Movements of inclusion aim to give rights to formerly disadvantaged or ignored groups. This is to help them acquire the same social or political status of the majority, without giving up their exceptionalities or their unique of differences. Social and national inclusion practices involve such groups as immigrants, religious or racial minorities, sexual minorities, people with disabilities and others. However, in contemporary America social and national inclusion practices do not have the promised effect; instead they help to produce forms of exclusion at the same time that they are trying to eliminate the factors that create exclusion. This is because the inclusion practices almost inevitably try to force these groups into an accepted social typology by adhering to certain social norms in order to obey a particular myth. Thus, social and national inclusion strategies face the barrier of normativity. This makes inclusion strategies only favor a selected few of those who belong to the transgressive groups and ignore many others; these others are thus twice excluded, both within the society, and within their group. Social and national inclusion practices are meant to dissolve the transgressive status of groups which do not adhere to the ideal or mythical images of the society and to help them acquire an equal status in all the areas of social life.
Unfortunately, the use of inclusion practices more often than not end up producing forms of exclusion because individuals in these categories are measured against the normativity rules that exist in the society. This means that the excluded groups can only gain equal rights if they match the image of the ideal representative of the group, as perpetuated at the level of the state for various political and economic reasons. As O’Toole (2004, p.294) noticed, although there are a great number of disabilities that may be included in this category, the normativity in relation to this category is the white male in a wheelchair. Thus, this category is often the most advantaged in the group of people with disability, while most of the rest, for example women, people of color, gay people, or women of color are often ignored. O’Toole explained in this regard that, “research shows that those who have benefited most from these advances have been those whose needs were the most parallel to the mythical disabled man” (p.295). Thus, normativity requires disabled individuals to be white males in order to be given a public voice. O’Toole perceived this as a continuation of the patriarchal system within the disability segment. Thus, inclusion opportunities are limited to people who fit these norms, whereas all the rest are further excluded not only from the society, but as part of the disability rights struggle as well.
This is also true for homosexuality, which has become a target for normativity discourse as well. This is because inclusion strategies do not necessarily means giving different people equal opportunities, but rather it means giving people who are considered an exception, the opportunity to reach closer to those who are considered the “norm”, namely heterosexual whites. In discussing the situation of queerness in contemporary America, Puar (2007, p.23) argued that queerness has become a modality through which queers can verify their belonging to the category of the ideal queer, rather than a representation of a choice to be free from all rules of the society. Puar (2007) argued that in the end, even queerness defined as transgression is subject to normativity, because it is “always defined in relation to normativity, often universalizing. Thus deviance, despite its claims to freedom and individuality, is ironically cohered to and by regulatory regimes of queerness—through, not despite, any claims to transgression “(p.23). Therefore, queerness in itself cannot escape the confinement of norms, which is the only way in which queers can enjoy recognition and can be included in the society, whereas those queers who remain outside the norms, continue to be excluded.
What constitutes the accepted homosexuality in today’s society is also largely based on the traditional patriarchal model. Queers must form families that imitate the white heterosexual middle class family, which is considered the only accepted model of normativity, and against which all other types of unions are verified. Puar (2007, p.31) gave the example of lesbian couples whose act of adopting an Asian child is merely an attempt of getting as close as possible to the ideal white family model. This typical family model also involves the existence of a patriarchal structure which therefore suggests the need of a masculine figure, even in lesbian families.
Therefore, as shown above, social and national inclusion practices, such as the disability rights movement or the permission of gay marriages, may lead to the production of forms of exclusion by allowing only those individuals who adhere to the established norms to gain access to certain privileges and rights while excluding many others. The expansion of normativity to include only certain representatives of the formerly excluded categories means that many others will remain not only excluded from the society, but also ignored within their own groups.
O’Toole, C. (2004). The sexist inheritance of the disability movement. In B.Smith & b. Hutchinson (eds.). Gendering Disability. Rutgers University Press.
Puar, J., (2007). Terrorist assemblages: homonationalism in queer times. Durham: Duke University Press.