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Sight UnseenGender and Race Through Blind Eyes$
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Ellyn Kaschak

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172905

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172905.001.0001

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Blind Date

Blind Date

(p.16) 2 Blind Date
Sight Unseen

Ellyn Kaschak

Columbia University Press

This chapter illustrates that cultural biases of gender, race, and sex are “passed” as performances—a common technique for the blind to appear “sighted.” This chapter's case study, Jesse, mentions that he and his blind friends understood that it is possible to “use words to sound like you know all about whatever is being discussed,” in presenting themselves to a sighted person as being sighted themselves. In Jesse's case, he had “performed” gender for the author by making sighted assessments based on the gender stereotypes he had accumulated prior to becoming blind. He was “passing” in much the way a gay person, a light-skinned black person, or some Jews have tried to do, with loss always being embedded in the dubious gain of this strategy.

Keywords:   performances, Jesse, gender stereotypes, gender, passing, sighted

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