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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Luck, Jessica


Because of ableist attitudes and misconceptions, many people feel great discomfort with conversations concerning sex and disability, preferring to stay silent when discussing such "taboo" subjects. In order to challenge such attitudes, the disabled community has used several mediums to bring attention to these issues, advocating for a broader understanding of disabled women's sexuality. This essay closely analyzes how conversations on sex and disability are emerging within contemporary disability poetry. It looks at poetry written by Jillian Weise, Constance Merritt, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, exploring how these poets candidly discuss disability, sex, desire, and embodiment. These authors celebrate non-normative bodies and share their experiences living with a disability, while challenging problematic assumptions. As such, the poetry analyzed here addresses a variety of issues that emerge due to ableist attitudes. For example, they disrupt misconceptions and stigmas that frame disabled women as asexual. Also, they explore sexual identity at the intersections of disability and other identity categories. As authentic portrayals of disabled women's bodies and sexual desires, these poems serve as powerful forms of activism because of the work they do to reshape representations of disabled women's sexuality.