Friday, May 30, 2008

New book: Dissonant Disabilities: Women with Chronic Illnesses Explore their Lives

Whether it is fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, bipolar disorder, arthritis or many other chronic illnesses, most women are aware of at least one female friend, family member or acquaintance who has faced these illnesses.

Anecdotally, women's stories have always circulated, but now, for the first time, Diane Driedger and Michelle Owen have compiled experiences of women with chronic illnesses from all over the world shedding light on the discrimination, stigma, power struggles, misunderstanding by medical professionals and relationship challenges that women face.

Driedger and Owen, themselves women with chronic illnesses, launched their book, Dissonant Disabilities: Women with Chronic Illnesses Explore their Lives at Ryerson University on May 30th, 2008.

"Chronic illnesses are definitely a women's issue. Many illnesses such as depression, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and multiple sclerosis affect women more than men. And it goes without saying that since it is mostly women who occupy the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, it is they who become sick trying to 'do it all' and it is women who are not believed and discounted when they get sick," says Diane Driedger, one of the book's editors.

Professors, students, professionals, psychologists, writers...women with chronic illnesses come together to understand their place in a society which more and more values work and productivity, and devalues sickness and fatigue.

Certain to ring a bell with those familiar with women facing these illnesses, the anthology uses personal experiences and academic research to put women's chronic illness in a social perspective.

"Because of shame, ignorance or fear of repercussions personally and professionally, women with these illnesses often do not disclose and struggle in silence instead. Unlike some physical disabilities which are visible, the needs of women with chronic illnesses are often discounted or overlooked completely," says Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada, "This book is important as it creates an opportunity for open dialogue on an issue faced by thousands of women in Canada. This is the first step towards understanding and finally properly accommodating the needs of women with chronic illnesses in our society.

Diane Driedger is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and author of The Last civil Rights Movement: Disabled Peoples' International. A published poet, she is the co-editor of two anthologies by women with disabilities.

Michelle Owen is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Winnipeg. Her primary research interests and publications include gender, sexuality, family and disability. Most recently, Owen worked on two projects involving women with disabilities: a longitudinal study of intimate partner violence, and a participatory action research on violence in the lives of girls and young women.

Publisher: Canadian Scholar's Press Inc, Women's Press
ISBN: 978-0-88961-464-2
Price: $36.95
Format: 200pp PB 6x9