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Maternity Rolls: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability.





Fernwood Books


Heather Kuttai masterfully brings the personal and the political together in her book Maternity Rolls: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability. This exploration of a life lived outside able-bodied norms combines critical social theory with the intensive self-reflexive methodologies of auto-ethnography to explain the myriad ways socio-cultural forces shape individual life trajectories and biographies.

Kuttai's discussion of gender and disability is particularly poignant. Through vividly recollected memories of her childhood and adolescence, Kuttai shows that despite creative and sometimes humorous acts of resistance, ablist assumptions amounting to degrading representations of her as asexual and unlovable deeply marked her own sense of self, her relationship to others and her visions of the future.

"I made steps towards realizing my own intrinsic worth as a sexual person, but in the end I did not realize how much I had internalized the notion that to live with a disability is to live without sexuality, until I became pregnant for the first time. It was then that my sexuality could no longer be denied by anyone; not even me," she writes.

As readers follow Kuttai in an exploration of her most intimate moments--from get ting her first bra to sharing a kiss with her husband-to-be at a high school dance, to giving birth to two children--they learn about what it means to live in a social world that has no tools for imagining persons with disabilities as dynamic agents with hopes, dreams and complex inner lives.

Maternity Rollsis offered as a corrective to this imaginative gap. "While I wrote," explains Kuttai, "I kept the hope that by telling this story of disability I was putting a face to disability issues, illuminating the social oppression that exists for people with disabilities, offering solutions to those problems and presenting another way of thinking and acting," she explains.

On all accounts, she is successful. For this reason, Maternity Rolls gets a high score in my books. For Kuttai, a three-time Paralympic medalist who is now championing the martial art of critical disability studies and disability-rights activism, I imagine no less will do.

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Author:Pineda, Carolina
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2011
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