Dr. Laura Yakas completed her PhD in anthropology and social work at the University of Michigan in 2018. As a Mad queer slut, her passion is Disability Justice (especially the Mad Pride and neurodiversity movements) and its connection to other forms of anti-oppression like intersectional feminism, antiracism and decolonization. She is committed to trauma-informed pedagogy, and loves to facilitate healing courses about social justice and oppression as a lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She is not currently involved in research in the conventional sense, for academic publication is not her happy place. Instead, she radiates social justice and sex positivity through her radical stand-up musical comedy. Her recent and raunchy show “Slut songs” paid homage to the authors of Ethical Slut, and invited audience members on an uproarious ride through the history of sexuality, oppression, and the ethical non-monogamy movement. A recording of the most recent 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 research 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.” (Her dissertation was, most cleverly, titled Love in a Time of Madness: The Importance of Purpose and Belonging in Healing and Harnessing Madness). One conclusion she came to was that when people who carry oppressed identities find or create communities in which they feel they have a purpose, and feel they belong, the violence of everyday life in the mainstream loses some of its power. As a queer woman (as well as a Madwoman), Laura is aware that this phenomenon of finding power in purposeful community is something the LGBTQIA community is known for. Gay Pride predated, and likely paved the way, for movements like Mad Pride and Disability Pride. Laura’s dissertation was written by a Madwoman, and she is excited to get even more intersectional, and write as a Madqueerwoman.