In different ways each uses rights to help reconstruct gendered elements of a

In different ways each uses rights to help

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active, even aggressive, male identity. In different ways, each uses rights to help reconstruct gendered elements of a self that has been rendered ambiguous by disability. Jill Golding, whose life story is one of the first recounted in this book, now believes that she is both competent and cared for as an adult woman. Earlier in her life, her self-concept was quite different. The effects of Jill's undiagnosed learning disability explain her poor performance in primary and secondary school and, later, in college. Her mother and teachers, who did not suspect the existence of her learning disability, thought Jill was lazy and were highly critical of her. Their perceptions had a devastating impact on her identity, and even later in life, after diagnosis of her disability and successful completion of her training as a nurse, these perceptions have a lingering influence on her self-concept. Following graduation from high school, Jill pursued her dream of becoming a health care professional. Her still undiagnosed disability, compounded by low self-esteem and an abusive marriage, led to failure in her first attempt to complete college. Entering therapy marked a turn- ing point for Jill, and her identity underwent a radical transformation. As she gained self-confidence, she reentered college, and her disability was diagnosed soon afterward. Her transformed identity enabled her to complete her professional training and to begin a successful career as a nurse. As her identity changed and her life altered course, Jill Golding em- braced rights. Jill's career in health care builds on values and skills she
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232 Six first learned from her nurse-mother and a school nurse who was her protector during her difficult school years. Jill, now a nurse herself and happily remarried, makes a strong connection between rights and the ethic of care that has guided her to her chosen profession. In her view, her right to accommodations for her disability requires her employer to care for her and to meet her individual needs in the same way she cares for each of her patients. She believes that if she had been offered the accommodations to which she was legally entitled as a girl in school, her childhood would have been transformed. Jill's understanding of rights, unique among our interviewees, is that they reinforce, and even create, caring relationships. Although Jill does not discuss the relationship between rights and gender, it is apparent that she considers rights to be closely related to a gendered concept of caring. For Jill, her own caring for patients as a nurse is associated with the caring she should have received from her mother during childhood and the caring she now exchanges with a loving and supportive hus- band. Far from feeling restricted by her participation in an occupation that is often stereotypically associated with women workers, Jill em- braces nursing because it is associated with values that have shaped her identity as a successful adult and as a woman. She experiences no con- flict between either the
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