Definition(s): Ableism, Carework, Bodymind, Full-spectrum Doula, Radical Doula

Ableism: “A system of assigning value to people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in eugenics, anti-Blackness, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. This systemic oppression that leads to people and society determining people’s value based on their culture, age, language, appearance, religion, birth or living place, “health/wellness”, and/or their ability to satisfactorily re/produce, “excel” and “behave.” You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism” (Lewis, 2022).

Working definition by @TalilaLewis, updated January 2022, developed in community with disabled Black/negatively racialized folk, especially @NotThreeFifths. Read more: bit.ly/ableism2022

Carework: “Carework refers, simply, to the work of caring for others, including unpaid care for family members and friends, as well as paid care for others. Caring work includes taking care of children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, as well as doing domestic work such as cleaning and cooking. As reproductive labor, carework is necessary to the continuation of every society. By deploying the term “carework,” scholars and advocates emphasize the importance of recognizing that care is not simply a natural and uncomplicated response to those in need, but actually hard physical, mental, and emotional work, which is often unequally distributed through society (Meyer 2000). Because care tends to be economically devalued, many scholars who study carework emphasize the skill required for care, and the importance of valuing care (Meyer 2000; Daly 2001)” (Misra, 2007).

Watch Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha discuss Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice at the Disability Intersectionality Summit in 2018.

Read 10 Principles of Disability Justice as articulated by Patty Berne and Sins Invalid in 2015.

Bodymind: “A term used to challenge the idea the body and mind are experienced separately (Descartes). Written in various ways, Bodymind or Body-mind, this usage foregrounds the understanding that experiences of the bodymind are integrated (Price)” (Critical Disability Studies Collective, 2022).

Full-spectrum Doula: a non-medical, trained “community care worker who offers support to people…Full spectrum birth workers actively practice being open and aware of the diverse reproductive needs and experiences people have, in light of their identity, background, preferences, lived experiences, and so on…they prioritize being accessible, inclusive, and culturally appropriate. When (not if) there’s a client that is not a good fit or the doula doesn’t have the capacity or skills to serve the client, they do their best to make an appropriate and vetted referral…The history of full-spectrum doula work precedes the more mainstream use of the term, as midwives, activists, and other community care workers have served in this role for friends, family, and folks in their community across history and across cultures” (BADT, 2021).

Watch Miriam Z. Pérez talk about full-spectrum doulas at Oklahoma State University’s Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Reproductive and Sexual Health Regional Workshop in 2011 here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Radical Doula: “being a Radical Doula is committing to the hard work of facing issues of racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia head-on in our work with pregnant and parenting people. It means understanding birth as just one instance in a wide spectrum of pregnancy-related experiences that include abortion, miscarriage and adoption, and understanding why doula support across that spectrum makes sense. It’s about providing non-judgmental and unconditional support to pregnant and parenting people, ultimately in service of social justice” (Pérez, 2013).


Birthing Advocacy Doula Training. 2021. Everything You Want to Know about Full Spectrum Doula Work.

Critical Disability Studies Collective. 2022. Terminology. University of Minnesota.

Dukeheart, C. 2011. Doulas: Exploring A Tradition of Support. NPR.

Lewis, T. 2022. Working definition of Ableism January 2022 Update. Talila A Lewis. Blog.

Misra, J. 2007. Carework. In  G. Ritzer (Ed.), Blackwell encyclopedia of sociology. Blackwell Publishing. Blackwell Reference Online.

Pérez, M. Z. 2013. So what is a Radical Doula anyway? Radical Doula. Blog.

Piepzna-Samarasinha, L. 2018. Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice. Disability Intersectionality Summit. Online.