A. Prerequisites to Action
One of the first steps for adults working with and advocating for LGBTQ children and
youth in state care is to understand the related concepts of objectification and presumption. The
dominant culture maintains its dominant position with these two tools, which are the wires that
hold the cage96 together.
Objectification refers to the notion that subjugated groups are acted-upon, not actors in
their own right.
97 As objects, they are subject to control and manipulation. Women are subjected
to male domination through multiple indicia of male power and privilege.
98 This objectification
of women by men is also perpetrated by boys against girls.
99 The ultimate expression of
objectification is the lethal assault committed by a batterer against his object/victim at
separation,100 the moment in which the object asserts her status as subject: the author of her own
destiny. Persons of color are objectified in multiple ways, from the cultural colonialism of
extracting and appropriating African-American cultural innovations while consigning African-Americans to remain outside of the dominant culture,
101 to lynching102 and other lethal means of
maintaining control and privilege. Persons with disabilities are much more likely to be victims
of crime and exploitation.
103 A subtle but insidious and controversial way that persons with
disabilities are objectified is so-called “inspiration porn”: video clips of persons with disabilities
“overcoming” their disabilities to do ordinary things.
104 The logic of inspiration porn, and why it
is objectionable to many persons with disabilities, is that persons with disabilities do not exist to
do ordinary things in their own right – they exist to do those ordinary things to inspire and warm
the hearts and souls of persons without disabilities.
105 Persons with low incomes have long been
political punching bags,
106 such as the politicization and shaming of welfare recipients and the
96 Frye, supra note 91.
97 MacKinnon, supra note 32, at 536–42.
98 BALOS & FELLOWS, supra note 26. As Catherine MacKinnon perceptively and directly states, “Man [obscene
verb] woman; subject verb object.” MacKinnon, supra note 32, at 541 (original altered out of deference to journal
99 Davis v. Monroe Cty. Bd. of Educ., 526 U.S. 629, 633 (1999). In Davis, the plaintiff was repeatedly harassed in
a physical and verbal manner by an elementary school classmate. In one instance, the classmate allegedly “placed a
door stop in his pants and proceeded to act in a sexually suggestive manner toward [the plaintiff] during physical
education class.” Id. at 634. The classmate targeted other girls as well. Id. at 635.
100 Martha Mahoney, Legal Images of Battered Women: Redefining the Issue of Separation, 90 MICH. L. REV. 1, 7
(1991). See also Marina Angel, Criminal Law and Women: Giving the Abused Woman Who Kills a Jury of Her
Peers Who Appreciates Trifles, 33 AM. CRIM. L. REV. 229, 286 & nn.440-43 (1996); Karen H. Rosen & Sandra M.
Stith, Women Terminating Abusive Dating Relationships: A Qualitative Study, 12 J. SOC. PERS. RELATIONSHIPS 154
101 EVERYTHING BUT THE BURDEN: WHAT WHITE PEOPLE ARE TAKING FROM BLACK CULTURE 3 (Greg Tate ed.,
102 STEPHEN WHITFIELD, A DEATH IN THE DELTA: THE STORY OF EMMITT TILL 3 (1988).
103 See, e.g., Mayes, supra note 71, at 93.
104 Stella Young, I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much, TED TALKS (June 2014),