Moulding Masculinities. Bind 2. Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate. 2003. s. 238-258