This post isn’t about anything nice, and definitely not about anything sexy.
But, we need to talk about eugenics.
Eugenics isn’t just that horrid thing that happened a long, long time ago in the Holocaust of World War II.
Well, it started a long time ago, and has shown up in one form or another all over the world – but there’s pretty convincing evidence that the Nazis got the idea from us – us being power-hungry people in the United States. I mean, they probably would have come up with it on their own, but we gave them the blueprint.
We basically showed them how to do it. A bunch of U.S. lawmakers and medical administrators worked federal law in their favour, trying over and over until they found a way to make sterilizing people against their will legal, and easy.
If you want to know more, key “Supreme Court Buck V Bell” into any search engine. Or, read this amazingly well-researched, fascinating, horrifying book: Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck.
I’ve got my nerdy, vaguely ironic voice out because this stuff is freaking terrifying and is heart-breaking enough that I want to hold it at mental arm’s length. But I can’t. There aren’t yet enough people who know this history. As I wrote about here, even the sweepingly broad, powerful, far-reaching work of reproductive justice is missing vital pieces of this history.
And, there aren’t yet enough people who know that acts of eugenics, especially unconsented sterilization of disabled people, are still happening.
Why am I talking about this here? How does this relate to sexuality? When we know, for those of us who do know, about eugenics, about forced sterilizations, about the effort to make us not exist and the belief that we shouldn’t exist – for those of us who know all these things – it messes with how we view our own bodies, how we relate to others (including potential lovers), and how we connect to ourselves. It impacts the trust we have in the healthcare system, the way we approach reproductive choices, the way we approach parenting, or the decisions we make about whether to find help from social or healthcare services are keep going it on our own because the potential for judgment, the potential for being seen as less than human, is just too great.
Disabilities advocate Sassy Outwater puts it this way: “That idea
that someone could willfully prevent my body from having children just because I was disabled, even if it was only a historical thing, and is over now…
that never left my mind as I grew up.” Read the rest of this important commentary here and the post the inspired her thoughts.