Living the Edges: A Disabled Woman’s Reader


edited by Diane Driedger

Print: 978-1-926708-17-1 – $29.95
Accessible ePUB: 978-1-926708-32-4 – $12.99
PDF: 978-1-771330-15-2 – $12.99
364 Pages
November 01, 2010

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This important and ground-breaking collection brings together the diverse voices of women with various disabilities, both physical and mental. Here, Canadian women speak frankly about the societal barriers they encounter in their everyday lives due to social attitudes and physical and systemic inaccessibility. They bring to light the discrimination they experience through sexism, because they are women, and through ableism, because they have disabilities. For them, the personal is definitely political. While society traditionally views having a disability as “weakness” and that women are the “weaker” sex, this collection points to the strength, persistence, and resilience of disabled women living the edges.

Living the Edges: A Disabled Women’s Reader reaches the core of every disabled woman’s experience and helps us understand the culture and politics of being a disabled woman. Finally, the voices, the stories, of women with disabilities are being heard! This book takes us on an extraordinary journey of pain and powerlessness but, more importantly, strength, endurance and hope.”
—Emily Ternette, Chairperson, DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Manitoba

“I heard the voices of my sisters—some new, some old, all engaging—as I read living the edges: a disabled women’s reader It reignited my passion for our stories. What a gift! Diane Driedger has worked magic. This book is a must read for anyone searching for a deeper understanding of all women’s issues. ”
—Pat Danforth, Founding Member, DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada



Diane Driedger has written extensively about the issues of women and people with disabilities over the past 30 years. Her book The Last Civil Rights Movement: Disabled Peoples’ International was published in 1989. She has co-edited two international anthologies by disabled women and, most recently, co-edited with Michelle Owen, Dissonant Disabilities: Women with Chronic Illnesses Explore Their Lives (2008). Diane is an educator, administrator, activist, a visual artist and poet, and holds a Ph.D. in Education. She lives in Winnipeg.

To review individual chapters please click on the name linked below:


Diane Driedger

I. Who We Are on the Edges

Must Disability Always Be Visible? The Meaning of Disability for Women
Sharon Dale Stone

A Longer Journey of Reflexivity: Becoming a Domesticated Academic
Laura Hockman

“Self-Portrait with Bandaged Breast (After Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear)”
Diane Driedger 

Diane Driedger

Medication Reaction
Diane Driedger

Diane Driedger 

Living on the Edges
Charlotte Caron and Gail Christy 

Cry Not Crazy Lady
Marie Annharte Baker

“Post-Kelly Re: Constructed Reality”
Kelly-Jo Dorvault 

Arthritic Dreams ii
Renee Norman

Feminism, Disability and Transcendence of the Body
Susan Wendell

“Untitled Painting”
Anjali Dookeran

Black Thread Around
Marie Annharte Baker

II. Naming the Edges: Barriers

Margins Are Not For Cowards
Cheryl Gibson

“Me, Myself and I”

Triple Jeopardy: Native Women with Disabilities
Doreen Demas 

Coming Out of Two Closets
Jane Field

Performing My Leaky Body
Julie Devaney 

To Be Or Not to Be? Whose Question Is It, Anyway? Two Women with Disabilities Discuss the Right to Assisted Suicide
Tanis Doe and Barbara Ladouceur 

A Delicate Balance: Chronic Conditions and Workspace
Nancy E. Hansen 

Living Poorly: Disabled Women on Income Support
Sally A. Kimpson

Disability Diss Away
Marie Annharte Baker 

The Geography of Oppression
Joy Asham

III. Violence on the Edges

An Intersectional Perspective on Violence: A New Response
Maria Barile

undr the dislexic tree
Alexandra Pasian

“Have You Experienced Violence or Abuse?”: Talking with Girls and Young Women with Disabilities
Michelle Owen

When Bad Things Happen: Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Other Mistreatments Against Manitoba Women with Intellectual Disabilities
The Association for Community Living-Manitoba

“Untitled Woodcut”
Anjali Dookeran

Joanna M. Weston 

IV. With Us on the Edges: Relationships and Sexuality

New Reproductive Technology: My Personal and Political Dichotomy
Maria Barile 

Jancis M. Andrews

Disability and Relationships
Tracy Odell

Marriage-able? Cultural Perspectives of Women with Disabilities of South Asian Origin
Lynda Nancoo

“The Critical Woman and the Space Cadet”
Carrie R. Cardwell

“You think I want to make fuck with you”: Travelling with a Disability or Two
Milana Todoroff 

Access-Sex Series
Kyla Harris and Sarah Murray

V. Challenging the Edges

When the Body Protests: New Forms of Activism
Diane Driedger

Creating Community Across Disability and Difference
Carla Rice, Hilde Zitzelsberger, Wendy Porch and Esther Ignagni 

Walking a Woman’s Path: Women with Intellectual Disabilities
The Women’s Group, Community Living-Winnipeg

The First Step Is To Be Noticed
Dianne Pothier

Art, Sticks and Politics
Nancy E. Hansen and Diane Driedger 

“Untitled Drawing”
Anjali Dookeran 

The Freedom Tour Documentary: An Experiment in Inclusive Filmaking
Josée Boulanger, Susie Wieszmann and Valerie Wolbert

The Disabled Women’s Movement: From Where Have We Come?
Pat Israel and Fran Odette 

Leadership, Partnership and Networking: A Way Forward for the DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada
Bonnie Brayton 

Contributor Notes

1 review for Living the Edges: A Disabled Woman’s Reader

  1. InannaWebmaster

    Herizons, Fall 2012
    Reviewed by Connie Jeske Crane

    “This is not an easy book to read. Throughout this “vehicle for women with disabilities to share experiences” you hit bald and un- comfortable truths—women with disabilities face disproportionate rates of violence, sexual abuse, poverty and unfair treatment at work and in medical settings.

    A memorable contributor, Aboriginal writer Joy Asham, relates nurses’ “terrible rudeness” to her after she had a nasty scooter spill on an icy road in Thunder Bay, Ontario. “I never received care when I was in hospital, couldn’t even get a nurse to tighten my sling. My doctor would come every day, but that was for five minutes. The rest of the time … I was subjected to such terrible rudeness that all I could think of was going home and hiding, pain, sickness or not.” Asham says one nurse told her, “Comb your hair right now!! If it isn’t combed by the time I get back, I will take my scissors and cut it all off!”

    This volume, which editor Diane Driedger says is the first Canadian work of its kind, reveals common themes (being outside the norm, countless challenges and barriers) and the experience of women living with a range of disabilities, including multiple sclerosis, Chrohn’s disease, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, blindness and hoarding. The writers also varied in their religious affiliation, economic status, age, cultural background and profes- sion. They include women who are Christian and Muslim, gay and straight. They are gradu- ate students, writers, actors, researchers, office workers and Aboriginal senior citizens who ride red scooters called Babe.

    Thanks to some great writers (Julie Devaney and Joy Asham, to name just two), the collection brims with wisdom, candour and strength. But the best thing Driedger does is highlight our responsibility towards activism. Asham writes, “It is not just the responsibility of those who are victims to work toward positive change in a culture or work environment. Nor does it rest solely on the shoulders of the perpetrator. It is the job of peers to educate their own, to bring forth the welcoming of voices from the affected masses so that they may be heard.”

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