An Interview with Harilyn Rousso

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Lesson Title
An Interview with Harilyn Rousso

E-Newscast Video Link

Video Length
Eighteen minutes and twenty four seconds

Grade Level
High School & Above

Harilyn Rousso is a disability activist, a feminist, a psychotherapist, a painter and a writer. Her recently published memoir, Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back, discusses her work as an activist both in the disability rights movement and the women’s rights movement. Her novel also offers a poignant reflection on growing up in a society that struggles to recognize the value of people with disabilities.

Review Questions
What have been the biggest barriers that Rousso has faced over her life?

What were some of the motives for her book?

What does Rousso say about activism?

What is the connection that she sees between discrimination and prejudice, and equal opportunities?

What has prevented the factions within the disability rights community from mobilizing together?

How and why does she suggest that the modern feminist movement should include women with disabilities?

Free writing “Journal” Prompt
Rousso shares her opinion about the younger generation, and about the relationship dynamics between the younger and older generations. What was her opinion? Do you agree with her? Explain your answer.

Rousso mentions that she does not encourage “inclusion out of sympathy or any other paternalistic attitude”. How do you see this connecting to her statements about prejudice and attitudes? Can you think of any examples from your life that might demonstrate this notion of prejudice and paternalistic attitudes towards people with disabilities? What aspects of American culture display a sympathetic or paternalistic attitude toward people with disabilities? What aspects of American culture display the ‘asset model’ of disability?

How does Rousso’s discussion about the importance of community tie into your own experiences? Do your own experiences disprove, or support her opinion?

One of Rousso’s main messages is that you can have a disability and be whole. How does this relate to the asset model of the disability experience?