Barile sick of mistreatment

Tuesday, October 28, 2003 @10:56PM (The Link, Concordia University Newspaper)
by Caroline Fernandez

Maria Barile is sick of how women with disabilities are being treated by society.

Barile spoke at Concordia on Thursday about how the government classifies disabled women and makes
them subordinates. They are barred from becoming stronger, more equal members of the work force.

Barile covered the flaws in feminist theory and how feminism works
against women with disabilities. Women with disabilities are treated like the weaker part
of womanhood. “In women’s studies,” Barile said, “we need to look at perhaps revamping
the way bodies are looked at, in terms of capitalism.”

She quoted author Rosemary Thompson, who furthered this idea by
stating that “disability is a reading of body peculiarities—of social power relations—[an]
attribution of corporal deviance, not so much a property of bodies as a product
of cultural rules about what bodies should be or do.”

Playing on this idea, Barile focused on letting people with
disabilities into society. Not all women with disabilities would be capable of every
action, but with the right equipment and assistance, they would have more access to
what is available.

Right now, “biology determines our destiny—what we can and cannot do,”
Barile said, adding that many more steps will be possible if the perception of
disabilities is altered. She suggests that men and women start using the lifts available
for wheelchairs on buses to carry their baby carriages as well.

Barile has noticed that it is mainly in Quebec that women with disabilities have little
access to everything. She asked why protests aren’t made accessible to the disabled
here, and dryly commented on how the people with disabilities are made to feel like
Tiny Tim from the Christmas tale of Scrooge; in need of sympathy and depressing
expressions. Barile makes the distressing but true statement that, “you’re
no longer a person [when disabled].”

The government, according to Barile, doesn’t see the point in helping people with
disabilities retain equality. She mentioned how “it has made it impossible to obtain things
such as hearing aids because it is not normal to have work-why do you need to hear to get

Barile is a co-director at Dawson College for a research project in the psychology
department. She is also on the board of founders for the Association des Femmes du