Dr. Laura Yakas completed her PhD in anthropology and social work at the University of Michigan. She is a Mad Queer Slut, an indigenous (Māori) woman, and her passion is Disability Justice (especially the Mad Justice and neurodiversity movements) and its connection to other forms of anti-oppression like intersectional feminism and decolonization. She is committed to healing-centered pedagogy, and loves to facilitate courses about oppression and anti-oppression in her role as an instructor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She doesn’t publish often, but she radiates radical mad-affirming sex positivity through her stand-up musical comedy. Her recent show “Slut songs” paid homage to the authors of Ethical Slut, and invited audience members on an uproarious and raunchy ride through the history of sexuality, oppression, and the critical non-monogamy movement. A recording of her performance is available here.
By participating in this research collective, Laura seeks to explore the intersection between sexuality and madness as modes of oppression. Her dissertation emphasized the crucial roles of purpose and belonging (which are social/spiritual needs) in healing from and harnessing one’s experiences of mad oppression, or “saneism.” (It was most cleverly titled Love in a Time of Madness: The Importance of Purpose and Belonging in Healing and Harnessing Madness). One of her discoveries was that when oppressed folks find or create communities in which they feel purpose and belonging, the violence of the mainstream culture becomes survivable (sometimes even thriveable). This phenomenon of empowerment through purposeful community is something the LGBTQIA community is known for. Gay Pride predated, and perhaps paved the way, for movements like Mad Pride! Her dissertation was written from the perspective of a Mad woman, and she is excited to get even more intersectional, and write as a Mad Queer Slut in Shanna’s upcoming book about Exploring Sexuality and Disability: A guide for academics and health and human service professionals!