The Case of Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson: Ableism, Heterosexism, and Sexism exemplifies the various discriminations and oppression these two women had to endure after a traumatic experience. However, this case is not limited to these two individuals. The article displays the general bias of American culture and its institutions and the prejudice placed against disability, homosexuality, and. femininity and the huge obstacles they have to overcome in a society that puts their needs on the backburner and denies them the highest quality of life.
One night in 1983 a drunk driver had hit Sharon Kowalski, severely damaging her brain-stem and leaving her paralyzed and unable to speak. Kowalski was in a relationship with Karen Thompson at the time, and Karen sought out only the best rehabilitation center for her lover. Kowalski’s parents, on the other hand, were only concerned with separating Karen from their daughter, and not her well being. This brings us to the first oppression these two individuals have had to encounter: heterosexism.
Though the two women had been together in a relationship for four years at the time and had a committed ceremony, it was Kowalski’s father who gained legal custody over her without being given a court hearing. Why was a 27-year-old under her father’s legal guardianship when she was had a partner whom she lived with and loved? The answer: because they were lesbians. Had Kowalski been in a heterosexual relationship, this case would not exist nor cause such uproar in the LGBT community. If lesbians and gays were given the same legal rights of marriage as heterosexuals receive, Thompson would have been able to help nurture Kowalski back to recovery in an adequate and loving manner. Instead, Sharon endured inadequate care in a subpar rehabilitation center, all in which hindered her ability to make the fullest recovery possible, all because of her homosexuality and her father’s and America’s intolerance. The United State’s legal...
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