A black on white silhouette of Godin wearing a skirt in a triumphant pose, holding her cane aloft horizontally with a giant double helix strand of DNA, also in silhouette, crossing diagonally through her. In defiance and celebration of blind memes and genes.

17 Constructing Blind Pride out of Ancient and Evolutionary Blind Memes (TPE Hyperlinked Endnotes)

In the previous chapter, “The Invisible Gorilla and Other Inattentions,” Dr. M. Leona Godin considers the blind scientist and what blindness can offer science. In this final chapter, she discusses negotiating blind memes—meaning “cultural replicators,” as   Richard Dawkins originally intended—and how they can both help and hurt our efforts to claim power in an ocularcentric world.

Godin also turns to a cornerstone disability studies text, Extraordinary Bodies, which  theorizes a way of moving disability away from the medical model and towards a cultural model that allies it with other marginalized identities. And The Left Hand of Darkness, with its dismantling of the binary of two distinct genders provides a beautiful example for how to deconstruct blindness and sight.

Finally, the rhetorical use of blind as a negative epithet may not seem like something worth fighting for to many sighted people—nor indeed to many blind people, but There Plant Eyes argues  that Language is important. When “blind” is negative nine times out of ten, it  makes it awfully difficult to construct blind pride.


“Constructing Blind Pride out of Ancient and Evolutionary Blind Memes” Endnotes

  1. Twersky, Blindness in Literature,
  2. National Federation of the Blind, “Blindness Statistics.”
  3. Girma, Haben, 164–65.
  4. Bearden, Monstrous Kinds,
  5. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene,
  6. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene,
  7. Lawrence and Lee, Inherit the Wind,
  8. Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker,
  9. Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker,
  10. Harari, Sapiens, in “19 and They Lived Happily Ever After,” Sec- tion “The Meaning of ” Also in “6 Building Pyramids,” Section “An Imagined Order”: “There is only a blind evolutionary process, devoid of any purpose, leading to the birth of individuals.”
  11. Bérubé, Life as We Know It,
  12. Bérubé, Life as We Know It,
  13. Knighton, Cockeyed, 102–3.
  14. Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker,
  15. Kleege, Sight Unseen,
  16. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness,
  17. Garland-Thomson, Extraordinary Bodies,
  18. Garland-Thomson, Extraordinary Bodies,
  19. American Foundation for the Blind, “Key Employment Statistics for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.”


Richard Dawkins on Memes


Blind Memes in Literature

To avoid confusion, it must be stated at the outset, obvious though it may be, that the basic attitude of the general public toward the blind is, and has long been if not always, that the blind form a class, an element apart, that a person without sight, regardless of whether born so or when the loss occurred and regardless of any other factor, is assumed to have stereotyped characteristics assigned to the blind as a class. Otherwise, one could speak sensibly enough of attitudes toward particular sightless individuals, or even groups, but it would be all but meaningless to speak of attitudes toward the blind in general.

The main purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of these attitudes. For surely without such understanding little can be done about the problems they create; little can be done to remove from the path of the unseeing the stumbling blocks the seeing unwittingly place upon it; little can be done to make both the blind and the sighted reach the destination at which blindness is not a deterrent to social health.

–Jacob Twersky, Blindness in Literature: Examples of Depictions and Attitudes

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